Thursday, November 29, 2012

STM - Round 6 - Awaba 8hr

SRAM Singletrack Mind 8hr - Round 6 - Awaba

2nd - Solo

It is that time of the year already! Time for the final round of the 2013 STM series. It really does not feel that a year has passed since we were racing a muddy Awaba in 2012.

Before I get into any other writing, I'd just like to say thank you and acknowledge a few people ...

A huge thank you to all my support crew who have got me through each of these races. So a big thanks to Robyn, Anne and Kylie. You girls are awesome, not only have you looked after Jase, Garry, Ed, myself and who knows who else, but also raced competitively yourselves. Thank you all so much.

I'd also like to send out a big thank you to Joe and Fi for running another great year of STM races. These events are great fun, well organised and I love being a part of them.

Apologies to Joe for talking with Blewitt through his race briefing - I blame the copious amounts of caffeine which had just been consumed ... :)

A big thank you to the other regular riders who make these races what they are. If you are going to race for 8hrs, it is great knowing that you have good competition and good friends out on course. So thanks to Ed, Tommo, and Tupac for helping keep these events as genuine races.

Finally, a big thank you to all the Radical Lights Factory Racing sponsors. Radical Lights, VIE13 Kustom Clothing, Schwalbe tires, Cannondale bikes etc. Your sponsorship and assistance has been invaluable.

Now, back to the regular broadcast ...

So, Awaba for 8hrs in 30C+ heat ...

Heading into this final round, I was in a tricky place points wise. In order to win the series outright, I would need to win the round and Ed would have to place 3rd or below.  hmmm - that would be tricky.

I started asking around the few guys I know who could be capable of beating Ed - Tupac was out, English had his busted collar bone, and Sam C is on holidays. Bugger that is pretty much everyone. So I then tried to convince XCM rider James Downing to man-up for an 8hr mission, but he too would be out after frying himself at the Fling.

Pretty much the only way I could win the series would be if Ed had a major mechanical, which is not something you want to wish on anyone #karma

So, the plan for the race was to just ride around with Ed to see where he was at, and just enjoy the awesome Awaba trails.

Awaba is one of my favourite trails to visit - there is enough climb per lap to suit my climbing legs, the track has heaps of flow and rewards those who can maintain their speed, and there are heaps of great sections with big berms and obstacles.

The race start was down on the access fireroad - straight into a steep little climb. I struggled to get traction on the loose surface - cursing my laziness for not changing my rear tire after the Scott.

Ed got into the singletrack about 3 wheels in front of me.  Both Ed and I slowly moved through the wheels in front of us. Ironically, when we hit the camel back climb, neither of us would give up the big ring and I was able to get past 5 or 6 riders!

Shame on these team based riders getting overtaken by solo riders on the opening lap :)

After the climb, there was only one wheel between Ed and I, and once we came through transition they peeled off and I was back up with Ed.

After the next 5 hours we pretty much stuck together and traded the lead a few times - it really just depended who was slower in transition.

Andrew Lloyd managed to catch back up to our wheels for a lap or two, but he could not hold on up the camel back climb. Although we could see him trying real hard to get back on, that would be the last we saw of him for the day.

Pretty soon we noticed the heat building. We would find out after the race that on track it got to over 51C. #crazyness



Having raced in these sort of temps a few times now, I knew the importance of getting in lots of fluid. I made the decision to take a little longer in the transitions to take in extra water and pour water over my head.  I was also drinking close to 2L / hour.

Ed capitalised on this, and opted for continuing his rolling transitions.

This was certainly a risky move on his behalf. He had already lost a bunch of bottles on track, and was down on his fluid intake. I figured it would be a gamble as to whether or not he could pull off staying out in front without taking in more fluid.

I continued on, keeping an eye on how far in front Ed was. Around the 7 hour mark I had a really crappy lap - probably just the heat taking it's toll. But I struggled through, and some fresh water helped.

Heading out around 7hrs:25mins Marathon MTB rider Mike Blewitt was just in front. So, keen to have a chat I jumped onto his wheel. Mike was "a little blown" from having down a "double lap" earlier in the day, but strangely I did not feel sorry for him ... :) Mike set a great pace, and I pretended he was not driving me into the ground.

Cracking out a faster then expected lap meant that I came into transition with a minute to spare. hmmmm #decisions. The girls were telling me to finish up, as 3rd and 4th place riders (Lloyd and Tommo) had pulled the pin ages ago and were 2 laps down.  But, being stubborn I snuck out for one more run.

Not my fastest Awaba lap, and probably my slowest lap at the end of an 8 hour all year, but it was good to finish off on the same number of laps as Ed.

I must say I felt pretty rubbish by the end - but not unexpected in that sort of heat.

So, finishing 2nd on the day and 2nd in the series is not too shabby.

2013 Solo Series Winners - Ed, Andrew & Tommo

All up for this year, I have racked up over 220 race hours across 23 races (not including local club events)! So, with that volume of racing I am pretty happy to still finish up so close to Ed in this series.

This was also my last ride for Radical Lights Factory Racing ... although I am still finalising everything for next year, I hear that the team kits will be greener on the other side ... :)

What's next for me? Just because I am a sucker for 50C heat, I will be sneaking up to the Jet Black 24hr and doing the 6x6.  Then it will be some nice summer training rides through Dec and into Jan.

Jan is looking good, with the Bec Henderson 50km race in Canberra, the ACE 250km roadie ride around Hotham & Falls Creek, and probably a visit to the Tour Down Under.



Pokie rides a Cannondale!




At least I got an #adequate number plate

Looking a little sweaty

Too much excitement for one day




Monday, November 12, 2012

Highland Fling - 100km

Elite Full Fling

13th - 04:43:47

I was talking to a guy at CORC Dirt Crits on Thurday, and he was telling me that one of the things he really likes to read in our blogs is how much the elite riders hurt. He likes hearing that we are in the pain cave too out there.

So, lets start this post with a couple of pictures from Kylie Webb which sum up my 2012 Highland Fling ...

Pre-race banter with JD & Kylie

#broken
I think that post race pic sums up my Fling ...

For the last two years I have taken on the 100 miler category, the first time taking a 30 minute wrong turn and then last year having a great ride up against English and Fellows.  This year however, I'd decided to go for the final round of points in the Real Insurance XCM series.

Heading into this final round, I was in 6th place in the series, but with the fling carrying bonus points and some of the big hitters coming into this last race I knew it would be a tall order to keep that place.

Aside from the incredible elite field, this race was also a gamble for me because it was just four weeks after the Scott 24hr. Every 24hr solo is different, and every solo recovery is different. So far I have worked out that for me it is four - six weeks before my power numbers are back to pre-solo. And then usually you get some nice super compensation from the solo, and you are flying again putting out personal bests!

So, lining up with the countries best elite XCM riders with less then 100% legs was going to be interesting.

I'd also managed to catch a tummy bug during the week, which was great for weight loss, but no so good for race prep :)

One advantage of the XCM was the 08:05am start time. That is much nicer! I quick roll up the road with JD, some smack talk with Kylie and soon enough we were on the start line.

The start saw the usual jostling for position as we ascended the first road. With a left hander onto the dirt, followed by fireroad into the farmland everyone wanted to be close to the front.  We hit the farm land very fast and the run down into the first gully was quick.

Already coming out of this gully I could feel that my legs were not all there. I managed to dribble on the back of the pack as it climbed out. As we headed over the rolling paddocks, I realized I was behind a few wheels of riders I did not know. This (I have learnt the hard way) is not ideal ... because ... they usually drop wheels.

Sure enough with the high pace being set from the guys up the front, the end of the bunch was crumbling. With the dribble coming out of my nose and mouth I fought hard to get back to the bunch each time a wheel got dropped, but after about the fourth time I just could not quite get there.

Coming out of the 2nd water crossing I got back to within a bike length, but just did not have the power to get back on. This is where the post 24hr really bites.

I started my solo race. Nothing new for me, so I just set as best pace as a could. Gordo and a couple of other 50km riders came through, and I managed to sit on them for a little while - but again, my legs were just not there and I had to let them go too.

Coming into the first transition area I had lost over 2 minutes on the lead group.

I swapped over some bottles, grabbed some more food and headed to the entry to the 2nd stage. Ideally, you should wait until the very last moment to cross the line - but as I was waiting there the Marathon MTB boys of Justin Morris and Graeme Arnott came through. Split second decision time - do I wait out my remaining 1.5 minutes, or do I jump on the tail of these guys ....

I opted for the jumping on the train, as I figured this would help push me along.  This worked out well initially, and we flew into Wingello and through the first section of singletrack.

As we headed into the second section of singletrack, I ended up at the back of our mini pack (maybe four or five riders), and as we started wading through the traffic I began playing the yo-yo game of pinning it to get back on after an overtake.

We hit the "Wall", something I had been looking forward too, and the dufus Bernard Beer rider put a foot down, and fell into Graeme, who fell in front of me. Ah crap!! Walking the rest of the Wall is so not #PRO.

By the time we finished climbing out of this section and onto the next main fireroad, I'd lost contact with those guys.

Up until now, my heart rate had been in the XCM zone - which for me is 170 - 185bmp. But now, I found I was struggling to get it up out of my "chugger" heart rate range of 155bmp.  I have done 12 hr races with an average HR of 155bpm ... so at just 50km into an XCM this was not a good sign!

After the 2 hour mark passed I started to feel a bit better, and I chugged along.  Around the 65km mark, I caught back the Bernard guy and dropped another elite guy who was getting close.

Heading through the final transition area, I knew I had to push it hard down the fireroad and through the grass paddocks. Coming up to the last big water crossing, I realized I'd got back to the Morris and Aarnot group - and I was able to push past these guys. Justin was looking a little broken but still had a big smile on his face.

The last 15 km is a slog through the grinding and pinchy singletrack, and then into the two evil climbs. Over these couple of climbs I caught back another couple of elite riders - thanks to the power of the big dog :)

Then it was into the slow and crappy last singletrack, which was pretty hammered after all the other riders had gone through. In this slow going track, wading through slower riders, Graeme caught back to my wheel.

We hit the final few kms of fireroad and traded places.  Then it was through the last few km of paddock and I held him off to cross the line in front. However, because of the transition zones timing, he was actually in front for 20 seconds! grrrr ... next time I need to use all the transition time.

Coming across the line I found JD who had just crossed a few minutes previously. JD got me by 3 1/2 minutes! Curse my legs not letting me hang onto the bunch at the start.

So, the finish line photos says it all - pretty broken, and not my best day of XCM racing. But that is racing.

Food and drink for the day was 9 gels and 1.5 clif shot bloks, and 4 bottles of electrolyte drink.

I only took in around 350mg of caffeine, which is a little low for me. I think next time I should hit the caffeine a little more. This would probably also help kick start my heart rate too.

The bike of choice was my Cannondale Flash 29er. Even though there is no ideal bike for this course, I think the hard tail 29er is the closest ideal bike you will find for the Fling. The bigger tires help roll over all the bumpy farm land, and the higher clearance is also an advantage for riding through the deep water crossings.

Tires were the ever-reliable Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskins.

Big congratulations to Kylie Webb, 3rd on the day but this was enough for her to walk away with the overall series winner for the half XCM womens category.

Congratulations to Garry for an easy Super-Masters win, and overall Super-Masters XCM series winner, and Jase McAvoy for his overall win in the Masters XCM.

Well done to Ed McDonald for taking out the miler win - for his next trick, he will astound us all by getting his new white jersey back to being white! :)

Well done also to Kylie McAvoy and Anne for their 50km ride, and for finishing with big smiles!

Next up it is off to Awaba for the final round of the SRAM Singletrack Mind 8hr series.






Wednesday, October 31, 2012

STM - Round 5 - Rydal - 8hr

2nd - Open Solo

This weekend was the 5th round of the SRAM Singletrack Mind Series. The course for this round was the twisty-turney Rydal single track.

The Rydal course offers around 9km of singletrack, fitted into something like a 2km x 2km square space. Needless to say, to achieve that feat there are a LOT of corners.

Corners around trees, under trees, over rocks, off-camber, bermed, rutted, grassed, dirt - if you can think of a type of corner, Rydal has 10 of them!

Going into this race I knew it was going to be a long day on the bike - between still recovering from the Scott 24hr, and having a nasty case of man-flu all week I was not going to be 100%.

The race started up a little fireroad, and this was enough to string everyone out and let the faster team riders lead us into the singletrack. After the first little section of singletrack there is a 300 m section of slightly uphill fire road, heading up it was a few team riders, Ed and then myself - all closely packed.

At the last possible moment before heading into the singletrack, Ed did the dirty move of jumping in front of the guy in front of him - interesting. Luckily he did not get the gap in the tight singletrack, and as soon as we hit the 2nd fireroad ot the course I moved back in front of Ed.

After a few laps, Tommo bridged across from being stuck in the start traffic and so that is how we were for the first 5 hours or so. I set the pace on the front, and occasionally Ed and Tommo traded places.

It was pretty tight going in the singletrack, and once we started lapping the slower riders it was definitely tricky to get all 3 of us around together.

At the 5 hr mark I was feeling ok and getting prepared to keep up this pace for another 3 hours, but this is where my luck all changed ...

Coming through transition, I missed my bottle pickup - meaning I had to stop and grab another bottle. This put me on the back of Ed and Tommo. No real drama there, it was nice to see Ed setting a slower pace and it was a bit of recovery to sit in.

Coming to the end of the lap, we hit a little uphill grind, and in the process of getting around a slower rider my chain jammed up. Crap!

I quickly fixed it up, and figured I'd lost 20 - 30 secs which should be easy to make up. I punched it hard through transition and soon came across Tommo but no Ed - ahhh, interesting again - Ed has done the dirtiest roadie trick in the book and launched his attack on my chain suck!!

So with a Stomach of Anger I gave it everything to bridge back that gap. I could see Ed working hard to stay away, but after about 15 - 20 minutes I'd covered the gap and was just 2 bike lengths behind him.

But no sooner had I got there when I got a big stick straight through the rear jockey wheels. This took another 30 seconds to clean up, and Ed was off again.

I started the chase again, but this time both my front and rear derailleurs were stuffed. The chain kept dropping out of the big ring, and the rear slipping. Soon enough I lost the big ring all together and after an hour of problems, stopping and trying to fix this on the road I sucked it up and did a bike swap.

By now, Ed had a decent gap and there was little point in drilling it to chase him down. So, I rode out the last 2 hours in a pretty easy manner.

One thing I learnt from this race is to not get sucked into the friendly social side of racing. I'd spent the first 5 hours riding with my mates, helping them get through the traffic, sitting up when ever we went around slower riders to make sure they all got back onto the train. I'd also played nice and not launched any attacks when the others needed to get their own bottles. So, when Ed attacked on my mechanical it was a reminder that I should not be offering those friendly concessions in the future!

Even though it was not the day I had wanted, it was still a fun day out - and the Rydal course did grow on me as the day progressed.  It was a shame the sticks stuffed up my gears, because the 26" Scalpel was an awesome bike for this course.

A big thanks to;

  • Robyn, Kylie and Anne for looking after my bottles and nutrition - and for all their help in packing, unpacking and gear prep
  • Schwalbe for the awesome tires - Rocket Ron on the front and Racing Ralph on the back is a wicked combination
  • Vie13 Kustom Clothing - for the comfy kits
  • Cannondale Australia - the 26"  Scalpel and 29er Flash are great bikes - both handling exceptionally well on the tight course
  • Choc Foot crew - for putting on another great event
Well done to Tommo for another podium too!! Must be those new Schwalbe tires working for you :)

Also, best wishes to young OnTheGo racer James Ross - he had a nasty crash, breaking his collar bone midway through the race. Hope you have a speedy recovery and are back to smash it next year!









Friday, October 19, 2012

Scott 24hr

Scott 24 hr

3rd - Open Solo

30 laps / 23hrs : 58 minutes

This time 12 months ago, I had just finished a terrible solo ride. I was completely broken, I'd injured my knee and had to finish up at the 20hr mark of the race. I said to Robyn - "I am never doing another solo at Stromlo unless it is Solo Worlds ...."

My plan for the Scott 24 was to ride it in a pair or a team, and use the Scott as a final build weekend for the Terra Australis stage race. But with Terra being postponed I slowly started to get my mind around manning-up for another Stromlo solo mission. How hard could it be right? Last year I was just being a pansy ...

Needless to say, it took Robyn by surprise when I asked if she would support me for a solo run at the Scott ...

The decision to solo the Scott left me with about four (4) weeks to build some more base, and a two (2) week taper. Luckily I was still carrying a lot of base from Trans Alps, the Jet Black 12hr and all the other marathon and enduro races since July.

Plus in the back on my mind I was thinking the race would just be the usual suspects of English, Ed and Bellchambers.

As the race got closer the 24hrs of Adrenalin announcement came out, and soon enough UK champ Matt Page was on the entry list. Then the Surf Coast 24hr dropped the 24hr component and Sam Chancellor appeared in the line up. And then in the last week Candian champ Cory Wallace appeared in the start list.

Oh crap - this is going to be a serious race!

Riding the course in week before the race, Stromlo was dry and dusty. 28C in the afternoons. Nice!

Then two (2) days out from the race ... boom ... 60mm of rain, snow on the brindies and more rain predicted.

This was going to be messy ...

The race start was quick, but not as crazy as last year. Cory went off the front on the red lap showing his strong climbing legs.

Soon enough it was Ed who made his way to the front and after another lap or so myself, Sam, Cory and Matt all bridged across. English was playing mechanic with his seat falling off!

The rain started to come in, and combined with the water already flowing off the mountain the bogs were really starting to form.  I hit a banked corner at usual speed, and the whole front wheel disappeared! I went tumbling off into some rocks and left a few skin donations on the hillside.

The first 6 or 7 hours went pretty quickly, as we all traded places and stuck within a couple of minutes of each other. The first casualty was Ed who carrying a hip injury did not have his head in the race.

Sam had the lead, and soon enough English came back across. So in the evening it was Sam, English, Page and then me.

Coming through a transition around the 9hr mark I was told that Sam was out with stomach problems.

Going into the night the rain really started coming down, making an already muddy track even worse.

Bog holes just kept growing longer, wider and deeper. It really became choose your own adventure to get through these sections.

The rain eventually let up, and the cold came in instead. Ah, Stromlo ...

The night was not too bad, I eagerly awaited 1am when I could hit the caffeine. After two (2) weeks off all caffeine it felt great taking in 200mg! I came through transition ready to get my next round of "most awesome caffeine gels ever to grace this world" and there was no Robyn :( .... noooooo. Luckily it was only a red lap. Hitting the next transition, Robyn was very apologetic and I got my caffeine gels (and some extras for good luck).

Dawn came and revealed an overcast morning, but at least there was no more rain. Just 5 or 6 hours to go now.

Through the night Cory had dropped back and was an hour or so behind me, and Matt Page was about 15 minutes in front.

At about the 3 hour to go mark, I was at the bottom of the red lap when I broke my rear trigger shifter ... ah crap. Luckily it was in the middle of the cassette.  Now I'd set myself a personal challenge for the weekend of using the big ring only, and I could not let this spoil my fun. So it was time for a flying single speed lap up the Stromlo climb!

At the top of the climb, a huffing and puffing guy who had sat in for the ride said something like "wow, that was great - are you in a 4 or a 6 man team?" ... I muttered something about silly solos and how much singlespeeding sucks :)

With the last few hours to go, I'd done the calculations - one more blue and maybe two more red laps. Matt was still about 15 minutes in front of me, and I had no desire to chase. I rolled my last blue lap, just soaking up the clock time. I did not dawdle enough and came through transition with 2 minutes still on the clock.

Robyn wanted me to go do one more lap, to finish on the same lap as Jase and Matt - but I was definitely done for the day.  Take me to your pizza!

So, all up that ride was something like 390km and nearly 7000 vert m, and with all the rain, cold, bogs and rocky Stromlo terrain it was definitely up there on the "tough" races list.

In addition to my big ring personal challenge, the other challenge I set myself was to ride the entire race on gels. No solid foods at all. It actually worked! No sickness, no stomach bloating, no #2 stops ... mission successful. Be warned though - it has taken me all year to get my stomach able to do this, working up to it at all the 8 & 12hr races. I would not try this without building up to it!

A big thanks to;

  • Robyn and Kylie - for being awesome support crew. Robyn spent most of my laps washing bikes and did a fantastic job of tracking all my food, drink, caffeine, electrolytes and light batteries
  • Cycling Sports Group / Cannondale - for making sure I had two great Scalpels to race, and they even hooked me up with a spare lefty fork in case of emergency. The 26" dualy bike should not be dead - just ride a 26" Scalpel at Stromlo and you will see just how amazing these bikes are
  • RLC Sports - thanks Aiden for quickly getting me last minute parts
  • BikeBox / Schwalbe - for hooking us up with the perfect tires for Stromlo - Snakeskin Rocket Ron for the front, and Snakeskin Racing Ralph on the rear
  • Radical Lights - for the super bright lights that kept me going through the night. It always entertains me when a rider 50m up the track pulls over because they think you are right on top of them
  • Vie13 - for the comfortable clothing and winter gear that got me through the cold night
  • Russ and CORC - for putting on another great race
  • Matt Page & Cory Wallace - for coming all the way out to Australia - we look forward to seeing you guys next year
Also, well done to Radical Lights Factory team mates Garry James and Jase McAvoy for taking out the pairs category.

A few weeks rest now, and then it will be back into it with the next round of the SRAM Singletrack Mind 8hr series at Rydal.

Cory holding up Matt on the podium
English, always lurking close by

Smile!!






Monday, September 17, 2012

STM Round 4 - Welby - 8hr

SRAM Singletrack Mind Round 4 - Welby - 8hr

1st Elite Solo

Heading into my 5th race in 6 weekends I was feeling a little smoked. Added to which, I had jumped back into the base building miles this week after a solid VO2 block post Europe.

For those in the power world, it was a 1000 TSS week with an 8 point CTL jump - so going into an 8 hour race was going to hurt!

I'd spoken with my main nemesis rider Ed McDonald during the week, and it sounded like he would not be making it to Welby. He had a nasty slack at Backyamma the weekend before, and was under strict physio instructions to rest up.  #bugger

Even without Ed, there is of course Mark Tupac Tupalski - and if he had had his Wheaties during the week he would definitely be a contender.

McAvoy, Robyn and I snuck up to Welby for a recky on the Saturday afternoon. Finishing the loop, it was something very different to what we usually ride and race on.

It was mostly loose sandy soil over hard pack, or over moving rocks. About 3km of pretty new track was in place, evidenced by the talcum powder layer of dirt over who knows what!  The track had a few reasonably techie sections, a bunch of pinch climbs and a little bit of flowing single track towards to end.

Probably the closest track I could match this course against is Mt Annan. Welby was like a more natural Mt Annan style course. Tight corners, pinch climbs and some rough techy stuff.

This was definitely going to be a tough course to do an 8 hour on. I ditched the 29er ht and prepped the 26" Cannondale Scalpel. A dualie would be an advantage on this course, and with a lot of tight and slow corners and switch backs, the more nimble 26" bike would be the better selection.

Race start was fast paced, with the teams riders taking off. Tupac was off with these boys, and I was left cursing my fried legs as I climbed the start fireroad.

A few kms into the single track, I came across Tupac. His chain was all mangled and it was looking like his day would be done early. Although, you can never rule out the Tupalski ...

I started thinking, "sweet ... easy ride today" when I heard a rider come up behind me. I ask he if wants to get by and he says, "nah, am just going to sit here as long as I can ... I am a solo rider too".

"Yay" ... just what I needed ... not! Being a rude prick, I punched it (well as much as my dead legs would) up a few of the fireroads and on the fast flowing sections, and soon had a gap and lost this rider behind me.  Back to the mind set of "sweet ... easy ride today".

About 2 laps later, he was back!  We had a bit more of a chat, and I confirmed that this was indeed Andrew Lloyd sitting in on my wheel. He seemed to be pushing pretty hard, but it was clear he was intent on riding this one fast.  The technical parts of the course really suited him.

Later in the lap, I took a bad corner and dropped my chain. Andrew snuck by and I think he pinned it off the front.

#whatever I thought ... as long as I beat Tupac today I will be a good position in the overall series points, so I was not too fussed to see Lloyd take off. That said, I was looking at my heart rate and how hard I was going. I was thinking that he was probably going too hard on this course, and it would probably come back to bite him.

Around the 5 hour mark I got told Lloyd was about 2 minutes up ... oh well, may as well wind it down a bit and take a pee stop. Next lap I was told I was only 40 seconds back. wtf?? That does not make sense.

That lap I came across a very broken unit. He was well spent.

For me, I was still feeling pretty good, so I stomped it past Lloyd and decided to take the advantage and put some time into him. In the remaining 2 hours, I put 16 minutes into him!

I think a lot of riders under estimated how much the Welby course would take out of them. It it definitely a a course to approach with a little extra hesitation.

In the end, it Andrew Lloyd in 2nd and Aaron Tommo Thompson in 3rd. It was great to see Tommo finding some form again! 2013 World Solo look out ...

I also took the chance to do a little Peter Sagan "running man" salute. There has been a standing order between JD, Ed and myself that any wins are to be accompanied by the running man ... :)

In the Gaz vs Jase battle, Garry won the Masters Solo and Jase came in 5th.

Meanwhile, RAKS Racing came in 2nd in the Chicks-3 category. A super effort!

A big thanks to;

  • Robyn, Kylie and Anne for dishing out gels and bottles all day. 16 gels for me today!
  • Cannondale Australia - the Scalpel is an awesome bike. Lightning fast and comfortable in the long races
  • Schwalbe (BikeBox) Australia - the snakeskin Rocket Ron + Racing Ralph combinations were perfect in the conditions. And despite seeing a lot of punctures on the loose rocks, the snakeskins held tough
  • VIE13 - for our great custom kits (check out their new web site www.vie13.com all ready for their Interbike Launch in Vegas)
  • Radical Lights
  • All other other team sponsors and supporters!
  • Fi and Joe from Chocolate Foot for putting on another top event, as well as all the local club volunteers for putting in their time to make this event happen. (I'd still like to kick the course designer in the nuts for a few hours though ... ) :P
Whats next?

Some more base mile building and then the Kowalski Classic 100km in Kowen Forest in a few weeks!

Tommo, me and Andrew Lloyd

Chaotic mess of setting up

Gumby and Pokie ... that Pokie is a cool dude





Backyamma 100km

Backyamma 100km

4th - Elite 100km - 3hrs: 44 mins

A bit of a late and quick post about this race.

Ed, JD and Jase have pretty well summed up this race in their respective blogs;

* http://edridesbikes.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/revisiting-the-rules-2012-back-yamma-bigfoot/
* http://pin-it-you-muppet.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/back-yamma-bigfoot-2012-event-report.html
* http://www.jasonenglish.com.au/2012-back-yamma-bigfoot-100

My race can quickly be summarized as;

* lots of pre-race smack talk
* an entertaining dinner with JD, Superfast chick, Robyn and Jason English - with Jase being disappointed at the choice of Thai until he realized the vast quantities of white rice he could consume
* a fast race start, but I soon had some seat post dramas and had to stop and tinker with it 3 times :(
* Ed bins it following a dodgy JD line
* drilled myself to get back onto the bunch
* Bellchambers taught me a few more swear words and sledges containing word sequences I never would have thought possible
* gave a few sledges to the group on catching them ... and then went straight to the front to help Jeremy Ross keep them honest
* Jeremy and I made sure no one could complain about negative racing :)
* English got the break around the 55km mark - goodbye!
* JD, Jeremy and I set about reducing the passengers - and soon we were down to just the 3 of us
* Deals were done, first children promised away and we were off to the final few kms
* I dropped the bike on a big drift on one of the last corners, and missed out on the sprint finish :(
* Average HR for the 3:44 was 166 bmp ... and I topped out at 191 bmp ... yeeaahhhh

Well done to Superfast Chick on winning the 50km chicks race, and RAKS Racing Robyn for coming in 2nd in the 25km chicks!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wollombi Wild Ride - 75km

Wollombi Wild Ride

6th Elite - 2hrs:33mins


This weekend it was off to the outskirts of the Hunter Valley for the 5th round of the Cyclenation XCM series - the 75km Wollombi Wild Ride.

Not too much was known about this race, and as we descended deeper into the country side we soon realized we were in the middle of no-where.

We soon found the local pub - which also happened to be the rego center - and got our rego packs.

With the course being a mix of public and private roads, we would not be able to recky the exact course ... it also did not help that a big horse was still in the little paddock adjoining the start/finish area - so we would have to bypass that section!

We road out to the top of the first KOM point - basically 3 moderate climbs and then a loose soiled steep climb. It was all easily ridable but that loose climb would probably be pretty chaotic.

We met up with James Downing and Kylie Webb on the way back down, and this gave Garry some time to explore the run down railway cars in a junk lot. Pretty weird ...

Riding back on the dirt roads, Kylie was half wheeling and I was keeping pace. Slowly the pace picked up and soon enough I am thinking something is going on, as Jase is just hanging onto our wheels and Gaz is already off the back. I ask Kylie if she is trying to drop Gaz, cause he is gone. Turns out she thinks I am half wheeling her and visa versa! She should definately be a Bakery Bunch rider!

The morning of the race was freezing - literally - we watched the car themomoter hover at 0C.  With the start sitting in the cold fog, it was clear it was not going to get warm until the sun could poke through.

With just 5 minutes before the start, the sun finally got through and it was a last minute rush for everyone to ditch their jackets, vests and warmers. A big thanks to Mike Blewitt and Kylie Webb for collecting everyone's gear!!  I hope you guys find good prices for it all on ebay ... :)

The start was pretty random - as we had to walk over the timing mats. The event was using an old-school timing system with ankle bracelets. It looked like we were all on home detection, with the orange things strapped to our legs. 

Heading straight into a big dirt road, the pace was quick but not crazy and a long peleton of riders spread out. At the first little gradient climb out of the winery Blair and AJ launched a little attack, but the group soon was back together. A few more of these little attacks came on the way to the climbs - but with the flat road it was hard for any of these to have an impact.

The climbs broke apart the big peleton, and by the time we got to the top of the loose climb there was a group of around 12 riders. Blair and Trenton had gone off the front on this hill, and that would be the last we saw of them for the day.

The Rockstar riders of Fleming and Glennan set the pace, and a sly Jason English was tucked into the back of the bunch.

It was frustrating to miss a few of the race arrows and have to turn around, losing vaulable momentum and time.

Around the 35-40km mark English started making his way to the front, and on the undulating fireroad he started to apply the pressure. English, Glennan, James Downing and myself started to get a little gap from our group and I thought that we would soon be away - but then we took another wrong turn into a picnic area and this break was lost.

About 10 minutes later, English did the same thing but this time I just could not catch JD's wheel. I was stuck in the no-mans land, just off the back of these three, and maybe 15 secs up on the rest of the group.

Cursing the VO2 sessions I could still feel in my legs from Thursday, I had to fall back to group.  This group was still riding at a good pace, but there were only 2 other riders driving it. It was clear this group was not going to catch those in front.

We hit the final 15km of flats, and again there was a general reluctance on the group for anyone to work hard on the front. A sporatic rotating pace line formed, but the pace was definately kept down.

Coming to the final rise before the entry back to transition I was on the front, not the best place to be but I wanted to be in control of the pace. Down the rise and ready for the right hand corner into the field, Shaun Lewis and Matt De Pomeroy attacked up my inside, and Justin Morrin around the outside. I immediatly thought "geez, they have left that too late ... someone won't make that corner" and sure enough, Matt and Shaun were soon sliding across the deck in front of me.

I snuck through on the right, and held Justin off into the finish chute.

So 75km in 2hrs:33mins - the shortest (non clubie) race I have done. Certainly not the best distance and timing for me!

Our group finished 1.5 mins down on JD, 3 mins on English & Glennan, and 6 mins down from winner Andy Blair. So, pretty close racing.

All up, I am happy with that result. Such a short, roadie style race definately does not suit me.

On the gear front, I ran the Enve 29er wheels on my Cannondale Flash. These wheels never dissapoint. They give the confidence to attack any sketchy fireroad descent, and have an amazing ability to hold rolling speed. They are also really strong, I gave them a few good whacks out there but they hold their shape and spokes brilliantly.

Riding a course like this, you would want nothing but a 29er hard tail - so the Flash was the best choice.

As for the Rotorburn million dollar question of "what tires do you run", it was the good old Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskins which did the job. Even through the little sandy pockets on track these tires had enough bite to keep it upright, and on the flats a low enough rolling resistance to keep pace.

Next week it is off to Parkes for the Backyamma 100km - at least this race will be closer to 4 hours of riding!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cannondale Supersix Evo - 1st impressions


Yes I know - I make fun of roadies ... they wear too much white, put funny hats under their helmets, and get upset when they hit bumps on the road ... so it is ironic that I should be posting a quick review of my new road bike!

Given that most of my training week is spent on the road bike, I thought it about time I updated my "training" bike. Yep - this is the bike to be used for lots of hill repeats, bakery bunch groveling ... and importantly commuter chasing on the way home after a full blown training session else where.

The weapon of choice is the Cannondale Supersix Evo Team ... a bike worthy of the Cannondale Liquigas team, so it should be up to scratch for my purposes.

Out of the box, the bike is just outright awesome. Full SRAM Red components, Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels, lots of FSA K-Force carbon bits, and some FI'ZI:K bits too.


In true Cannondale style, the SRAM Red components are actually lime green - which coupled with all the other little anodized green bits make for an eye catching bike indeed.

The only thing I have added to this bike is the new SRAM Quarq Powermeter which fits directly into the native Hollowgram cranks. It simply replaces the default spindle, and off you go. This means that you can still run the awesome Hollowgram cranks, and you have the lightest power meter setup you can get.

And for those who are wondering, yes, the cranks make a huge difference. Having been playing around with the MTB Quarq on my Cannondale Flash 29er, I had to swap off the Hollowgrams for the MTB Quarq SRAM X0 cranks. Going back to the Hollowgrams, you immediately notice the difference in stiffness and power transfer. Not only are the Hollogram cranks light, but they are super stiff. The SRAM X0 and even to some degree the SRAM RED & XX cranks feel soggy compared to the Holllowgrams.

On a side note, it was great to see the new Quarq just easily slot in and work out of the box. The numbers it has given for my first ride match well with the Quarq on my old road bike - so that is really exciting. It is always a worry introducing a new power meter, and knowing that the magic numbers might be "apples and oranges" ... so when it gives the right looking magic numbers it is happy times.

Back to the rest of the bike ...

After just the first shake down ride, it is immediately apparent how well that rear end flex in the Supersix Evo's works. Canberra roads are pretty crap gravel wise, and I was impressed that I could remain seated in a lot of rough sections and keep pedaling. On other bikes you would need to be lifting your butt off the seat to get through these crap sections.

The ride is very smooth, and you really can keep the power down through crappy sections of road.

The stiffness in the cranks and bottom bracket area is noticeable. You can feel a solid power transfer underneath the pedals. This also allows for quick accelerations and being able to really punch out quick climbs.

The wheels felt smooth and consistent, and despite their profile were quite quiet and unaffected by cross winds. I look forward to really spinning these up on some long flats to see how they go.

The SRAM Red components (as always) are awesome. Quick, precise shifting - even under load. Quick to tune as well.

So yeah, that is my initial impressions - a fricken awesome bike!

Now I just have to wait for the next 3 weekends of MTB races to be over so I can take this puppy out to Bakery Bunch :)

A big thanks to Al from CSG for getting be hooked up with this bike!







Monday, August 20, 2012

STM Rd 3 - 7hr - Nowra

Singletrack Mind - Round 3 - 7 hr -  Coondoo Road, Nowra

2nd Elite Solo

16 laps / 153km / 7 hrs : 24 mins

It was back to the SCUM tracks around Coondoo Rd for the 3rd round of the SRAM Choc Foot / Singletrack Mind series.

These tracks are well known for their flowing single track, deep sandy corners and the odd log roll over.  The first few laps are usually about playing the game of "is that a berm of just a big pile of sand ... am about to find out ... !"

We had been told there was some new singletrack in the 10km course, but really this was just the result of some dude with a whipper / snipper making a random trail through some long grass. Maybe this will be new singletrack in another few months once it has fully bedded in ... but for the duration of the race it was just (literally) a pain in the arse!

Going into the race, Ed McDonald (the current series leader) was taking it all very seriously. A taper week leading into the race, and a new bike to break in. Meanwhile, Mark 'Tupac' Tupalski had been putting in some serious training (according to Mark, at least 5 hours / week) and was ready to give Ed a run for the win.

For me, I was still fully blown from the 12 hour the weekend before. I had groveled / limped through my weeks training schedule and hoped I could hold on to those boys at least long enough to not look embarrassed.

That said, I was adamant I was not going to get screwed over in the self-seeding chaos this time around. After starting in the draining ditches at both Orange and Kowen, I was going to make sure I was up front. With the help of Gumby organizing the start line, I finally had a good position - and a much better view of the road to come, then the back of some camel back, flat pedals and baggy shorts.

The teams riders took off, and I jumped in on the back of one of the team's riders. The pace was quick, but not too bad (considering). Tupac was a few wheels up front, and really pushing it. I could hear Ed a few wheels back on me.

After the first few laps, Ed and I were together and Tupac was about 30 secs up the road. I decided to just sit in on Ed and see what he had today.

He seemed to be a little slower then usual - or maybe I was just still in tune to riding with English from the weekend before and in "flog my self" mode. Either way, I took an opportunity to jump past him, get a little gap and then jump onto the wheels of one of the fast teams.

This seemed to be working well, Ed was out of sight behind me and I was being told Tupac was just a little ways up ... and then coming up behind a train of riders at speed, I misjudged their speed (more the point their excessive use of brakes into a corner), and I went flying off into the scrub. In my best Russian gymnast style I did two forward rolls and even managed to be swearing whilst rolling! #skills

Luckily my bike seemed all ok, but my Garmin was a dribbling mess - yes, literally. The LCD screen was cracked and leaking. RIP Garmin.

I was soon back up and pushing hard - with no idea of my HR. Oh well, just have to do the "ride so it hurts" routine.

Later that lap I caught up on Tupac, and for the next few hours we traded the lead and little gaps. 

Mark sensed me back off a little around the 5 hour mark, and he took the opportunity to hit the gas.

I started to feel good again at 6 hours, and thought I may as well pick up the pace to see if I could catch back to Mark. You never know, he may be suffering up front. I was 3/4 through my 2nd lap of pushing harder (albeit through very thick traffic), and I caught the first sight of Ed since the morning! He was probably 30 - 40 secs back.

Oh shite ... I have just been frying myself, and now I may have to do another lap with Ed hot on my heels.

I jumped between team riders - who ever was going the hardest - and secretly hoped that I would come through transition at 6hrs : 59mins and Ed would not make that ... but no, it was 6 hrs : 57 mins - crap crap crap. Now I have to bust myself for another lap!

I set out with everything I had, and this time the lazy team riders were hanging onto my wheel! Lazy lazy. There was a few anxious moments as we got caught up in the slow single track traffic, and I was constantly looking back over my shoulder.

Thanks to one of the Jet Racing guys for returning my tow, and giving me a super fast run down the last big fireroad.

Finally, the last little hill came and I gave everything to get to the top as quick as possible - and with no Ed in sight it was a big relief.

In the end, Tupac was about 1.5 minutes in front of me, and Ed was a minute back on me.

#smoked

That was a really good race - rarely do these races come down to a matter of minutes - let alone to have the top 3 all within 2.5 minutes!

As with the weekend before, I ran the Cannondale Flash 29er for the fully race. The big wheels are definitely and advantage over the soft sandy soil. They also make the few little rock gardens and rooty sections nothing to think about.

On the tire front, I had left on a Schwalbe Nobby Nick - thinking there would be bad weather - but it worked out really well for the sandy and loose conditions. The tire had heaps of bite, and a good predictable turn in on both the loose and firmer sections.

Schwalbe make a 29er version of the Nobby Nick in a Snakeskin (protection) version which is just a few grams more then Racing Ralph version. So, for these conditions it was definitely worth it. I will be pulling this tire out more often I think!

A big thanks to;
  • Robyn, Kylie & Anne for all the quick transitions and excellent race support. The girls also looked after Garry, Ed, McAvoy and Grantly, whilst also racing themselves in RAKs Racing! Very impressive.
  • Cannondale AU - nearly 20 race hours in 2 weekends on the Flash 29er - #flawless
  • Vie13 Kustom Clothing
  • Radical Lights
  • Choc Foot and all their sponsors for putting on another well run and great fun event - and for the ever tasty chocy feet!!
  • Cycology for hooking Robyn up with some cool new t-shirts and caps
  • Well done to Aaron Thompson (Tommo) for also finding some form, and smacking some of the big boys!







Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trans Alps 2012

Trans Alps - 2013

ok ok to my one avid reader ... so I have been slack in not writing up something about the most amazing race in the calendar year. 

So for 8 days in mid july, myself and Jason McAvoy raced for over 600km and ascended over 21,000 vertical meters. The route took us from Oberammergau, Germany through Austria, Switzerland and eventually into Italy, with the finish in the beautiful lake side town of Riva del Garda.

Unfortunately, Jase got a dose of man-flu at the start of the race, and coupled with the altitude and distances he struggled. Of course, that meant that our pairing was a bit stressed - as Jase was in the box and I was idling and wanting to rip the legs off anyone and everyone.

Jase has assured me he will speak to me again ... one day :P

So rather then do my usual write up of events, I'll write up things a little differently ...

Firstly, this is an amazing race. I would recommend it to anyone (who loves being in the pain box on the bike). With over 1100 riders from all over the world, just making it out of the start chute every morning is an experience. Have you ever wondered how "on your left" is said in German, Italian, French, Swiss, Russian, Portuguese, South African, Korean, Japanese ... you get the point. Chances are by the end of Trans Alps, you will have heard all these versions!

Each day of the race loosely fitted into the same template. We would "roll" out of some quiet mountain village in a "neutralized" manner for about 5km. Over the PA system, the race would start with announcements in German, Italian and English ... and then they would play AC/DC Highway to Hell. I use the words "roll" and "neutralized" cautiously, as most saturday morning Bakery Bunch gallops are more tame then these starts. Really what the race organizers should have said was that it was a free for all, and just don't over take the pace car (which is doing 50km / h).

Side walks, drainage systems and anything you could ride over was fair game. Cars parked next to the road would lose their mirrors as the pack went through!

Assuming you survive the craziness of 1100 riders bumping bars on tight cobble stone streets, you then hit a climb which will be somewhere between 1000 - 1600 vertical meters. The climb will take up 2 hours to ascend.  Usually these climbs were on ski resort access roads, or up switch back mountain passes. They were rarely too steep, and a 2x10 granny was fine for grinding up the hills.

The top of these climbs were usually well over 2000m, with 2800m being the highest point in the race. Altitude aside, it is fricken cold up there and even colder as you make a 30km descent!

The European's have not grasped the concept of flowing single track. To get you back to groveling up a hill as soon as possible, the descents are either hair raising fireroads - with blind switch back corners over clifs, over loose rock surfaces or the descents are vertical rocky, rooty fall lines - in which your ears pop from the sheer altitude loss over a few km!

Either way, you very quickly descend.  At the start line I had wondered why some many people had 200mm rotors on their XC bikes. I soon found out why ... the descents are so intense, and go for so long that your arms and hands are soggy messes of flesh by the bottom. My brake rotors were scorched black from the intense heat. It was a common sight to see riders pulling to a complete stop on these descents, as their brakes literally boiled and they had to wait for them to cool before continuing!

So, back to a standard TA day ... so you have made a sketchy descent, and you are now at the bottom of some valley. Chances are that down here it is 20 or 30+ degrees C, where as at the top of the peak you just climbed over it was in the single digits, and possibly raining!  A Goretex jacket was a standard item for every rider, and we used them pretty much every day. Arm and knee warmers and under shirts were also needed for most days, at least for some point in the day. Many of the Euro riders took this to the extreme, with Goretex helmet covers, gloves, socks, and even pants. Apparently, the cool kids wear Goretex pants to keep their knicks dry ... I am not convinced. #harden_up

Once into these valley's there was often a nice 10-20km of flat which could be time-trialed, or on the more cruel days this would be a heap of undulations. Either way, it would take you to the next big climb of the day - usually another monster 1000-1500 vertical meter mountain. Remember that the average is over 3000 vert m / day!

Most of the towns we passed through had their streets closed down for the race, so there was always heaps of spectators and people cheering. Hop, hop hop, cow bells dinging ... and even dudes running next to us giving out bottles of water!

Usually when climbing on the road bike, you don't get the chance to feel the sensation of just how quickly you are gaining altitude ... but when you literally go up switch back after switch back, and you look back over your shoulder you can actually get a feeling of vertigo. You realize just how high up 1000 vertical meters is, as the little valley town below becomes smaller and smaller.

Ascending those distances, you also see the terrain change. You start in lush valleys, with thick trees and shrubs. Soon you are into the higher farm lands, with the cows grazing and lush soil. Then you are above the tree line, with shale rocks and the remnants of old glaciers tumbling around you. Finally, you reach the snow line and it is just fricken cold!

The day would then finish in another quiet mountain village. Rolling in on the cobblestone streets, lots of spectators on the side of the road cheering - it was always a welcoming feeling.

Usually these towns would be surrounded by massive 3000m+ monster mountains, and you quickly realized that there would be no easy way out of this town.

The post race food quickly made up for any crappiness in the day. The food was always put on by the local town, and so there was copious amounts of cheeses, cold meats, panini, chocolate, coke, fruits, etc etc. You could stuff yourself silly before even heading back to the hotel!

The routine became, finish race, pig out on post race food, find hotel & shower, find pizza (round 1), lie on back to rest stomach from eating, find pizza (round 2), find dessert ... pass out in bed.

We (wisely) choose to go the hotel route for our race accommodation. The event organizers cater for this really well, and will transport your bags between your nominated hotels each day. The only down side of this was that you had to leave your bag in the hotel foyer by 7am, but with the race not starting until 9am, it meant you had to choose what clothes you kept with you wisely. It also meant sitting down for breakfast in full kit and trying not to leak chamois cream everywhere ....

The hotels in these small towns were great - usually around 120 euros, with buffet breakfast, internet and staff who would go out of their way to help out. Anyone who freely volunteers to wash my dirty kit after a day of riding in the mud gets bonus points in my book!  I got my money's worth in breakfast food eating alone!

In contrast, those who took on the TA camping option had the pleasure of sleeping on the floor of town halls, gyms or car parks - on thin mats, spaced close together.  These guys and girls often got to share one toilet and shower per 200 of their closest carb-loaded euro mates, and the whole place was a massive drying (stink) room of kits freshly "stomped" on in the shower.

So, some tips for you if you get a chance to do this race;

* Train for more hills then you can imagine. Then train some more. I thought that doing 15 x Mt Ainslie repeats was an overkill. Next year it will be 15 x Mt Ainslies at least 3 days / week!
* Take a good collection of spare parts - The small towns have limited bike shops, and although there are race mechanics and race support services you are sharing them with 1100 other riders. In particular take;
** Chains - given a few days of bad weather, take at least 2 x spare chains
** Spokes - there were a lot of broken spokes. Ever tried to get an ENVE spoke in AU, let alone from some small shop in an Austrian ski town with an old dude who does not speak any english. Take spare spokes!
** Brake pads - at least 4 spare sets. Given the epic descents, you could fry a set in a day if the weather was bad
** Bottle cages - Both my carbon cages were destroyed from the rough descents.
** Gear cables - Full length cable outers are a must, and if you do them right you should get away without needing to run any new cables. But always safe to have a few spare cables just in case
** Derailleur & hanger - Luckily we did not mash a derailleur, but it would be pretty easy to smash one. That said, I did burn through a lower jockey wheel during the week, so having spare of those is pretty useful
** Tires - not essential. Maxxis were providing support and had a big range of tires, tubes and stans related products.
** Valve extenders - Have you ever tried to get a long valve tube (for you deep dish carbon wheels), from that Austrian dude who does not speak English? McAvoy tried and failed. If you need long valves, carry valve extenders so you can at least use short valve tubes.
* Get to the stage start early - self seeding in your start group commences a good hour before the race start
* Pace yourself - there was quite a number of guys who smashed the first few days, and then were dribbling messes by midweek
* Recovery each day is essential - make sure your post stage priority is to eat, drink and sleep
* Keep your bike well maintained - there is no sag wagon, and you are in the middle of no-where. A mechanical issue could be a huge drama. Check over your bike each day and keep it running well
* Learn a little German ... more then just knowing beer names is helpful
* CO2 cartridges on planes is still a mystery to me. Their web sites say they are ok (if packed well, and 2 per person etc), but the grumpy baggage inspector in Dubai was not happy with them - which at 1am in the morning after a 7 hour flight, and they are delaying your flight to rummage through a bag is not cool

Finally, some handy tips on being in Europe;

* Money in most of Europe is the Euro
* Money which they laugh at when you tender it in Switzerland is the Euro
* Places where pizza, pasta and sausage is all dirt cheap and really tasty - Europe
* Places where pizza, pasta and everything is fricken expensive - Switzerland
* All the top riders at the race rode 29er hard tails
* Place where we were told that "29ers are too heavy and have floopy wheels. They are only used by flat landers" - Switzerland (I guess they have no seen the 2013 bike catalogs ...)
* Places where the toll roads are quite expensive - Europe
* Place where the toll roads are crazy expensive - Switzerland
* Place where the Garmin was adamant that we were to drive over a historic pedestrian wooden bridge- Switzerland
* Place where the road signs include speed limits for tanks - Germany (30 kph in case you were wondering)
* A Tupac line is called an Euro line (and they love to take them)
* Putting chamois cream directly onto your team mates butt is the Euro thing to do
* Wearing white knicks on a rainy day is Euro
* Fluro is still quite fashionable in Euro-land
* Standing around with your jersey off, bib / brace off your shoulders and knicks pants pulled up to show off all your massive legs - being Euro
* Having a choice of 6 cheeses and 10 cold meats for breakfast - Euro breakfast

So will I be going back - hell yeah!  I am accepting offers from potential riders to pair up with ... man up JD, that means you!

















Monday, August 13, 2012

Jet Black 12hr

2nd Elite Solo

252km / 12hrs

This weekend it was back to Dargle Farm for the annual Rockytrail Entertainment / Jet Black 12hr.

Dargle Farm is one of those great hidden venues, which is only opened up once per year.

The track itself is built around two valleys of farm land, and has a good mixture of singletrack and fireroad - as well as a couple of nasty pinch climbs and little rock gardens to keep you awake at night.

This year, the track had a few modifications from years gone by, which meant a little more fireroad but did introduce some interesting hidden long grass singletrack.

With the modifications, the fastest guys would be hitting sub 20 minute laps, and for the solo guys sub 25 min laps were on the cards.

The race started with the usual team riders taking off like stink, and thank fully Jason English did not immediately jump onto their tail.  So the first lap was a pretty cruisy lap with fellow solo riders of English, Bellchambers and Chops (James Lamb).

Heading to the pinch climb at the start of the 2nd lap, I jumped in front of Chops and stomped it. This was a little pay back to Bellchambers for doing this to us all last year.

I was able to get a useful gap, and it was until well into the 3rd lap that English came across.

Despite a solid head wind, I was happy to set the pace for myself and English - and we kept a solid pace for first 5 or so hours. However, when the fast team riders came through I was not able to make the jump onto their tail - and that was English gone.

I figured that would be the last I would be seeing of Jase for a while, so I settled into steady and consistent laps - with the intent of lapping Bellchambers sooner rather then later.

I came across Brett a bit before the 9 hour mark (just on dark), and we rode around for a lap together before he sent me on my way.

I figured I would take it easy for the last 3 hours, and settled into a lower tempo pace to see out the rest of the race.

The night was welcoming, as riding under lights always adds a new dimension to a race - new lines emerge and it is like riding a new track.

Finishing a minute or so after the 9pm cut off, I was not too upset not to be taking on another lap - 12 hours was long enough for today.

For the race, I rode the Cannondale Flash 29er - yes, a 29er hard tail. The course is definitely a 29er course - with the big wheels flying over the bumpy double track / paddocks and also easily rolling over the rock gardens.

Tires for the day were the Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskins - more then enough grip and fast rolling.

As always, the Radical Lights were bright and gave awesome definition. I also gave Brett a good scare by turning the lights right down as I came up behind him and then turning them into full brightness ... he has seen the light!

A big thanks to all the Team Radical Lights sponsors, and also a huge thanks to Robyn for coming up and providing excellent support to myself, Garry and Tommo.

Well done to Garry on getting 1st in Super Masters, and Tommo for a solid ride also.