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.
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.
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!