Wednesday, February 13, 2013

RTE Stromlo 100 miler

Rockytrail Entertainment - Mt Stromlo 100 miler

4th - 100 miler elite men / 7hrs

This was always going to be tough race ... for me this was the 4th race in 4 weekends, and after the great 12hr last weekend I was smoked!

I dribbled around my midweek training rides, and got out to Stromlo on the Thursday to check out the course. As expected, it was everything brutal you expect from Stromlo!

The course took in most of the standard trails - including the lower sections around Holdens Creek, a trunk trail / red lap climb, down through the upgraded Pork Barrel, into an exceptionally rough transition to Deep Creek. From there, a standard Blue lap through sharp rocks, tight turns and did I mention lots of rocks ... up Missing Link, and down the upgraded Double Dissolution.

From there, it was back into the single track, to then climb back up the fireroad to hit Party Line, and then singletrack back to Willo Link. From there, it was back into the climb through very rocky and rutted sections to the new look Skyline all the way to the bottom, before hooking back into Blackberry, Slant-6, Break Out and back to transition.

Wow - that is a lot of Stromlo, and a solid 1hr : 20 ish lap time.

Lap times were faster then last year - as the Pork Barrel descent is a lot quicker then taking in Magpie Rock and upper Slickrock.

So, after dribbling around all week, I dutifully set the alarm for 3:20am on Sunday morning - ouch! Remember, that the 100 milers start at 5am ...

Stumbling around in the morning, I could not find my no-doz, so I opted for the double caffeine gel on the corn flakes - yummy!

Packing the car in the dark, I managed to tread in a "Bailey Surprise" - aka a big dog turd, and so had the fun job of shoe cleaning at 3:30 in the morning.

Stella and Bailey - aka Little Spud and Big Spud  

I blame Bailey, as we got Bailey as a pup when we lived in Manhattan. He grew up pooping on the streets of NYC, and even now he only poops on concrete or gravel!

Once cleaned up, we were soon out at Stromlo - hanging out with all the other over-caffeinated miler cyclists.  It was great to see the Big Beard (Bellchambers) back on the bike and racing after his nasty stack before the Scott 24hr.

The race started as expected - Ed setting the pace up the front, and English sitting in somewhere behind.

Ed turned up the pace on the red lap climb - getting very (very very) excited at the gap forming back to the bunch English was in.  Cresting the top of the Stromlo climb, Ed continued to turn up the pace and soon was off the front of Callum and I.

Looking at my heart rate, I knew I was in for a long day. Usually, in a start like this my heart rate would be up around 185bmp - and can be up there for a couple of hours. I was lucky to see it above 165bmp! Oh crap ... I really am tired.

Callum rolled by as we crested the hill, only to stack on the next corner! He went down pretty hard, and would later have 9 stitches in his leg. Kudos that he kept riding for the rest of the race and getting back on after that!

For me, I then held a small gap to Callum and English for the next 3 laps - I knew they were never far behind, but I just kept chugging along.

Scalpel railing a berm

Heading out on my 2nd or 3rd lap, just as the climb started I came up behind a slow rider. I called my usual "hey, can I get by" ... silence. I wait for a little bit and ask again ... silence. Hmmmm ... top of my voice "hey!!!". The guy grumbles something about he can't hear me because he has his head phones in. I use some expletives to explain where he can stick his head phones, and the let me by.

I get back a bunch of expletives and something along the lines of "what do you think your doing, racing or something ??". The guy then looked around and saw my race number plate ... #fail

The 4th lap was marked by English, Callum and I all coming together and then being stuck in the traffic heading up the climb. It was pretty bad - lines of riders walking and stopping, falling off. It was a slow ascent.

I felt bad for English, as as this point in the race he could usually churn out a few quick laps and catch back up to who ever is off the front. But the traffic made this pretty impossible.

We all transitioned together for the 5th lap, but by now I had little in the tank. Where usually I could still hold a 155+ bmp heart rate, I was crawling along at 130 or below! Needless to say, both Callum and English got by and I resolved myself to just getting through this lap and accepted defeat.

In the end, Ed finished 14 minutes ahead of me (very similar to last year), English churned out a fast lap and was 8 minutes up. Callum faded and only scraped in 30 secs in front of me.

Working through the traffic

So after a long day out, on a brutal course it was Ed who smashed the 7hr mark and deserves a huge congratulations for not just having a super race, but also in backing up from the weekend before and for getting one over English - no small feat.

Callum also showed he has stepped up, and I hope he can build on his new form.

Well done to fellow Cannondale-Sugoi rider James Downing - 4th in a stacked  100km field.  Of course a big congratulations to a fellow Cyclery and Frameskin rider Shaun Lewis for taking out the 100km win.

For me - I'm off to bed :)

A big special thanks to;
  • Robyn for coming out early and supporting me (and so many others) - brilliant job as always
  • Kylie Webb for the extra bottles and encouragement, and for all the cheers with Andy Blair at the top of the hill - Andy was right - I just need to go faster!!
  • Cannondale - the Scalpel was still a weapon for Stromlo. A pleasure to ride
  • Frameskin - keeping the bike protected from all the Stromlo rocks
  • The Cyclery - for keeping Cannondale-Sugoi riders riding
  • SRAM - XX was flawless for the whole race - and can't wait for XX1 going on my bike real soon

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gravity 12hr

Gravity 12hr

1st - Solo - 12hrs:40ish

~ 250km / 3800 vert m

Following from the Audax roadie ride in Bright last weekend, Robyn and I decided to hang out in Bright for the week, and prepare for the Gravity 12hr.

After racing this event last year, I knew what I would be in for - solid climbs, flowing singletrack, power oriented fireroads and a heap of fun!

The course is perfect for an enduro. The course follows the river up stream through to the local dirt crit track. A quick lap of this, and then it off into some singletrack over old river bed rock.

This singletrack is great fun, as the rocks are quite smooth and slippery, and they are always moving around. I did a practice lap earlier in the week after some rain, and I had some interesting moments slipping around on these rocks and logs!

Once out of the river rocks, there is a longish fireroad into a climb. This section is great to get the power down and really accelerate away.

The climb itself is reasonably gentle. I ended up making it through the whole race and never used the little chain ring on the front (2x10). I was thinking that next year I'll run XX1 here.

The climb went up a bit higher then last year, and into the pine forest singletrack. Despite my badgering of the event organisers to take up higher into the forest, we dropped back into "Gorilla Warfare" - a classic pine forest flowing descent.

About 5km later, the course leaves the pine forest and drops back down to the river, where we get another fast fireroad and suspension bridge into the final 3km of pinchy and tight singletrack.

The race starts with the only crappy part of the event - a running start to the bikes. I have no problem riding for 12 hrs, but a 300m run kills me!

By the time I got on my bike and into the rider train I was about 20 bikes back from the front. Not knowing where Ed McDonald was, I took every opportunity to start moving forward.

I'd seen Ed out of the corner of my eye in the run, so I was pretty sure he was in front of me. So, with that in mind I pushed really hard to get to the front.

About half way into the lap, I came across what appeared to be the front group - but no Ed. Hmmmm - knowing Ed, he could be off the front of this lead group. So I kept pushing.

Coming through transition, I heard I was in 2nd place. Was that 2nd solo or 2nd overall? Better put the head down and find out!

Another quick lap later, I came through and was told I was now in 1st place overall - nice - always good to be sticking it to the teams!

I ended up staying in 1st and 2nd place for the first few hours, and figured I may as well keep up the pace.

Around the 5 or 6 hr mark, I had a little lull in pace and Robyn let me know that Ed was within 3 minutes of me. Bugger.

Oddly enough, after the 6hr mark I started to feel good again and was able to pick back up the pace. A few hours on and that 3 minutes gap was back over 10!

Coming in around the 11hr mark, I asked Robyn if Ed was going to go out for a last lap. I figured we were both up to 50 min laps, so he would come through with a minute to spare. Next lap I learned Ed was done, and I thought sweet - this will be my last lap too then :) ... however, coming in at 11:50ish, Robyn (and JD via phone) quilted me into one more lap. So, off I went :)

The bike of choice for this race was my new 2013 Cannondale F29er Ultimate (29er hard tail). It was perfect for this race. The bike only weighs around 8.5kg, which is very handy on the climbs and getting over the various pinches on track.

The 29er wheels just roll over everything, and I really did not feel too beaten up after the race.

Tires were my trusty Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskins.

Nutrition wise it was quite simple - 24 x clif gels, 1 x clif shot bloc and 12 bottles of electrolyte drink.

A big thanks to;

  • Robyn for looking after me and keeping me moving
  • Cannondale Australia - the F29er is awesome
  • SRAM Australia - SRAM XX group set worked flawlessly, and I'll be definitely going for the XX1 at this course next time
  • Frameskin - With heaps of rocks and dirt flying around on track, I was very happy to have the new bike all frameskinned up!
  • Finishline Events - Iain, Russ, Clayton and all the volunteers who make this event happen - one of the best races in the enduro calendar 
  • The Cyclery - the place to go to get Cannondale bikes!

On track at Gravity

... and I'd also like to thank ...

Robyn with it all under control

No pressure!

Not gravity - Duo Classic - but a cool photo!