As is tradition for round 1, this race report is brought to you the JetBlack RAcing Team club president - Michael 'Browny' Brown
 
With a relative early start to the racing season for Rocky Trail Enterrainment, the JetBlack MTB Race Team had managed to assemble our largest field ever of 52!  Being Rockytrail Entertainement's 10th Anniversary year, what better way to start the celebrations off but at the mighty Glenrock in Newcastle, famous for its 'Snakes and Ladders' climb that has nearly everyone groan at the shear mention of it. 
 
With a bunch of new faces joining the club during the slim off-season, a few new team combinations and riders had been sorted for the assault in the Shimano XC Grand Prix Series for 2018. 
 
With the usual arrival Friday night to set-up, Kevlar, Candace and myself laid out a 14m frontage for the team in the transition area.  (Big thanks to JetBlack and Seight for the marquees) 

A few standard mossie bites later and it was off to grab some dinner, a few light ones and a good nights' rest before racing.  A few of us woke during the night to hear some torrential rain beating down. On arrival the sun was out, and looking at peoples bikes post warm up laps, it was clear that the track conditions would be slippery for the first few laps, but all reports were that the course was 'mint'!
Debbie from Go Media Productions was on board with the team at this round to produce a behind the scenes look at some of the people who make up JetBlack MTB, and of course, some on track footage during the day, stay tuned for the release of this production.  The JB team had our usual pre-race discussion and welcoming of all new members and returning members.  It was also a time to present the annual Riders / Riders trophy from 2017.  Well done to Mr Chris Anderson for a super season in the 4hr Solo Masters Cat.  Great to have him back on board and regaining his passion for the racing scene again.
With the riders brief complete and a record 321 entrants for the round around 130 riders would be on the start lap.  Given this the race track is predominantly single track, race director Martin Wisata had set about a 1km sprint on the fire trail to spread the field out for lap 1.  As usual the sea of the fluoro yellow was seen throughout the pack lined up ready for the whistle to commence season 2018.  This season see’s me back racing team of three’s with Nathan Johnston & Elton Judd.  Just in our JetBlack team we have around 6 teams racing in this format so the battles were always going to wage internally along with friendly rivalry with the other teams that turn up to race.  The mighty start with a flurry of dust (but not as bad as the dust bowl of round 1 2017!) and the field was set to tackle the 9.5km trail of Glenrock for the first lap. 
 
As predicted, the first lap was indeed slippery, but once a hundred + riders go through the moisture soon dissipated and it was 'hero' for a good few laps. A swift sun shower put pay to the hero, but once the sun came out again, it was only a matter of half a lap and the hero returned! This would be the format for the whole day, so you certainly had to be on your toes for the ever changing conditions. Tyre choice would prove to be an important factor for this race with a lot of riders struggling for grip during the slippery laps. 
 
As is usual in Australian MTB racing, the occasional tree surprised a few people and a fair few shoulders were there to take the hit. Susanna Mills coming off a little worse for wear with a mild concussion and a handle bar in the mid section. 
 
All eye’s were on the new pairing of former 24hr World Solo Champion, Craig 'Gordo' Gordon and his new partner in crime Matthew Vassilieff. The young 16yr old clearly in awe of riding with the legend that is 'Gordo'. The pairing managed to take out 7hr line honours for Elite pairs and even managed to topple Elite teams of 3. 
Post race, Gordo expressed his pleasant surprise at Matt's lap times and had nothing but good things to say of the young uns ability. With some mentoring on the cards, Matt's skills and performance can only go skyward, which will certainly help for his 2018 XCO National series campaign. Watch this space people!
 Smiles on dials of new and old team members and several podium's for the fluro brigade, it was a big tick for yet another successful start to the Jet Black MTB Racing Team season.
 
Thanks as always to our sponsors. Without their support we would not be able to do what we do. 
 
A special mention to Martin and Julianne at Rockytrail Entertainment for celebrating their 10 years in the MTB game in Australia. Their brand just goes from strength to strength and each year they fine tune it to bring the best experience for mountain bikers of all genres, levels and abilities. Congratulations guys, and here's to another stellar 10 years!