Sunday, December 9, 2012

30+ 3plus3

I was at the original OHV 3plus3 about 2 years ago, and apart from a race destroying puncture on day 2, I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great concept. This was a much larger event and there was a great turn out. This year there was an SS category with at least 11 riders signed up, which was nice number up from the 4 or 5 we often have at SEQ events. I was a late entrant having had doubts due to a rib and shoulder injury. With these injuries, and a "training" schedule built mostly around commuting, I'd barely ridden MTB or SS at all in the previous month.

Race weekend rolled around, and it was going to be HOT...both days, and I'd not done any riding in the heat since last summer. Camping too adds another aspect to race preparation, setting up camp in near midday heat is certainly not ideal, but thanks to the family we were setup in time for lunch.

Due to my late entry, I had not studied course at all, but I knew was that over the 2 days we rode most of the single track at OHV. I didn't even really think about gear, just leaving the 34/21 on from last time I raced.

According to my garmin, the race started in 38 degree heat, with an open fire road start the pace was pretty hot too. The cover of the trees in the single track was a welcome relief. I didn't realise at the time, but the first lap was a short one cutting out some of the single track in some attempt to minimise the bunching that usually occurs when we first head in to the single track. It seemed to work, as I had no real issues other than normal for an SS among geared bikes. The track was technical enough to make it hard to pass and hard to drink in most places. The fire road was the best place for both passing and feeding. I caught and passed a couple of SS riders, and I eventually caught up to Peter Winfield who although he was riding a SS was riding in his age group (which he won on both days). I did almost a lap with Pete and thought my rear tyre pressure was a bit low and possibly had a slow leak. Toward the end of 007 it was confirmed, with they tyre too soft to ride on. I found a place in the shade to stop. I managed to re-inflate the tyre with a CO2 canister hoping that I could get the sealant to fix it...and for a second it did, but then phssst, it was flat again. I was going to install at tube, but was not able to remove the tubeless stem. All this time watching many of the riders I'd passed come rolling past. I started to walking, and realised that I was quite close to the pits. I made a snap decision to push my bike back there to repair my tyre.  With the repair done(by me), I returned to the place where I'd left the track. It turns out that this may or many not contravene the rules and eventually resulted in some issues for me. (See below)

At this point, I given up on a good position and was really out there to complete the race, and enjoy the trails. If I'd had my head screwed on, I would have saved some energy for Sunday, I just pushed hard and my lap times would show later that I regained a lot of the time I lost with the puncture and repair.  It cooled as the afternoon went on.  Finally, the first 3hrs was done, and somehow I was sitting in 2nd only about 2mins down. My stats for day 1 56.7K in 3hrs 16mins with an average temp of 34 degrees!

The idea of a Christmas even with camping is cool, and it was great catching up with friends, especially since it had been a while between MTB events for me.  I signed up too late to do the feast, but what I saw looked pretty good, so I'll have my name down for that next year.

I had a reasonable recovery and sleep that night, but the morning meant packing and getting the bike ready. This proved to cause me a few problems, I had to make 3 trips back to my gear between race brief and race start, and I still managed to forget my timing chip. So I started deep in the field, and really got caught up in the pack, struggling in the switchback climb after the skills park, with no way to get past slower riders. Aeroplane allows a few places to pass, but Rock Bottom not so much, and Bear Valley is also tough to pass on an SS due to spinning out. At the end of the slightly shorter lap 1 I realised I'd forgotten my timing chip and had to make an unscheduled stop to put it on. Lap 2 was eventful with stick derailing my chain, then a spectacular dismount after taking a poor line in some of the technical single track.  Thankfully I landed on my feet uninjured and asked for an encore by a nearby photographer. The rest of the race was just pushing hard to make up time and trying to stay hydrated. I found the Sunday track surprising quite hard on the body. Whether that was due to backing up from Saturday, I'm not sure, but I knew I was not MTB fit going in to 3 plus 3 and by mid way though Sunday, my back was hurting and it felt like I'd burned holes in my palms.  I crossed the line in the same time as Saturday 3hrs 16mins, covering 54.5K with an average of 33 degrees!

Across the 2 days 110K in 6.5hrs.  All riders were accommodating and friendly in both passing and being passed, with lots of encouragement for new riders and heaps of support from spectators and fellow riders.  I also had great feed and bottle support from my family and friends.

Thanks to Hayden, Fleur and all the organisers.  The tracks were fantastic as usual, well marked.  Still one of my favourite tracks around is Rock Bottom(I think is should be a mandatory inclusion in all circuits).   Thanks for the water sprays on both days, they really helped keep things tolerable.  It was a great way to end the MTB year, and I am already looking forward to next years event.

In reference to the puncture repair, it seems there was issue taken by someone.  While not wishing to dwell on it, all I can say is that I rode the kilometers and I rode them hard.  I was as surprised as anyone to only be 2 mins down after day 1.  I paid my penalty in lost time all in all it cost me a lap.  Maybe it was a little karma payback, because usually this happens to me at the furthest point from transition which is exactly what happened in 2010 3plus3.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Epic 2012

I was a very late entry in what was to be me 2nd ever Flight Centre Cycle Epic.  I'd realised there was a bit of a date clash for me with the HPRW Club Champs Road Race on the Saturday.  Run on a hilly and usually windy road course, the road race was due to start at 1:30 and would run for 2hrs and therefore finish around 4pm.  Backing up to ride SS at the Epic was always going to be tough ask.  To make it even tougher, it was my first week in a new job in the city, so back to commuting and to top it off our home was broken in to, which apart from consuming time with police, insurance, reassessing security was somewhat disconcerting.

Saturday's race turned out to me tougher and more tactical than I ever thought, and in the end went poorly for me and took a heap out of me.  Roll around Sunday morning, and I was not the least bit interested in climbing big hills, descending rocky descents and flat boring road sections on a one gear bike.  I was a little excited that the SS category was well represented with 18 riders.  Thankfully Andy had picked up our race packs the day before saving us a mega early start(as if 5am isn't early enough).  Thankfully I had got everything ready as possible the day before, so when I arrived at OHV I could fairly leisurely get ready.  Unlike last year where I last rode a geared MTB, this year the SS category were the last of the waves to roll off.  I was expecting to meet serious traffic, but apart from the 1st climb where I still managed to pass a lot of riders but taking to the grass, I had less problems than last year as backed up single trail.  I rolled away casually at the start, but as I saw a bunch of SS riders heading in to the distance, my race face appeared and I upped the cadence in pursuit.

I caught Josh Bamford and we settled in to a nice pace chating, but also aware there were a few SS riders ahead.  My legs were feeling heavy, and I knew I was in for a long day in the saddle.  Josh and I made our way through the field on the first climb, but as it got steep Josh disappeared in to the distance, but somewhere on the descent I saw him running back towards us(somehow I knew he was retrieving a drink bottle).  I happy to get out to the first road section on a functioning bike as it was in this section last year that my race ended with a broken chain.  The flat section that followed is one of the sections despised by single speeders, which is followed by a tough, but more SS friendly climb that seems to go up and up and my legs were feeling like lumps of lead.  I think I even contemplated hopping off the bike at this stage, but a climb like that always has its rewards, and with it new burst of energy.  This was followed by the infamous flat section in to Mulgowie.  Having passed me on the previous climb, I could see Josh ahead of me, and I pushed to catch him using the pace line of geared bikes where I could. I caught Josh and we worked in to the wind.

The worst part of this section however is not the wind, or the flatness, but knowing what comes next.  Its the climb that makes the Epic what it is.  In reality, it is another SS friendly section, even though it means a bit of walking near the top.   Somewhere on this climb Josh disappeared again. The descent is full on for XC style riding.  Its bumpy and long, and I could smell burning brakes.   I was lucky to have put 2 bottles in the transition area because somewhere around the 40K mark, I lost one of my electrolyte bottles...the full one, having emptied the other first to be changed out at the 50K point.   The 50k point was THE point that everyone thought would be the start of the fun, because it was thought to be 37k of sweet single trail.  However it was also the point where fatigue and heat were really starting to kick in.  It proved to be both fun and hard.  These are sections of trail I know well having done hundreds of ks in various events over the last couple of years, and despite often coming up to slower riders, I was quite passive in passing them, by this stage I was just looking forward to the end.

Some how I had caught Josh again, and he was starting to hurt, we rode together for a while and he said his support said we were currently 2nd and 3rd.  Given my head space coming in to this race and how I was feeling right then, I'd have been happy with 3rd, but heading up Ladder, Josh had to dismount and I managed to keep pedalling and realised it was my chance to push ahead.

It was starting to get hot, and there were times where it felt like I was the only person on the trails with no riders in sight.  When I did catch riders I was generally happy to follow for a while.  The sections of trail were starting to look the same (sometimes they were), but at least the ks were ticking by.  Geared riders were starting to start looking for lower gears on the climbs(while I wished for the same), but it meant I was catching and passing more and more riders, perhaps some from the 50k event.  To my horror, we dropped to the grass section heading towards Mt Mort Rd for the second time.  I didn't enjoy this flat, SS unfriendly section the first time, so doing it a 2nd time really felt like a chore.  It was also quite open, not shade from the sun and no protection from a slight wind.. but at least once we got through it we were nearly done.  Once I hit escalator, I got another energy burst and when I got the fire road home, it was full steam ahead.

In the end I crossed the finish line in 5:00:29, in 2 position Single Speed 7 minutes behind Ollie Whalley and 4 minutes ahead of Ashley Howlett.  Congrats to Ollie on a great ride, and well done to Ashley.

Thanks to Hayden, Fleur, OHV, all the organisers, volunteers, and of course all the riders.  I loved and hated this years event so much more than last years, but there is a fair chance I'll be back next year.

Categorised results can be found here.
Overall results can be found here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

2012 Super Series Race 4 - 6hr

The Super Series final was originally planned to be a 24hr, but the race organisers decided some time back that  the cost and logistics of putting on a 24hr race did not stack up.  This was still going to be the longest race of the series at 6hrs.  The track was at Murrenbong Scout camp-ground using another combination of the various trails we have raced in the previous races in the series.  Conditions were perfect, and there was a good roll up of solo and team riders, with 5 riders in my category of Single Speed.  I had the Superfly SS ready to go with 34/21 gearing, and repaired bottle cage bolts to hopefully prevent the bidon ejecting frustrations of the last 2 races.

I managed to get towards the front for race start, although I was on the far right and there was a left turn about 50m from the start line.  So immediately the start gun fired, I edged across to the the left and managed to get around the corner with out an issue. I had only ever ridden this part of the track in the other direction, where it was mostly a downhill run home.  Now it was slightly uphill, with some undulations making for some high speeds around some trees, kind of like a slalom run. I managed to clip my helmet on a branch, which gave me a bit of a shock, but didn't really cause me a problem(I did it on lap 2 too :-D).  We proceeded to some more single track and then a flat to slightly down access road, which was well above my SS gearing.  The next bit was a fast bumpy downhill with massive, foot/pedal/wheel destroying concrete block to the left, that I would have to remember to avoid for the rest of the race.  This finished in the creek, that I have only ever ridden in extreme mud.  Again this was not an SS friendly section of track, but the climb up to the dam wall was.  The climb up from the dam wall was another nice section for the SS,  The next section of track I knew quite well with LunarC this year and last year and a couple of Super Series races using this track.  Its a heap of fun and fantastic on the long as you are not stuck behind someone on a climb, because there are a few technical root sections that really need a bit of momentum on a single speed.  At the end of this single track, there is fast slightly downhill access road section that is another section that gives some respite, but really allows the geared bikes to unwind.  At the bottom is another fun creek section which has just enough turns to be OK on the SS.  The climb out of the creek is also very SS friendly, especially late in the race.  The bit of single track that followed was fun, but with a couple of tight turns which were a little tricky.  Another little climb and then a downhill run home.  A total of about 7.4Km.

The first lap took about 24mins, and I was on the 3rd lap with in the hour!  Such short and quick laps somehow make the race seem to take longer.  This was going to be a long race!  Things were starting to settle down and I was mostly able to run my own speed, but at times I seemed to be passing and being passed by a couple of geared bikes as we hit the parts of the tracks that suited each of us.  As it turned out I would battle these guys until about 3 laps from the end when I managed to get away from them on the climbs as they started searching for granny gear.

I felt I was riding quite consistently and with good pace.  The flatter sections were a bit of a grind, but I felt like I was climbing the hills strongly.  If there was one negative it was the way the transition area was configured, our usual spot was not actually on the race track.  I had to make a detour to get drink and food, except for the one time my son and his mate as pit crew met me at the start finish line.  The rest of the race was generally uneventful other than on  a couple of successive laps I managed to tear a hole in my socks and cut my knee buy running too fine a line around a tree and then managed to take a chunk out of my hip on a broken off branch on another tree.

The track held up really well, even though the tight switch backs towards the end of the course that had become quite loose and dusty.  I saw a couple of riders struggling on these corners.  It was great to see the number of kids out there and making it look easy.

In the end I came over the line in 6hrs05mins having completed 14 laps, 105km, which was good enough for 2nd in single speed and 6th solo over all.  I just managed being lapped twice by winner Jacob who again finished 2nd over all.  Another top effort.  Some how he manages to ride massive gears.  There is no way I could run 32/17 for 6 hours on that course.

Full results here. Look like despite missing race 1 I ended up 3rd in the series.  Congrats to Nick for 1st in the series.

My garmin managed to miss half the race, but this is what it did record.

Image courtesy of 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

2012 Super Series Race 3 - 4hr

The 3rd round of the Tailwind 2012 MTB Super Series was only the second race in this series for me.  It was another 4hr race.  With the first 2 races at this venue being absolute mudfests the fine weather leading in to this race and no rain forecast, it looked like we were finally going to have a dry race.  I only looked at the course the day before and realised that along with some new sections,  much of the course was in the reverse direction from how I had ridden it before.  My imagining of how some particular parts of the track would be in the reverse had me worried about a couple of climbs.  I decided to go out for an easy test ride to see what the climbs were like and whether I needed to lower my gearing.  The new single track felt to me like we were riding it the wrong way, with a couple of overly tight climbs(especially SS), but other than that, I was quite happy with the course overall and decided to stay with the  34/21 gearing I had on my Superfly.

The fine weather had made for a huge roll up of over 100 solo riders (including 7 Single Speeders) and about 20 teams.  We queued up for race start where we all expected the start line to be, only to be informed that there was an extra loop added and we were actually heading off about face.  That meant that some of the faster guys ended up mid pack, and I was further from the front than I wanted to be.  The race started and I seemed to get away OK, and probably a little too well.  There was some tyre rubbing and I went down, taking some skin off my knee.  I was quickly back on my bike and tried to get composed.  We hit the single track and I had to walk the tricky ascent as riders in front stopped and started.  Having ridden the track already helped a little and I was able to make up places through out the first lap.  For the second race in a row one of my bottles came out of its cage.  At the end of lap 1 I was told I was the first single speeder though, and I was happy with that.  I stopped to grab a bottle and headed off again.

I spotted my bottle on lap 2, but didn't stop to get it.  I passed more riders on lap 2, then stated to ride with geared bikes of about my speed, trading places in various sections of the track.  The Superfly was going great, except that there was some play in my cleats and every time I pulled up on the pedals I felt my feet come quite lose of the pedals.  On lap 3 or 4 I stopped to pick up my bottle which was at the bottom of gully where I always tried to keep the speed up.  Getting up that hill without my normal momentum took a bit of extra effort.

The course was a heap of fun in this direction, and when I was clear of other riders I was happy with my speed as the laps ticked by.  I was not quite sure of my placing, but thinking that I was possibly leading as no SS riders had passed me since lap 1.  In any case I was riding about as hard as I could.  At about the 3hr mark, I was informed that I was in a safe 2nd which actually didn't really bother me.  I was somewhat surprised however when I was passed not long afterwards.  I was either in 3rd or had just been lapped.

I started trying to work out how many laps I would get in within the time remaining and if I need to stop for food or water.  I wasn't even sure of my lap times, but I had a feeling it was going to be a close thing, so I kept pushing.  I came across the line with less than a minute to spare. There was probably not much to be gained by doing that extra lap, but I was just warming up and felt great.

The track was very quiet on my last lap, so I pushed to get it done.  It turned out that I finished 2nd and I was lapped by Jacob Roberts, who actually finished 2nd over all, only 1 minute behind super star Andy Fellows. Top ride by Jacob. Marty Comer finished 3rd, from what I heard having tough fight with Nick Westwood who was having some bike issues.

The next race is a 6hr race which is a bit more to my liking.  So until then, keep pedalling.

Final results are here.

Images courtesy of and heaps more pics here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dirtfest 2012 - QLD SS Champs

After last years mudfest at the same venue and after an extremely muddy race just 7 days before, the prospect of a dry race and strong SS field should have had me a little more excited than I was feeling going in to this years event. Getting my gear ready on Saturday afternoon, I realised that the bottom bracket on my Superfly SS was on its last legs, but I really wanted run the gearing(34/20) and tyres I had setup on it.  After some cleaning and extra TLC, I was fairly confident it would get through the 50K of Dirtfest.  I'd also had to recover a saddle from my "spares" pile after breaking the seat rail on my much loved Fizik Gobi in the previous week's race.

I had everything ready the night before, and was on the road by 6am to get a good park fairly close to the event and save lugging my stuff too far.  The traffic on leisurely drive up the coast was fairly light, but somehow there still managed to be an accident that closed the highway and we were forced to take a diversion.  I realised at this point that I was about 5 cars behind my mate and sometimes pit crew Andy.  Luckily the traffic in general seemed to know where they were headed as my phone GPS was playing up.  In the end we arrived only a little after 7am and were able to park about 200m from the track.  Andy and I found a good spot right on the track.

One of the peculiarities of this event was deep down in the rules(as found by Andy), it stated that changing bikes excluded a rider from the placings.  I still decided to take my back up bike in case I changed my mind about things before the race.  I decided however, to leave it on the car.

An announcement was made that the race start was to be delayed by at least 30mins due to the accident on the highway.  Potentially a problem as I only had pretty much the amount of fluid I thought I'd need before and during the race.  My plan was to be well hydrated at the start of the race and go with 2 bidons on the bike and if necessary stop for one bottle at the 5 or 6 lap mark.  This was another reason I wanted to race the Superfly, it had 2 bottle cages where my Ti Inbred had only 1...even though it would turn out I would notice pre-race that one of the mounting bolts was loose, and I used duct tape to make sure the cage would not come loose.

Race start finally came around, and it was wave starts with Elites off first, then Open and then single speed.  Including the SS girls, there were nearly 20 riders, a sizeable field.  I started on the 2nd row, but with the first row being about 7 or 8 riders wide, I found myself around 10th after getting through the start/finish chute and on to the fire trail.  I settled in behind FTR riders(Tim and Isaac), who were going just fast enough to make passing difficult.  On the first bumpy descent, I lost both of my drink bottles as they bounced out of the cages(Oh the irony).  I decide to push on and hopefully pick them up on the 2nd lap. With the tallish gear I was running, I managed to get past on the flatter fire trail.  Memories came flooding back of the circuit last year all muddy.  It was so much fun in the dry.  I started to catch and pass the open riders who had set off ahead of us.

When I got back to transition, I had to stop and get my one and only spare bottle, and got passed by Tim and Isaac.  I sat just behind them again so that I could get my dropped bottles which were still lying in the middle of the track.  With only one cage available, I drank as much of the 3rd bottle as I could and threw it off to the side of the track.  I eventually caught up to Tim and Isaac and rode with them for a while.  Then again  1 bottle bounced out of its cage!  This was somewhat bewildering as I have done many hundreds of ks with these cages and bottles and never had this kind of issue.  In lap 3 I was able to run my own pace and hit the climbs fast. On one of the descents nearly halfway round the track I hear a crack and the saddle disappeared beneath me.  I figured the stand-in saddle had suffered a broke rail like its predecessor, but when I looked down the seatpost is gone.  I rode on, trying to decide what to do.  Riding with no seat is way tougher than I thought, especially on flat ground with the low gearing of SS.  I decided that I would probably hurt myself if I pushed on in the single track without a saddle and turned around.  There was still a substantial amount of single track before the I got back to the start/finish, but I still make OK time and even found my lost bottle.  On the way back I changed my mind on pulling out of the race and got my spare bike and turned a disastrous race in to a fun training session on a fun track that I can't ride at any other time.

When I got back to my gear, I couldn't find the car keys only to discover I had them in my pocket.  I eventually changed bikes.  I stupidly decided to reset my bike computer, and headed back out on track.  The Ti On*One rides beautifully as always.  I found the bottle that I threw beside the track and stopped to pick it up.  With no spare cages I had to carry it in my pocket.  The rest of the race was fairly uneventful except that I was never really sure what lap I was on.  I also had to stop to fix my down tube mounted pump that had come loose and started rubbing on my crank.  I also had to stop on the last lap to re-mount my chain which was derailed by a stick when I passed a rider by going a bit off track.

In the end I did 7(+3/4) laps in 2:52 and finish well down in my category.   Its funny how the short races seem to be the most exciting and have the most drama.  As always, the event was well run, and it was a an awesome track in the dry, and no bike clean-up afterwards is always a good thing. Hat off to all the DirtMasters and DirtMistresses on a tough weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Super Series Race 2 - 4hrs of Mud(just for something different)

This must be first lap because I am so clean.
Race 2 of the Tailwind Promotions Super was to be my first race in the series this year after missing race 1 for a number of reasons.  The outlook for the race was good.  There had been some light rain during the week, but nothing to worry about.  Having ridden LunarC 8hr only a few weeks before using many of the same tracks, I figured that I would go with the same gearing, and basically the same bike setup in general.

My wife, Ali and friends were racing in various teams, and we went out on Saturday afternoon to get a good spot in transition.  Ali went out for a test ride and found that the track was bone dry other than a few puddles. Excellent news.   I knew it rained over night, but still expected the track to be OK and stuck with my Gary Fisher Superfly SS.

At race start, I lined up 15 or so riders back.  There was only about 30m or so of wide trail before a massive bottle neck as it went to single trail.  I managed to merge in with fellow single speeders Nick and Peter, but I knew "Matt Dog" was ahead somewhere.  The first part of the lap was the same as the 6hr last year, and while it was a bit wet, it was OK until the first climb.  It was at this point I realised my rear tyre choice(Maxxis Crossmark) was not the best and combined with my tallish gearing resulted in wheel spin.

I managed to get ahead of Nick and Peter somewhere early in the lap and caught Matt about midway.  The crossover point was a bit confusing, and I think in wee hours of a 24hr race might cause problems.  The descent through the new single track (which was unrideable uphill at LunarC) was very technical, but fun.  I pushed on the fire trail and had a small gap when a poorly marked turn had me go the wrong way for a few seconds.  Second lap Matt came back past me up the first hill running where I initially tried to ride but got too much wheel spin and had to walk too.  I sat behind Matt, but had a shocking series of corners where I got wheel slip on some roots then had to give track to some geared bikes which then held me up, and I didn't see him again.

It started to rain and some parts of the track became very tacky.  The new single track was particularly so with the top layer coming up and turning tyres in to slicks.  Steering was incredibly unpredictable and I drifted off into the trees a couple of times.

At some point Peter caught me back up on the first mud climb as I walked and he rode.  He got away from me for a while, but I pushed to catch up and followed him until he got a puncture.  With my bike sliding all over the place, I managed to break the rail on my seat when I went in to a G-Out awkwardly.  It didn't really slow me down too much, but was thankful that this happened on the lap that the single track was closed, and when I got back to transition I changed to my On-One Inbred Ti.   Which cost a few minutes changing over race number etc.  Mostly it turned out to be a good thing because I had lower gearing and Maxxis Ignitor rear and was able to ride parts of the track I could not previously.  The mud clearance on the front was not great though, and I had to stop on some laps to scrap mud away.

As the track dried it became a lot faster and more fun, and I realised with a lap to go that I was going to be close to squeezing in an extra lap and pushed hard.  By my clock(which I started on the gun), I crossed the line with just over 10s to spare(results have me in with 20s to spare) and expected to head out for 1 more lap, but was told the course was closed.  I was bummed to say the least, as I felt that I was starting to feel quite strong punching out a sub 28min final lap.

In the end I managed 8 laps, 62k and 2nd in SS and 10th solo(if I read the results correctly). Congrats to Matt and Nick, tough luck to Peter(punctures suck).  I always wish these races were a bit longer.  I just can't seem to pull these short races together and seem to be coming on strong as the race ends.  Well, maybe next time.  Good result nonetheless, and had fun, catching up with heaps of riders and it was not nearly as lonely a race as LunarC.

Thanks to helpers, Darien, Caeli, Flynn, Ben, Lee, Andi and Ali.  Also props to Shannon Duggan and his daughter who rode for 2.5 hours on a tandem bike, you guys looked like you were working hard, but having fun.

View full results here

Picture credits go to Alan Uthmann(heaps of great shots here), Imagewerks, Tailwind and Riley Taylor

Sunday, April 1, 2012

8hrs of LunarC III

Time again for what has been 1st race of the season for me for the last 3 years, LunarC 8hr.  The unique thing about this race is that it starts at Midnight.  Perfect for its scheduled time of late summer.  This years event was scheduled for 24th/25th of February but was cancelled due to high rainfall.  The race was eventually held on 30th/31st of March after a week of almost perfect weather.  With the rescheduled dates, it was almost 5 months since my last MTB race.

This was my 3rd LunarC event, with the first one in 2010 at Slickers my first ever Single Speed event, and I was entered in the SS category again.  Last year's event was moved to Murrenbong and great for me and I loved the track.  This year was a slightly modified version of last years track, so I decided to go with similar gearing of 34/20 on my Superfly SS.  With my back up On-One Inbred setup with lower gearing of 33/21.

This year I decided not to get to the event too early' learning from the last 2 years that midnight seems to take a long time to roll around.  Leaving home, I was not very keen at all to go race, and wondered why I do these enduro events.  I got to Murrenbong about 8:30, and the dirt road in to HQ was like a little adventure in itself, but I eventually dropped off my gear at the gear drop and parked the car.  I'd also learnt from last years event to pack light, and this year all I had was my food, a box of tricks and my bikes and no Gazebo.  At sign in, the SS entry list looked pretty slim and as it turned out of that list a number had changed to teams or age group category, leaving only 5 riders in SS make category.  By about 9:15 I'd found a place to set up.  I made my way around the transition area catching up with everyone I've come to know over the last couple of years racing.

Race briefing rolled around and we were told to line up with solo riders on the left and team riders to the right.  Cue, dramatic music as a devil masked character rolled down the hill with a burning torch befitting the Darkside LunarC theme.  The race eventually started and with a slight uphill, it suits strong SS riders, because the fast geared bike get out of the way leaving a bit of space when we get to single track.  I knew most of the track from last year, then we hit the new stuff, which was too steep for me to ride, even on lap 1....I knew I was up for a looong night.  I briefly considered changing to my spare bike with lower gearing, but think I may even have struggle to ride it on a geared bike, so slightly lower gearing would not have helped.  The course as a whole was in great shape, but was muddier in placed than I would have expected. Most notably in 2 spots.  One, a soft muddy climb that deteriorated through out the night so that I sunk deeper and deeper each lap and it just sapped the energy.  The second was first grassy climb under the power lines which last year was my favourite climb, but this year was a wheel spinning affair that actually found me heading in the grass to get traction.

In some ways the first 3 hours of the race were the hardest.  I hated not being able to ride the whole track, I had some knee pain and I realised my pre-race meal which included some beautiful salmon was not ideal.  Once my stomach got settled again and the pain in my knee went away, I got in to a nice rhythm and the laps just kept on ticking over.  I even knew when was the best place to unclip on the bit I had to walk, when to get back on the bike.  All in all I had quite an uneventful race, I had one soft fall at the top of the afore mentioned soft muddy climb when my mud clogged tyre slipped on a diagonal log. I almost had an OTB in a muddy G-out that had developed a deep groove that gobbled the front tyre.  I had a couple of closed calls when slower riders in front had moments in various tricky parts, but I managed to sneak past.  I had to stop and tighten my rear quick release at about the 6hr mark.  Through out the race, I had no idea where I was, I didn't see many SS riders or anyone really, so it really was a matter of ride for 8 hours and see where I was.  I finished the race in 8hr16mins and according to my GPS I was only stopped for 3mins.  I really think these 8 and 12 hour races are the right length for me.  My last lap was only 30s slower than my first and fastest lap.  That was partly due to me pushing hard and the fact that it was day light and the track was much clearer than on all other laps.  When I check the result listing at the end of the race I still had no idea where I had finished, because the results were from 6am(This was my only complaint of the whole event, I'm not sure what has happened to the electronic timing that I2A usually have), and riders I expected to see were not even listed.  So I was not sure of the final result until the presentations.  In the end I managed 14laps(117K) which was enough for 1st in SS and 2nd overall, and according to posted results, only 1m28s down on first over all.

All in all passing was not a problem and the track is quite good because there are regular fire trail sections that allow for passing.  The track was definitely tougher and therefore slower than last year, I did 2 less laps, mainly due to amount I had to walk.

Thanks again In2Adventure, the Marshals, to everyone that rocked up to support, to all the riders first timers and veterans alike.

My Superfly SS was flawless and AyUps lights were fantastic as always.

Detailed results here.

Hopefully I'll get some pics to post soon.


About Me

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