Over the June long weekend, 4 of my Treadly CX teammates and some extra pals joined me in travelling to Bright, Victoria to race in rounds 2 & 3 of the Victorian CX Series.

In January I spent a week in Bright riding up the mountains and had an amazing time, so the chance to spend time there again but off road was too good to pass up. After 10 long hours of driving we finally arrived and to our relief discovered our rental for the weekend was actually larger than the pictures let on, and it fit the 10 guests and our 7 bikes comfortably.

Saturday morning we woke early to frost covered grass and very chilly air, and drove 40km to Mt Beauty for our first taste of Victorian CX racing. Sure, we had expected mud, like the mud sections we were treated to last race in Adelaide, but we hadn’t expected the levels of mud that had accumulated after a full week of rain. The entire course was either mud or slick wet leaves, or worse - both. There were maybe two straights that I wouldn’t consider muddy, and the short stretch of asphalt over the finish line - that was it. After one practice lap everyone was already covered in mud - I’d tried to think ahead to bring a practice kit and race kit, turns out I left the race kit in the house (thank god I brought spare socks for after racing - I would forget the next day). Thankfully the forecasted rain held off with only one patch of soft drizzle, and the sun even came out during my race (which was actually a slight hindrance as the mud started to harden and turned into a thick clay like texture - even harder to ride through!)

Being in the second to last race of the day, the course had changed dramatically by my starting time. Grassed sections that I thought were rideable had now become thick mud, the muddiest sections were completely unrideable, and I ended up having to run nearly a quarter of the entire race. I was expecting a 40 minute race, 5 longer than anything I’d ever raced back home, and when I finally grimaced over the finish line my Garmin was stopped at 53minutes. Turns out I’m not actually hopeless at riding mud, or I’m a better mud runner than I expected, or maybe going full gas during the first lap to try and push myself into a place worked, but I finished up placing an unexpected 2nd in Women’s B and was pretty stoked to be handed a 4 pack of local beer on the podium!

The next day we were all feeling a bit more confident even though we had fatigued legs and somehow our bikes still had mud on them after cleaning them multiple times. The Bright course was mostly flat, it had lots of corners, heck it even had a sandpit - this was more what we were used to. We still weren’t free from mud as they decided to include two creek crossings in Sunday’s course - one which was nearly knee deep! This was the place to be while spectating and heckling, and after watching the earlier races I knew one thing - there was no way I was riding it or even bothering to attempt to. I saw enough people begin riding through only to be bogged by the mud and clumsily fall, or enter too fast and fly over the handlebars and emerge from the water dripping with mud to decide I’d rather lose a few seconds by dismounting and running through it!

I got a pretty good start this race, following the A-grade women straight up the first hill and escaping the inevitable bottleneck of the next steep section, allowing myself to hold onto 2nd place for the majority of the race. I just didn’t have the legs after the day before to hold pace on the flat straights of this course though, and ended up losing my place on the last lap and having to settle for 3rd - which again, pretty stoked about! The variation of terrains including mud, grass, sand, creek crossings, a log hop, stairs and hands down the best part of the course - a section of the Bright BMX pump track, made this my favourite CX course I’ve ever ridden.

The tough courses and high standard of racing made this weekend rad. There’s something special about CX and the way it brings people together - kids standing at the edge of the course taunting crashed riders, the moments you catch someone’s eye mid heckle and grin, bemused looks of passersby who ask ”what sport is this?”, spending some quality time with Victorians instead of just liking their Instagram photos and consuming copious amounts of snacks were just a few small special parts of the weekend. We'll be back again next year!

The Treadly CX team ride Bombtrack, wear MAAP, burn through Schwalbe rubber filled with StansNoTubes and eat Good Fuel. For more info check out the #treadlycx tag on the 'gram or head on over to Jake's Exposure page for more photos of the same weekend!