Sunday, March 6, 2011

Super Series: Race 1 - 4hrs of Mud

The Super Series is a series of 4, 6, 24 and 8 hour races. Race 1, 4hrs at Old Hidden Vale was a short race as far as enduro races go and should have been relatively straight forward. Enter some heavy rain early in the week and it suddenly becomes a whole lot harder.

The weather fined up at the end of the week, and the drive out was showing all the signs of a beautiful day, with not a cloud in the sky. The rumour on Friday was that there were some patches of mud, but it was not too bad. Entering the property looked promising, the dirt road looked hard packed with no dust. A bit further in though, there were puddles. Decision time...Which bike, which tyres? Usually the tyre choice for OHV is all about puncture avoidance, but the potential for mud threw some more variables in to the mix. I decided to stick with the SuperFly as it was my "Race Bike" after all, and this was a race. I also went with the Hutichson Pythons, that have got me through many races. Their tougher Tubeless Ready sidewalls gave me some puncture protection, and I was convinced that there might be some small sections of mud, but on the whole the track would be hard packed and it turned out, I could not have been more wrong. I decided to stick with the gearing I used at LunarC which was 32/19 which should have been OK for a 4hr race. Decisions made, the rest of pre-race was fairly casual catching up with friends, puting on races numbers etc.

Race start was at 8:30 with the teams heading off with a 3 min headstart. I made my usual mid pack start, when I really I should be getting myself in to a position further towards the front to avoid time costing traffic on that first lap. The fast descent down Happy Gilmore was a vast contrast to what awaited us at the bottom down by the billabong. There was some 2km of barely ridable was going to be a long 4 hours. Surprisingly the Pythons and Small Block 8s felt OK(it was really only when I changed bikes I realised how poor they were). The section at the start of the fire trail known as Old Man's Schlong was tough, sapping so much energy for the climb itself, but this is where an SS 29er excels although passing was tough with a couple of sections where bunting reduced it to single track. Then at the little pinch climb in the single track after Old Man's Schlong I dropped my chain as I pushed to pass a slower rider. As I put the chain back on I watched most of the riders I had just passed, pass me back. The descent through 007 also provided very little in the way of passing opportunities. The climb up Gully allowed for a lot more passing. Down Ladder and up Snake again saw me managing the challenges of riding SS in traffic, especially up Snake. It was then back on to firetrail with a chance to put the power down and back to transition and time to do it all over again.

It was easy on the roller coaster that is Happy Gilmore, to forget the mud waiting at the bottom,. At least much of the muddy section was wide, allowing for some more passing. About half way through the second lap I was had found some clear track and was able to run my own pace, only having to pass the occasional single rider rather than groups of 3 and 4. 007 was a heap of fun, except for the little pinch climb in the middle, which was tough with 32/19 gearing. On one of the muddier sections during the 3rd lap, a massive amount of mud managed to splash up inside my glasses and I had difficulty for a while trying to remove the grit from my eyes while riding one handed. It was also on the 3rd lap that my rear brakes really started to feel spongy, but I had decided to persevere rather than have to wash 2 bikes. Then my chain came off again right at the end of the 3rd lap, and since I was returning to transition to get some bottles, I decided to change bikes.

The Continental Race King tyres front and back, were awesome by comparison to the Pythons and combined with the slight improvement in track conditions, I was able to get a bit more traction around the billabong. On the other hand the track conditions seemed to have deteriorated at the start of Old Man's Schlong. It was this 4th lap that I started to catch riders I thought long gone after my terrible start, and I got renewed motivation. By the 5th and 6th laps things were starting to warm up and all thoughts were towards the finish. I was trying to figure out how many more laps were possible. On the 6th lap I realised I was going to fit in one more lap, and I crossed the line with 10minutes to go. One last stop for a bottle and out to smash that last lap. Part way down 007 on the last lap I noticed my front tyre was feeling a little soft, but with my pump on the SuperFly and not wanting to waste a CO2 canister, I decided to just take it easy for the last 4k to home. So concentrating on picking smooth lines, and keeping my weight over the rear wheel I was able to get home, although some of the corners on Ladder and Snake caused the tyre to really roll. I was still feeling pretty good at the end, and even had a little race to the finish line with a geared bike along the fire trail for fun.

The final result, was 2nd in SS.(Well done Matt Dog) and 6th Overall Solo. I did push fairly hard but had an absolute ball despite the mud(or maybe because of it?). The next race in the series is the 6hr at Murenbong. Thanks again to the BA&A crew for putting up Gazebos, pulling them down and generally helping me during and at the end of the race to pack up.

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About Me

QLD, Australia
My interests include Mountain Biking, Rockclimbing and Photography