DESPITE being a five-time world solo 24-hour champion, Jason English dismissed suggestions he is the favourite to take out Sunday’s opening leg of the Fairfax Media EvoCities MTB Series - the Ginja Ninja 250.
English is coming off a huge ride, and victory, in the NDuro - New Zealand’s national 24-hour - race at the end of January, but with the Ginja Ninja being a four-hour event he labelled the recent win as “less than ideal preparation”.
That, combined with the fact he has never set foot on Orange's Kinross State Forest trail led the 34-year-old to predict he is more of an each-way chance, even with his stellar credentials.
“That’s 24-hour racing, it’s completely different,” English said.
“If it was a 24-hour race I’d say I’d be right up there. But I know there are several very good cross country riders coming to this event, so I think we’ll be looking at them or a marathon rider (to win).
“I’ve heard a lot about the trails and have always wanted to compete in the Ginja Ninja, but it always clashed with another event.
“But now, with this series there isn’t really anything on for the next few months so it gives me a great excuse to come out and ride these trails I’ve heard so much about.”
Event organiser Rod Farrell said earlier this week the track will test English.
The 34-year-old Port Macquarie high school teacher didn’t disagree, and said his approach will be a cautious one early in the race.
He went on to say while a win, or placing would be ideal tomorrow, he is more focused on the series as a whole.
“I’ve been advised to bring out a dual-suspension bike, which I will be doing...because it’s a lap-based event I’ll use the first couple of laps to get a feel for the track and go from there,” English said.
“I’m going to try and ride in as many of the series events as possible. I’m also switching up my training to more marathon-based stuff for the next couple of months, so hopefully I’ll continually improve throughout the series.
“I’m not sure how many people will travel to all the events, so hopefully with a bit of consistency I might be able to find myself near the top.”