There was lots of racing on over last weekend and we had a hard choice to make about just what we would do, road or mountain bike, a Tour or some Crits. We ended up down in the great little town of Forrest for the Forrest Festival, a two day multi stage mountian bike event based right out of the town, put on by Norm Douglas and all his crew. The event drew more than 350 riders plus support crew, having the town full of life and all the local businesses flat out for the weekend. We were looking for a hard weekend of racing, and we knew we would get it here, 4 stages on day one and then a solid 50 km marathon stage on day two, we also wanted to continue with our prescribe dose of fun and smiles you always get at a MTB event. Well we got what we went for, stacks of fun and smiles, but also the format and our wanting to push ourselves hard made for a very solid weekend, our current level of training and tiredness levels not at all ready for the intensity, its fair to say we spent some four plus hours at 90% or above. After a rainy week in Tassie at HELLFIRE CUP I had pulled up a little better than Bec this due for the most part to her having a very busy week at work and with it some very busy night shifts. The weather was a contrast to Tassie and also another shock to the system particularly on the second day, the first day of summer and it felt like it, having me longing for rain. ( now we get it 3 days later I want the sun to come back out! )
It was a great overall race field, with some big names in the elite field including Eliminator world champ Paul Van Der Ploeg in the mens, and in the Womens Xterra professional Renata Bucher of Switerland. There was also a host of other categories, including the “Clydesdle” all these guys weighing in over 91kg!
Day one was four stages, and made for very hard intense racing, it reminded me of racing at some of the track carnivals but with longer races, and well just a lot harder! Stage one was a 15 km cross country race, taking in the trails of “Third time Lucky”, “Follow the Dog”, “Roller Coater” and the “Forrest Loop”. It was a mass start and the elite women started tacked in with the elite men making it very fast, and big shock to our systems, it was straight into the red for Bec and myself. We hurt ourselves a bit too much at the start and both had some offs, this tends to happen when we push ourselves into the red a little to far on the mtb, something we are working on :)! I had a host of what you could call silly offs and Bec well I think she decided she wanted to be like the bloke dressed as superman for the weekend, although she went for the moves rather than the looks, lunching herself from her bike over one of the bridge crossings. Renata took out the stage from Jenni King, 3rd was Anna Beck and I recovered ok for 4th, Bec came in busied but ok.
Less than two hours recovery and it was into stage two, a hill climb time trail 5km, no it doesn’t sound far, but cricky did it hurt, a bit of “Larry lactate” hanging on from stage one helping to add to the hurt! We went off in 30second gaps, giving you a carrot to chase, this didn’t help me though feeling like the carrot was stack to the back of my head! The first part was false flat fire road, then hitting a short step climb before the gradient settled down a little for the final couple of km, a fast packed climb to the finish. Finishing in a full blown wheezing state trying to get the air in the lungs I felt better as one by one riders came in looking in the same state! Renata cleaned up the stage, Anna picked up second and Lisa Jacobs picked up 3rd on her cyclocross bike.
Stage 3 was right off the back of stage 2 with just 10 min or so to recover after finishing your up hill TT, it was a Super D (Time Trial) decent from the top down “Red Capet” making the climb up all worthwhile! Again we went off in 30 second gaps, all flying down in what was far more enjoyable, in my case a bit crazy, than the previous stage. Jenni grabbed the stage from Renata and I was very happy to pick up 3rd, given my style in these types of decants resembles my ski days back as a child where I was able to go down fast, but more so because I couldn’t turn or stop rather than having any skill!
We had a little more recovery to be ready for stage 4 that afternoon, another high intensity hit out, going off in pairs, you and you closest rival on GC, it was a timed sprint of 5km around “Caspers revenge”, this I have renamed “Grass tree revenge”, after a little grass tree, all of 40cm’s, jumped out at me from no where stopping me in my tracks making me turn around as if to say “hey you go back the other way”! This was also a great stage to watch as the course looped back past the start/ finish, a tight corner providing some spectacular cornering, those racing feeling no pressure at all to not lose it on the gravelly before they headed out onto the tail end on of the lap. Renata grabbed another stage win, 2nd was Jennie and 3rd Anna.
The Next day we awoke to a beautiful day all ready for the 50km marathon, actually I am not sure that’s true, I wasn’t ready for a 50km marathon. A mass start, elite Men and Women lining up at the front and it was another fast start. We headed out of town on the Forrest Tiger Rail Trail and then into about 30km of single track on the Yaugher trail network before finishing off by heading back to town on the Tiger Rail Trail. The race got strung out up the first climb and then it was off into the single track as always at Forrest for more great trails, and it made for a great day for Bec and myself to work on our single track riding at intensity. It did though get pretty warm by mid way through the race, I began to suffer in the heat a bit, by 30k I was making mistakes and one that is still hurting me (suffering a low grade concision) was head butting a tree, overhanging one I think, I don’t really know. What ever it was It stopped me in my tracks and man did it hurt, but I did race on to the finish. Renata and Jenni had a close race for 1st and 2nd, Anna picked up 3rd, followed by Terri Rhodes myself and Bec. It was a very solid few hours on the bike for all.
Seeing the medic after the race to be on the safe side when going through questioning regarding previous injuries, among other things I advised him of four occasions of concision and being knocked out cold, he clearly not a bike person looked back very oddly at me as if to say why? I just said we are an odd lot, but you wont understand until you try it. During Event Presentation this comment was added too, as proceedings were underway two female riders came in to cheers from the crowd, having only just finished the race, dusty and sweaty, they were a long way behind most, but obviously had had a great time out there. Norm grab them for a chat, one Heather Burge who was in the 60+ category telling the story of her race last year where she had broken her foot, and how when telling the doc how it had happened in a Mountain Bike race she said it was a bit embarrassing, he remarked oh no that’s better than falling off a ladder like most the old people that come in here! How can you not agree with that! All in all really it just hits home how much fun it all is! This was our first Forrest Festival and we are glad we flicked the road this week and headed down, getting the best hit out, a really hard weekends racing in and also getting to enjoy the great atmosphere of a great event and all the people who came with it! NW / RL
Overall final placings for the Elite Women;
2. Jenni King
3. Anna Beck
5. Naomi Williams
6. Rebecca Locke
Overall final placings for the Elite Men;
1. Kyle Ward
2. Paul Van Der Ploeg
3. Peter Kutschera
4. Daniel Braunsteins
5. Tom Goddard
6. Matt Moian
You can find full results and more here – FORREST FESTIVAL