Ever wondered why cyclocross bike’s are so popular? Well they are so versatile and reliable on any surface. Topgear Cycles Team rider Bryce Young has tried one out for a few weeks on a few different rides. Check out his thoughts below…
“After spending the time to get the setup right the Crux has continued to amaze me by its versatility and how rewarding every ride is.
An hour or two on a mix of known dirt and sealed tracks was all that was needed to be ready to use the Crux in the recent 65km Dirty Gran Fondo.
The Crux has no trouble holding speed on the undulating logging tracks of Mt Disappointment north of Melbourne. Whether on the brake hoods or down in the drops, the Crux is easily guided across seemingly rough terrain in a comfortable manner. The all-terrain tyres provide exceptional traction and control on both steep climbs and steep descents and return every confidence when riding into and through corners of varying surface condition.
In a more urban scene a new element of fun exists in the commute to and from work. The sealed paths of the ever-expanding cycle network can be ridden with road bike efficiency without any need to panic if the path condition slowly deteriorates, or even becomes a gravel track. Once again, the efficiency continues and the tyres perform well and within their capability, wet conditions are no challenge and that shortcut (or maybe longer diversion) around the oval or on the other side of the creek is a new possibility. With the inclusion of disc brakes the increased stopping efficiency is a very welcome addition that also removes the past worry of gravel or water on the braking surface on the rims.
Venturing out on a recent Sunday social ride we started on the bitumen to wynd our way toward the back country roads of Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs (Arthur’s Creek, Hurstbridge, Wattle Glen, etc). This gave the advantage of maintaining the fitness levels on roads that have very little (if any) traffic. Apparently there was some rain adding to the already wet roads but it didn’t seem to throw any dampener on the ride. Another 60+ km’s ridden on mostly dirt roads, with some corrugation making my teeth rattle where the wheels, tyres, comfort and efficiency were not a limitation. After a clean the Crux is ready again for the recovery commute…”
Topgear Cycles Team rider Virgini Bernard took on the challenge of a off road triathlon in NSW and was first age group women to cross the line, here is her race report and photos.
Better late than never (it’s been three weeks now!), here is my Xterra Jervis Bay 2016 story.
I was pretty excited to head again to Jervis Bay for XTerra Asia Pacific and Australian championships. My training had been pretty relaxed since Crackenback, but it seemed to suit me well at the time and I was pretty happy with how well things were going for me in the three sports.
This was my second time racing XTerra Jervis Bay, having raced there 2 years ago. Since then I had also become quite knowledgeable of the region since my partner Scooter grew up in Nowra and his parents still live in this area. I even went on – what I thought were – MTB training rides at Christmas and Easter (yep, a lot of road trips from Melbourne).
Two years ago I was a complete beginner in MTB’ing and I had unresolved health issues which meant that although I was very happy to be at the start line and then reach the finish line, this race in 2014 definitely wasn’t the race of my life.
This time round, not saying that expectations were high given how long my racing season had been, but there were definitely expectations of competitiveness improvement!
I had plans to drive there with my good friend Chris Dimos (an Epic rider as well, dealing with the good people of Berwick Cycles) who is also quite addicted to all things off road. Unfortunately Chris had come down on his last training ride (the Sunday before!) in the Youies, smashing his shoulder on one of the nasty rock gardens. Diagnostic was broken collar bone. Chris eventually still decided to come with me on the drive, which saved me from trying to book flights and buses two days before the race…
Chris had rented a house by the beach, sharing with other athletes. One of them was Renata Bucher and she was waiting for me to complete a training lap of the bike leg, we also ended up riding with Elite Triathlete Penny Hosken. The start of the ride was similar to the bike course two years ago, with some riding on 4-wheel drive roads with huge deep puddles. To my surprise the second part of the ride was on single tracks I hadn’t ridden before. Speak of secret training at Christmas and Easter!! The single tracks were in pretty good conditions and this bike leg (one lap 30km) was a lot of interesting fun!
The next day (Friday) Renata and I went on a little swim and (part) run reccie. It was really good to get to know her better and share her experienced elite race prep, especially the swim reccie that I have never really done properly. The rest of the day went by quickly just sitting around the house resting up the legs, watching the heavy rains as they came and went…
Then came race day. One word when we woke up: STORM. The weather seemed bad enough in the morning when the enticer and sprint races were on. By 11:30am when we lined up for the Championship race, it was havoc. No rain, but the wind and the chop were shockers.
The XTerra people decided that we would do a one lap 1.5km swim instead of the usual 2 lap 750m swim. It was bad enough trying to swim through the break once, they didn’t want people to fight through that twice (and tired the second time).
I had a chuckle thinking about our swim reccie the day before, completely useless!!
So off we went. The current due to the waves was huge. I’ve made the mistake before to still spot the buoys in these conditions. That leads to a terrible fail, right? So I was very careful to keep sighting way off to the left, because that’s where the waves were coming from. Well, that worked pretty well and I was feeling sorry for all the people I could see drifting away…
When I exited the water I knew I was well placed, but quite unsure of overall placing.
The transition areas and race HQ were situated on the RSL car park 600m from the beach. So we had a “pre-T1” transition area where we could put runners on to run to T1. With all the rain we had the day before and overnight, T1 was already a mud fest.
I reached my bike and I can see that all the other bikes around are still in. Winning!
Off on the bike, I decide to ride conservatively on the fire roads. It would be very easy to go hard on these sections and be cooked with 25km to go. At the 5km point, I get passed by another female age grouper, and I am very proud to say that I decided to stick to my plan. No chasing. But then she passed me, slowed right down and I ended up on her wheel in about 15sec. A bit puzzled, I rode around her and I can hear her breathing hard. Like, hard. With 25kms to go. Well, good luck to her. I never saw her again (except on the podium!).
I went around the bike course feeling very slow. Ha! The week before I had raced the You Yangs Crazy 6hrs and this course is very very fast. So on this sticky muddy technical course, I felt… slow. I even stopped for a couple of mud baths. But then nobody caught me except a few guys. So surely it wasn’t that bad!
Back in transition and my support crew is hysterical. Still leading!! I put my runners on and I’m headed to the beach again for the 2kms beach run section.
Yes, it was still windy, and we were running straight into it. I ended up having to carry my visor in my hand, it just wouldn’t have stayed on.
The run was a mix of beach sand, sandy trails, muddy trails, puddles, a bit of road. A lot of fun. I was happy to be able to run at a good pace after my horrible run leg at Crackenback. I was passed by a couple of guys but no girl, woohoo!
Onto the finish in a little under 3hrs, first female age grouper. I managed to beat one of the 10 female pros so I was 9th female overall.
And because it really was my day, I won an XTerra wetsuit as the fastest female AG split.
I had no idea they were giving away wetsuits for fastest swim splits! Nice! And I also made the video cut, which really makes me feel like a movie star, just for one day.
Big shout out to my favourite bike shop people, Top Gear Cycles’ Peter and Celine and the team for the on-going support. It’s great to know that you guys are only a phone/text message away for advice and gear selection. I’m very proud to be racing under your colours… also because this tri suit is fantastic!
Xterra New Zealand
1000m Swim/27km Mtb Ride/11km Trail Run
Xterra New Zealand is an off road triathlon set in the beautiful surrounds of Rotorua. The mountain bike trails built in the Whakarewarewa Forest are world famous with over 120km of amazing signposted tracks. The race itself starts on Lake Tikitapu, one of many lakes in and around Rotorua. The event attracts over 2000 competitors with trail runs, Mountain bike race’s, and off road triathlons. I entered the long course race which is a qualifing race for the Xterra world champs in Hawaii. The distance is 1000m swim , 27 km mtb ride and a 11km trail run.
After injuring my calf on a hiking trip 4 weeks earlier I wasn’t expecting to much of a result , infact I didn’t know if I could even get to the finish line as I was still hobbling a few days before the race.
Race day was perfect with cool morning, overcast with no wind. Our race was at 11am so the conditions were perfect. After a traditional Maori welcome the race started with a mass start. The quality of the water is truly amazing, crystal clear and about 18 degrees. I managed a good start only to loose a lot of places around the first buoy. Swimming’s not my strength and I just tried to concentrate on my technique and get out of the water in one piece.
Transition is right on the lake with just a over-pass stair climb to negotiate. The first 2km of the bike course is a tight flowing single track path, which made passing very hard. Once we got onto the fire road climb we could sort our selves out. The bike course includes some of the best single track trails in the Redwoods MTB park that I have ever ridden. The race organisers had set out a good course with fireroads making up most of the climbing and some sweet flowing single track on the down hills. With my poor swim I get frustrated in the singletrack with the slower riders and big groups that are hard to ride past. I kept telling my self that I really need to improve my swim if I am ever going to move up in my age group. The 26km took me approx 90min with a crazy 7 min descent to finish of the bike course. Certainly a challenging bike course for triathlete’s and mountain bikers alike.
The run is two laps of Lake Tikitapu which is made up of single track , a nasty set of stairs , sand and a undulating fire road. I managed to jog most of the first lap with my calf holding up thanks to the calf guards that I had brought during the week.
I always thought they looked strange but I am a big wrap for these after wearing them. Even though my race prep was limited and my fitness since my last race in Jinderbine 8 weeks earlier has slipped I was happy to get to the finish line on a challenging course. I managed 14th in my category and are already planning to race here next year. Next time allowing extra days to explore the local trails after the race.
Race results for the Elites
Lizzie Orchard, NZL
Sarah Backler, NZL
Rachel Challis, NZL
Mary Gray, NZL
Pl Name Final
1 Braden Currie, NZL 2:05:42
2 Sam Osborne, NZL 2:07:23
3 Bradley Weiss, RSA 2:11:33
4 Olly Shaw, NZL 2:11:50
Lake Crackenback Cross Triathlon Race Report
Hey everyone, my name is Virginie and this is my first race report as part of the Top Gear Racing Team.
I started my sporting career as a triathlete a few years ago and got pushed into the off road adventure a couple of years ago.
I got my first MTB two years ago and I’ve been riding it on and off the first year “participating” at the odd MTB and off road events until the news came down that the Cross Triathlon Worlds Champs would be in Australia at Lake Crackenback in November 2016. I started riding my MTB more seriously last winter. Training was going great guns, with me winning the Cross Triathlon Victorian Champs in my age group in Bendigo last November.
Fast forward to February… and the Cross Triathlon Australian Champs. Training had been good, I felt my MTB had gone up a notch and my running was going well.
If you have never stayed in the Thredbo/Crackenback area, please, go. It is an amazing place in lots of different ways. It’s high up there in altitude (by Australian standards…), comparable to Falls Creek, but it doesn’t look like it. The resorts sit along the Thredbo/Crackenback river so they actually look like villages in the valley. With Mt Kosciusko on one side, you don’t really feel like you’re on top of the world like in Falls Creek or Hotham. Plenty of trees and wild life (deers, kangaroos). And the warmth. Air temp 22 degrees, feels like 30.
Pre race preparation went fine.
The lake was a bit warm with lots of things growing in it. A bit like swimming in this lake where Harry Potter has to dive in to save Ron and Hermione from the lake people in the Three Wizard Tournament movie.
The MTB course was nice, flowy and fun but to be honest I was a bit disappointed because it seemed too easy to ride. I had spent time improving my skills and it didn’t seem to matter that much on this course. Oh well.
The run course was designed to test strength. That’s OK, I feel strong!
Then came race day. Bring it on.
Turned out it was going to be a non wetsuit swim. That made me happy because I’m a strong swimmer, am I not?
Well, yes I usually am. I didn’t have a good start, then got bashed and pushed down. I ended up swimming breaststroke 40m in to calm down a panic attack. Things settled after that and it was a long slow slog to pass as many people as I could. When I exited the water I didn’t have my usual lead (was 3rd) and I felt I had used up much more energy than usual. As I found out later this is called ‘swimming in altitude’.
Onto the bike (2nd) and straight up the technical bits. I wasn’t really happy with how much my heart was pounding in my chest but at this point I wasn’t worried yet. I passed heaps of people on the first lap, including the leading lady in my age group. My competitive self couldn’t be satisfied with only passing people, I also wanted to stay on the wheels of the fast guys. That was a good plan until I realised that my heart rate was still sky high. Assuming it was already there during the swim, it would have been there for more than an hour by now. I was killing myself. Time to slow down. My second lap was a bit slower and a lot less controlled. I managed to stack coming down the technical bits. I lost the flow. My brain wasn’t quite there anymore. In other words, I was overcooked.
I was so happy to get off the bike. Now onto the run. Run. Run. OK, walk. See, when you’ve raced a three hour race as if it was a sprint, slowing down is not going to get you back. There is no coming back. Second place in my age group was only 40s behind, she passed me half way through the first lap. The eventual winner passed me not long after, then the third place not long before the end. I could have fought this one, maybe. Maybe not. At least I got to see and cheer on a lot of friends on their way to the finish line!
Of course I’m writing this after taking the time to analyse my race. It wasn’t that clear at the time why things happened the way they did. And people are quick to say that you just had a bad day. Maybe I had a bad day. But the Worlds are going to be same place and same course so I can’t buy in the bad day, otherwise I’ll just do the same mistakes in 8 months.
So what am I going to do? Well, I reckon the key is the bike course and the altitude. The bike course is fast. There is a lot of pedalling to do to be fast and less oxygen to fuel it.
I don’t know what you’re going to do this winter, but I’m going to work on my endurance. I’m going to train for the Worlds as if it was a 5+ hours event (instead of 3). Let’s see how this goes!
Big thank you to the great team at Top Gear Cycles who set me up on my new Specialized Epic in a very short time. Turns out this bike is fast. It’s almost too fast for my fitness level 🙂 so rather than slowing down I’m going to improve the engine!
It may not be cooling down out side , but we have some super hot deals instore on the latest Specialized bikes, check out the list below. We also have 20 to 50% off all cycling clothing and Aquasphere wetsuits, call now to check availabilty or drop into our store in Bulleen. 98502996 email@example.com
2015/16 Australian X-Tri Championships – Australian X-Triathlon Champs – 27 February –Lake Crackenback, NSW
1500m swim – 30km MTB Ride – 10km Trail Run
In2adventure event company know how to put on an event. Its very evident that they run race’s for the athlete. The passion that Robyn and Simon Lazenby have towards putting on events is outstanding and I can highly recommend their races after doing two TreX off road Triathlon races recently.
After I did the Bendigo race I decided to take on the National Cross Tri Champs at Lake Crackenback, near Thredbo in the NSW Snowy Mountains. Both these races are qualifying events for the World Champs held at the same venue coming up in November this year. With a race course set out to test the skills of triathlete’s and mountain bikers alike it didn’t disappoint with me feeling a massive sense of satisfaction when I crossed the finish line completely exhausted.
With 6 of our shop riding group all traveling up together , I was pumped to be sharing this experience with them. To me this is the best part of what owning our shop is all about , having fun with your mates and challenging ourselves with crazy adventures. I had done a 4 minute PB the week before at the Gatorade Sprint Triathlon so I was pretty pumped to do well.
Two days of checking out the course , relaxing in the beautiful Snowy Mountains resort of Lake Crackenback and making sure all of our team had their bikes in top condition, had us all nervously contemplating what lay ahead on a tough and technical course.
The morning started with athletes being told there was no wetsuit alloyed policy because the water was too warm at 22.2 deg, which when you are at 1200m altitude and at a ski resort was a surprise.
Not great for me as I am not a strong swimmer and with a freshwater swim compared to the usual salt water to give me some form of buoyancy I was in trouble early. I have lost approx 10kg training for this event and now I had wished I had a few of them packed back on!
The race started with the pro men and women starting together, closely followed by 1minute wave starts [men then women] keeping the field closely bunched through the two lap swim. With surf lifesaving legend Guy Andrews in my category the pace was on early. I had a good start to the first bouy, but then the pack swum over the top of me and I soon started to panic. I have had this before in surf swims, not a great feeling and I had to swim to the side and compose myself. Disappointing after I had tried to work on my swim over the last few months and now I was faced with pulling out or toughen up and get back into the race. I had picked this race 6 months before and had trained hard for it so I had a good long look in the “suit case of courage” and got back into my swimming. With the girls starting 1 minute behind they soon swum past thankfully I started to get some free space so I could concentrate on just swimming, not just surviving.
Into T1 and my watch read 32 min, way off what I had planned , head spins trying to put on my MTB shoes didn’t help either. I was so happy to be out of the water and onto the bike course. Two 15km laps of tight flowing single track. Not as technical as Bendigo so it suited the strong road based athletes, but still a fun track to ride. As I had lost so much time in the swim I was now faced with the traffic jams of athletes struggling to find a line through the singletrack. After about 8km I had used a lot of energy passing riders on limited opportunities of double track, I also was trying to keep hydrated as it was getting hot. I soon started to pass some friends , first Dim then Karina, which made me enjoy my day even more. These girls are so full of life and so encouraging, I couldn’t help but get spurred on to push further into the pain cave. We have a great group of riding buddies in Melbourne and it was so much fun traveling to a race with some of them.
By the second lap I new I wasn’t riding as well as I had leading up to the event, but pressed on hoping the work I had done would let me finish strong.
Into T2 and I was looking forward to the run, we had walked the 3km looped course the day before and it was challenging then to say the least , with river runs,
swing bridge’s, very uneven terrain, climbing through very low tunnels and some rock climbing, there was never going to be any sub 5min/kms going on.
I thought I was running ok and started passing people , I really enjoyed this course as hard as it was, it pushed us to our limits. The run was so demanding that if you stopped concentrating for a second, you would end up flat on your face. The river run was refreshing but I ended up with so much sand and small stones in my shoes the sensation soon wore off.
I got lapped by our shop ambassador Mack Clarkson who gave me a slap on the back as he went by at lightening speed to finish of in 2nd place in the 40 to 45 age category. He keeps amazing me with his performances after not that long ago, he had a debilitating back injury that kept him out of the sport for a long time, massive congratulations to him.
I managed to run evenly for the 3 laps, again not my best run , but I made the most out of what I had for the day.
Congratulations also to our traveling group with Karina 5th, Virgini 4th [35to40], Dimiti 5th [30 to 34], Nathan 18th [35 to 39] , Mack 2nd [40 to 45]
I ended up 7th in my category [45to49] which I had hoped for a top 12 placing , so pretty stoked with that. I was initially disappointed with my race as I felt I had thrown away any chance of a good performance with a bad swim, but proud I regrouped and got over some of those swim demons. Thanks to all those who came along for the journey and to In2Adventure for a great weekend of events. Now time for some recovery.
Team Tgr www.topgearcycles.com – Specialized Bikes – Aquasphere Wetsuits – Swisseye Sunglasses – Verge Custom Clothing – Torq Nutrition
Day after the “after Party” was pretty cool , riding up the valley to Thredbo, sweat single track will cure a hangover every time!
Redbull Defiance conquered, 2 days and a total of 18+ hrs of racing over the massive mountains at Wanaka! That was damn tough, especially the hiking.
Day 1 started early with a bus and barge to the start line. 43km Mtb to begin, flat gravel road to start which then delivered some sharp pinches, creek crossings, sand riding, goat track hike a bike, nasty loose gravel speedy decents and some singletrack.
11km run to follow with a flat start we then headed up up and up to our abseil, lots of hiking and I wasn’t feeling great. Abseil was amazing.
5km paddle across Glendhu Bay should have been easy but with our steering not working it was hard going.
14km run along an undulating beautiful gravel path back to Wanaka to finish the day.
4th team at end of Day 1 and seriously wondering how we are going to back up another similar but longer day!
Day 2 started on the banks in Wanaka for our 20km lake then whitewater paddle down the Clutha. With our steering fixed we had a great paddle, the 2.5km run up to the clay bird shooting was an unwelcome surprise leg, in booties! Lou hit the clay bird 1st shot which was great as I wasn’t overly keen.
28km ride up the Criffel Range followed, having done all of this climb within Godzone I was excited for the long hard upward 1200m slog. Lou had a mechanical and a spectacular crash into a massive puddle at the start of this leg so we lost some ground. We dug deep and got ourselves back in the mix with the girls teams. The decent down was awesome, definitely my highlight of the race was this ride, I felt strong and enjoyed every pinch of vertical it delivered!
Finding ourselves surprisingly in 3rd position after the ride with 3 young NZ teams hot on our tail, we decided to stick to our own game plan as to get through this 29km run leg with 1848 metres of vertical was going to be tough going. With my weakness being vertical hiking and Lou carrying a dodgy knee from day 1 it was going to be epic and painful. Teamwork up the never ending winding, switchback road to the top came into play, both of us having a go at towing each other in our darker spots. 2 of the girls teams passed us up this climb, finally reaching Mt Alpha then the rocky sketchy decent before climbing again to Roys Peak. Now for the decent, 8km of decending along a grassy zig zag track was taxing on the body but we managed to run down with Lou’s knee surviving surprisingly ok.
The very young NZ girls team (they were 22), flew past us near the start of decent, we didn’t think we would see them again but knee troubles kicked in for them and passed them 1/2 way down. Arriving at bottom of hill we are surprised to see a sign that says 20km, ouch we still have 9km of flat running to go, surely not! We soldiered on trying to run, was more like a shuffle. Crossing the line after 11+ hrs on day 2 was the best feeling, we did it! 5th position for today’s epic journey!
Thanks Lou Carrington for being a great teammate, we worked together and achieved our goal of finishing! 5th overall in women’s and didn’t get short coursed which was fab! #hydratewithhydralyte Topgear Cycles