Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sleep is for...

I've done every Dusk to Dawn since 2008. With the first one at Kooralbyn my first ever night race as part of a 2 person team. There is just something about night riding that I love. It forces you to focus and really look to where you are riding, especially in corners. My lead in to this event was mainly on the road bike, with only a couple of MTB rides since the Epic with practically zero night riding.  Despite this, on top of  last years unexpected success, I went in to this years event with some expectation and a full 3 x 9 geared bike (compared to 1x9 setup last year).    My other secret weapon this year would be support in the form of Andy.

The good thing about a race that starts at 7pm, is that you get the morning to take your time packing. I started by getting my On One Inbred 29er ready by checking the tyre sealant, cleaning and lubing the chain.  I also prepared my Superfly SS as a spare bike or just in case I felt the urge to do some single speeding for kicks.  I got the rest of the car packed and despite some reptile distractions, and were ready to go about 1:30pm.  We arrived at Canungra just after 3pm to a nearly empty camping/transition area.  The timing area was somewhat different from previous events, which caused us some confusion in trying to select a spot to setup camp.  We found a spot right on the race track about 500m past the finish line which turned out to be a great spot.

With camp setup and registration done and bike setup, I went for a walk to say "Hi" to a few friends.   I stopped to talk to Matt Dog and saw he was running single speed and after some talk, Matt suggest since there were 3 single speeders plus me we could see if TWP would create a single speed category. Not quite sure if I really wanted to, but always up for a challenge, we spoke to Libby and 'Hey Presto" there was a single speed category at D2D.  Libby did say there would be no prizes.  Cool I don't do it for the prizes...they're nice, but not the reason to race.

I got about changing over my race number and front wheel from my geared bike to my SS and I wasn't sure if I'd done the right thing by changing to the SS category.  I really haven't ridden much SS since the 8hr in June. Fortunately I put on some nice low gearing 34/22 when I prepared my bikes, which turned out to be about perfect.

I've attended most events at Canungra and seen it develop race after race.  Apparently TWP had made some recent changes adding some new trails and making some changes to the iconic switchbacks.  I was a little concerned that they may have dumbed them down ...I needn't have been.  Relaxing in our camp, I heard a few riders coming back from test laps raving about the new single track and how most of the grass sections had been removed. I went out for a test ride and while I'd been cold minutes before, I quickly warmed up on the new pinch climbs.  All felt good, except that some of the new track was still quite loose and my Maxxis Crossmark was not the best tyre.  I considered changing to a Ignitor like I had on my geared bike, but that seemed like too much trouble and hoped that what I lost on loose stuff, I'd make up on the hard pack.

Night time eventually came and it time to roll.  Starting towards the front with Sean Bekers, Dog and Al, we were off.  I pushed fairly hard and settled in to about 10th and watched the geared bike disappear in the AyUp dust trails.  I was a few spots be Matt for a while and then he too disappeared in the distance. The new sections were run, but a little raw and in a few spots traction was nearly non existent.  The first 3 laps felt terrible, and I was cursing my decision to ride SS.  On lap 4 I caught Dog and settled in behind him assess how I was feeling.  I followed Matt for the remainder of the lap,  'chatting' as best one can, and Matt didn't seem too happy, mainly I don't think he was enjoying the short laps.  When a lap takes less than half an hour, you do suffer from a bad case of 'Deja Vu"..I was feeling it too.  In any case Matt pulled over at the end of the lap, and think that was it for him.  It was about lap 10 when Andy told me that I had some time on Josh and that Matt had probably packed it in.  That took the pressure off a little, but really I had the goal of riding 150k and riding for 12hrs, which meant there was about 9hrs to go, but I was starting to feel good in the legs.  The contact points on the other hand were starting to suffer.

I had an interesting lap when I caught Josh. Firstly I went OTB on a little tree stump that I've never seen before in the 50+ laps I've done over the years.  Then having got past him, I suffered a case of "target fixation"  and drifted off in to ditch. Josh stopped to get the bike off me and decide to let things settle for a bit a just settle in behind him. Then towards the end of the lap, I tried a different line in a series of corners  I was struggling with only to clip a pedal or something and go sliding across the dirt.  That was the most eventful lap of the race. There were a couple of laps where I saw snakes, and couple of Brush Tailed Possums, a blue legged frog and a Bandicoot.

About 2:30 there was a shower of rain, which turned the top layer of dust in to sticky mud that instantly fill the tyre tread, making them slick.  Where I had little traction before, I had none.  The rain continued for a lap or two, so that on some of the older track there were little rivers running down the trail.  A couple of laps after the rain stopped, the standing water soaked in and the loose areas bedded down, making the track awesome.  The Kookaburras started laughing about 4:30 and the sky started to lighten just after 5am.  The morning laps are always awesome as the end approaches and the track starts to fill with riders again.  Andy told me I had first in SS secured, but I was also interested in overall position solo.  I was sitting in second behind enduro legend Clint Pierce. In the end, I crossed the line in 12hrs9mins, 23 Laps, 145k, 3662m of climbing.  1st place in SS, 2nd Solo and 10th overall(including teams).

The only disappointment in the whole thing was the way they treated the SS category as a "social" category, actually worse. It was the only category that wasn't called to the podium, but just read out names.  I can assure everyone that SS is as completive as any other, and to be honest had more entries than some that got prizes...and for once the prizes looked pretty good.

Big thanks to Andy for the support.  It can't be understated the extra something that having dedicated support makes.

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About Me

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