The Blue Dragon swiped it’s tail at some of the leading teams today on stage one of the two day team event. If the mornings 20km start, climbing 760 metres in altitude were not enough to put you in the red zone, strong winds and unforgiving rocky trails on the downhills left many of the states finest riders dealing with punctures, mechanicals and wrong directions.
This unique mountain bike adventure stage race seems to be growing in interest every year with 380 riders competing in teams of two across some of Tasmania’s best trails. All competitors must stick with their partner across the line to gain their finishing time. With mountain biking normally an individual sport, this event throws in the extra challenge of team work and co-operation.
Cool conditions at the start were welcomed as the first 20km’s is straight up. The stronger teams quickly stretched the field with Ken and Nick (Nick Morgan & Ken Allen) leading the way, reaching the higher points of the course 30 seconds ahead of Lawson Homes (Ross Farrell & Michael Smith) and group 1m 20s back including Team Wombat (Peter Malcolm & Andrew Mock), Avanti Plus (Steven Brown & Tom Goddard) and Swell-Orbea (Jesse Carlson & Ronan Magaharan).
After heating up on the climb, the weather conditions were not favourable across the top of the peak, with strong winds and light rain. The steep descent into the drink station was causing problems with a few falls and mechanicals. So steep, the only way to make it down in one piece was to lock up the back wheel and try and steer a safe line as you slide half out of control off the top of the mountain. Ken and Nick held their lead through the station, but Lawson Homes Michael Smith had a sidewall puncture which cost them around 5 minutes, dropping back to 4th position.
The remainder of the trails offered everything that makes to want to ride bikes, with super fast flowing singletrack, pine forest descents, creek crossings and a spectacular rain forest section. There was also some confusion for Team 4SHAW’s Scott Bowden and Jacob Langham who took a wrong turn and ended way off course, ruining their chance of a high placing finish.
Ken and Nick crossed the Derby finish line first in 2h 36m, after having to nurse broken rear spokes and low tire pressure for the second half of the race. Avantiplus rode consistently to finish approximately 1 minute behind, with their own issues of dropped chain and rear cassette problems. Mainlanders Team Wombat rounded out the day 1 podium. Other high placed finishers were Swell-Orbea, Lawson Strong Legs (Cripps/Elmer) and 4SHAW Racing (Shaw/Hunt).
Today’s second stage starts and finishes at Welborough. The event website had this description of the stage.
“A challenging but rewarding climb will take you to the top of the Blue Tier. This North East alpine area has it all, from big granite boulders to huge myrtle trees and stunning rainforest. Best of all, it involves the infamous Blue Tier decent trail all the way back to the finish.”
I will not be at the events finale today, but hope to bring the results to you soon!