Words: Michael Brown

Photos: Rocky Trail Entertainment

With this being the first Rockytrail Event for 2019 the team that could attend the 24hr were counting down the sleeps. After a well deserved break from racing it was time to head back to Rydal just outside the town of Lithgow for the 11th instalment of the Rockytrail 24hr.

The local club had done an amazing job in preparing the 9.2km course. During the week the blower vacs had been in full effect removing any loose gravel and really making the singletrack adventure one to remember. I know each people like different parts of the course through Robbie’s run which rewards the rider who can be very smooth around a huge amount of corners so not to burn too much energy then you head into Hazzard county where the course changes into a lot of gaps jumps with B lines, fast flowing sections where you can really open it up followed by the Hidden Valley to finish the course. 

With NSW copping a huge amount of rain the week prior Rydal seemed to really avoid a lot of that until a huge storm hit the camp on Friday afternoon and left in its wake decimated tents, marquees and a whole lot of mess. 

Saturday arrived and the team assembled along with a very large field of riders.  Warm up laps completed, team orders set and it was time to hand over to Martin Wisata and the Mayor of Lithgow to commence the 24hr race. This race has 2 formats – 24hr in teams or solo as well as the more relaxed 6 + 6 which means you race from 12pm till 6pm then recommence at 6am till 12pm the next day. In the previous year daylight was not up until 6:30am so a wise move was made to extend Saturday racing till 6:30pm and recommence at 7am on Sunday.

On the front row the young guns lined up determined to get the coveted hole shot into the singletrack. Owen Gordon, Brad Weston, Scotty Reynolds, Matt Howell and myself.  As the whistle blew it was on and I’m glad to say the old boys trumped the young ones again.  Settling into the explosive first lap and rhyme was tough as the pace was well on.  Once we got onto the fire road my job was done and it was time to punch out a nice smooth lap.  Other riders like Kevlar back for another crack at a 24hr solo saw a deflating rear tyre move him to 2nd last on the first lap from the whole field.  In Kevlar spirit he knew this was a 24h race and not a quick lap dash and just got on with the task of completing laps at a nice pace (more to come on that later)

Now post first lap it saw Owen followed by our young gun Brad Weston, Scotty Reynolds then the rest of the field shot through to either hand over to their race partners and head out on the 2nd laps.

With the Rydal weather being picture perfect the temp began to rise as did the battles during the race.  The Gordo Show was battling the MTOSS team of Felly & Malachi.  Now during the week having a conversation with ex 24hr World Champ - Gordo he made it clear that the goal was not to only win the 6+6 outright but to lap the next team.  Some sums were done and it was expected this may happen mid way through day 2 but in true Owen & Gordo fashion this occurred on Day 1.  They headed into the 2ndday of racing 1 lap & 4 minutes up on the MTOSS crew and the decision was made to push harder and lap them again which was going to be a tall ask in 5hrs of racing on Sunday.  As they say dream and believe it, you can make it happen.  That it did…  Top form from the dynamic duo.

The team of 6 for the 24hr was a very interesting battle (Troy, Steve, Tom, Matty, Karen & Allan).  Troy with his noteboard of data kept the team up to date with all the stats they needed.  They pressed on with continued fast laps and it was called pre-race NO Team would hit 50 laps.  They did this and with Karen handing over to Steve a few minutes before race finished achieved 51 laps to take the overall 24hr win.

Other notable people racing were:
Amanda & Myself racing in the Mixed 6+6. 
Amanda only on her 2nd Rockytrail MTB race provided some very consistent lap times for the whole weekend and seem to enjoy the challenges that Rydal put in front of her.
Steve & Paul racing Masters 6+6.
Again new to the MTB racing scene both guys enjoyed the weekend and late Saturday afternoon the mid race beer kicked in and some of the fastest lap times for the weekend were scene.  20 laps completed and 8th in Category.
John & Glenn
The old lads put everything in on the weekend and left nothing in the tank.  18 laps and 9th in category.
Candace, Iona, Daniel & Jayden
This junior team of 4 raced 6+6 and for the boys it was their first ever Rockytrail race.  All completed the weekend with 16 laps and 2nd in category.  Both Steve and Tom the fathers of the boys had a smile on their face all weekend seeing both Daniel & Jayden get out there on the trails to enjoy what they are both so passionate about.  Jayden even snuck in a 33 minute lap which was a super fast time.

Brad Weston raced in the WSMTB juniors team and these guys were super fast all weekend.  Brad even managed to sneak in and get 2nd fastest race lap just behind Owen.  Look forward to seeing these juniors out racing during the season.
Now onto some more of our 24hr Category racers.
Catherine Wood
Catherine was a previous team sponsor way back when it all started and having the opportunity to again have her in the team is great.  Catherine really pushed and was in the first ¼ of the race in the lead overall against the World Champion Gywnn.  In her usual style she kept turning pedals and managed an incredible 31 laps during the race.
Dalene Pretorius
oDalene is always a crowd and racers favourite out on course and had stepped up to crack the 24hr solo.  Dalene managed 20 laps and completed the final lap to the cheering of the crowd on hecklers corner and the main pits with Catherine.
The Old Boys Team of 3 – Peter, Guru & Wiggys
These guys came and raced together last year and being old, stubborn and not knowing better just kept turning the pedels around and around lap after lap.  Now there theory is that slow and steady can win a race.  In a 24hr they proved that true.  Double laps from the start was the key to allowing longer breaks and recovery.  The Team completed 40 laps.
Last but not least Kevlar
A phone call to Kev’s coach Chops a few weeks early went something like this ‘Chop’s, I want to race the 24hr.  What training can I cram in before the event?’.  I am not sure if Chops thought Kevlar was delirious and having a lend of him or what.  But together they set about preparing as best they could in as short amount of time they could.  As mentioned earlier Kev’s race didn’t start well and over the first few laps with tyre pressure issues he dropped down.  But in true style he just keep rolling laps, staying to a plan and was moving up the leaderboard.  When the morning arrived 1st place in category was his.  The next question was where am I on GC – 5th.  Goal was to catch 4th.  A few quick laps back to back and that was done.  A lot of people were in awe of the achievement with so little training he dug deep to not only complete the 24hr but take his 1st win in this format.

To wrap things up the weekend again was another awesome Rockytrail event.  The team always looks forward to racing at any of their events.  The vibes, atmosphere and riders that attend make it so enjoyable.  All not possible for the JB team without our amazing sponsors. 
Great to hear some kudo’s back from Catherine Wood that after 24hrs the new PRISM kit was amazing and she could still sit on the saddle.  All of the team and people have commented on the new kit and love it.  Great job there from Ollie and the PRISM team on delivering the goods for our race kits.