This was my first time at Mt Perry, and I was very impressed. Preparation for me was not great as I was away for work during the week. My recent accumulation of punctures on my 29er has been a real cause of concern and had me hunting for suitable tubeless 29er tyres. I had an order at both CRC and Jenson, which were both delayed, but thankfully both arrived Friday afternoon. I went from no choice to an over-abundance of options. Being tubeless didn't really leave me the possibility of waiting to see the course in case I needed a compressor. I ended up going with a WTB Stout 2.3 upfront(which despite the hefty weight turned out to be a great decision) and a Hutchison Python 2.1 out back. The Python was OK, but riding SS, I wouldn't have minded more rear grip at times. The deliberation over tyre choice wasted me quite a bit of preparation and packing time.
Saturday started early with my ride(Alistair) showing up at 6am. The trip up was uneventful seeing many bikes on cars heading in the same direction. We arrived just before eleven after a detour though Biggenden for fuel. We registered setup camp and got ready for a test lap. Having run 32x20 at DelXC I decided to run 32x21 gearing and installed a 21T cog on my new wheels running Stan's rims. Hoping that the difference between the Bontrager Duster rims and the Stan's might mean less punctures. The gearing seemed about right for a couple of laps, how I would feel after 4 hour would be discovered on Sunday. Even with this ratio grip was a problem due to the dry track, but I was able to ride the whole lap and to go any lower would have been too spiny on the flat stuff.
It got cold really fast, but the facilities were great. After a warm shower, and warm in many layers we watched the Dirt Dash, which looked like fun, watching the lights fly through the trees. A warm meal, small camp fire, an early night and a fantastic sleep saw me feeling great on race day and up early with a lead position in the queue at the coffee van. A breakfast of porridge, a bacon and egg sandwich(purchased from the on site canteen) and of course coffee were a great start to the day. The morning disappeared fast, and all of a sudden it was 9:15, race brief time, immediately followed by race start.
I started towards the front, and spun like crazy on the SS to try avoid the inevitable delays at the first climbs. I held station behind a bunch of geared bikes on the first gentle climbs, narrowly avoiding a rider that baulked at the first sandy pincher. The inevitable occurred at the 2nd pincher(a rocky section) and everyone had to walk it. The rest of the lap was fairly uneventful and I hung at the back of a bunch that was making good pace. The end of the lap was the first time through the finish chute and it was "spin city" through the flat stuff. A plot of my practice lap is here
The next couple of laps were good, riding the whole lap and battling with a few gearies with them passing me on the flatter trickier stuff and me passing them on the medium pitch uphills or in transition. I was getting faster and faster on the downhills, and eventually became very confident barely using the front brake in places and drifting the rear. On about lap5 or 6 some Muppet stopped mid corner on the tight switchbacks immediately before the crossover bridge. I tried to dismount, but with the front wheel already over the log roll I was launched a 4m down the hill. a quick scramble back to my bike, I untwisted the handle bars, but didn't seen any damage. I remounted and after tackling the "Carpet Muncher" I started to asses any damage to my person. Fortunately there were only a few scapes and slight bruise to the inside of my right knee. This was to cause a little pain later in the race and mess with my head a bit, but all in all I was very lucky considering the number of people I saw getting assistance from the SES at this section of the track.
The rest of the race was a slogfest, trying not to watch the clock count down, but rather the Kms go up. The thrill of the downhill providing motivation to make to the top for another "Roller Coaster" ride. The last lap was a hoot. The final wash up was 9 laps, 95K in 6:15, 10th in category of 75...and No Punctures!!
We had planned to stay Sunday night, but a hasty decision was made to head home Sunday night. A quick pack up under lights, and we were on out way by 7ish.
It was a fantastically run event with good facilities and an awesome track, Great work. It was great to catch up with many riders I have come to know after recent events and meet some more.