And so it was I rolled up to the start line at Wingello in the Southern Highlands. This event is held in memory of James Williamson, World and Australian Champion Enduro mountain biker, who passed away too young while competing in the Cape Epic in South Africa on March 23rd 2010. I feel it is a fitting tribute to hold this annual race in memory of ‘Willo’ and the many participants and numerous volunteers ensure Willo’s spirit is kept alive.
Conditions were almost ideal. The track was dry and fast and the sun was radiating a comfortable heat somewhat lacking during Sydney’s summer. I started to enjoy myself as I took up battle with fellow Master’s competitor Guy Cowan and we were to swap places throughout the duration of the race. Hailing from the Helensborough Off-Road Cycling Club (HORCC), Guy was a man I felt I had to beat. HORCC is an extremely friendly and sociable club with which I have a number of great cycling friends. But I now had a mission not to be beaten by one of their number.
With the challenge thrown down I took up the gauntlet unbeknown to my rival who was now cutting up the trails with purpose. After conceding 11 seconds on the first 25 km lap I pulled 3 seconds back during the following loop. My newly found nemesis was in my sights and exactly where I wanted him. During the last 25 km loop I had closed the gap and was sitting menacingly on his back wheel. With 5 km to go I jumped round him taking advantage of a short, sharp pinch climb. My heart rate rocketed and I hoped he was not able to follow because there was very little left in me if I had to muster a retaliatory response.
I took a tentative look around and, to my relief, he had been broken. I kept up the faster pace until the finishing line content with my minor success in my personal duel with a new found friend and rival. Overall, I was pleased with my 11th place in the Master’s category and I’m looking forward to 100 km of Capital Punishment in Canberra next week.
This is my first experience of the James Williamson Enduro and one I will certainly like to race again. Proceeds from the race support a junior mountain bike development camp which will ensure mountain biking is supported at grass roots level and guarantees the continuation of the passion for mountain biking that was ‘Willo’s’ hallmark.