NSWCX Series – Round 4 Narabundah, ACT aka ‘The Bundahdome’
Posted by auscxmag
Posted in News
words: Carl Fokkema photography: Andrew Collins
The Final Round of the four race NSW/ACT CX Series was held at Narabundah Velodrome in the ACT, affectionately known as ‘The Bundahdome’. With the best three races counting for overall series standings, the results in the ACT would determine the Series winners.
A wet week preceding the race and a forecast temperature of -2 to 8C looked set to result in Euro cross conditions, though riders were assured by BrewCX Paul Aubrey that the venue ‘drained well’. The drive from Sydney to Canberra was uneventful, except for a greener than normal landscape, a fair amount of water in Lake George and temperatures ranging from -2C to 6C. Whilst organizers were onsite at 7am or earlier battling below freezing temperatures, racers began to roll in from about 9am and were greeted with a sunny, windless, balmy 4C. Unfortunately, the wind got up and brought with it clouds and occasional drizzled in prior to commencement of racing, resulting in cold conditions, with temperatures never getting above 6C.
A preliminary walk of the venue proved Paul Aubrey to be correct, the ground had indeed drained well and although the course would cut up a bit and be slippery in parts, it was thankfully not a full Belgian ‘modder’. Features of the course included trademark ‘Aubrey’ off camber, stair run, double barrier ‘wall’ run-up – bonus for A Grade / Masters Men only (more on that later), double barriers on the velodrome infield, marginally rideable ‘left/right’ climb combinations and spiral of death (© Dirty Deeds). To give riders some respite, a bit of concrete time was provided, courtesy of the velodrome providing a breather from the somewhat bumpy course.
Hot coffee, soup and bread were on tap whilst a ‘serious’ PA system, banging out some sick beats, provided a great atmosphere.
Racing commenced with an impressive C Grade field, comprising bikes of all descriptions. Observations proved that this would be a difficult course for all grades. The C Grade race was followed by a combined A Grade Women / B Grade race. The pace was on right from the go, with Claire Aubrey particularly fast off the start. She didn’t let up, schooling many of the B-Grade men to take a convincing win on home turf over Fiona Morris in 2nd and Gina Ricardo for 3rd. With equal points for 1st in NSW/ACT Series between Morris and Ricardo, the final decision went to a ‘countback’ and Gina Ricardo was awarded winner of the Women’s A Grade 2016 NSW/ACT CX Series.
An honourable mention should go to Benjamin Weser, whose German CX heritage gave him the edge on the infield of the velodrome; he was the only rider in the A Grade Women / B Grade race able to jump the double barriers.
A 10min kids race, always the highlight of any CX event, was held in the middle of the velodrome, with lots of happy, smiling faces adding to the atmosphere.
The final event of the day was A Grade / Masters Men and there was a lot at stake. A win for either Garry Millburn or Chris Aitken in A-Grade would see them wrap up the Series. In the Masters category, Carl Fokkema of Get Rad Racing was an outside chance to take out the Masters category, with main rival Stu Adams noticeably absent (a Byron Bay folk festival allegedly luring him any from the cold climes of Canberra). However, the entry of local vetran gun Brad Morton, who had shown his speed and skill at a previous race at the Bundahdome, added another dimension to the lineup.
A minor course amendment thankfully deleted the additional double barrier ‘wall’ run-up, a welcome change for all racers and a sensible decision. This also meant that the stair run-up became a focal point that was affectionately referred to as ‘hecklers hill.’
With everyone lined up and ready to go (except unfortunately Mr CX – Sean Couley due to family illness), Darryl Cram ‘Commissare Extraordinaire’ held us for a mercifully short period in the cold conditions. From the off it was Garry ‘holeshot’ Millburn and Chris Aitken with a fast following Noah Barrow (surprisingly after some start line banter suggesting he was rubbish). Millburn and Aitken got a gap pretty quickly and battled it out as per script in most NSW/ACT races. A chase group formed with Johnny Law, Noah Barrow, Shaun Lewis, Andrew Blair and Brad Morton, with a slow starting but fast chasing Nicholas Smith closing in. Aitken and Millburn gapped each other at various points in the race, only to have the distance bridged and hostilities resume. Millburn made the final one stick, taking the win on the day and the Series overall. Further back in A Grade there was some tight racing on the technical and increasingly slippery course, Nicholas Smith redeeming himself from a slow start to catch the group in front, putting in a well timed attack to claim 3rd place, followed by Johnny Law and Noah Barrow.
The Masters race was over almost before it started, with Brad Morton getting a good start and up the road at the pointy end of A-Grade. Conversely, Carl Fokkema had an almost ‘signature’ slow start, before recovering and joining a group with a flying Dave Musgrove, James Collins, Paul Aubrey, Paul Spencer and Jeff Curtes. Unfortunately Curtes was having a ‘bad day,’ influenced by a recent stay in hospital, and was dropped by the group. The Masters were all pretty tight with some soft attacks and counter attacks – until Paul Aubrey abruptly stopped on the infield to have a mid race ‘technicolour yawn,’ ending his race early and straight into race marshal duties. Paul Spencer faded a little and it was left to Dave Musgrove, James Collins and Carl Fokkema to fight out the minor placings. Musgrove was in great form riding the technical areas, teaming up with Fokkema to entertain the crowds with their synchronized bunny hoping of the double barriers. After a few digs Fokkema ‘cooked’ himself and complained of a rapidly dropping HR, though he managed to hold on for 4th. Morton easily rode to the win, with Musgrove and Collins fighting it out to place 2nd and 3rd respectively, Spencer managing 5th.
Despite his absence, Stu Adams deservedly took out the NSW/ACT CX Masters Series.