Canberra turned on the Sun for Round one of the Rocky Trail Shimano GP series. All the stars of Mountain Biking had turned out to glimmer on the tracks of the Stromlo on the tracks beneath the observatory. The trails were quick, with the all of the climbing in the first 6k and then a variety of flowy, techy or just plain gnarly bits to test the skills of the riders. The sandy patches and Adze heads littered across the track made it like a Mario brothers game, hit one of these and see how lady luck rolls. A lot of flats and mechanicals suggests the odds were high in favour of the track winning. And then Pork Belly ! !, it wasn’t a soft fatty landing when I came off on it ! ! ! The exit became more challenging as the tiredness dulled the bike control and that bloody rock on the exit. A great testing ground for the durability of the Specialized bikes, Shimano components and TWE wheels that the Bernard Riders rely on.
Bernard Riders Team were there in numbers amongst the likes of Ashfield Cycles, Onya Bike, Rockstar Racing and TBSM racing with teams across a wide range of race categories.
In the 4 Hour series, Michael Burda and Jiri Stocilas riding in the Male 2 man elite rode consistently to work their way up into 3rd place. Onya Bike taking first Place and Anytime Fitness second.
Hana Kosikova and Team chef, masseuse and nutritionist Jakub Pawlas kitted up and rode to 3rd place in the Mixed Team Elite. Jakub was a Stromlo Virgin, taken in by the sweet, seductive and tantalising trails he soon became intimate with the dirt and rocks of the track as he learnt about the treachery behind those seductive curves. But like all faithful mountain bikers, he left with a smile, fond memories and soiled bibs. (Probably also a faint after taste of a mouth full of the Stromlo Dirt too…) Leading the way in the class was the team pairing of SbeeandCjay (Chris and Stacey Birch), followed up by the Razorbacks (Brad and Vanessa Thompson).
The 7 hour event rolled on at the conclusion of the 4 hour, however events at the beginning of the race were to dictate the need to catchup.
Teamings for the 7 hour were as follows:
Male Team Elite: Michal Kafka and Mark De Geoffroy
Male Team Elite: Ondrej Slezak, Aaron Lakeman, Glen THE KING
Male Masters Pairs: Matt Sheather, James Heron
The teams lined up on the front of the grid, all looking for a quick start. Aaron bolted and clocked up a 38.35 first lap, while the pairs teams paced the start lap. Matt Sheather’ broke his chain on the starting line (because of those massive legs) and returned to base camp, only to find his team mate absent, well actually occupying the facilities while there was no que. Matt repaired and headed out again, only to have the same chain fail again. This time as he returned James set out to work his way through the conga line that weaved up the Mount and chase down the opposition, and get the team back on top in the category.
Michal Kafka rode solidly, quietly and quickly knocking out consistent times with team mate Marc who was flying around the track “Literally” and considering how little time his tyres were in contact with the ground its very unfortunate that he got a puncture on the way down the mountain. He finished out the lap riding on the flat and the pair worked hard to get back into contention. Helped by Michal Kafka’s fastest lap of the Bernard Riders of 37.28 beating team boss Ondrej by seconds. Eventually taking second place behind Velosophy racing, and heading off team Zero Control.
The triples team kept the laps ticking over with fast times across the board. The KING was dethroned in the 3’s team from holding the fastest lap by the Boss. Yes Ondrej stepped aside from business and mentoring the team to post the triples fastest lap of 37.59.
The master pairs day took the wrong line. After extracting ourselves from the dunny and sitting just out in front, the track claimed Matt who broke his collar bone and unfortuntately, will see him miss the most of the remaining Rocky trail Entertainment races.
This put all the pressure on James Heron who impressively stepped up and rode the remainder of the race as if solo (7laps by his lonesome), but the lost time to team Fast and Furious was too much to make up and finished a very close second place. While searching for those elusive few seconds between first and second place, James was eaten up and spat out the other end of the pork roll on the last lap changing the colour of that new jersey and bibs to the Canberra dust colour which covered the majority of other contestants. Matt will have a bit of time on his one good hand, so the excellent assortment of beers and the prize pack will help occupy some of that time.