Training for me this year has been almost entirely
on road due to weather and commuting. So I was really expecting this to hurt. Race week prep was not ideal either due to out of town work commitments and only arriving back home at 6pm. I did have the bikes ready on the weekend, and my lovely wife did some food shopping for me, so after some quick packing, I was good to go. I managed to lie down for about 1.5hrs, but only slept for about 30mins. With the thermometer sitting on about 25C, I arrived at the track at about 10pm and prepared my race numbers, food and hydration. My weapon of choice was my recently aquired Trek Superfly SS which was debuting at the event where I last rode a 26" MTB.
Finally it was midnight, and with some eerie music playing the race started. I tried to get away towards the front, and the slightly up hill fire road suited SS quite nicely. Heading in to the single track I was just holding station, as it is a long race and there are few passing opportunities in any case. On one of the climbs, I dropped my chain and by the time I managed to get it back on 20 or so riders had passed. I joined the procession, but riding SS so deep in the pack
is not much fun and I looked for an opportunity to pass. When one finally came, I accelerated and dropped the chain again, letting some riders past. Thankfully this was the last time the chain came off, and in hindsight I think I had too much tension in an attempt to compensate for issues with losing tension with the Superfly.
Completing the first lap, I realised this was going to be a tough race on SS. There were a couple of tough climbs early in the lap, followed by a couple of bumpy descents, a few gnarly log rolls interspersed with some nice single track. It was not until about lap 4 that I was able to set my own pace and it was happy days for quite a few laps. Someone had a MASSIVE stack behind me on one of the fast fire trail descents, but the rider insisted he was OK and to go on.
As the morning continued, the humidity was stifling and there were a couple of spits of rain which never fulfilled their promise. Some of the climbs were becoming really hard and the bumpy descents were killing my hands. My rear brake was spongey, and I was considering swapping bikes. I was told I was in 3rd, and even with the promise of lower gearing, I didn't want to waste time swapping my race from one bike to the other. Around this time I finally caught back up to "Matt Dog" who I had been following when I dropped my chain the first time. He was doing it tough on his sweet looking Ti rigid as I passed, and I was now in 2nd in SS.
Day broke, and with about 4 laps to go, I caught
Sean Bekkers and Al Cook, putting me in 1st SS and 2nd Solo. I rode the next lap with Al hot on my heels. With 2 laps to go, I could see Bekkers not too far behind and riding strong. I struggled on the 2nd last lap and was passed by Bekkers and I dropped one spot overall, but was still in 1st SS. Crossing the line with 20mins still on the clock, it was out for one last lap. On the final lap I went all out, and manage a sub 30min lap.
The final wrap was 1st single speed and 2rd overall solo. Exceeded my expectations by a long way. It felt like my hydration and meal plan was OK, but I now think I was significantly under hydrated. Apart from the dropped chains, "The Fly" was great, but not noticeable superior to the Ti Inbread I raced at the worlds. Tubeless tyres are awesome, but me decision to leave the Conti Race Kings on was not great as traction was a problem at times and I think these tyre are better for sandy conditions.
As always at top event by I2A. It was awesome seeing so many familiar faces and the friendly/positive vibe out on the track. Big props too, to the guys and girls that just get out there and ride all night just enjoying the fun of MTB. Big thanks to Ben and Lee who regularly get lumped with packing my stuff and I recover. Thanks guys.
I'm not sure what my next dirt event will be. Possibly Del XC on ANZAC weekend.
The stats and GPS can be view here http://connect.garmin.com/activity/66635880 but in summary,
Distance: 121k (although based on quoted lap distance and number of laps was 134k)
Av/Mx HR: 159/188 bpm
Av/Mx Spd: 14.8/45.4