2022 Season Review
2022 race season is over and it’s time to reflect on what has been a busy, straight out of Covid year. I thought I’d pick a few of my favourite races of the year and also the most challenging. This year I’ve changed jobs, moved house, gone overseas twice and been away more weekends than I’ve been home.
Here is a little wrap of my biggest events
Road Nationals - 15th
Road Nationals is the ultimate challenge of the year. The course is brutal, it’s summer and everyone is fit, so there is no excuses for not being in top shape. It’s why I like it so much because when else do you get to go up against the best with nil excuses, on a course which demands everything out of you physically. The weekend started well with teammate and good friend Cam Ivory winning the Criterium on the Friday night. On Saturday, I had my best friend’s wedding in which I was the best man for, making it a weekend with two very important days. Juggling both events was a mission and I never wanted to compromise either. The wedding went off and I got back home late enough from the night but kept in my mind the hard work for road nationals is already done and just had to keep my head screwed on.
In the end I finished up 15th at Road Nationals, a result I was proud of all things considered. Good mate Chris Hamilton was also at the wedding on Saturday and both of us were together towards the end of the race and had a good chuckle about our performances after a good friend’s wedding.
Falls Creek XCO State Rounds – 1st
One of the best all-round riding weekends. Post road nationals the form was good and felt unreal during the race, able to take the win even after minimal MTB time. Post this I spent the next day doing a big back country ride into the mountains and was epic. It was one of the best days exploring I’ve ever had, riding out towards Mount Feathertop from Falls creek.
Tour Down Under 17th
Goal race achieved - even if it wasn’t the full world tour experience. After watching it on TV so many times, it was epic to ride the iconic courses. Form was good, I hesitated on Stage 1 missing the break which made the race in the end and overall ended up 17th on GC. On the last stage up the classic Willunga climb I was 5th from the bunch up the hill and only a couple of seconds off of Richie Port’s wheel. This was an unreal experience, going full tilt up Willunga with a crowd and knowing it’s what I’ve seen on TV so may times.
State XCO Champs – Red Hill 1st
Picked up my third State Championship in a row – race went smooth able to lead from start to finish. Red Hill is one of my favourite courses and locations. The track is based off the side of Mount Arthur and just 5mins down the hill is the beach filled with pizza and gelati restaurants. A highlight was my brothers return to form finishing 3rd and having my niece and nephew there to watch.
National XCO Championships – Maydena Tasmania - 5th
I have not fully focused on XCO over the past complete of years, however, am always motivated for National Champs. Had a good few weeks preparation purely on the MTB and felt as though this course at Tassie suited my characteristics. Coming into the end of lap one I had a front flat and fortunately was able to reach the feed zone and swap wheels. The time loss obviously affected me, although I think I got too worked up in the catching up, pushed the red zone and blew up on the last few laps. In the end I finished 5th but knew it could’ve been a better day.
Otway Odyssey and Great Otway Gravel Grind - 1st
My favourite MTB marathon and I was all geeed up for it… but again flatted at the 75km mark where the race was just starting to unfold. Obviously pretty frustrating, particularly as I felt as though I’d paced the race well. Having not put any extra energy out and wanting to wait for what I knew this course still had in store, the final 25km being hilly as hell.
The Gravel Grind the following day was my redemption and I was lining up after wining the last 4 editions in a row. I didn’t change a thing attacking at the same point as previous years and getting another win being 5 in a row on 5/5 attempts. A stat I’m astonished of.
Harcourt Gravel Classic – 1st
A super fun local gravel race put on by the local club. I’d won it the previous year and again managed to get the win with an attack 10km from the line. It’s a favourite race of the year as it’s cool to race your local roads, see other people travel into the area and that my family come along to the finish.
Tour of Thailand
First of the Asian road races I had planned for the year. It was the first time travelling overseas since 2018 USA trip and certainly felt strange initially to travel again. I knew the race didn’t particularly suit my characteristics with 6 days of super long 150-200km stages but was keen for the experience and help teammates. Its was a great experience and a good way to get the travel bug going again.
Raced my first Enduro race on my Merida Ninety-Six. The course was on near-enough to local trails and I enjoyed competing thoroughly. Certainly think competing in the odd Enduro race would be great for the MTB skills and for sure will be back for more. I was happy enough to just beat my brother on a couple of stages only using my XC bike.
Devils Cardigan - 1st
Most fun weekend of the year - I love riding in Tassie, the terrain is wild and the people are full of passion. The event was located in Derby, the organisers helped my girlfriend (Mon) and I out with accommodation right on top of the hill in a tiny little miners cottage. The race was held in the middle of June in Tassie… so it wasn’t going to be easy/ warm. The race loop was a remote one, riding out to the mountains right behind Derby, where I feel like not many travel. The race felt like a great adventure and I ended up winning, going long with a good 40km from the finish line. That night I went to the best presentations I’ve ever attended. The whole event seemed to have stayed on and were crammed into the local town hall, making an eclectic atmosphere. Post presentations, every entry come with a dinner voucher at the local pub with the entire race piling into the bar and bistro.
The event had a sponsor in Devil’s Larger and I may have got to pour a beer or two from behind the bar. The most important thing to mention is that by winning my name is now embroidered on an actual cardigan made by the end organiser’s mother. I also won a sack of potatoes and after giving some away, brought the sack home which is hung up in the shed with the Devil’s Cardigan print on it. The next day Mon and I crammed the worlds quickest and productive one day tour of Tassie, exploring as many sites as possible.
The Devil’s Cardigan was my standout race of the year and recommend it to anyone.
Seymore Gravel Tour
This year my older brother rode from the top of Norway to the southern most tip of Spain by himself and in his trusty tent. He completed the 7,000km trip no problem but prior to his departure I was a little worried and thought we’d better go on a quick bike touring trip just to make sure he’s up for it.
This ended up being the coldest two days of my life and is so funny when I think back. The first night was so cold, that we ended up cutting the tour short and riding the full 180km trip home in one go. It was a memorable failure of a trip and failed to show me any confidence of Russell’s adventure, but non the less it all worked out fine for his trip. Perhaps he was better off with out me!
National Gravel Champs - 3rd
Biggest opportunity and biggest disappointment of the year. I was pretty meticulous in preparation for this and Marathon Champs, being just two weeks apart from each other and knew that it was a huge two weeks of opportunity. In fact, my July month was my biggest training volume month this year which was a good effort considering it’s mid-winter. On the day I felt unreal, just made a real blunder tactically and in the end finished up 3rd.
National Marathon Champs - 2nd
Again, good feelings throughout the race and by the last 25km was whittled down to just Trekky and I- a situation I’m starting to get very familiar with. We both had our own cracks at each other, but we seemed to be stuck like glue. I’ve finished on the podium multiple times before, but not yet won a marathon title, with the motivation being extremely high to grab that green and gold. Coming into the sprint finish I was leading, going through a technical finish loop which we had not completed in the race circuit. In one split second I misjudged the final corner, going onto what was a velodrome finish and had to watch as an impossible gap opened up with Trekky going on to take the win.
Before the start of every race, I always check the run into the finish in case of a sprint like this. This was the one time I didn’t and although it was poorly marked, take full responsibility - as like normal ‘should have checked it’. Adding this and the Gravel Champs near-misses certainly sucked and a hard one to digest. In saying that I learnt a lot from these two races and know better than to dwell on the ‘what could have been’ and rather just enjoy the process.
Reef to Reef – Cairns - 1st
What I call a half holiday, half race. Reef to Reef is a 4 day pairs stage race riding around Cairns and Port Douglas. I found a good pairing in Alex Lack a mate from Tasmania, who is bloody good on the bike and a pleasure to be around. The race went basically perfect for us winning the first three stages and the overall. With Mon tagging along too we enjoyed a Crocodile tour and a snorkel trip out to the Great Barrier reef which was awesome even if I was pretty seasick.
Cattlemen 100 – 2nd
Massive day out it’s 175km and 4500m of elevation gain through the remote mountains of Omeo. I brought out a special set up for this race, bringing back the Merida Big-Nine hard tail with added TT bars for comfort. The bike was perfect and basically had a faultless race – with myself just getting pipped to the line by Dan McConnel. Dan and I had an all-time battle, In the last 10km I managed to drop him but he just reeled me in from what felt like out of nowhere, to take it out. This style of racing is awesome and especially enjoyed the hospitality of staying in small town areas.
Tour of Bright – 2nd
I’ve had that many bad attempts at Tour of Bright I wasn’t even going to go. It’s a race I know I can do well in but never have, in the past I’ve been sick, crashed and basically just under performed. In the end I finished second in the Tour and it felt great to put to bed the prior demons of what is a great race. I first watched my older brother race it as a kid and now I definitely feel like I’ve got the bragging rights over him. Also, next time I’d take a TT bike as I certainly didn’t help myself in that department.
That’s my year, thanks for following along and to Merida Bikes for their support. Overall, the year was a success, I enjoyed it and still felt like I progressed. This year I’ve also done more running, swimming and gym work which I’ve grown to love and helps me keep fresh minded on the bike. It also makes me feel more robust and better as a well-rounded athlete not just a biker rider.
Next year I’ve been selected in the Lifetime Grand Prix in the USA which is a huge gravel and mountain bike series. This means planning a big trip to the USA starting mid next year for what is a dream race calendar I’m looking forward to. I’ll keep you updated before this and adventures along the way.
Thanks for reading,