Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Forrest 6-Hour

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Riding a six hour enduro is an emotional rollercoaster. There’s the pre-race anxiety (did I bring enough food, did I tell my pit crew everything, have I got enough brake pad left), the first lap adrenalin (can I squeeze through this gap), the mid-race concentration (how far is the guy in front, how far is the guy behind) and the pain of the concluding laps. Throw in rain and mud and emotions are heightened.

Forrest is without doubt Victoria’s – and potentially Australia’s – mountain biking mecca. From the groomed trails, to the mysterious Otway weather system and the laidback feel of the town Forrest is my favourite place to ride. The 6-hour attracted a good field in men’s and women’s solo and Phil Orr was always going to be tough to beat. I started well and rode with Phil and Matt Molan for first two laps before making a crucial skill error and losing the wheel, which I never regained. I was frustrated as I was holding the pair at 2 minutes but couldn’t close. Matt eventually popped and I put on a little surge as I passed him to cure him of any thoughts of sitting on. A lap later I almost gave back my second place when I crashed trying to pass a rider in double track. The fall was quick and heavy – landing on your handlebar end is never fun. Apart from thinking that I had broken a rib and struggling to regain breath for a couple of minutes, I was able to continue with blood leaching from my ribcage (pictured the night after the race).

I was holding off a fast finishing third place all afternoon but then, with just a lap to go, was passed. We fought it out for half of the last lap but I wasn’t able to land a punch and he took second. I finished 15 minutes up on fourth and happy to podium at the race which was also sponsored by Giant. Phil Orr was untouched and is in great form.

The women’s race was great with Giant’s own Jess Douglas (pictured with with me before the start) finishing a close second to Katherine O’Shea (Torq). Less than three minutes separated them after 6 hours of racing.

A great job done by all volunteers involved, particularly the Forrest Mountain Bike Club. Also a big thanks to the sponsors – including Giant.

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