After such an awesome time competing in the first ever LEITA last year I was epically excited to be boarding a plane and heading the red centre to ride my bike, catch up with mates and enjoy some amazing trails and sunshine! I can honestly say this is the most fun race I have ever competed in. It has a friendly, relaxed vibe with a course that leaves you frothin’ for more!! Conveniently the race was smack bang in the middle of school holidays so we were able to enjoy a week in Alice without having to rush off. We left a cold Melbourne drizzly day of 14 on the Wednesday and landed in a glorious 32 degrees! Legend bloke and race director JP picked us up from the airport, we built up our bikes and were on the trail virtually straight away thanks to the trail network starting pretty much in the town centre!
Leading up to the event we got to catch up with our friends from our time in Alice 5 years ago (where did that time go..!!?) and got to hangout and drink lattes and do lunch with these cool kids – our buddies from Marlo!! Come back Tim, Molly and Linds we miss you!!!
Here is one of the news clips – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_NOK72OssQ
And this one- trying to find a good version of this one if anyone knows where I can get it let me know! https://www.facebook.com/courtney.shinn/videos/10155415108005694/
We checked into Lasseters Casino on Friday as each stage would start and finish here, so convenient for a stage race to be so central! Stayed cool by relaxing in the pool and going to the local cinema. Al and I were racing in Mixed Pairs category as we have also wanted to do a mixed pairs race and there aren’t any out there anymore except this one. There were 31 categories in LEITA adding to the awesomeness of the event which really caters for everyone and not just elites. Saturday morning 5am alarm went off and next minute we were on the start line next to a giant boat with fireworks coming out! It was round 2 of the National Marathon Series so there were some big hitters there! A 90k stage in 36 degree heat. It was epic. I had a ball! Loads of hills, loads of sand, loads of awesome single track. The views as we rode through the MacDonnell Ranges were unbelievable! 6 hours later we rolled home feeling mighty buckled but still smiling! Straight to the pool!! Stretch, eat, sleep. Back to the Juicy Rump for dinner, presentations and comparing tales with fellow riders.
Sunday morning saw us take on a 27k singletrack fun fun fun loop. Everyone crossed the line grinning from ear to ear.
Sunday night we had a smashfest 10k consisting of 2 x 5km loops around the buggy tracks at the golf course! Pairs rules state we must be in eye sight of each other and finish within 30 secs of each other. The Ay-Up lights worked a treat! The first few hundred metres we were hurtling down a dusty track, red dust all around us you could not see a thing! Hoping for the best I tried to find Al’s wheel and hold on! He had too much power and had to wait up a few times, he would say ‘are you on?’ to which I would respond ‘yep’ and then he would turbocharge forward and I couldn’t hold on, and after a few he would turn around and realise I wasn’t there and have to wait!! I was breathing so hard I was worried the people around me would think I was having a heart attack! It was like a crazy short dirt crit, it was intense and oh so fun!! The golf club was packed with spectators and people lined the greens cheering us on!! What a buzz!!
Monday morning I was sad it would be the last stage, I was having too much fun for it to end! a 60k stage with cooler conditions, we had a neutral roll out to the Telegraph Station with our bunny ears on. I headed out a bit too hard and could feel myself about to blow up so backed the pace off, I wasn’t feeling great and the benefit of riding in pairs was evident to me as Al provided encouragement and the right words to keep me going, I managed to find a good tempo and the last 20ks I was loving it!
We had a day after the event and checked out Desert Park, it was awesome!! The nocturnal section is amazing and the birdshow really cool! I really do encourage you to make the effort to get up to this race in 2016, it really is worth it. It’s a true mountain bikers event, so much fun and includes everyone. A big thanks to JP you’re a bloody legend for putting up with us wood ducks! Thanks to Central Australia Rough Riders (CARR) and all the volunteers out on the course and all the work put in leading up to the event! A big thanks to Liv, Ay-Up and Hammer Nutrition and thanks to Al for being my riding buddy!