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.


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.


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