The big innovation this year was the transponders, enabling cyclists to be electronically tracked. A transponder was stapled to your number plate, and the team baton was also a transponder. Apparently, the cost of the transponders put a big dint in the budget, meaning no shirts, no stickers, and no big colour screen this year.
This year, the red/blue system was dispensed with in favour of single day and night courses. The day course of 19 km ran over the notorious Pork Barrel. The 18 km night course wasn't much easier. Because of this the track seemed crowded; you were always either overtaking someone of letting someone overtake you.
Transition on the criterium. Jennifer comes in from the course. Peter (far right, in grey top) prepares to head out. Note the red transponder on her number plate.
The solo race was won by Jason English of Port MacQuarie who had this to say:
The night was long and cold... It got down to three degrees! I don’t train in Port Macquarie if it’s less than 13 degrees... The two different laps for night and day worked well. The track has some really technical sections and every lap I would see at least 10 people on the side of the course changing tyres.
Even off the technical bits, there is the occasional bit that requires a slight extra bit of effort, and I have to put the foot down, which always seems to throw my rhythm off.
English rode 23 laps. He reckons he climbed 9,000 metres. I rode only four as part of the team. My first lap was the team's second, at 1300. This was easy and fast. I went out again at 1700 for a double lap. The first part was okay but I began to feel it on the second climb to the top of Mount Stromlo. Then I went down the night course. As I came into the final section, I was completely knackered. In the morning I got up and rode another day lap but I couldn't do it as fast as my first lap.
I had a great time, but I never seem to be able to ride as well as I would like to.