Monday, May 27, 2013

MTB Super Series - Race 3 - Murrenbong

Race 3 of the MTB Super Series was back at Murrenbong, where all of last year's races were held.  After what has been a tough week for me and my family with an emergency trip back home.  I didn't get to touch my bikes until Saturday afternoon, and my race bike still had it number on from race 2...which also says something about how little MTB I have been doing between races.  I did not really study the course profile, but my knowledge of Murrenbong should have seen me increase my gearing quite a bit.  However my hectic week, lack of prep time, reluctance to make late bike changes and most of all laziness meant that I left the same gearing I used at the much steeper Mt Joyce track.

One of the many things I like about Murrenbong is that is only 20 minutes from home, and I only left home after 8am.  I arrive to see that Jacob was racing this round after missing the first 2 races, and that if last year was anything to go by, I was about to get schooled.  Jacob pointed out that the track did not really go through the area where the majority of people had set up.  I also heard that there were a greater number of SS riders this round, and it turned out that there were 7 riders, up from the 4 in the first 2 rounds.  

Again there was to be an alternate fire road start to avoid too much bottlenecking into the single track.  We got away early, and my plan was to stick near Jacob and see how I went.  It became immediately apparent, that despite spinning my legs off, that I was under geared.  Not only were the geared riders disappearing into the distance, but so were the fast half of the SS field.  

With the knowledge that I was running lower gearing that the guys in front, I could only push the gear I had, and hope to make some ground back at the end of the race if anyone was over geared.  On a course I know quite well, I was able to make good time in the single trail, but the flat and downhill fire roads were killing me, and I was easy picking for the average geared rider.

Towards the middle of the race I came across a cramping SS rider who has possibly over geared.  I thought at this stage that I was possibly in 3rd behind Jacob and Peter.  However, I was unaware that former 24hr Age Group World Champ Jeff Toohey, had entered SS until he passed me with 2 laps to go.  I managed to  stick with Jeff for the remainder of the race, not sure if he was lapping me and therefore in 2nd, or passing me, and we were possibly fighting for 3rd.  With about 500m to go, I decided to push ahead of Jeff in case we were racing for 3rd..turns out we weren't.

Around the the 3 hour mark, the track was shortened, presumably  to allow a rider who had gone down to be carried out.  I wish whoever it was a quick recovery.

The final results were Jacob, Jeff and Peter, so congrats to them.  It also turned out that Jacob and Jeff were 2nd and 3rd overall solo.

Another great event on a great course and in fantastic conditions.  I could not believe how awesome those not at the point end were in giving up track for faster riders.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

MTB Super Series - Race 2 - Mt Joyce

From all I'd heard about Mt Joyce, I was expecting a tough course for race 2 of the MTB Super Series.  On paper it looked interesting, with about 250m of climbing in under 4K, followed by a descent of similar proportions. Having never ridden at Mt Joyce, I had no idea of what to expect.  The good news was the weather conditions were nearly perfect, especially when compared to the mud of Race 1.  On the negative side was my total lack of MTB riding since the 24hr, and an attempt on Friday afternoon to remind myself of what SS MTB was all about, ended in a fairly heavy coming together with a tree and a massive bruise on my left forearm.

From my home on the northside of Brisbane Mt Joyce is a 90min drive.  I arrived just under an hour before race start and with the transition a little way away from the carpark, I really didn't have that much spare time to get set up and ready to race.  The transition area was very exposed, with no shade from trees and only those organised enough to take a portable gazebo having any protection from the sun.  I managed to set up my gear with Paul Fletcher and Emma Thomson.  I registered, and it looked like there were only 4 single speed riders.

The race started with an 800m gravelly fire road climb, with a very steep pinch before the single track that offered some climbing respite before turning uphill almost immediately for a further 3km of climbing.  With the team riders and faster geared riders heading off into the distance, I was leading a group of 5 or 6 riders, pulling away in the steeper corners, but being caught up on the more gently climbing straights.  After what felt like 100 switchbacks, we crested the top of the course, and let gravity be on our side at last.  Surprisingly, I caught up to a small group of riders which I had thought were much further ahead, and I was feeling fairly good.  The downhill was an absolute hoot, and made the climb so worth it.  The remainder of the course was undulating, but the fast descent to the start/finish line was potentially treacherous if taken too fast.

The first couple of laps seemed to go quickly, up then down, not really catching other riders, or being caught.  The track was fun, but finding somewhere to eat and drink was tough.  Essentially the run in to the finish, and the fire road climb were the only places.  I stopped bothering to carry food and I would just scoff down what I could immediately after transition.  I rode  a couple of laps with Peter Winfield,  with me leading up the climbs and him providing me something to chase on the way down.  Trying to keep up on the undulating bottom section was hard on the SS, but when Peter stopped for food and I did not, I caught back up and we were back in formation for 1 more lap until I stopped for water on the next lap

It warmed up quite a bite, and by the 2 hour mark, I was sneaking in a drink at the top of the climb. I was still lapping consistently, and enjoying the down hill and honing my descending skills.  I had no idea what was happening at all in the race.  I thought for a moment I was about to be passed, but realised the SS rider I saw was actually in a team..  With 2 laps to go, I stocked up on drink bottles, and grabbed a banana.  On the climb, I passed 2 single speed riders, who both looked they were struggling a bit, but still rolling OK, but I figured I was in 2nd at least.

I crossed the line in 4hr:17mins having covered 71K and climbed 2413m, 1st in SS and 14th overall in another great turn out of 75+ solo riders. This was my first time at My Joyce, but I can't wait to go back and investigate further.  Another well organised event, on awesome trails and fantastic attitude by all...apart from 1 team rider who was really quite aggressive in passing.  Race 3 is just up the road at Murrenbong, which is always a fun track.

Thanks Paul and Emma for the use of your Gazebo too.

If anyone has any photos they'd like to share, or I could use on my Blog, drop a link in the comments, and I'd be greatly appreciative.



About Me

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