A text message woke me up about 10 minutes before my alarm was set to sound: “Hear the news? Race HQ has been blown away. Hopefully try again at 9am. Mind u this wind doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.”
Arriving at Race HQ about 3 hours later, after driving past trees ripped out of the ground, large branches that had fallen from up high, and powerlines that looked more like pipe cleaners, Mogo oval looked like this:
The smart looking hub of activity from the day before had effectively been shredded and dismantled, and uncertainty hung in the air. Riders stood expectantly, waiting to hear if any racing would still be possible, or if it was time to accept that this is just one of those races that wasn’t meant to happen.
If you follow this blog, then you probably already know by now that event organisers, AROC, tried to stage a shorter 20km loop, that was shortened again (after another tree nearly fell on someone) to an 11km ride which was effectively an out-and-back along a powerline track, and included a section going the wrong way along a highway.
I started in the second wave of riders, which caught the back of the first wave after 2.5 minutes. After that the fire road was about five riders thick for the rest of the loop. I must admit to really enjoying the challenge of passing rider after rider on the hill climbs (340 vertical metres worth) and picking interesting lines as I did, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what a Euro World Cup XC race would be like (only with more elbows). The weirdest thing of all was that hardly a word was spoken on the course. Hardly a word.
Driving back to Sydney afterward, the sides of the road were littered with trees all the way to Nowra, although the force of the wind was still evident in Woolongong. It doesn’t take much imagination to work out what the Mogo singletrack would have looked like, but if you haven’t seen them already, these pictures are worth a look.
It was tough conditions for any event organiser to deal with and I want to thank AROC for the hard work they put in leading up to what would have been a great event. I’d also like to express my appreciation toward the hard work of those who spent Sunday clearing roads and restoring power, and to the dedication to come from those who will be working on clearing mountain bike trails up and down the South Coast for months to come.