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

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