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.