Jonty Calder - National Series Mountain Biking
Pemberton hosted National Rounds 2 and 3 across a two day period - this was the first time in a national series that riders were expected to race two days in a row, and on extremely demanding trails.
Jonty had a brand new Apollo Arctec 7 Mountain Bike arrive on Tuesday, with test ride that night and then packed and into the car for the big drive south. The Arctec 7 saw a transition from the forgiving 29er wheel dimension to the more exciting 27.5 size.
The event was hosted by Mountain Bike Australia and assisted through keen volunteers Tony and Jenny Tucknott and their band of helpers, including Bec Swan (Coach to Jonty and MWAS coaching scholarship holder). Awesome trails were promised and they were certainly delivered.
The recon ride on Thursday afternoon quickly established that both speed and skills, along with a bunch of nerve, would be required to remain remotely competitive. With nearly 200 riders on the course over the weekend, skills became even more critical as the trails began to show signs of wear and riding lines seemed to change from lap to lap.
Pemberton drew Elite riders from around Australia and Elite, U23 and U19 all rode in the same wave providing competitors and spectators with fast paced, action filled event.
Saturday - Race 2 of National Series
Jonty raced in 19U, and at 17 remains one of the younger competitors within this field. All the riders looked fit and determined and the long start ride before single track quickly sorted the field. Jonty rode well to be in top 20 going into the tight first corner of "Inner Loop" and continued to progress throughout the race, holding 13th position for the last two laps and across the finish line.
Like numerous riders, Jonty had a minor digger (crash) but was straight up and going again............we always say you aren't going hard enough unless you have a digger every now and then!
This was an excellent result for Jonty as he is currently on a heavy training program for Nationals in March and this was first mount bike race since winning Expert State Champion in September last year.
Sunday - Race 2 of National Series
Riders and bikes were all looking a little worse for wear on Day 2 with tired bodies and some TLC required for the MTB's to ensure they were ready to face the jumps, berms, tree roots and tight corners.
Jonty had another great start in a hot and dry race that saw many riders taking in more fluid than normal and jerseys unzipped pretty early to help keep body cool. Lap 3 saw him ride into his legs and start to make his way through the field. With many riders struggling with the heat and pace, Jonty was able to sustain average lap times to begin to move towards top 10. Into Lap 4 and Jonty was sitting in 10th when every rider's worst nightmare happened - a mechanical. The chain wedged between cog and frame and the red derailleur seized, with the hanger dropping off...............this left Jonty with no option but to retire from the event.
Interestingly, coach Bec Swan said she would take the mechanical over a digger as its quicker to repair the bike than it is to repair the rider.......Jonty would prefer to crash as this means retirement from race is down to him and not equipment failure.......
Big shout out to Paul Neave of Three Chillies Trail Design for epic trails!!
Now its time to focus on Nationals - the training program is into full swing, gym sessions to are starting and season 2015 here he comes!
Jonty in action at Pemberton National Round