Monday, January 17, 2011

Alpine Assault 100km

Alpine Assault 100km

7th @ 5hr:28min

This weekend was a road trip with Garry down to Victoria for the 100km Alpine Assault.

This race was originally scheduled for the end of 2010, but with all the rain it was postponed. I'm glad it was postponed - not just because of the great weather we had, but if I had done this race at the end of 2010 with all the other races going on I would have been totally destroyed.

This was definitely a tough race. The 30km descent was brutal - and the big climb under 38 degree sun was nasty.

The race starts out in the ski resort of Falls Creek, with a quick loop of some of the upper firetrails around the resort and around a little dam. I was lucky enough to hang onto the lead bunch of about 11 guys for this first 35km.

As usual, my descending skills let me down a bit and I had a bit of a chase to get back on the ground after the first little descent though some rough and wet double track.

Come the 35km mark we were at the peak of Mt Nelse (1850m), and from there the crazy descent started. Over grown double track with big rocks, holes, trees, branches and who knows what else littered over this drop.  Add on the fact that you are doing switch backs next to plummeting gorges just made the whole thing scary but spectacular.

A few guys went down with punctures (or mechanicals) and it was not too long until I came across Fenz with his wheel off. He had managed to put a massive ding unto his ZTR rim and had blown 4 co2s stuffing around with it! I left him with another tube and him using his tiny hand pump ...

I lost a few places during the descent which really shat me. This is definitely an area I will be working on before Terra

Eventually the descent leads to more conventional fireroad, some cooling water crossing and some little climbs back up to the Falls Creek road.

From there, a bit of tarmac and onto the Survey Line single track - which as Tupalski put it is just like Stromlo Skyline but in a mirror!

This single track leads into the Mt Beauty MTB park, and some great single track to the bottom of the park.

All in all, 1850m down to 430m in just 30km!

Once in the MTB park, it was a 10km climb back up to 1000m on a well named hill called "Big Hill". The climb had a nice steady gradient, but by now the temperature was well into the 30s and the day taking its toll.

Garry caught me up at the bottom of this climb, and we stuck together for the ascent that never ended.

The run down from the was a mix of rocky steep fireroads and then flowing, rooty single track. I left Garry behind on the descent.

A final small climb back up and another run through some more single track and the 100km was done. I was surprised to see Garry already in the pits. Somehow he had taken an accidental shortcut on the 2nd loop, and gained 5 - 7 minutes!! Nice work Gaz :)

As for gear, this was the first real test of my new Ergon GX-3 grips. For a race like this, where the single track was not too tecky, these grips were great. They made the big descent quite bearable, as I was able to get a much flatter palm position during the descent. And I spent all my climbing time on the bar ends. So, a big thumbs up for these.

For tires, I ran tubeless Schwalbe UST Racing Ralphs. These were perfect for this race. Low profile and quick on the roads and firetrails, and great in the single track. The UST really lived up to its name - check out the pic below of my punished rear tire. Despite those two big cuts I lost no sealant or tire pressure!!

The Scott Spark 10 performed well and the twin lock was an advantage - switching the lockup around depending on the surface. Probably the only thing I would setup differently for this race would be to run a little less pressure in my front shock.

Food wise, I took in 5 x Torq gels, 2.75 liters Torq energy, 1 x Torq bar and a no-doze to get the race started. I probably could have done with a little more fluid - but I did not feel too bad for it.

A big thanks to Dean and the Torq UCI MTB team for letting Garry and I crash with them and for getting us to/from the event etc.  And of course a big thanks to Garry for the long drive!

A couple of quiet training weeks now, until the Jet Black 24 hr 6 x 6 in Feb.

This race is basically one stage of the Terra Australis 7 day stage race Jason and I are doing later in March ... can't wait!!

UST Racing Ralph - punished by held up to it

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NSW Alps

 465 km ~ 7547 vert metres

Jase has written up a good review of this ride - check it out here

Only a few things to add;

  • The "breakaway" from Cooma to Jindy went at a cracking pace - Tommo needs to tame his new roadie. 400 watts when he got up the front!
  • Garry big dogged it all the way to Khancoban!! He is an animal.  On the Sunday, 30 minutes into the 60km climb he says to me "Andrew ... are you in the big dog?"... my reply - "Garry, I was in the little ring rolling out of town!" - Garry - "oh ok... might drop down then"
  • Rain from Kiandra to Cooma ... ich ... nothing like wet road brakes whilst doing those long descents
  • Hot Choc. in Adaminaby is highly recommended - esp when riding in pooring rain
  • Glad Dave caught Gaz and I up at Adaminaby - his strong roadie legs meant another person doing turns on the front ... which was very much appreciated!
  • Last nights garlic bread is gold for breakfast ... hmmmmm ... garlic break ....
Thanks so much to Dave's wife for driving out gear around ... and for Jase for organizing a great weekend of riding.

Next time I think Canberra --> Thredbo, Thredbo --> Adaminaby, Adaminaby --> Canberra :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

SCUM 90km

1st place @ South Coast United Mountain Bike end of year 90km enduro.

1:38 / 1:36 / 1:38 ~ 4hrs:52mins

With the original date of this race canceled due to shiteful December weather, the new 2nd Jan date meant a great start to the new year.

It was nice to get out of Canberra - driving out the temperature was hitting 40C!

Pre-race dinner of Huskinson Fish & Chips on the beach may not be the usual pre-race activity, but sure tastes good.

In setting up camp, it was great to see Aaron (Tommo) and Ed were riding. Not only would they be good company, but Ed can navigate the dodey signed course ... and hopefully would not get us too lost.

The start saw pretty much everyone miss the first turn - and then a pera-bog claimed a local rider. Lucky Ed and I had riden this section the night before, and knew what to expect.

So, from that point on the three of us (Tommo, Ed and I) just stayed out in front and Ed & I took turns in setting the pace.

Ed dropped off first, and Tommo made it to the last 10 km before falling off.

The single track was pretty beaten up by the past few months of storms. A lot of leaf litter, twigs, logs - and a few too many derailleur killing moments. We were definitely blazing a new trail at some points.

The fireroads were pretty dry - with just a few boggy sections that had to be walked. Poor Ed did a big pan-cake flop into a smelly bog mid-way through the first lap :)

The course lay out flowed well,  with the only slower points being to navigate the overgrowth and work out where the trail has gone!

For this race I was using the new Spark 10 - and I still have a few things to be dialed in. I ran the whole race in the mid suspension lock out mode.

I was also using the new Ergon GX-3 grips. Although I felt a bit slower in the singletrack, the bar-ends were great on the fireroads and climbs. I realized how much I had been missing bar-ends!

I also ran this race on Racing Ralphs. These tires keep impressing me. Light weight, great grip and a super fast profile. Once the leaf litter was cleared, these tires really could hook in.

Food wise, this race was simply 3 x bottles of Torq Energy and a Torq Gel every 45 minutes.

Thanks to Robyn and Bailey for excellent race support - Bailey sure knew what to do with my left over and unused food!

Thanks to for making it possible for me to run two of these awesome Scott Sparks.

Next weekend is a 450km road road out around the NSW alps!