It was that time of the year again ... time to head up to Parkes for the Backyamma Big Foot 100km.
In previous years, Backyamma has been a bit of a cursed race for me. Two years ago I was with the lead group of James 'JD' Downing, and The Beard Bellchambers when I broke my gear shifter. Last year I had some mechanicals, fought back but in the final few kms with JD and Jeremy 'Angry Man' Ross when I lost the front wheel on a drifty corner and had a little roll in the dirt.
So this year it was going to be different ...
JD has won this race a few time before, and we had been planning our team tactics for quite some time. The simple plan was for me to set the pace, keep the race under control, shutdown any attacks and get JD to the finish line first.
This plan sounds simple enough, but when guys like Mark 'Tupac' Tupalski and Ed 'I need a hair cut' McDonald turn up it won't be a walk in the park. Tupac had some outstanding XCO results earlier in the year, and now back in full training is pumping out some massive power numbers. Meanwhile, Ed is in the midst of training for the World 24 hrs in October, and in good shape.
For me, this was also a race to see how I was feeling. I'd had a pretty mixed bag last 6 weeks - having had a round of Giardia from drinking some bad stream water and then related on-going stomach problems, I had no-idea how I would hold up. I'd missed one of my favorite races a few weeks back - the Jet Black 12 hr - so I was itching for a race.
Standing on the race start line it was fricken cold! I knew I'd be warm within a few minutes, but shivering away as the clock counted down was pretty sucky.
We had all had our morning caffeine, so the start line sledges were flying. Between Ed, Tupac, Bellchambers, JD and the fleet of Onya boys there was lots to say ... and lots of tire pressures to comment on.
As the gun went, it was the usual chaos down the opening dusty fireroad. A slightly downhill run for a km or so mean that everyone can hang on (and get in the way). It's important to move around the traffic and get a good position heading into the first singletrack.
I squeezed in behind Ed just as we entered the singletrack - and proceeded to offer him some constructive criticism on his line selection. :)
He ultimately failed the line selection test as we hit "Bellchambers Ravine" - a little gully crossing a few kms into the singletrack. Ed missed the 'A' line completely, and lost a good few seconds on everyone!
"Bellchambers Ravine" was named after last year when Brett took the line before the 'A' line, and pretty much just ended up in a ditch going no-where! And watching a single-speed rider try to get up a steel gully ditch with no run-up is pretty funny.
As we hit the first stretch of fireroad the pace picked up some more, and pretty soon we were down to only 5 or 6 riders.
The first 25km went by real quick. I tried to set the pace as much as possible, with Tupac coming through to do a little work and the odd little attack.
I had some fun with some creative line selections to sneak back in front of boys when required - the benefit of having done the full 50km the day before.
The back 25km was a bit different to previous years - gone was the fast fireroads and little fireroad climbs. Instead we had a mix of rake job, overgrown singletrack and random bunting through the scrub.
Tupac was getting excited being whipped by all the trees, and Ed was enjoying the exfoliation benefits ...
We were all happy to get back to the creek bed, and the final few kms of fast flowing track to take us back through transition.
Robyn had my next drink bottle ready to go, so as the other boys had to stop for their I just took off down the fireroad. Although not a fully fledged attack, it got Ed and Tupac having to do some chasing - and gave JD the tow back to me.
Over the next 25km Tupac tried a few attacks but we managed to stay on him, and not let him free in the singletrack sections where he could be real dangerous. This also gave me a great opportunity to get the 38-10 fired up! #sweet
We also kept the sledging up - "4 riders ... oh wait, nah 3.5 riders as Ed hasn't done a turn yet"
As we entered the last 25km and the real scrubby singletrack we knew no-one would get away here, so it was just cruising until we hit the last run up the creek bed.
Cranking up the pace, we flew up the dusty trails next to the creek. The river crossing before the run back down to the finish would be interesting, and we all managed to nail it.
Tupac launched an attack straight out of the creek crossing, but we were on it quick and now he had the unlucky position of having a 2km run up into a head wind.
With about 300 meters to go, JD attacked and hit the last segment of singletrack ahead of Tupac.
With JD clear, it was now just Ed, Tupac and I to negotiate the crappy ditch gully section before the finish. This gully has a range of lines, massive holes and really no good lines through it. Ed and Tupac hit the left lines, and I opted for the right.
I lost just a little too much speed, allowing Ed to just have those few extra pedal strokes to get by me in the 100m sprint out of the gully.
So, in the end JD, Ed, myself and Tupac - and I'm certainly not disappointing with that. The goal of getting JD to the finish line first was achieved, and 3rd place was a bonus for me after sitting on the front for so much of the race.
It was great to be back at a race too!
A big thanks to;
- Robyn for coming up to pit crew
- Cannondale - F29er is the bike for Backyamma
- Sugoi clothing - RS kits comfy as always
- SRAM - XX1 38T ... yeah!
- Adidas eyewhere - saved my eyes during the scrub bashing segments
- The Cyclery
Well done also to Kyle 'Superfast Chick' Webb, on smashing the 50km womens field ... and sticking her tongue in the BigFoot's ear during pressos.
|Ed, Bellchambers relative, JD and I|