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Archive for March, 2010

Jim Trails farewell to “Willo”

Posted by fenner on March 27, 2010

The World Champ had finished 50 minutes up and was all clean and tidy by the time I got in.

“A serious undiagnosed heart ventricle problem caused champion ACT athlete James Williamson’s death at 26, although his athleticism was likely to have masked the problem and prolonged his life, a relative said last night.
Williamson’s aunt Megan Patey said his post-mortem examination reveled the ventricle problem which was possibly genetic.

“It was not caused by cycling or made worse by cycling. In fact his fitness probably masked it” she said “It was a little time bomb that was sitting there. It was going to happen. It was a hard condition to diagnose. On Jame’s last night he would have been comfortable and he wouldn’t even have known it was happening”.

Words by Jim Trail,

James Williamson was a rare person. He excelled at his chosen sport of endurance mountain biking, competing at an elite level, yet never ever took himself too seriously. The 2008 World solo 24-hour Mountain Bike Champion passed away in his sleep at a race in south Africa yesterday. Originally form the NSW Southern Highlands, James Williamson lived and raced in Canberra for many years after moving here to study journalism and public relations at the University of Canberra, but no doubt it was the strong mountain biking facilities and people in Canberra that attracted “Willo” to choose that particular course. Already well known in the tight-knit mountain bike community, Williamson fit in well with Canberra racers like Dylan Cooper as well as Ben and Rebecca Henderson, with whom he trained and raced regularly. “He was a great rider, but far and away a better person,” offered Ben Henderson. “I’ve never met a guy who just enjoyed riding his bike so much”. You have to love riding to do the hours in the saddle that endurance racing demands, and that was where James really shone. Early in his mountain biking career, James’ partner pulled out of the Western Sydney 12 hour teams race, so James elected to ride alone. He won the event. Still under 20, James surprised racers many years his senior, given endurance sports are usually the domain of riders closer to 35. This started James on a parallel endurance path. He worked on his endurance training, not a quick process, with a view to contesting solo 24 hour races, while studying journalism and writing freelance articles on mountain biking that would eventually lead to him being appointed editor of Melbourne based Enduro magazine. The 2005 Australian Championships in Kowen Forest above Queanbeyan was where James came of age as a 24hour raceer, when he took on Australian mountain biking veteran Craig Gordon in a battle that lasted all night. The two raced at high pace from the noon start, then formed a sort of truce through the night before Gordon managed to gap James in the final hours of the race. Gordon went on to win, and travelled to the USA to beat six-time world champions Chris Eatough and claim the World solo 24 hour Champion’s crown. The following year James took the Australian title and followed in Gordon’s footsteps to the World Championships in 2008 in Canada, aged just 24. To take the crown James had to outlast a legend of the sport. Tinker Juarez had been racing mountain bikes since the sport’s beginning in the ’70s. A one-time team mate of Cadel Evans, Juarez had turned to endurance racing and was the local favourite in the absence of the retired Eatough. Forty years old and a legend among US mountain bikers, his presence was significant – but James was better prepared and able to race through very nasty rainy muddy conditions to best one of the best. As an endurance racer James spent many hours on his bike racing, but many more training in and around Canberra. His silhouette was a familiar sight on the narrow technical tracks in the forests around the city, also on a road bike, taking part in criterium racing and logging the all important base miles. James gave freely of himself to others wanting to move forward in the sport, either as a training buddy, an encouraging competitor or in assisting junior with specific training. James ran workshops for young riders on the day before the annual Australian Schools Mountain Bike Championships. As editor of Enduro magazine James reflected not only the elite end of the racing field, but the participation aspect that sets this form of sport apart. Under James’ editorship Enduro focused on issues, reports and reviews for the regular riders that turn up every weekend to 4, 6, 12 and 24 hour races across the country. In so many ways James Williamson personified the sport he loved. He was very competitive, yet open and approachable. An easygoing champion, he had reached a point where he was able to combine his love of riding with his love of writing and his blog posts from the South African race he was competing in when he died reflect this. “In between sucking up the pain in my legs as I clung to Shaun’s wheel, I was able to take in the scenery below as we would our way up the valley. It was sensational and riding in a bunch of guys from all over the world, a new experience for me”. Having taken part in many races with, but not against, James, I well remember the co-shouted messages of encouragement as he passed me – regularly. One of the great pleasures of being passed by James was the ability for a lesser rider like me to watch the way he rode, effortlessly absorbing bumps, clinically placing tyres and economically selecting lines over rough terrain – before he was gone. There is now a huge hole in the Australian mountain bike world – and no amount of suspension travel is going to smooth it over in a hurry. James Williamson loved the time he spent riding his bike. Ride on James.


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RIP James “Willo” Williamson

Posted by fenner on March 23, 2010

One of the true gentleman of MTB racing in Australia has died at the Cape Epic. James was a champion both on and off the bike. I haven’t the words at this moment in time and all my thoughts go out to his Family and Shaun.

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Awesome Racing at the Stromlo National Round 2010

Posted by fenner on March 15, 2010

I am quite possibly the most hopeless spectator going, as I have been sick I was not going to race the Stromlo round of the National series, so a trip up to Canberra to see all my riders was on the cards. From the get go it was a great day of racing and for the old Fenz at times it was simply too much, I was fully frothing so excited watching the racing.

First up Amy Austin took out the honours in the u19 and secured the season title, great work Amy. A special mention here also to Zoe Binder, a local u15 girl who won the u17 title and race. Look out for Amy and Zoe in the future they are going to be a couple of the best female riders in the years to come. In the Elite Women Bec Henderson rode a great race and went out to try to take it to Row, Bec faded a little towards the end of the race, but, still finished in 3rd place and secured 3rd overall for the series in 2010.

Next up it was the Elite Men and it was full gas from the start, what a race! Both Ben Henderson and Josh (weasley) Carlson were in the mix. Ben had the lead towards the end of the 3rd lap, however, a flying D-Mac pulled him in and got the win. Ben came in 2nd, securing 2nd in the overall race series, the race was ON for 3rd with both Josh and Blairy smashing it big time. Blairy rode a super solid race and managed to hold off the young gun, JUST, by a wheel in the sprint finish. I am still excited now thinking about the race, superb stuff and I can’t believe that more people were not there to see the action!

In the Enduro on Sunday, John Blankensein smashed it again despite suffering a puncture with 2 laps to go and took out the race series. Well done mate, look out for John at the National 24 Champs he will be in the mix. In the Masters Garry James took out the series win with Richard Peil looking very strong for the 24 hour Nationals close behind.

Things for me are looking up and I will be starting to do a little training this week. I am feeling a lot better, so the long slow road to fitness starts again for Fenz.

Catch ya on the trail


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More great results for FTP Training Athletes

Posted by fenner on March 12, 2010

The last few weeks have seen more great results for www.ftptraining.com athletes. At the Mountains to the Beach it was a 1,2, 3 in the Masters category with Garry James winning outright from Richard Peil and Peter Cheesman. The boys were regularly mixing it at the pointy end of the race and are in great shape for a dominating performance at the 24 hour Nationals coming up soon. I the open mens race both Jason McAvoy and Craig Armour finished well up in the overall placings. In the pairs Mark Tupalski and Darren Smith came in 2nd andbattled all the way with the Yeti crew. Alisha Houghton also placed very well in the women’s race on her new and very bling S-Works Era.

Over in South Africa the MTB race scene is massive and Steve Forster produced a stunning ride in the super competitive Masters Pairs Cat to come in 4th overall in the San2C race. His pairing may even end up with a 3rd overall as the winning pair changed bikes mid race and were due to be disqualified. This race is huge and acts as a pre-race warm up for the Absa Cape Epic in a few weeks time.

It is looking like Old Fenner is on the road to recovery after the Arbovirus, my last lot of blood tests look ok ands so it will be a case of the long slow oad back to fitness over the next few months.

See you all on the trail


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