The 2019 Maxxis Queensland Enduro Series is officially underway. With round one at Garapine now completed, we got Annelie to wrap up a successful opening race of the series.
Round 1 of the QLD Enduro Series pulls big numbers. This year it was 350 that put on a timing chip. There’s no wonder why really, the classic enduro experience is banter, slow climbs, sprint-downs and beer* (and/or champagne if you find yourself on the elite podium).
The following is a little recap of the day from my point of view.
(* over 18s obvi)
Having bunked at Garapine accommodation overnight (thanks to organisation from the lovely Craft family) it was pretty great not to have to do the drive up in the morning. Plus The Coffee Crate was open from 5:30am. It also meant we had registered the day before. Further, our cars were parked right near the race headquarters. Am I selling it?
Anyway, speaking of the day before. As everyone would know, shuttles were understandably cancelled because of a downpour of rain. So ride-ups for practice were the go, which is arguably more ‘enduro’ anyway. The rain beforehand had left mud, and the mud had spread nicely across bikes and riders by the end of practice. But, the word around Garapine-town that afternoon was that there would be perfect grip tomorrow, albeit with sections of point-and-shoot slime.
That prediction was pretty accurate. In the morning of race day I did King Brown to warm up and almost binned it just after the first drop on a grease patch. I squeaked a warning to Catherine O’Neil behind me (my ride buddy for the day, yay!) and heard a reassuring return squeak that she’d understood. That, or she almost binned it as well.
The rest of the run was fun as always. It helped too that my bike had just had a gear tune thanks to Darren Rees from ForTheRiders. That’s not just a plug – super grateful.
Once we’d made it back to the top I ate a banana through my helmet #foxproframe which I later sort-of regretted (socially, not nutritionally). Then after the rider briefing by Emma Bennett of Garapine, and Mark White from White Lightning Events, there were six stages to finish which all started from the top.
The guys from ForTheRiders said Short Notice was their plan for first up so we rolled over to the start. Catherine and my order of stages:
Short Notice (back stairs)
Drop Bear (shortest climb start)
Bone Yard (aka Blue)
Dumb It Down (no reference needed)
Double Barrel (ramp)
King Brown (road gap one)
Basically our reasoning for that order was: minimal climbing between runs at the start (Short Notice then Drop Bear); get the most pedal-y one over quickly while legs are semi-fresh (Bone Yard); then hit the most upper-body intensive one so that we’re not doing it with fatigued arms (Dumb It Down) and then after that it was just whatever start line was shortest.
There was also a bit of King Brown avoidance early on because we didn’t want to do the slippery rock garden. But that backfired a bit because we had tired legs on the pedalling sections. Favourite of the day was Drop bear for me!
The first stage went well for me, in that I thankfully didn’t have too much squirrel-brain. Catherine was pulled into a sludge-filled dip near the end, which was practically unavoidable given she hadn’t pre-ridden the day before. That one completely sucked the speed out of your tires, making it hard work to make it up a pinch climb you could have otherwise used momentum for easily.
We then had a fun time waiting to start Drop Bear, where we watched riders go over the first jump on Short Notice with an approximate 25% crash rate. Made time fly (only because no one was hurt).
Onto Bone Yard (aka Blue) and the racer who left in front of me didn’t have a chain (he didn’t point it out either… I randomly noticed). The stage with the most pedalling too! Sympathy was rife. Then at the bottom Catherine and I agreed, that slight uphill sprint alongside the road felt like we were towing hippos (one each).
Back at the top, eating some snacks, we watched Jamie Borg fixing a flat at the FTR tent then followed him down Dumb It Down. There, Michelle (aka EWS Masters first-place getter) gave a great high-energy heckle at the start.
It was drier than the day before but just as hit-and-miss as usual. I felt good about how it went at the bottom but noted from the results later in the day that Laura Craft had put 20 seconds into me on that two minute run. Laura you’re so good at being dumb! (haha jokes! You’re a weapon). Speaking of being dumb, that was when Jamie pointed out I had my full face helmet cheek pads clicked-in completely the wrong way around. Did the entirety of TransNZ in February like that too.
Moving on though, the rest of the trails went fairly smoothly for me so I was happy. Apart from a solid case right in front of Mike from Element (somehow the photo looks like I’m doing a bar turn? Actually I was trying to avoid case-bouncing off the trail – FYI turning the handlebar in mid-air doesn’t really change your flight path, but you don’t need me to tell you that).
In between runs it was also great to see how many women were out racing, although hopefully there will be more and more in years to come. There was always encouragement communicated on course if only just through smiles and nods when crossing paths. Having said that, encouragement came from every direction and it was great to feel that vibe so strongly as a female racer in what is currently a male-dominated sport. Not to mention it helps to have great teamies at the ForTheRiders tent.
Back to the race and in the last few stages the fatigue of sprinting downhill and spinning up was kicking in hard. I wasn’t particularly fit for this race (compared to other races, and my coach AB knew it too) but carbs always get you through. It was also surprisingly hot and humid given it’s almost May – I’m sure many other riders would verify.
Catherine and I made it back to the top to hand our timing chips in with about 15 minutes to go before the race finished at 2pm. Then it was food and podium-applauding time before a traffic-free drive back to Brisbane (feat. pitstop for more food).
Men’s elite podium:
Women’s elite podium:
Thank you Garapine and White Lightning Events for running the show, and sponsors for making it happen. Was a seriously good time! And very importantly, thank you Element Photo and Video Productions for making the fun continue through photos.
Thanks Annelie for the epic write-up and congratulations on the podium!
All photos from the event are available in our gallery.
You can see the full results here.
The 2019 Maxxis Queensland Enduro Series has only just begun. Here are the dates for the whole series: