Tory Thomas won the Bike Buller Mountain Bike Festival overall classification after winning all three of the weekend's stages convincingly against tough competition and challenging trails. Just over a month out from her attempt to win the Australian National Marathon Mountain Bike Championships again, her form is continuing to improve and so is her confidence.
Plagued by illness and fatigue over the last year, Thomas decided to change her training and racing strategy and opted not to contest the Australian Mountain Bike National Series in favour of selecting races that will help her peak in April.
Not backed as the favourite prior to the Mt. Buller event, Thomas not only beat all the women but finished seventh overall, demonstrating her versatility, speed, superior skills and endurance throughout the weekend.
She had a big weekend of riding during which she completed a 25km cross country race; a super D on Mt Buller which featured 13km dropping nearly 1,100 vertical meters from top to bottom; and a 50km cross country race to Mt Stirling and back.
The Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon in February was one of the other races she's done this year. There, she was unable to take the top spot she had earned in the inaugural edition of that race in 2007 and instead came a credible seventh among a talented field. With an extra month of training behind her, she has been gaining momentum.
Thomas said she wasn't at Mt. Buller to win. "Basically, I went to get fit, and I definitely got more than a good workout!" she said. "The trails are spectacular, and the first stage was one of the best courses I've ever ridden. Everything was right, it was a positive ride, and the views were amazing."
Thomas travelled to the event with friends, and they made a weekend of it while staying at a lodge. Good weather and a festival-like atmosphere only helped the experience.
Thomas hasn't just changed her training regimen; she also recently changed her vocation and moved to a new location, Mt Beauty. An accident with a car whilst riding in the inner city of Melbourne encouraged the shift along with partner Tim. The two now have a physio practice in which Thomas is a masseuse, a far cry from her previous occupation as a Council Planner.
With a more relaxed lifestyle and outlook, Thomas's modifications seem to be treating her well. Look for her to defend her Australian national marathon title.