The TWP Matrix 6hr Enduro at Canungra was a hot one. After finishing 2nd at Dusk to Dawn riding SS at this track just 1 month ago I was hoping for a good result at this one. Admittedly, 6hrs are typically a bit short for me, but I was riding geared, for only the 2nd race in over a year and hoping to get closer to the front runners.
The race was to start at 9am, which allowed me a fairly leisurely morning. It was quite overcast and rain looked possible, but at least would keep things a bit cooler. I arrived at Canungra about 7:30 and setup in roughly the same spot as Dusk to Dawn and just backed the car up to the race track and opened the rear door. It was the easiest race setup ever. It turned out that I had setup next to "Zepinator" and "Squirrel", so I had someone to chat to once I finished bike setup. I was to ride my On One Inbred titanium 29er which was setup geared, but had my Gary Fisher Superfly SS as a spare.
Again the shortness of the laps at this venue starts to weigh on you when look at the time on your 4th lap and see that it is less than 1.5 hours. It was at the end of the 4th lap that I my front tyre burst off with an loud bang. There was still heaps of sealant in the tyre, so I tried to re-inflate it with a CO2 Canister. That didn't work, so I put in a tube and struggled to get it to correct pressure because I my hands were slippery with sealant. Being so close to the pit I decided to go with the pressure I had and use my track pump. Once I got rolling, I realised the wheel was buckled, which may have caused the tyre to blow. I got back to the pit and snails pace, and with the buckled wheel, I decided to swap the front wheel from the Superfly(which was sporting one of my favourite tyres - Kenda Small Block 8). All in all I the whole tyre problem cost me just over 20 mins, and while I was changing wheels, I saw the race leaders fly past.
It was starting to warm up, but I managed to unlap myself after a couple of laps and I was feeling a bit more positive. I seemed to be pass 1 million riders per lap, but it takes some extra effort for each person you have to pass off the racing line. The track was getting loose in a number of sandy descents and full attention was required. On one lap I forgot I was on the big ring at the front, and changed all the way the big ring at the back which causes the drive train to lock up. Another minute lost while I released it. Through out the race I had a number of mechanicals. Twice I had to stop to realign my rear wheel, once to fix the quick release on my front wheel and once for the dropped chain. Nearly every time I had to stop for a mechanical I was re-passed by 3 or so riders I'd just passed, usually in placed that it was difficult for me to pass them back.
With about 3 laps to go Andy Mallet caught me again, and I followed him for 2 full laps. The 2nd last lap was probably the hardes, and I was really feeling the heat and was probably under hydrated. I downed a gel, and that seemed to do the job. On the start of the last lap "Zepinator" told me I was down 4 or 5 mins on 3rd. I couldn't really respond to this information, and basically that's how things finished. I was 4th Solo and only about a lap and 10mins down on 1st and 6mins down on 3rd.
In the end I did 87k with over 2000m climbing. Again the track was fun, but too short. My next MTB event will probably be the Karingal 4hr which has a SS category :)
Photos courtesy of Michael Phipps