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 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;


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!