Not too much changes the pace of life in the sleepy village of Wingello in the Southern Highlands apart from a couple of times per year when the roads and trails hum to the sound of knobby tyres as it’s blessed with some of the finest singletrack mountain bike trails in NSW.
The predicted cold weather kept many under the doona, but the registered field contained many high-calibre riders including Shaun Lewis of the Specialized team, World Cup representative rider Emily Parkes, 2014 Solo Men’s Series Champion Ed McDonald and even a few National Road Series riders looking for some quality km during the mid-season break.
The event also featured a record female attendance of 23% of the field. Over the past decade Event Director Fiona Dick has helped introduce countless women to mountain biking through leading social rides and teaching skills clinics as well as coordinating the Finish Line Singletrack Mind Series. “We really focus on making our races as friendly and inclusive as possible. We’ve also introduced a pre-race social ride where riders who are new to racing or want an opportunity to practice the more technical parts of the course can be guided by experienced riders on the day before the race”.
The start of the race was undoubtedly chilly as low fog hung around the venue, the start not as explosive as usual as cold legs needed time to get going. With the warm up lap done, lap times decreased rapidly, the TORQ/Merida team leading the race overall and featuring three stars of the future in Tristan Ward, Ben Metcalfe and Josh Battye. The only team to get close to matching them all day was the two man OnyaBike team of Brad Morton and Blake Hore. Another standout performance in the teams categories was the Willo Juniors team of Joel Kristensen, Harry Watson and Riley King. The under 18 riders showed experience beyond their years with fast and consistent lap times moving up to an impressive 3rd overall against some highly experienced teams.
The 4 hour race is a great opportunity for developing riders, a great example of which is the mixed pair of Chloe Dore and Spencer Collaviti, junior riders who went on to beat their more experienced rivals. Specialized’s Shaun Lewis cruised to victory in the Male Solo and fellow Canberra rider Rachel Blakers took the win in the Women. Blake Shergold put down some very impressive lap times in the Male Junior solo, marking him as a rider to watch.
The solo 7 hour race saw convincing victories in most categories. Garry James won the Super Masters (50+) but would have placed 2nd in the Open category which was won by fellow Canberran Ed McDonald. The Solo Women saw a similar result with Wendy Stevenson, another rider who is eligible for Super Masters, enter the Open category to claim 2nd behind regular podium-getter, Wollongong’s Liz Smith, with local rider Lucy Brearley rounding out the podium.
The most intrigue lay in the pairs categories with both the Female and Mixed pairs featuring tumultuous battles. In the Female Pairs, disaster struck the Short Circuit Chix early on, suffering an unrepairable flat tyre on course and having to run 2km to the finish. This put the Specialized Chocolate Consumers in the lead for the first half of the race until they too fell victim to the puncture gods, with 3 flats in two laps! Short Circuit worked hard to regain lost time putting new leaders Chocolate Foot Chix under pressure, but by putting in consistent laps and avoiding disasters Steph Jackson and Linda Corrigan held off their rivals to the finish.
The Mixed pairs featured three absolutely cracking teams and it was on from the gun! The youthful line-up of Team TORQ, Emily Parkes and Jamie Sell, hit the lead early but it wouldn’t be long until the more experienced legs and race craft of the Bike Culture team would come to the fore. Former series champions Doug and Danielle Pollock faced a tough challenge to overcome these two high calibre teams but would be happy to take 3rd to retain their overall lead in the series. Callum MacNamara and Brooke Rowlands were victorious after 7 hours and 17 laps.
The 3rd round of the Finish Line Singletrack Mind Series heads to Nowra on 30 August. It’s featured in all 6 years of the series as it is universally loved by experienced campaigners and weekend warriors alike.
For more information and detailed results go to: www.chocolatefoot.com.au