Day 1: Port Stephens - Nelson Bay -38.62 km
Sweet Riding in Picturesque Conditions
The Top elite riders were called to the start line, followed by a pack of lean-looking riding machines, numbering 190 in all. I exchanged words with Mark Hardy, before we all followed out the lead car. The pace swiftly quickened, and an early pecking order was established before we hit the first sandy walking track. Numerous rocky and loose pinch climbs greeted riders jostling hard for position. Flow Magazine's, Chris Southwood, suddenly veered left and knocked me into a scattering of loose rocks, that resulted in a loss of traction. I was knocked out of my rhythm and I clumsily rode the next kilometre with the skill of a complete novice, gradually moving backwards through the field.
We emerged from Tomaree National Park, and I was able to break away from our group with another two riders. As we climbed the final hill, a rush of blood sent me into the lead, but past a left turn which took us into the park and the final section of singletrack. Emily had taken advantage of my error and I had to work hard to close the gap. As we turned into the final straight with the finish line in sight, I managed to move ahead of her. The diminutive figure, suddenly rose from her saddle and sprinted for the line and I was barely able to beat her by half a wheel length.