21 laps @ 12hrs : 16 mins : 55 secs
Official lap times;
Fenner's instructions were to take regular breaks and not push it.
So much to my ego's better judgement, I forced myself to keep the HR down and had about 16 minutes rest - 2 x 5 mins + 3 x 2 mins rest stops - which was nice having a chat with Robyn and Bailey.
The race started out at a usual higher intensity - it was important to get into a good position as the first pinch was just up the road, and would see a big traffic jam with riders walking up the slightly technical section.
Over the course of the first four (4) hours I just focused on getting the HR down to a good steady state average ~ 130 - 140 bpm. This meant I was being slow on some of the faster flats, but it did not matter.
Overall, this course only had 113 metres climbing per lap (2381m total) - so basically nothing, but pretty much all 113 m gained were in three (3) nasty pinch sections.
Most of the Dargle Farm course is set within a Y shaped valley - with the track bascially flowing up and back down each valley.
The first leg starts off with a little rocky single track climb, which is quite doable in a middle ring gear. From there it is a fast and sometimes rocky singletrack back down to the valley floor - with some pretty rocked out turn in the process.
Back on the valley floor it is across open paddock into a single track forest section - with just a slight up hill to it.
At the apex of the forest, the track hairpins to give a nice flowey single track run back down ready for a turn back into the next valley.
Since this course has had no use in 3 - 4 years it was very choose-your-own-adventure early on - I am sure quite a few deraillures met their match in these sections!
The ride up the next valley I nicked named to "Road to Mordor" - as it was long, open, bare - and had a bit of a head wind. On the up side, it was a great place to have a chat (thanks Ed and Brett) and holla out to your mates on the other side of the valley!
At the apex of this valley, the hairpin back around was pretty muddy and some big drifts could be made around the corner.
The single track back down this valley was pretty sticky with a light mud, but it still flowed pretty well.
Once out of this valley, there was a little series of rocky pinches which if you took the wrong line would see you spat into a tree or off the edge of the rocky trail :)
More paddock, with some rollers for entertainment and a slight climb and you are in the final fast running single track heading to the last climb. The only catch was some very nasty wet tree roots which spat a few people out, and the dead animal somewhere in the nearby bushes which was not a pleasant smell!
The final climb out (at about the 9.8km mark) died pretty quickly. It was quite ridable in middle ring, but with so many riders (and walking riders) it quickly lost all top soil and just left damp slippery rocks exposed. So, it soon became a hike-a-bike walk only.
The little ascent made for a fast run down to the village - with some nice little rock ledges / jumps.
That said, taking little rock ledges at 40km/h whilst barralling towards a barbed-wire fence, hoping the 90 degree turn on wet grass over a water bar would hold was a little nerve racking!
Food and Drink for the day were in the capable hands of Robyn and Bailey - Bailey made sure no food scrap went to waste.
Drinks were altenating HEED and Perpetuem bottles - with a red bull around 7pm.
Food was a Hammer Gel each hour + either a bananna, nutella sandwitch or Hammer bar.
The stomach held up pretty well with this mix - although it was nearly time for the stomach to go into liquid only mode for a while.
As for lessons learnt, I need to put some reflective tape on my bike / helmet so Robyn can spot me coming in the dark - and I need some more velcro on my front battery pack. Oh - and Bananna flavored Gel is aweful!!
Again a big big thanks to Robyn (and Bailey) for being an excellent support crew - and apologies for not sharing my end of race beer with you.
Kudos to Rockytrail for having an beer in hand ready for each racer as they came across the finish line ... and as always a big thanks to Bike Superstore for keeping the Epic in running form.
Next race is a 6hr at Stromlo - which should see a heap more climbing and some fun decents!
I'll post some race pics here when they come out.