Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SRAM Singletrack Mind - 8hr - Awaba


2nd Male Solo
14 laps - 8hrs : 36 mins : 18 secs


This weekend was the final round of the SRAM Singletrack Mind 8 hr series.

This event had already been rescheduled twice due to rain, and I was eager for it to be done with!  I was heading into this race with the overall series lead, and just wanted to get the race underway and no do anything silly which could see me lose the series.

This was also the last real race of the season for me, so being postponed another month meant I had to keep some level of base training up - even though Fenner was very keen for me to take a few weeks off.

With the new date, it mean that Jason English could come and race. I was not too worried about this - my race was purely about not losing the series. Racing against Jase it always fun - it usually entails a fast start, a good chat for a few hours and then Jase blasting off into the distance.

My paranoia extended to bike choice. The new Scale 29er hard tail, or my trust Spark 26 dualy. After much internal debate, some practice laps, and chatting with English I manned up to ride the Scale.  The Scale had done me well at the Highland Fling, but I had yet to clock up a full 8hrs of singletrack racing on this bike, and I was worried about how smashed my body was going to get.

The race start was down the bottom of the access fire road. A fast run down a hill and then a steep pinch and off into the singletrack. I got a bad start, trouble clipping in (again). Needless to say, this will be the last time I use the Richey Pro Mountain V5 Paradigm pedals. Although they are lighter then the XTR SPDs, they are tricky to quickly clip into. They also have less support under the foot, and prone to letting your foot bounce out of the pedal! *gone*

Even with the bad start I managed to squeeze past Ed and was about 4 wheels back from English.

The Awaba track starts with some fast flowing singletrack and then makes its way up a series of switchbacks. I was able to sneak back up to Jase's wheel pretty quickly. The Scale is great for climbing and quick to jump around people.  Ed got stuck back in the traffic, unable to make the jump across - his legs reminding him that he had done a 24hr solo only 2 weeks before!

The Awaba track then takes in a rough and fast descent into another little forest climb, and this eventually drops into some rainforest.  This descent nailed my hands. I should have worn my padded gloves. Eventually, it became a challenge to see how little I could use the brakes down this section. With my hands fully on the grips it felt ok - but with the hands on the brakes my palms were getting smashed.

Out of the rain forest the track took in a new steep climb. I followed Jase up this in the 39T (2x10 big ring) for the first 3 or 4 laps, before deciding that probably was not the best idea and started using the smaller ring. Our heart rates were through the roof at the top of this climb!

The course then made it's way back towards the start with more flow, undulations and switch backs. All up, about an 11km circuit.

I hung with Jase for the first 2 - 3 hours, and then I got caught in some traffic. This cost me 2 minutes! By the time I got though Jase was out of sight. Passing through transition, Robyn told me I already had a good 5 minutes on Ed, so I did not bother trying to catch back up to Jase.

The hours ticked by, and I got some good on-track conversations going (thanks Crummy).

I was happy to roll over the finish line, body and bike intact and a great way to finish off this series.

Equipment

The 29er HT was definitely a success. It was smooth, fast and handled well in the singletrack. Aside from my hands getting sore, the rest of my body felt absolutely fine. Pretty impressive to ride a hard tail for 8 hrs and have no back or body soreness.

I ran Scwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskin tires. These were perfect for the conditions - light enough, fast rolling and enough bite on the corners.

Thanks

A big thanks to Robyn for coming up and looking after me again. Robyn has all the transitions nailed and knows exactly what I need and when. I could not do all these races without her.

Thanks also to ACT Bike Superstore for getting my bikes race ready and keeping them that way!

Thank to all the Chocolate Foot guys and girls for putting on a fantastic series. 

What's next?

I will probably hit up the 8hr in Jindy on New Years eve, and then I will be back into it getting ready for the Audux Alpine Classic roadie, and then the Gravity 12hr the weekend after.

Thanks again to Robyn for all her help this year - in supporting me both at races and in all the training I do.

Thanks to all my great training partners - you make the miles go by so much quicker. Jason McAvoy, Garry James, Ed McDonald, James Downing, Indi Bower, Aaron Thompson...

Thanks to ACT Bike Superstore for all their assistance in keeping me on my bikes.

Bring on 2012!!

Me, English & Ed
Ed and I - series presentation




Optimally #PRO number plate #jdfact

Monday, November 14, 2011

Highland Fling 100 miles

Highland Fling - 100 miles


2nd - 6 hrs 47 mins 37 secs

This weekend was the Highland Fling, based out of Bundanoon in the NSW Highlands.

The Fling is one of those must-do races in the annual race calender. The course has a bit of everything - from fast open fireroads, to Wingello's best flowing single track, to 38% climbs, loose rocky descents and waste deep creek crossings! What more could you want from a Sunday race!

The event draws a big field. Over 2000 riders take on the 50km, 100km and 160km routes.

As expected, the 100km elite mens field was fully stacked with Australia's best XC guns. It was surprising that over the last few weeks of rego that the 100 miler was going to put forward a very stong field.

Included in the mix was World Solo Champ Jason English, and well known enduro and marathon racers Andrew Fellows, Mike Blewitt, and Graeme Arnott.

English swapped from the 100km option to cram in some last minute training for the upcoming Jet Black 24 hr. Fellows was fresh back from the Tour of Langkawi, and Blewitt and Arnott were fresh off top results at the Croc Trohpy. This would be no easy race! Arnott was also defending 100 miler champ from last year.

For me, it has been 5 weeks since the Scott 24 hour. My knee has healed, but I have been in a recovery / low volume training. So I was feeling pretty stale and not 100% sure how I would go.

This would also be the first race for my new 2012 Scott Scale 29er RC - my 9.5kg 29er weapon!

The start line was the usual chaos of the "self seeded" start. The 100 milers were starting with the Open 100km. Luckily, we all got a clean start - and Blewitt set the pace early towards to first paddock crossings. Our lead group quickly became smaller with the first little pinch in the paddock crossing.

English, Fellows, Blewitt, Arrnot and I shared the pace setting - along with a couple of the open 100km guys. Blewitt appeared to already be starting to struggle - but Arrnot looked very comfortable and solid on the flats.

We made good time to the first transition- under 57 minutes. Blewitt took little of the 5 minute transition period and went straight out. The rest of us waited and headed out onto the road to Wingello forest together.

Fellows and English fought for first into the single track and set a cracking pace. It was frustrating to be stuck behind some 100km guy who could not keep up with English but would not let us by. The idiot even tried to block us when we got to the fireroad! Luckily this first little hill saw him disappear very quickly.

The pace up the climbs was high and a rotating pace line on the flats meant a constant high heart rate.

Heading into the main section of single track, English got in first and turned on his after burners. Arnott fell off, and I could not hold Jase's wheel. I let Fellows past and I figured at this point I was racing for 3rd.

I came out of the single track alone, and set off at my own pace. Arnott eventually caught me - having worked with some other 100km guys, and shortly after we came across a pooped looking Fellows.

With the 3 of us and another 2 100km guys we heading along the road back to transition. I could tell that Fellows and Arrnot were struggling, so I hit the gas just before the transition area and got in and out real quick. Thanks to Robyn for a super fast transition.

I got out onto the road back into Wingello forest and was quickly out of sight from Fellows and Arnott.

The first part of this lap was tough. I had lost a drink bottle about 1/2 way through the previous 50km stage - so my fluid intake was way too low. So I smashed a full bottle and counted on finding my dropped bottle this lap and grabbing it.

The plan worked, and having 3 bottles in that 50km loop worked wonders. I was also very happy with myself for riding "The Wall" on both laps.

The final 30km back was good fun. A mix of rolling paddock climbs, tight singletrack with some nasty pinches, and the constant thought of just X km to go! It was also the section were I came across friends - such as Adam and Kendra. It was great to see them pushing along.

I kept the pace up and eventually finished about 9 minutes up on Fellows, and easily broke the 7 hr mark.

Looking back through everyones times, if you take out my 100km sections - I would have got 13th in the 100km elite group! We sure were setting a cracking pace for riding 160km.

Nutrition


Nutrition wise I ran;

  • 7 x bottles - 2 - 3 scoops of Torq Energy + an extra electrolyte tab per bottle
  • Some extra water in the transition areas
  • 1 x torq bar
  • 2 x Clif Shot Bloks (extra sodium ones)
  • 10 x torq gels
I think for next time, don't lose a drink bottle! That hurt.


Gear


The new Scott Scale 29er was brilliant. Light and fast in the climbs, fast on the fireroads and paddock crossings, agile in the single track and bombed the sketchy descents.

The extra flex in the rear end was brilliant - I did not miss my rear suspension at all.

I was worried that the 39T-11 would not be big enough for the course, but it actually was fine. The SRAM XX worked well - nice quick shifting, even when shifting under load. I did not miss any of the extra gearing from my 3x10 setups.

I ran Scwalbe Racing Ralph (snake skin) tires. They worked very well. The Ralphs are a great all rounder tire. They are low profile enough to be fast on the flats, but do hook in well in the single track and on the fireroads.

Thanks


A big thanks to Robyn for looking after me this weekend - as always you know exactly what I need, and you sort out my transitions quickly.

Thanks to ACT Bike Superstore for getting my new Scale race ready. It was a pleasure to ride.

Thanks to the Wild Horizon guys for putting on another great race - well organized and super fun.

Thanks to McAvoy, Garry, JD and Ed for all your pre-race encouragement - tis really appreciated! Well done to McAvoy, Garry and JD for their respective Fling results - all top stuff!



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Singletrack Mind - 8 hr - Rydal


Singletrack Mind - 8 hr - Rydal (Lithgo)

1st place - Male Solo

16 laps / 8 hrs 07 mins 52 secs

This weekend was round 6 of the Chocolate Foot Singletrack Mind Series.


The race was in a little town called Rydal, which is about 15 minutes outside of Lithgo.


Heading up for this race I was not sure what to expect. Just two (2) weeks since the Scott 24 hr I knew my tank would still be running close to empty.


Post solo 24's are strange. It will take me a good four (4) weeks to recover, and during this time you can have days on the bike feeling great - and others where you may as well just stay in bed.


Regardless, I knew I had to give this race a shot.  Garry James and I went out for a practice lap on the saturday arvo and were a little shocked with the track. Not shocked in a bad way, just not something we had seen before.


The track itself is contained literally within a few hundred square metres. But withing this small space there is 9km of singletrack! In order to achieve this mathematical oddity, there must be 1000 corners in the track. This is a track to practice every type of cornering skill.


From 180 degree off-camber switch backs, to 90 degree deep berms, to cornering whilst ducking under trees, up hill corners, down hill corners, corners with logs in the middle ... it is all corners!


Despite all these corners, the course did have a reasonable amount of flow - especially once I had ridden it a few times. The course also sported a couple of novel obstacles. These includes a couple of nice little jumps, little rock gardens and some interest pump track roll overs.


This practice lap was pretty skatey for me on my front tire - the 2.2 Race King. With so much of the track being off camber, and a lot of new sections just being cut in the lack of tire knobs was a concern. I headed out for another lap with an X-King on the front. A world of difference!


Come race start we would start at the bottom of a little fireroad. The teams riders took off quick, and Ed stomped past me on his single speed. I entered the single track a wheel behind Ed.


The first section of single track was ridden at a furious pace - with riders (including myself and Ed) either losing their footing around corners, or sliding out all together!  As soon as we hit the first little section of fireroad I knew I had to get in front of Ed - as he would be riding the bulk of the twisty singletrack for the first time and would be slow.  So, I hit the gas and was off.


From that point on I saw Ed and Garry a couple of times through the trees, but I knew I was making time on them each lap. So I settled into a comfy race pace.  As it heated up, I stopped to take on more fluid each lap and this worked well to keep away any cramps or heat problems.


In the end, I was able to maintain a pretty good pace for the 8 hrs and came to the end of the race feeling quite good. 


I actually quite enjoyed this track, and would definitely race here again.


Food & Nutrition



  • 9 x Torq Gels, 3 x Torq Bars, 2 x Cliff Shot Blocks
  • 8 x bottles of Torq Energy (2 scoops) + another 4 bottles of plain water



Equipment


The Scott Spark was a great bike for this course. It's geometry really allows for you to hit a tight corner and keep weight on the front wheel. It also allows you to really throw the bike into the tight berms.


I ran the Spark in the middle lock out mode for the whole day, with a slightly higher shock and fork pressure then normal. About 170 PSI in the shock and 80 PSI in the forks.


For tires I ran the Continental 2.2 X-King Protection on the front, and a 2.0 Race King UST on the rear. This course was pretty safe for tires, and you could easily run Protection level tires without concern.


Thanks



  • Robyn - for coming up and supporting me, Garry and Ed. Robyn has become quite an expert support crew. She knows exactly what I need and when. It is great riding and not having to think about that stuff!
  • ACT Bike Superstore - for getting both of my Sparks race ready (again). The new kit looked and felt great too
  • Chris Newman from Avanti - for the new Scott drink bottles. Lets just say my old bottles were getting a little manky ... 
  • Chocolate Food & all their sponsors / support - for putting on another well run event. Great event and great prizes from SRAM.

I'll update with some pics when they become available ...


Into transition ... wondering what food I will be getting ...


Ed telling me how fresh he is feeling ...

Pump track roll overs








Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scott 24hr

Scott 24hr - Solo


3rd Open / 5th Overall


This weekend was the Scott 24hr at Mt Stromlo.

This race was going to be a change from the previous solo races, as we were back an hour glass / red / blue lap format, and we were sharing the track with the 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10 person teams.

Leading up to this race the Canberra weather was doing it's best to be miserable, and there was quite an amount of rain in the previous two weeks. Despite the rain, the track was held up pretty well.

The two lap format meant the red lap was through the lower sections of Stromlo (Holdens Creek), and then up the trunk trail to the top of the mountain, then a fast descent down Skyline, Berm, Luge etc and finishing via Little Rascals.

The blue lap was up through Blackberry, Slant 6, Willow Link, out into Deep Creek, back via Shadys & Missing Link, and finishing with the fast run down Party Line and the lower link trails back to the event center.

The blue lap was definitely the harder of the two - with a lot and lots of rocks. The Deep Creek area lacked flow, and required a lot of low cadence work. Lap times would start out in the low 40 minutes and blow out to an hour!

The race start was fast (as expected), with Ed McDonald setting the pace up the first red lap climb. Needless to say, with the start of race nerves and Ed's cracking pace, my heart rate was pegged at 180 bpm!

Ed pulled away from Jason English, and I hung with English for most of the first blue lap.

I had no intention of staying with Ed and Jase - I'd learnt my lesson at Easter Solo Nationals about going too hard in the first 8 hours, so I deliberately throttled it down and rode to a sustainable heart rate.

This was working well, and Ed and Jase were not getting too much time on me - and I was slipping away from Brett Bellchambers.

A few hours in and I came across Ed who had some mechanical issues. He had got about 5 minutes on English, and then lost it with tire issues. Once Ed caught me back up, we rode together for a few laps. Ed was obviously keep to go chase down English, and was clearly willing to give it everything to get there.

Letting Ed go, I settled back into my own pace of around 135 bpm which was working well for me.

A strategy I was using was to keep using the same gearing up the red lap, and really punch it on the descent. I knew that Brett would probably gain time on me on the climb, but I could get this back with a fast run down skyline. The same applied to the blue lap, with party line back being an area where I could gain time on him.

I did achieve a little personal goal in doing this, of hitting every red lap in my 3x10 big ring (44) ...

As the night came in, it was really nice to be doing nice laps in reasonably warm temperatures. Along with the super tacky trails, the night laps were really good fun. Only the odd Kangaroo jumped out onto the trails to keep me awake!

Somewhere out the back of the blue lap I had an encounter with a tree and had a little over the bars incident. I did not think anything of it, until I noticed that my knee was getting quite sore. Around 10pm it was very sore and I have myself one more lap to test it out. This of course turned into "I'll just get to midnight", which then was "I'll just get to dawn" .. etc

 Just before dawn an awesome fog rolled in over the mountain. With visibility down to just a few metres it was a real test of memory in descending. "I think I turn left .... now!"

By 8am I could no longer climb the red lap. My knee was just too painful to push the pedals. So, with much disappointment and emotion I stopped with 4 hours to go.

At this point, I was up about 27 minutes of Bellchambers, and behind a slowing Ed by 20-30 minutes.

That is the nature of these solo races. Despite me having great fitness, no nutrition problems, and having set a sustainable pace I got hit with the knee problem. Oh well.

A big congratulations to Ed McDonald and Jason English for their respective rides. Ed gave it everything to chase Jase, and Jase showed his World Champ form by keeping Ed at bay.

Congratulations also to Jase McAvoy for his Masters Solo win, Garry James for his Master's Team win, and James 'PRO' Downing for this Team's podium.

Nutrition


I ran my usual Torq bars, gels and energy drink. 1 gel / hour, 1/2 bar / hour, scoops energy / hour.

In addition, I substituted in some Cliff Shot Bloks, Muffins and the odd Sandwich.

I started my caffeine intake around 11pm.

Gear


My two Scott Spark 10's performed exceptionally well - with no mechanical issues at all. I had them set up nice and soft for the rough conditions - 50 PSI in the forks and 160 PSI in the rear shocks.

As always, the Twin-Loc was really useful. I would lock out the forks & shocks when hitting the fireroads and crit track.

Post race, no excessive muscle or joint soreness - a sign that the Spark was setup well and comfy for my 320km race.

For tires I ran a 2.0 UST Continental Race King on the rear, and a 2.2 UST Continental Race King on the front. During the start of the race when it was a little muddier, I ran a 2.2 Continental Protection X-King on the front.

With Stromlo being tacky from the rain, the Race Kings were perfect. Fast and strong. The low profile tread pattern is great for weaving down Skyline and maintaining full speed.

Thanks


  • Robyn, Kylie &, Merryl for looking after me on track, keeping me going and helping me make the right call to stop when my knee was dead
  • Brett for looking after my bike ( as well as McAvoy's & English's bikes) throughout the race. It was great swapping bikes every 3 hrs and having everything freshly cleaned and running smoothly
  • ACT Bike Superstore for getting all my bikes ready to race. These guys really went out of their way to get all my last minute details sorted. They also hooked me up with some great new kit!
  • Chris from Avanti Bikes / Scott for bring down some extra backup gear for me and helping the shop chase up my last minute items
  • Mick and the boys for their late night cheering and encouragement up on luge/berm track. Hilarious!

Garry, Jase and me on the start line


Ed, English and I






Monday, September 19, 2011

Singletrack Mind - 8 hr - Mt Annan

1st place - Male Solo

16 laps / 8 hrs 26 mins 55 secs


This weekend was the 5th Round of the Singletrack Mind series - an 8 hour race on the XC track built within the Mt Annan botanic gardens.

This round was going to be a real unknown. This track has only been raced a handful of times, and no one had much track knowledge. Added to which, there was a new section of track that had never been raced.

Due to some late shock and linkage issues, both of my Scott Sparks were out of action. Luckily, Jase was kind enough to let me use his Giant Anthem X for the race.A few hours of measuring and adjusting and I managed to get it setup for me.

Even with all the fine tuning I was pretty worried about going into an 8 hr race on a bike I'd never ridden!

Robyn and I traveled up with Aaron Thompson (Tommo), and we got a practice lap in on the saturday arvo.

The track was nothing like what we have in Canberra. It seems to have been purpose built to stop you getting up much speed, or keeping speed. Each time you got a bit of flow going and obstacle would appear. Obstacles such as log roll overs, tight switch backs, up hill rock gardens, and other random features.

In the first half of the course there was also two pinch climbs, which had tight switch backs and soft soil. These were certainly going to take their toll as the day progressed.

Our pre-race dinner turned into an epic adventure - trying to find some good race food in Campbelltown. In the block surrounding the hotel there was a McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Sizzler, Outback Steak House and a Crispy Creme! We settled for the Sizzler salad bar, but it was a scary experience!

Race morning arrived, and we could tell it was going to be a hot one. 31 degrees predicted - which is well up from the -5C we are still riding in Canberra.

Looking at the solo field, it was a shame to see Ed McDonald could not make it. However, Rod McGee (2nd at Wingello) was here to race and someone I would have to keep an eye on.

The race start was the usual "self seeded" chaos. Guys in baggy shorts lining up next to Matt Fleming ... hmmm. Thankfully 500 odd metres of fireroad sorted the field out a little bit. Even still, Rod was about 6 bikes in front of me heading into the single track.

With the tight singletrack, and various A lines and obstacles this first lap was slow.  As the track opened up more in the later half of the lap I was able to get back on Rod's wheel, and got by him just before the timing mats to take the first lap.

Rod must have stopped for a drink or the like as I did not see him behind me until well into the lap. He seemed to be working very hard in the pinch climbs on his SS - so I knew he would not last too long once the heat of the day hit.

3rd lap and Rod was a few minutes back, and by the 4th lap I had a solid lead.

Soon enough, I was somehow gaining 3 - 5 minutes per lap on the solo field. This was a great feeling, as it meant I did not have to push too hard and just rode a solid tempo.

I took the time to stop and take in extra water each lap- which was essential as the temp on track got up to 32 C.

Around the 6 hr mark I lapped the field, and had fun riding with Tommo for a while. He was cramping pretty badly, and was battling with (then) 3rd place Martin S.

It was great to race and feel well in control and well in my comfort zone.

Scott Spark vs Giant Anthem


It's not often that you get to ride two top of the line bikes next to each other. Here are some comparisons;

* Anthem is very stiff in the frame and bottom bracket
* Anthem climbs well on seated climbs - with the rear gripping well
* Anthem is skittish under brakes on descents - it is easy to lose the rear
* Fox terralogic forks work really well. I still prefer the Scott Twin-Lock, but the Terralogics are a lot better then the old Specialized Futureshocks
* XTR brakes don't have the same stopping power as the Avid X0s
* XTR triggers have a lot more travel then the SRAM X0s ... gear changes and rapid changes are a lot easier with the SRAM gear
* Anthem has a more upright seating position - it feels less "race" then the Scott


Food & Nutrition


Food for this race was 1/2 Torq Bar / hour, 1 Torq Gel / hour, 2 scoops Torq Energy / hour and and extra Clif-shot block for good measure.

Drink wise I took in 2 bottles / hour.

Gear


On the Anthem was a 2.2 Rocket Ron (evo) up front, and a 2.2 Conti Race King (protection) in the rear. Both worked well in the terrain.

This course needs a big bag tire, and the extra grip from the Rocket Ron in the lose (new) single track was an advantage.

UST tires were not needed.

The tight corners and lack of flow also benefited the 26" bikes over the 29ers.


Thanks


A big thanks to Robyn for coming up and looking after Tommo and I.

Thanks to Jase for the bike loan, and Tommo for hanging out and keeping me company on track.

Well done to Tommo for getting 3rd place.

Thanks to ACT Bike Superstore for sorting out the Sparks, and for getting me a demo Spark for this week whilst my other bikes are out of action.

Next race is the Scott 24 hr in just under 3 weeks!! A hot and brutal weekend coming up ...

Thanks to the Singletrack Mind guys and girls for putting on another well organized and super fun race!






Monday, August 22, 2011

Singletrack Mind Rd 4 - 7 hr @ Wingello

1st Solo Men
13 laps in 7 hrs : 11 mins : 50 secs

This weekend it was off to Wingello for the 4th round of the Chocolate Foot Singletrack Mind series.

This weekend was also the 4th consecutive weekend of out of town racing, and after the 12 hr last weekend I was feeling pretty fried all week.

Driving up on Saturday afternoon, it was clear that there had been a lot of rain up there during the week. Getting to event central was a little 4-wheel drive adventure, and the relocated event area was very muddy indeed.

Garry, McAvoy and I headed out for a look of the track, sure enough it was off into light rain!


Saturday night our spirits were all down, no one was keen to slog it out in the cold rain for another weekend. That said, some light humour was made from the Thai dinner menu which included an entrée of "Poo Jar". Almost as good as the Thai dinner menu from Nowra which included "Pad Pet".


Sunday morning was brisk and very wet. But it would be the same for everyone so time to suck it up.


The race start headed out into around 2-3km of fireroad. It had a gentle up hill gradient to it, and later a nasty head wind.  The pace was fast but not too crazy. I was happy to let the fast team riders (such as Benny Henderson) go, knowing that Ed McDonald was sitting behind on my wheel.


The 8km of single track that followed was sloppy. Very wet and slippery. Extra caution had to be taken on the slippery tree roots and log roll overs.

Coming out of the single track there was another 2km or so of fireroad. Most of this was in a fast flat descent back to the transition area. Ed was still on my wheel as we hit this single track, but when he saw the long descent I could see the disappointment in his eyes.  Ed was of course riding a single speed, and had no chance of keeping up as I dropped into the smallest ring of the cassette and powered away.

Not having support for this race I had no idea of my time gaps. My strategy was to just keep riding at a solid tempo and keep pushing it on the fireroads.

Around the 5 hour mark I got news from McAvoy that I was 5 minutes or so up on Rod McGee and that Ed had fallen back some more. This was good news and I set about keeping up a similar pace.

By this time the track had dried out pretty well. It was really tacky and fast. A great reward for slogging it out earlier in the cold muck.

In the end, I got Rod by 8.5 minutes and Ed by 14.  It was then 40 minutes back to 4th place Enduro Pulse rider Michael Crummy.

After 4 solid weeks of training and racing, this was a great way to finish this block!

McAvoy and Bree won the mixed pairs, and Garry and Old-man (John) Henderson got 2nd in Masters pairs. So it was a good weekend all around for us Canberra boys!

Food
  • Torq gel 1 / hour, 2 in the last hour. Caffeine from 8am - midday
  • 2 x Torq bars (1/2 per hour)
  • 1 x Cliff Shot Block
  • 5 x bottles of Torq energy (2 scoops / bottle)

Equipment

To deal with the mud, I ran Continental X-King Protection 2.2s on front and rear. These were perfect for the conditions.

These tires were light, and very grippy both in the mud and on the hard pack. These conti tires have a very sticky rubber compound which really grips any surface. The knob spacing was also amble to allow the mud to clear, with no build up on either wheel.

My chain of choice lately has been the SRAM PC-1091-R. This is a lightweight version of the 1091, and has extra slits in the links to reduce weight. The upside of this is that it also helps in mud shedding. I lubed my chain once in the morning before the race (Rock-N-Roll blue), and despite huge amounts of mud my chain had no issues at all. Very impressive.

Finally, the good old Scott Twin-Lock was again invaluable.  I used the full lock out on all the fireroads and also in some of the single track pinches. It really makes a huge difference to be able to make the bike fully ridged with a flick of the switch on the bar.

Thanks

A big thanks to ACT Bike Superstore for getting my bike prepped for this weekend. A special thanks to mechanic Brett for making sure the TwinLock was perfectly tuned.

Although Robyn was not there to support, she was following the results online - so a big thanks for her too!


Next?

Next weekend is back to normal training. So probably heading out to Stromlo to start dialing in the bikes in preparation for the Scott 24 hr!

I'll update with some podium and other pics once they come out!



Monday, August 15, 2011

Jet Black 12hr

2nd (solo)


24 laps / 12 hrs : 15 mins : 09 secs


This weekend was the Jet Black 12 hr at Dargle Farm (lower Hawkesbury area).


Although this race was originally not on my race calendar, it quickly signed up a few weeks back once I heard that the Kona Mawson Marathon was cancelled.


Dargle is a really fun course. It is on farm land and basically follows a big Y shape up into two valleys. Along the way, there is a great mixture of flowing single track, pinch climbs, and fast paddocks crossings. It is all topped off with a fast descent and jump into the event central.

My goal for this race was to stick with Jason English (Merida) for the start, and to then keep with Brett Bellchambers (Niner/Maladjusted).

The start was fast. Brett set the pace early on. The first 2.5 hours Brett pushed hard, seeing the three of us churn out sub 28 minute laps - and have us in the top 5 overall! You can see my heart rate was averaging around 160+ for this time.

Around the 2.5 - 3 hr mark Brett started to slow. At the same time English went off the front and I could settle into a more comfortable pace. The heart rate came down into the 150s and lap times were sub 30s.

I kept this same pace pretty consistently and around the 6 hr point English lapped me. By this stage I had a comfortable lead on Brett, and could see that I was gaining time on him each lap. With Jase looking to conserve energy, we ended up riding together for pretty much the rest of the afternoon / evening.

It was great to have the company and with neither of us having to push it, it was really cool to be able to just cruise around and have a good chat along the way!

A memorable moment was when we were coming up to a split in the single track around a little pond. I punched it to the left to over take a slow mover on the right hand side. My wheel hit a wet tree root and flicked the rear out, with Jase on my wheel he hit the same root with his front wheel and got flung off the track into the pond!

Luckily he grabbed hold of a tree and his bike got perched on a ledge over the water! Without the tree, he would have been swimming in the middle of the pond!

As the night progressed, we took it progressively easier. I had planned to race the GP 8 with Garry James (Torq/Anytime Fitness) on the sunday, but by the end of the night I had seen enough of Dargle for one weekend!

The last few laps were super cruisey and it was great to be finishing a long day out feeling good.

Food


Food for this race was the following;

  • Torq gel every 30 minutes (caffeine from 9am-midday, and 5pm - 8pm)
  • Torq bar every 30 minutes for the first 5 hours
  • 2 x Nutella sandwiches
  • 4 x Clif Shot Bloks
  • 10 x bottles of Torq Energy (2 scoops)
  • 2 x bottles of Coke
Interestingly I found the Torq Bars hard to eat, so I replaced them with the sandwiches and the Clif Shots.  



Equipment


I took both of my Scott Sparks set up for the race. 


One bike was setup with 2.0 Continental Race Kings on ZTR Crest / DT-Swiss ultra lites, and another with 2.2 Continental Race Kings on my old Rovals.

I ended up riding the 2.0 Race Kings for around 9 hrs of the race. They were definitely the better choice.

The Race Kings gripped well in the thick farm soil, and the smaller width tire were easier to navigate through the rocks on the punchy climbs.

This was the first race where I did not use the Twin-Lock at all! I left the Spark's in the middle lock out mode for the whole race.

Thanks


A big thanks to;

  • Robyn - for being an excellent pit crew boss and looking after all my food, bike swaps and lights etc
  • ACT Bike Superstore - for getting my bikes ready to go for this race and keeping them running. A big thanks to Brett and Mick for getting my forks ready to race
  • FOX - for a super quick turn around on my fork service which ensured I could run both bikes
  • Rockytrail Entertainment / Jet Black - for running another great race. Well organized and great fun
Next weekend it is off to another Singletrack Mind 7 hr race at Wingello!










 I need a warm sponsors jersey! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Husky 100km

10th overall, 9th Elite*, 2nd Vets

04 hr :48min :23 secs / 100km

* - I was meant to be in Elite, but they obviously foo-barred my category so my results are listed with me in Vets

** http://vimeo.com/27575051

This weekend was the rescheduled Husky 100. 100km of fireroad and singletrack in the forests between Huskisson and Jervis Bay.

This event had been rescheduled due to heavy rain, and so it was ironic that on the Saturday evening the heavens opened and the rain started falling.

Just a few hours before, I had been talking with Fenz asking on conditions and what tires to bring - the word being it was all dry and would be super fast. So the "fast" tires were packed ...

Waking up early on Sunday morning, the rain had stopped but there was a fair bit of water on the ground.  The event central was already looking like a bog and it was clearly going to be a wet day.

The Elite riders got to go first, with the remainder of the self seeded field to follow a minute or so after.  So Ed and I were up front, and Jase and Garry in a group behind.

The start was fast but quite manageable. Skirting around a golf course, the track was full of sticks and leaf litter. It was surprising not to see derailures pop in this section.

It was soon into single track and fireroad, and there was a lot of moisture on the track. These fireroads must see a lot of 4-wheel drive activity, and there were massive bogs which spanned the width of the road. Sometimes there was a skinny edge to skirt around, but most of the time it was a lottery of plowing into the water. 50-50 chance of either ending in a bog which consumed your front wheel, or you could churn through the mud and pop out the other side.

Around the 10km mark there were around 10 riders still together ... however with the sketchy and slippery terrain and the constant stop/start of the bogs it was inevitable that the elastic band snapped and 3 or 4 of us fell off the back.

It was about this time that Ed McDonald caught up from the fast start, and it was great to ride with Ed until a bit after the 50km mark.

Soon we passed a very broken "Trekkie" ... he did not look like he was having a good day.

Ed definitely had me in the slippery singletrack. He had a slightly better setup for the conditions, but he also had the better technical skills in the conditions... and it was only a matter of time until we hit a long and super slippery section of single track and I lost contact with Ed.

It was around then that Jason Chalker caught up to me. We rode together until around the 80km mark before he pulled away.

We were now in the mix of the 50km riders, and although the overall track was drying out there was still some very nasty slop-fests to get through.

It was also confusing to see slower 100km riders in the mix!! Turns out some bad signage had resulted in a heap of riders taking a 10km (?) short cut ... chaos in the results.

Cruising through the Coondoo Rd single track was great fun. The only down side was coming up behind a Marathon MTB guy who had obviously popped but was extremely rude and would not let me past ... or even acknowledge my requests to pass. I find it ironic that of all the riders I passed, everyone was polite and quick to allow me by ... yet this one "elite" guy was just a complete prick. Talking to other riders they had similar experiences with this jerk ... not a good rep for his sponsors.

The final 15km went fast and soon I was pushing it back around the gold course ...

Crossing the line I was very surprised to see Garry already finished!! Garry and Jase (and a heap of other riders) had been in the group who had missed a turn. Bugger.

So all up, a very wet and muddy day out.

2.0 Race King tires are really not good in these slimy conditions. I had no grip all day and it was quite a challenge to keep the bike up right.

Food wise it was 6 torq gels, 2 torq bars, 1 litre camel back & 1 x 750 ml torq energy.  I chucked in some extra electrolyte tabs to the drinks as I knew it would be humid.

The bike help up pretty well. No lock out issues in the mud (hooray) ... but I did have to replace both sets of brake pads and the chain.

Next weekend I'm off to the Jet Black 12 hr ... 12 hr solo, and then I'm paring with Garry for the 8 hr on the Sunday!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

3 Ring Circus - 50km

15th overall / 8th category

2hrs:02mins

This weekend was a short 50km XC race in Wingello State Forest.

This was just a race for fun, as such a short race definitely does not play to my strengths.

So, after a full training week, and a moderate roadie on the Saturday, Robyn and I headed up to Bundanoon.

The girls were also racing - Robyn, Kylie, Kendra and Anne - and Garry was also meeting us up there.

The start was fast - with about 10km of fireroad. I managed to hang with the lead bunch almost until the single track, at which point a few smaller groups at formed.

Certainly I could feel the week gone by in my legs.

The single track was in great condition and super fun.

Coming back out on the fireroads, I was in a group of 6 riders. It was interesting seeing the various strengths - one guy would get away in the single track and we would get him back on the next hill. Another guy was a great climber, and another a good power house on the flat.

Once we got to Tangles the guy in front fell off the back. Eventually I got around him, but the group was just a bit too far out of reach.

I pushed through the final 15km of fireroad and came in 15th overall.

It would have been good to break the 2 hr mark - maybe next time with fresh legs.

I did not go into the race with my usual bike prep. Unfortunately my rear brake desperately needed bleeding, and there was many times I took a handful of brake and almost pulled back to the bar.

Also, my front fork lockout failed. So I rode the race with about 2 cm of travel! Oh well, the forks have been sent of the Fox to be repaired / replaced.

Food wise for the race, it was simply 4 Torq gels and one bottle of Torq energy (3 scoop) ... oh, and some yummy pancakes at the race end!

Next weekend is the Husky 100km ... still not quiet long enough for me, but still should be great fun!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Singletrack Mind - 7 hr - Stromlo

2nd male solo

13 laps @ 7:02:36

This weekend at Stromlo Forest Park was the Round 3 of the Chocolate Foot Singletrack Mind Series.

This round had a 7 hour solo option on the same course that the Easter Solo National 24 hr was run.

I felt good heading into this race, having been putting in some quality 6 hour training rides in the previous weekends, and having smashed out a PB FTP result on the Friday afternoon.

The track was in good condition, with some light rain during the week creating some great tacky areas and settling the Stromlo dust.

The morning of the race was cold. -4C at 7am. Just driving down left a thick coat of ice on my grips, brake levers, forks and saddle. I had to break out the tool box to chip the ice off my grips!

The rider briefing felt like it went on for ages as we stood around in the cold, and I did not get a chance to do any warm up. I missed a mad rush to the start line, and so was 3 or 4 rows back from the "self seeded" start line.

As the gun went off it was pretty chaotic. We had to do a loop of the crit track before heading into the sniggle. I got a few places back on the crit track, but without a good warm up I was well in the mix. At least I got past Ed and Brett who were spinning like hamsters on their SS.

To be fair to the SS guys, I'd much rather see a fireroad climb to sort riders out then a crit track loop.

The first lap was painfully slow. The course does not have that much room for passing, so it was frustrating sitting in and waiting for small opportunities to jump a few places.

Coming out onto the fireroad at the bottom of Party Line I decided to drop a few gears and pull away from the SS guys. It worked well and I got 20 - 30 seconds pretty quickly ... however it was just as quickly lost coming down Break Out and hitting the ice covered wooden bridge at full tilt. A roll in the dirt and a messed up chain meant I was now back on Ed's tail.

The traffic settled on the 2nd lap, and Ed and Brett were attacking. Luckily they did not get too far up and I was able to get back in front pretty quickly.

Soon Ed and I caught Shaun Lewis (Rockstar Racing), who was having a shot at a longer format race. He jumped on and he and I tick-tacked for a number of laps. Each lap I could put a big gap into him on the climb, but he would always catch me back up on the descent back around.

Luckily for me, Shaun started to really fade on the climb (4 hrs in) and then had some tire issues. He did a few more laps and then called it quits for the day.

By now I had a solid gap on Ed and Brett, and little chance of catching Dylan Cooper (Trek) up front.  Dylan had smoked the first few laps. With his big XC legs and having clear track from the start, he already had 4 minutes on me in the first lap alone!!

Knowing that I had at least 6 minutes on Ed, which turned out to be 10 mins, I did not need to push the last few laps and was not upset to miss doing another lap - rolling over the line at 7hrs : 2mins.

So, I was quite happy with this days riding. I rode solid all day, kept my lap times really consistent (30 - 33 mins / lap) and felt strong all day.

It was great riding on track with so many friends and fellow Canberra riders - Jase, Garry, Kev, Ed, Tommo, Bellchambers, Hendo, Anne, Meryl, Andy Blair, Nathan Spencer ... just to name a few!

Thanks to ...


A big thanks to Robyn for coming and supporting me at this race. She ensured I had super fast transition times - as in 100% rolling transitions - and kept a close eye on my food and drink intake.

Thanks to Bailey the wonder dog for eating all left over food .... and attempting to eat the odd small child too. Sorry Kylie!

Thanks to ACT Bike Superstore for having my bike in excellent working order as always.

Finally, thanks to the Chocolate Foot guys and girls and all the volunteers for putting on a great race. I huge thank you to all the volunteers cheering everyone on at the top of Party Line!!

Food wise ...

Food for this race was really simply ... my trusty race formula;

  • 1 bottle Torq Energy / hour (2 scoops - mixing 1 scoop natural + 1 scoop flavored)
  • 1/2 Torq bar / hour
  • 1 Torq gel / hour
This formula worked well - no stomach issues and I felt good for the entire race.

Gear wise ...

The Scott Spark 10 was reliable as always. Comfy, fast and no mechanical issues at all. 

The Twin-Lock was great - riding the whole circuit in the middle lock out mode, and using the fully rigid mode for the few fireroad climbs. It is amazing just how much more power you can put out when the suspension is fully locked out vs bobbing away.

I ran a 2.1 Rocket Ron UST on the front and a (very) worn 2.1 Racing Ralph (UST) on the rear. I think this rear tire has seen it's last race!

Can't wait to get my hands on the new 2012 Scott Spark - check out the awesome 2012 Sparks!!

Ed, Dylan and me

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paterson 24hr - 6x6

1st place - Paterson 24hr - 6 x 6

This weekend I was off to the Hunter Valley for the Paterson 24 hr.

Originally I was going to pair up with Jase to compete in the male pairs, but since Jase was out crook I decided to have a shot at the 6 x 6 category. 6x6 is where you race from midday to 6pm, and then 6am to midday.

The weather was brilliant, and on my practice lap I was sweating for the first time in months!

The course has been freshly built on farm land, and was Dargle-Farm-est in some places. It really suited me, with some longish climbs and around 230 vert meters / lap. A lap being between 45-49 minutes.

Fireroad climbs, some steep chute drops, steep switch backs and some great rock gardens in dark and damp little forests ... and some very inventive tracks cut through cow paddocks. It was also intriguing that a course could have so much off-camber riding!

The soil in the paddocks was super grippy, and you could really lay the bike over around the corners and rocket out of them.

I'd say that for any future race here, it would be worth getting out and working out all the A-Lines. I only rode 1 of the A-Lines (opting for the safe routes), and probably could gain 30 secs / lap by nailing them.

The race start was fast and straight into a fireroad climb. I was happy to be 3rd or 4th in the top single track and let Odams set a cracking pace.

For the first few hours Odams sat a few minutes in front, driving a fast pace. He was climbing quick. Meanwhile Stu Adams (2nd place) was descending like a daemon, and was about a minute up on me.

Around the 4th lap, I got word that both Odams and Adams were slowing and by now I was starting to get into my rhythm. I'd also sussed out the track well enough to be riding the descents a lot quicker.  Sure enough, I soon passed both Odams and Adams on the climbs and punched out a few quick laps to consolidate the lead.

Going into the night, I had 6 mins on Adams, and about 30 to Odams.

After a terrible nights sleep, I headed back out feeling surprisingly good. I immediately got into my comfortable pace and just kept putting out consistent lap times. My gap continued to grow each lap, gaining 2-3 minutes on Adams each lap.

I had a little moment around 8 or 9am in one of the rock gardens - missing my line and wedging the front wheel into a rock. I went straight over the bars, landed squarely on my head and fell into a crumpled mess over the rocks. A few cuts and bruises - and a "wiener meet stem" issue - but overall nothing too serious.

In the end, I got out 16 laps, Adams got 15 and Odams 14. Meanwhile, 24 Solo winner Brett - "Jeebus" - Bellchambers got out 21 laps.

Food wise, I had 1/2 Torq bar / lap, 1 Torq gel / lap and 3/4 bottle of Torq energy / lap (2 - 3 scoops).  This food combination probably meant I was running a little high on carb intake, but I figured with all the climbing it would not hurt.

Equipment wise I ran a 2.1 Rocket Ron (UST) front and 2.1 Racing Ralph (UST) rear. These worked really well on this course, biting into the cow paddocks and being nice and narrow to steer through the rock gardens.  I ran my more heavy duty Roval rims, but you could easily get away with lighter weight rims on this course.

The Scott Spark performed really well- nice and light in the climbs, and responsive in the fast flowing descents. The Twin-Loc was a great advantage - I'd use the lock out on all the climbing and engage the middle lock for the rest of the track. I never needed to fully open the rear suspension.

The front suspension was still setup from Solo Nats, so around 50psi and the rear at around 145psi.

A big thanks to Robyn for coming and supporting me this weekend - she did a great job in maintaining my super quick transitions.

Thanks also to ACT Bike Superstore for keeping me running with all my gear.



SHITS - 6 hrs in the Saddle

6 hours in the saddle - Beechworth

6th open mens, 10 laps 6 hrs :12 min

Last weekend (14th May) I decided to head down to the 6 hr at Beechworth.

The event is run by Finishline Events - who also ran Terra and Alpine Assault - and the course was in a mtb park we went through in Terra - so I thought this would be a good race to check out.

I got to the event early to get in a preview lap and it was cold!

The Beechworth mtb park is really good fun. Lots of granite roll overs and little rock gardens. It flows really well and rewards those who pick the right lines.

It was great to see a really strong turn out of riders - Jackson, Chancellor, Zagorski, Davies, Hayat ... and the list goes on.

For me, this race was just for fun and I went in with no expectations.

Not having any support for this race I had no idea where I was position wise in the race, so I just rode a solid tempo and tried to improve my lines each lap.

In the end, I came in 6th place - 12 minutes down on 3rd and a lap down on 1st.

Food wise I kept it real simple - 1/2 Torq bar or a Torq gel each lap, and a bottle of Torq energy (3 scoops) every 3 laps.

Equipment wise I ran a 2.1 Rocket Ron UST on the front and a 2.1 Racing Ralph UST on the rear. This combination worked pretty well, especially since there was a little moisture on the track. If the conditions were dry, I'd go a Ralph on the front too - and maybe go for a 2.2 width.

The Scott Spark performed really well - riding the whole day in the middle lock out.

Thanks to ACT Bike Superstore for keeping my bikes running, and to Robyn for letting me out for another weekend of racing!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tour of Canberra

7th GC / 2nd KOM - C grade

What better way to backup the 24 hr Solo Nationals with a road race the weekend after ...

I'd let Fenner talk me into doing a roadie race to mix things up a bit ... and I figured if nothing else this would be a good high intensity, low volume training ride.

On the friday night I really did not sleep too well - I had no idea what to expect the next day. Was I going to be completely schooled? Would they stop that I was an mtb imposter? Would I be a complete tard in the pack?

So I was pretty tired turning up on the Saturday morning and heading out for a warm up with fellow mtb imposter Aaron "Tommo" Thompson. We both had let our stubble get out of control, and I *may* have deliberately neglected to keep the leg hair under control ... :)

The first stage was a simple 55km out to the Condor Creek dirt road via Uiarra Crossing. My plan was simply to stick in the pack and watch what everyone else did. I hung mid way through the pack, and hugged the road center line ... much to the annoyance of the trailing copper who kindly (and constantly) reminded me to stay in the line with a loud toot of his horn.

I found it quite interesting the huge variations in speed the pack would travel out - feeling like we were almost stopping after each little climb.

We eventually made out way to the final climb to the dirt turn around. I guessed this must be a KOM point so smacked it in the last 100 metres to claim the points. It was a good think I did, as it meant I had a pretty clean and independent run down ... and was no where near a big stack that took out a bunch of riders behind me.

The climb back out of Uiarra was fast, and I did not pick up that there was a KOM point there - so missed a good opportunity. Regardless, I hung with the lead pack and avoiding their end of stage sprint finished 10 seconds down.

The afternoon was the individual time trial. Something I have never done (outside of training and FTP tests). I went out and rode to my power meter. I managed to clean up about 4 or 5 riders in front (20 sec interval release), so I figured I was doing ok. At the end though, my time sucked. I finished about mid-way through the pack. My power for the 30 mins was just a big below my FTP, so I think I rode strong - but without any of the aero advantages of TT bars, helmets, wheels, body position I sucked.

Tommo however nailed it. 9th in the TT on his stock Giant / Shimano 105 bike ... beating heaps of guys on their $10k plus beasts!

Heading into the final stage 3 minutes down (damn you TT), I figured I would have some fun on this 80km stage. I sat in until Uiarra Crossing and punched it up the short climb. Reaching the top first I decided there would be no rest, and promptly set a 300 w pace. Not happy, the pack followed without their little rest. Pulling off I expected this pace to be maintained, but they were not up for it ... so I said stuff it and went back up to keep the pace up.

We eventually got down to the Pierces Creek climb and again I smacked it into a climb I know pretty well. But unlike racing with Gaz, where we race side by side, I had a couple of tails who drafted me to the KOM point and jumped out to get the big points. Grrrrr.

Out into the long false flats I set the pace again, no attacking just a solid tempo, and soon enough I was out all alone! Lazy buggers!  I got a few minutes up the road and was wishing for Jase or Gaz to be there with me to take it home. I eventually sat up and waited for the bunch.

Luckily by now, we were into the meaty end of the race, and the race leader was keep to see the pace picked up. A small group attacked Mt McDonald and the cruise back to Uiarra. Heading up the three sisters I dropped off this little group - but was not lone as my fellow KOM buddy was there suffering and fried. We dragged each other back in to finish about 1 minute behind the lead group of 5 or 6 riders.

So, all up an interesting weekend of training riding.

Food wise it was the simplest setup in a long time ...  a few bottles of Torq Energy and a few Torq Gels!

Bike wise I ran my Scott Addict RC 2 . The bike is light, fast and responsive. It was good to see a number of them out there too.

Thanks to Tommo for keeping me company on this roadie adventure, Fenner for his daily tips on how to ride each stage and Robyn for her patience in losing another weekend to me on the bike.

Next it is back onto the mountain bike for a 6 hr in Beechworth and then the Paterson 24 hr ...







Being an embarrassing MTB rider

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Australian 24hr Solo Champs

6th Overall, 3rd Age Category

The race

This weekend was the Australian 24 hr Solo Champs, held at Mt Stromlo.

This year saw the race leave Majura Pines and instead use the trails of Stromlo.

The course itself was very different to the Solo Worlds course we had all competed in last year - with no climb to the top of mountain. Instead, the course took riders out to the western tip via trails such as Little Rascals, Blackberry, Slant-6, Willolink, Party Line, Break Out and Berm Track.

Despite there being no real climb, there was a steady gradient to ascend to get to the top of Willolink. But the real challenge to the course was that it was pretty much all single track and a lot of pedaling.  Because of all the rain over christmas, the tracks were very rocky and bumpy ... and throughout the race the track was constantly moving and evolving with new rock gardens forming and moving around!

My strategy for this race was going to be simple - don't lost contact with the lead group, survive the night, and power home in the morning.


I was also looking forward to (hopefully) hanging onto my riding buddies of McAvoy, Ed, Garry etc.

Despite a lot of talk amongst the top riders of a slow start, once the siren went off there were a few guys who went off like scolded cats. There were 4 riders up front, with Ash setting a cracking pace. I jumped past McAvoy, Ed and Bellchambers early in the lap and kept the lead group in sight.

Not surprisingly, this pace did not last long and soon it was just Stuart who was off the front and I got to sit in behind English and have a chat.

Soon enough I fell off English, and had quite some time sitting in 3rd place - with Scotty C about 3 minutes behind.

Around dusk Scott and Ed caught me up, and it was nice to have some company heading into the night. Ed eventually got off the front and Scotty C fell off and it was off into a cold night for me.

From dusk until midnight I struggled to keep my heart rate up - consequently my lap times slowed, and the cold really hit me. By midnight I was feeling pretty down and out, with news that McAvoy, Bellchambers and Ash were all close by. I decided to break the seal and pop and few no-doz.

Within 10 minutes the no-doz kicked in, my lap times dropped and I was back on! Everything felt fine, no pain, riding strong - hey this is fun!!

Perhaps due to pushing a little hard through the night, not taking on enough food or caffeine or perhaps I am just soft - but by 6am I was slowing down again. I still had a pretty good lead on Bellchambers and Ash, so I just had to survive and hope my usual morning energy kicked in.

No morning energy came ... but the Brett and Ash steam trains did! Soon enough my 4th was a 6th and I was limping around wondering where I went wrong.

Lucky I had a big gap to 7th, so I could finish the last few hours with some slow laps.  I waited for McAvoy and English to come around for the last lap, and we had a great cruise for the last lap.

Food

I kept the food real simple for this race;
My food tip was to mix 1 scoop of flavored Torq energy with 1 scoop of natural. Much less stress on the stomach. In fact, with this above food intake I had no stomach problems at all!


I also got all my caffeine from no-doz. I did not really use any caffeinated gels.


Bike & Equipment

My pair of Scott Sparks did really well again.

Knowing the course would be rough I dropped the the front fork PSI down to 50, and ran the rear at 160. I also tweaked the rebound to keep it even more super soft.

I also put on some Richey form grips to absorb more of the impact. These were a big success.

After doing some test runs, I chose to run a Schwalbe Rocket Ron on the front and a Schwalbe Racing Ralph on the rear. I ran both USTs. With all the rock gardens I did not want to risk a sidewall.

The choice of tires worked, and I had no tire issues.

The twin-lock was again a real advantage - especially running the lower PSI pressures. As soon as I hit the (brief) fireroads or crit track, the lock out was fully on and the bike was as powerful as a rigid ... and then a quick flip of the switch and it was back to being super soft.

The true success of these bikes is that my body has recovered really well. Despite a little sore wrists and fingers, the rest of my body (back, neck etc) are all fine!

Thanks

A big thanks firstly goes to my support crew - Robyn, Kylie, Anne, Houran + special guests of Robbie and Indi

You guys & girls did a great job to keep the food and encouragement rolling, and doing all the bike cleaning and maintenance.Could not have done it without you!!

Thanks to Dave & Brett from ACT Bike Superstore for getting my bikes all prepped and ready to race.

Thanks to Jase & Houran (Radical Lights) for letting me share their pit space.

Thanks to my trusty training buddies - McAvoy, Garry, Ed and Dave - it was great to be riding with you out there. Well done to all of you - you all did really well!

Next

This weekend I am hanging up the Spark and pulling out the Scott Addict for the Tour of Canberra.

Then in a few more weeks there is the Beechworth 6 hr, Paterson 24 hr and a 8 hr in Nowra ... nice!!



Age group podium with Ash and English
McAvoy and I happy to finish
On track