The Redback – Stage Three – Individual TT

I feel like I’m starting to pick up my pace now in Alice Springs, and I’m happy with the speed I maintained for this morning’s 22km individual time trial.

Starting at the golf course, riders were again sent off in 30 second intervals in reverse place order. I was determined to ride fast and smooth, and above all else, I didn’t want to be caught by any higher placed riders! A heinous southerly was blowing for what would otherwise be a fast, flat start, but I did all I could to hold my power high and catch the riders in front before the single track really got going. Having previewed most of the course on Tuesday, I was well aware of places I could claw back time, and areas to avoid costly mistakes.

I overtook the first rider in front of me within a kilometre, and could soon see a group of 3 trading places on fire track up the road. I was strong enough to catch two of them before the single track, and was relieved I had Bill Murphy out front to reel back – he rides smoothly, picks good lines and is exceptionally efficient. Putting in a couple of bike lengths on several short pinches, he let me through kindly on an apex, leaving me to ride hard and not let him catch back on.

A large gap between me and the next riders ahead saw me setting my own pace, but with Bill breathing down my neck on a tricky, switched-back descent, I made sure I really opened up the throttle on anything smooth, and gassed it out of the saddle on anything going skywards.

With the Plains of Mordor stretching out over the horizon, I got a glimpse of two riders in the distance. This encouraged me to hunt them down whilst the course was fast, and a handy tail wind had me sailing along at over 35km/h at times. But I knew that wasn’t fast enough, so whenever the track was really free-running, I pushed the bike up to 40km/h.

Those two riders I overtook quickly, and from there it was a matter of staying level, as more and more riders were in my sights, and it was important to overtake carefully and save energy. Mostly I had it pretty good – but a train of riders up a steep set of switch backs slowed me up a little, and I lost a good bit of momentum trying to get past. But I wasn’t too concerned – they were all riding really well, moving aside with ease and staying upright. I love it when mountain bike events are friendly like this, with everyone helping each other out and pushing each other faster.

I did take a big time hit on Sunset Hill, the largest climb of the day, with a rider in front unclipping on a rock step-up at the start of the climb and staying dead-centre of the track. Forced to dismount myself, I sprinted around him and jumped back on the saddle CX style as soon as the track was smooth. I was kinda annoyed, but decided that the same road blocks would be occurring for faster riders behind me.

At the top of that gradual climb, a wicked, loose descent shot me down towards town. I took it pretty carefully – although it wasn’t especially technical, it was full of small, loose rock that would punish a mistake. Back onto fire trail after that brief, fun interlude, and it became a threshold effort for me until the finish line. Rounding the golf course, I kept my head low and forced myself to try and get the bike over 40 again.

Rounding the last few bends put me in sight of the finish line, and I emptied that tank, my legs turning furiously as I went past a few more riders. I knew I’d put in a solid effort as I couldn’t sprint the finish, but just stayed seated and strong.

Bill Murphy and Aidan Geaney after the stage. 19th and 10th places respectively
Bill Murphy and Aidan Geaney after the stage. 19th and 10th places respectively

I finished the TT in 58:16, in 12th place overall! Stoked as a goat! That means I’ve clawed back good time, and have crept up from 22nd overall, to 15th on GC! Massive confidence boost coming into the remaining stages – I think I might be better recovered from the everesting, and feel that I’m starting to hit my stride again.

22km ITT

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