I really look forward to this race every year. I have done it since the first year back in 2010 which was the really muddy year and have always been interested in doing it. I mean to say, it goes through all the iconic trail locations in Canberra and allows you to hit up a superb variety of terrain which tests your ability over the course of 100km.
There is a twist however, and in this case, the twist is the untimed section. Like the Highland Fling, there is a section where you ride but are technically untimed due to it being on public thoroughfares like cyclepaths and roads.
I’m going to dot point this race day out as it seemed so disjointed and weird how it all panned out. Plus I just had no flow on the day. Felt like a dot pointed race.
• Alarm – 4:15am – sledgehammer to the brain. Slept way too well for a race night.
• Getting out – easy as, Andrew Hall and Robyn Ramsay picked me up at 5:15 and we were out there by 5:45am.
• Warm up – by the glow of a petzl light on some fireroads out there. Nature break in the forest
• Start line nerves – must have peed at least 4 times in the last half hour before the race start
• Start line – nervous sledging, saddle crookedness adjustments, geez it’s really humid
• Gun goes off – clip in follow wheels, remember to breathe, watch out for holes and erosion channels, and rally drift powder
• 1st section before singletrack – crazy jostling, people in places they shouldn’t be, people getting yelled at, occasional buzz of tyres, superfast pace, cover the left hand line going into singletrack
• 1st singletrack – thank god I got in here in top 10, Shaun Lewis getting squeezed, trying to figure out how I got in here before Shaun – he was just in front of me before
• 2nd Fireroad – ugh... uphill, still in decent position, following good wheels, cross over to the left hand line
• 2nd singletrack – hammertime, this bit is so good, flows really well, my legs feel a bit tight, damn – Andrew hall bites the dust in front of me, I ask him if he’s ok – he’s ok. Gap opened up.
• 3rd fireroad – trying to get onto wheels but legs aren’t going how I want them to. I’m still pedalling, but it’s like I’m pushing through water.
• Andrew Hall catches up and then announces that he has a flat tyre, this is not ideal for him, he was riding super strong.
• Singletrack descent – can still see the lead bunch, but I feel like I am treading water going nowhere trying to follow Matt Fleming
• Repeat previous dot point for next half hour until we hit up Sparrow Hill, and the loooong fireroad climb. I can see the main bunch up ahead, I catch up to Matt Fleming and Craig Gordon (who I actually think is Kyle Ward), small group together to work with finally.
• Bang – singletrack descent through Sparrow – I remember this from the club XCO race a month ago, Damn I feel slow in here, legs feel tight.
• Fireroad climb – finally catch up and pass Matt into the singletrack, we exit and head back over to Kowen, Matt goes past me in chase of Gordo. No man’s land #facepalm
• Singletrack, singletrack, singletrack. Flow is no mo, and I can’t wait for the fireroad to turn up.
• Spoke too soon, isolated, I am in big trouble with the 10km/hr headwind that is now just pissing me off. I can still see Matt and Craig up the road, but the 100 metre gap might as well be a 1000 metres.
• The next half hour, I feel as though I am riding in unfamiliar territory, mainly because it is unfamiliar – this is new. My legs feel tight, and the singletrack is bumpy. Not feeling very fast right now – sadface!
• Heading towards Sutton – stop and put seat down a little. Finally relief. Legs feel a bit better, check behind me, a few guys coming – suck it up princess and just sit up and wait a bit, we can work together a bit better.
• Heading into Sutton, I’ve got Ryan Quade and Callum McNamara to work with, heading out of Sutton, it is just Callum and I. We spot Fleming up the road sitting up waiting. He joins the train through the defence land. I’m still feeling a huge headwind. WTF is going on?
• Heading onto the bitumen at the end of the defence land – Graham ‘Arnott’ Biscuit joins us. 4 man team now. Callum bins it in the singletrack, Fleming takes a wrong turn, we finally hit Majura.
• Majura is a war zone – logging has gone on. I have ridden this fireroad probably 100 times. I know that it is 4 minutes to the untimed section from the top of it. I put the pressure on the pedals and Matt and Callum cannot respond. I have a biscuit on my tail!
• Ugly climb out of Majura – I hate this hill. I’m racing Biscuit up it, legs are cramping, heart rate is maxed. Biscuit pimps me by a second!
• Thank god for the untimed section. I’m heading home – 3 minutes from the start of the untimed section. Eat, eat, eat, drink, drink, drink. New bottles, gloves, glasses, food, clean body, clean bike, relube chain. Check results on internet – see that Kylie won the 50km race. Feeling a bit happier.
• Roll out – body sore, drink some more, go past transition \ feedzone. Not loving this humidity.
• Meet up with Andrew over at Black Mountain – took 41 minutes in untimed section – race plan has been modified slightly.
• Discuss how we are going to now ride. Andrew offers his rear wheel as a resting place due to his flat tyre earlier. See Aaron Thompson, Jenny Fay, and others.
• Huge breath taken, then start up again up the climb. On Thommo’s wheel, he is slowly losing Andrew’s wheel. Got to get up the road a bit. Spend the next 5 minutes trying to actually get onto Andrew’s wheel through the sketchy black mountain sketch fest of fireroads.
• Far out it feels like he is racing a short track race. I’m tired and sore, and probably dehydrated and needing more, but I’m not going to let this wheel go.
• Constantly talking to Andrew about what we are doing. Feels like constantly, but probably just grunting at him. Finally over the arboretum dog climb and rollers. Taking advantage of the cross-tailwind to Stromlo.
• Wow – there’s Robyn riding out on the bike path! Hi Robyn! Go boys! – where’s that wheel? Hammertime. Suffertime.
• Stromlo – let’s climb – pedal, brake, turn left, pedal, brake, turn right, repeat a few times for the next 15 minutes. Add cramp here and there, not enough fluids.
• Stromlo – let’s descend – pedal, pedal, pedal – strategic use of brakes. Wish I could go faster, legs feel cactus.
• Kylie yelling at us at the 4x track to go straight. This means one thing – little rascals – hate that track! Nasty left hand turn up onto 4x track, cramping. Kylie yelling to pedal – not happening!
• Road crit track – pedal, finish. Thank god for that.....
That is pretty much it. I felt awful, but got through it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I am fighting a cold\flu\infection as I just feel blocked and when I ramp the power, it just feels ordinary, like there is no ‘go’. The legs get tight like there is not enough oxygen getting to them. It’s not a great feeling that’s for sure, but you’ve just got to cope sometimes.
Top 20 overall results
Split times through each section
Descending through the mini-tabletops at StromloAt least my equipment didn’t let me down.
Cannondale F29er Ultimate – pretty much the ideal bike for marathon racing. Stiff where you need it (laterally in the bottom bracket region), compliant where you need it (back end).
Sugoi gloves – these are a new set that I just got. The Sugoi RS glove has a nice feel to it, which also includes slight gel padding on the base of the palm and also in the ‘callous zone’
SRAM and AVID combo – shifting and braking sorted – don’t have to think about it.
Adidas Evil Eye Sunglasses – I used the orange lens from Sparrow to Kowen so that I could see when it was early in the morning and also whilst in the forest. Once I was in the more open area, between Black Mountain and Stromlo, I changed to the darker tint lens.
Enduro bearings – hybrid zero ceramic bearings make it a lot easier for the bike to roll along. Just less effort, which means you can go faster. That’s always a good thing!
This weekend I am racing the Mont as a 4 man team with Andrew Hall, Matt Rizzutto and Jorge Baron. We have the luxury of being in the Cannondale corporate tent, which includes heating, power, TV, table tennis table and display bikes.
If you are out there, drop by and say hi!