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 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.
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.
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!