It all felt rather last minute getting on the start line at Nationals this year. After breaking my scaphoid 9 and a half weeks prior I was very short on time on the MTB. I’d spent 7 weeks on the indoor trainer before venturing outside on the road bike, only jumping on the mountainbike 4 days before the race to get some practice on the course and test out my wrist.
Luckily, I know the course like the back of my hand after racing on it multiple times over the last years and countless hours spent riding in the Halswell Quarry since I was a kid.
I had my wrist well strapped by the physio and in addition to a heat moulded brace my wrist felt secure and stable enough to race.
The Elite / U23 race was not until 4:15pm and by that stage what had earlier been a beautiful morning had developed into patchy rain and drizzle. I decided to stick on a set of grippy Bontrager XR3 tyres front and rear instead of the faster rolling XR1’s that I had planned to use. Perhaps if my wrist wasn’t an issue, I would have stuck with the XR1’s but I would rather be over gripped than under gripped!
I had a good clean start and slotted into second wheel behind Ben Oliver who was keen to control the race from the front and push the race. I felt a little rusty early on but soon warmed into things, getting the flow of the racetrack and getting the body back in race mode. On the third lap I took the lead and put in a surge on one of the climbs and was able to open up a gap. I was feeling in good shape by this stage and told myself to just settle into a good rhythm, making sure not to overdo it as there was still a long way left to race. The laps ticked by and I opened up a comfortable lead which allowed me to relax heading into the final lap and bring it home without any drama. All in my wrist held up well and didn’t give me too much pain – nothing that held me back much anyway.
It was a special moment and a great sense of pride to cross the line in 1st place to retain my national title after what had been a very challenging build up. It was my 6th Elite National title in a row and 8th total, a stat I’ll be hoping to continue to build on next year!