Sunday, November 13, 2011

Everyone Wanted a Dry Race...

..and that is exactly what we got, a dry hot race.  After last years Karingal Mudfest, and a number of other muddy events at Karingal, I was looking forward to hitting this awesome track in dry conditions.  Looking at the weather forecast, it was destined to be the warmest ride I'd done this year.  Just before race start, there was some cloud cover that looked promising to keep things a little cooler than they may have been, in fact, I was kind of hoping for a little shower or two.

The Karingal 4hr is run by the Southside Rats MTB Club, and is a great event and I was entered in the Single Speed category.  There was an alternate fire road start in order to allow the riders to get sorted before the single track.  I did not get as far to the front as I would have liked, and had to pretty much track stand at one point due to congestion.  Part way through the lap, putting the power down to get past some slower rides, I had my chain jump off in what seems to have become standard fare for me on first laps.  My legs were feeling a little heavy, after having done a road crit on Saturday and as usual doing way too much work.

On the second lap, we hit some sections of trail for the first time, with a couple of interesting features.  A little bridge which we hit an angle, followed immediately by a pinch climb, followed shortly there after with a little G-Out that was just horrible if you hit it hard.

Not being able to remember what gearing I had run last year, I settled on 34/20. I think with fresh legs, this might have been the ideal gearing...maybe it still was, as I did not have to walk any sections, and there were some flat bits that still caused me to run out of legs.  I was also running my Gary Fisher Superfly (which is designed for the much hyped G2 fork), with standard forks.  It was handling beautifully, and confirms my suspicion that the whole G2 thing is marketing BS.

One minor annoyance was that my race number kept curling backward, and I had to try push my number forward so the marshals could  read my number, and even then I had to call it out.  By mid race it was getting hot, but I felt like I was keeping up the fluids, and getting the food in.  On about lap 4 I heard that I was in 3rd, but it was not like I could push any harder. The bike was going great, apart from the horrible creaks coming from the crank/BB area, but that was nothing new.  But then I dropped the chain again twice with 2 laps to go, and stopped to retention the chain.

I went through to start my last lap with 24mins left on the clock.  I had that burst of energy you get from knowing it is the last lap.  About 1/3 of the way around, my crank stops spinning, and I look down to see my chain ring all bent and twisted. I pushed the bike up the hills and rolled down the hills, but the chain was rubbing on the tyre or banging on the frame, so I stopped to remove the chain.  This was much better, but due to the bent chain ring I could not position my pedals in the best position for cornering.  With no idea of how close the riders behind were, I hustled as best I could, but MTB shoes are not meant for running, and there are some flatish bits that fast riding that were really slow on foot. By this stage in the race, the track was quite empty, but I still had to keep getting off the track to let riders through.

I was passed by at least one SS rider and  assumed I had dropped at least one spot.  I was so glad to see the finish line. In the end, some how I had  hung on  to 2nd  in SS(by about 15 mins), but dropped a lot of  spots in combined solo. It looks like I was  about 8 minutes slower on the last lap. All things considered I was  happy with my ride, although a little disappointed by the dropped chains and damaged chain ring.

The race organisation was great, the volunteers were awesome and the prizes for general participation were great.  I even managed a little sympathy pack of lube, chamois cream and other stuff for my damaged bike.  This was my final MTB event for the year.  Most likely LunarC will be my first race of next year.  Hopefully by then I'll have my Superfly ready to rock and roll.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh so close.

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.

Race start was right next to my pit area, and I lined up in the 2nd row behind really fast guys. There was an extended section of track for the first lap only to prevent a bottle neck at the single track entry that occurred at the 12hr.  By the time the race started, the front row was about 15 riders wide, so by the time everyone got in line at race start, I was deep in the pack.  I lost sight of the Andy Mallet who I expected to be somewhere on the podium.  The only issue I had on the first lap was bouncing my chain off, causing me to loose a few spots.  The pace was quick, and I felt horrible at the end of the 1st lap, but being able to run my own pace on lap 2 I was starting to feel better.

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


About Me

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