Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 Kowalski Classic - the tale of the Kow and the Bird

Kowalski Classic

A cow and a bird were the mascots on the free water bottle received in the race pack. The cow represents Kowen forest, and the bird represents Sparrow Hill forest. Genius right? This race was promoted as having close to 90km of singletrack for the 2nd running of this MTB marathon.

I first rode Sparrow Hill in 2006 and was mesmerised by the network of trails that Alan Anderson and Paul Cole put together. Heavy Cow – in the anti-clockwise direction was the ultimate standout. What was also a standout was that Alan had let Kylie and I be the first people to ride it ever. 4km of perfectly groomed trail with amazing berms, rock formations and most importantly….flow. It took him 3 months to build that 4km of trail. We rode it 4 times in a row that day.

Over the years, the Mont 24hr and numerous club races have also allowed me to figure out that there are a lot of kilometres of trail out at Kowen also. As a Canberra local, I do not ride much out there any more, except for racing really. Living in 2602, I am spoilt for choice. From my house I can get to the following off road destinations in these timeframes (by bike):

• Mount Ainslie – 1 minute

• Mount Majura – 5 minutes

• Bruce Ridge – 14 minutes

• Black Mountain – 15 minutes

• Mount Stromlo – 40 minutes

Kowen\Sparrow is a whopping 30km or so by bike, and would take me at least an hour or so to get to!!! #firstworldpains.

So, when Self Propelled Enterprises organised the 2012 Kowalski Classic, I can’t remember what else was on…. But I missed it.

For 2013, I got my entry in and did the usual research on it. Wow. Mostly singletrack…..as in 99% singletrack. That is pretty unique….and potentially a little different with regard to race dynamics, feeding, overtaking, speed, and recovery spots.

This was made evident in the course recce of the first 50km that I did two weekends ago with my teammate Andrew Hall. He had done a recce the weekend prior to that with the Specialized Swell team mates Andy Blair and Shaun Lewis, and had logged the course into his trusty Garmin 800.

Initial thoughts were as follows:

• Fireroad start ability-sorter climb

• A truckload of singletrack

• Flat fireroad across ‘Rossy Flats’

• Super steep fireroad pinchers

• Switchback city through gum trees – super loose

• Roughest bit of bumpy singletrack up to the top of the climb – sort of soul destroying it was so tough

• Going backwards around some of the Mont trails.

That was 50km and our recce took 3 hours and 15 minutes!! Damn, this had us worried. What was also worrying was that my entire body ached the next day. A course made up of almost entire singletrack is going to take a lot of physical handling to pilot the bike around.

So, come race day, Andrew Hall picked me up and we cruised out in the cold morning, complete with fog and zero degrees to boot. Ahhh got to love a good Canberra morning.

We came across Ed McDonald who was doing some serious training on his road to Wembo in about three week’s time. He was riding out for extra training. Of course, this was a prime opportunity to hang out the window to offer some encouragement for a fellow competitor \ 2602 #PRO. However, I just yelled out “What’s up baby?” to which Ed replied “Nothing much”. Andrew was going to ride out with Ed that day, but having already reached his secret training quota of 30 hours of riding for that week, wisely chose the car option. It was at least 28 degrees inside and we had heated leather seats. Ed looked a little cold!

Driving out to Kowen, it was 0 degrees and foggy. Thankyou canberra!
When we finally got to the event HQ, Andrew negotiated the CX7 up onto the graded verge and got a totally boss carpark for the day. Awesome start! We sorted bottle drop, table for other bottles, nature break, and then went for the standard warm up. We just went up the first climb. That was plenty – it was a little slick and I didn’t want to get the bike dirty just yet.

Al Vogt called everyone up and we did the standard race briefing. He rattled off a bunch of Trail Names that made up the course. I can’t say that I knew any of them! I was just going to be following either wheels or arrows or course bunting. We were finally off and racing. The pace was medium-fast, sort of like Glenn McGrath on a good day. 100 metres from the top, everyone remembered that we funnelled into singletrack, and so ramped it up to Brett Lee pace for the coveted holeshot. I am pretty sure that Seb Jayne got the holeshot, and then we all followed. A lot of us.

I knew that we were in for about 40 minutes of singletrack before the flat fireroad section known as “Rossy Flats”.

I am pretty sure this early in I had done the right amount of #fabianese ‘position-fighting’ to be around 10th place or so. But it was hard to tell. It might have been anywhere up to 15th. Even having a chugger day, Andrew Hall had managed to get a few wheels in front of me. Sneaky bugger! As we spewed out onto a fireroad section, I summoned my entire inner strength not to sledge him as I rode past with the mission of getting back to the wheels that were cruising off in front. Instead, I showed him my back tyre and got my drift on through the forest.

I managed to get on to Lewy Cressy’s wheel and every now and then would look back and see a truckload of riders through the trees following. This must be like what solo 24hr racing must feel like ;) When we flowed out onto Rossy Flats (the long fireroad priot to the super steep fireroad), we had a decent bunch of riders. From my vantage point I could see the following

Seb Jayne, Andy Blair, Mark Tupalski, Jarrod Hughes, Kyle Ward, Lewy Cressy, Jason English, Chris Fisher, David Nairn, Chris Hamilton, Anthony Shippard, Troy Herfoss and maybe a couple of others

The only notable exception was Shaun Lewis who had copped a massive rear flat earlier on and the duo of Ed Mac and Andrew Hall. These guys were dieseling along with the allure of a specific race in 3 week’s time.

As we neared the end of Rossy Flats (so named in honour of Jeremy Ross who loves this sort of terrain in order to smash anyone who wants to suck a wheel. He and Chuck Norris have restraining orders out on each other because ultimately, the world might end), riders were getting rabid as there was a short bit of singletrack prior to some super steep fireroad.

This fireroad required you to chew a bit of stem, and whilst pretty short, it was about 20% and a little intense! We then hit the gum tree switchback climb and then went into the next section after a short fireroad interlude\recovery. This section has great potential, however being freshly cut, it was a little energy-sapping. It was bumpy, tight, and lacked a little flow to be honest. When it packs down with some more use it will be a bit of a pearler because it climbs to an extremely high point in Canberra, and is technically the highest singletrack in the ACT at over 1000m above sea level.

It was through this section that the natural secondary selection occurred. Mark Tupalski and Kyle Ward had taken off. Andy Blair was biding his time with Cressy and Hughes in hot pursuit. Jason English had probably the easiest first hour of a marathon ever, Seb Jayne was somewhere up ahead. Shippard, Nairn and I caught the Kow-train onto the next section.

So that was pretty much the top 10 selection happening right there. It took an hour and a big hill, but as was expected, the race was in relative pieces and the war of attrition that was expected, was now playing out.

The next 25km went by reasonable slowly to be honest. The first 50 took about 2 hours 13 or so. The wet ground definitely played a part in this. It wasn’t muddy, but it wasn’t superfast either. I was riding with David Nairn and Anthony Shippard (again) and every now and then we could see flashes of team kit through the trees. Sometimes you would look over and see the rider coming straight back at you and think, ‘you beauty’ I’ve got you only to discover that you had another 300 metres of singletrack to ride before you hit the switchback. Damn!

One point of note. We were riding through the trails that the Mont took in. A lot of these trails we were actually riding in the opposite direction. And, they had amazing flow and such a different feel to what you were used to.

After coming through the 50km point, we crossed underneath the start\finish banner and then started up the second part of the race. We all stopped for a beverage top up and motored on. Up ahead we could see Cressy and Shippard drove the bus to hunt him down.

We hit up a specific climb for the 2nd time and this one had definitely had 950 riders already over it. The muddy sections were pretty mashed up. I hit one thinking it would be an above average line, only to have my front wheel sink down a foot. The bike stuck still standing there by itself. It took 5 yanks on the handlebar to prize it free from the mud-porridge. This probably cost me 10 seconds or so, and I laughed at the mud rode off and caught up to the boys who were now hitting up some of the absolute best singletrack on Kowen.

After going through that mud I had to get some Towels to clean the bike with. Cheers Trev!
This took us all the way down to the entrance to Sparrow Hill. We were now in store for a bit of a singletrack treat. The trails over this side of the road have a little better flow, and we were hauling, with Nairn driving the pace. Cressy had rebounded after being caught and was in our group . I would have to say that an hour in Sparrow felt like about 5 minutes. It was mesmerising, hero grip was aplenty, and even the muddy bits were not a hassle. It was almost like being in the zone.

Occasionally, certain things happened that woke you up out of it. Cressy hitting a stray pine cone, the boys concertina-ing on a tricky rock section, the shriek of a black cockatoo. The occasional fireroad crossing. Otherwise it was left, right, left, right, outside pedal, inside pedal --- then repeat. Awesome.

Through this section we picked up Jarrod Hughes who was broken for the day. He didn’t last long unfortunately. We also came across Kyle Ward. Again, like Cressy he rebounded after being caught and joined our group.

I could ‘feel’ where we were in Sparrow and when we went past the 78km feed zone, the lovely volunteers offered me a bottle handup. I didn’t need it so just waved to them! That is seriously cool!

We began our descent of a trail that I am sure that I have pretty much ridden up every single time I have been at Sparrow. Going down was pretty cool. That is a bit of an understatement. When does descending not end up as being fun?

When we went underneath the highway, Shippard was leading, Nairn following, with Cressy and I in hot pursuit. Kyle found some hidden energy and attacked hard. Up the rise, then down the fireroad descent. Nairn got on his wheel, but Shippard was a little slower to react. Cressy didn’t go around either. Damn. The K-train was leaving Sparrow Station and I needed to be on it. I sprinted past Cressy and Shippard through the last section of the fireroad and got back on to Nairn’s wheel. Kyle was driving like a man possessed. We must have been doing 30km/hr up the gully rise trail that takes us over to Kowen. I went pretty deep here to catch the wheel.

We got through the next bit of singletrack and came out onto the old Highway section that takes us over to the Natural bushland of Kowen. Nairn attacked Kyle here, and I quickly responded because I had a feeling we were pretty close to the finish. Unfortunately, Nairn was about 0.5% faster than me through this last section and I just could not close the gap at all. And it opened up a little more as well. What felt like 5 minutes later we crossed the line in a shade over 4 hours for the 90km of wicked trails.

For me it was 6th place. Jason English sprinted Mark Tupalski for the win, whilst Andy Blair recovered from a late race flat to take 3rd place. When you do the math on how long it takes to fix a flat, and how much English beat him…..well, you get the picture of what might have been.

A day out in the mud, in the forest and across a lot of singeltrack

To be honest, I was pretty happy with this result. I was pretty happy to pull up reasonably well from the weekend before at the Flight centre Epic. I was really happy with how the Cannondale F29er handled the tight and twisty singletrack and the bumpy sections.

Top 20 results. So great to see a really strong field
I had a good time racing around the forest with some good company and enjoyed the course that Self Propelled Enterprises had put together. I really, really liked the Sparrow Hill loop that they did. That was a bit of a treat for the second part of the race.

Andrew Hall, whilst in chugger mode still managed a very respectable 10th place. With 30 hours of training under his belt. I guess all of the secret training is going to pay off sometime soon! Anthony Shippard came across the line in 9th place on a ‘new’ loaner Cannondale Scalpel from City Bike Depot. That was pretty cool. 3 Cannondales in the top ten!

Ok, up next, Andrew Hall and I will train through the Scott 25hr race in a 2 man team. Make sure you drop by the tent and give us some good sledges!

Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 Flight Centre Epic

A race that is Epic like a boss.

Damn, where do I start with this one? For years I had seen race reports from this event. Like a lot of events, you sometimes just don’t get the right opportunity to get there. It might be for logistical reasons (reasonably lame, just HTFU). It could be for financial reasons (reality of life). It could be due to the fact that it was close to another important race (fair call sometimes). Or it might be as simple as the fact that you ‘didn’t get around to it’.

So….I got around to it. Anthony Shippard sent me through his 2013 race calendar about 3 months ago and I noted that his September was fully packed. And on it, was the Flight Centre Epic. The race was entered onto my training diary and my race calendar.

On the Monday before the weekend, I sorted all the flights, accommodation, hire car and the race entry. That was the logistics sorted. Then I did the packing really early. That is sometimes pretty tricky to do, depending on what training you have on.

Packing for a race for me is always one of those things where you are thinking of all of the things that could go wrong and whether you should bring a ‘spare part’ or not. I always err on the side of bringing a truckload of things so that if and as is usually the case, when something goes wrong, you can sort it. So, as per usual, I packed a lot of extra stuff.

Bike packed - plus some other stuff

This week was pretty much fuelled by listening to Aerosmith. It just got me in a good mood for the trip up. At the Qantas club lounge in Canberra, I bought Steven Tyler’s autobiography “Do the voices in my head annoy you” via Google books. Yeah, I can relate to that question. The inner voice is always working overtime!

We got up to Brisbane about lunchtime and headed out via the motorway to Ipswich. Now, I have mentioned in other posts about the ‘style’ that Ipswich has. I hadn’t been there for a couple of years, and to be honest, it did seem to have gone slightly more upmarket. However, there were certain elements that still existed that did not fail to disappoint. It’s ok…. My mum was born in Ipswich so I feel as though I can speak with some authority on this subject ;)

Race accommodation is however, especially at a new event you haven’t been to before, a bit of a lottery. We got there. We inspected. Not overly happy. Can we inspect a new room? Again, not overly happy. The main reason was lugging up all the bags and bike bags UP flights of stairs. Such a drama! So we did what had to be done and negotiated a deal on the ground floor ‘unit’ accommodation complete with kitchen. Now, we’re talking!

Making ourselves at home

So I cranked Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet Emotion’ and got building the bikes. Kylie went off for a snooze. That’s pretty standard. An hour later, I had everything unpacked and two bikes rebuilt ready to ride. We scouted the drive out to Spicers Hidden Valley where the Epic was situated and went for a spin to loosen up the travel legs and scout out some of the course. As we left the carpark at 5pm, it was somewhat of concern at about 5:45 when it was getting close to absolute sunset and we were still in the forest.

Relief set in when we came out to the cow fields, saw a couple of camels, and the lights of the event centre. Made it using the force! Never truly lost, just a timing issue!!

Kylie was excited to see camel's on our recce

Soon after getting home, I got a message from Specialized Swell Team Captain, Shaun Lewis, asking about tyre selection. As the #PRO advisor, I can be relied on to provide sound advice on tyre choice, sock height and other important cycling issues such as how much of the colour white to incorporate into your entire package.

That night we went and got some Thai takeaway from the Khmer Thai restaurant in town. This was unreal and we booked for Saturday night. We discussed the plan for Saturday and then hit the sack. It was a long day!

Saturday morning we went exploring out the backside of the course and recced the long flat and the super steep climb. I also took the opportunity to check out some of the singletrack in the back 37km of the 87km race. Race registration was sorted and bottles for the next day were dropped off. Then it was back to the motel for a one hour afternoon snooze.

That night we caught up with Anthony Shippard and Wayne Dicksinson for dinner. Dinner is always a great time to recount tales from the recce, previous races, future races, other racer’s form, embellish or play down one’s own form and othwerwise just talk some absolute random shit.

Paradise City, the Brisbane Guns n Roses tribute band was playing at the Booval Sports Club, and it was seriously tempting to go and see this act. The only issue is that they probably would not have started the set until 9pm. And we had a race the next day….However, they do the 1987 to 1993 era of Guns n Roses, which arguably was the best. Whilst Axl had matured as a songwriter for Chinese Democracy, it was not the same without Slash, Duff, Adler\Sorum and Izzy.

Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty

So, because we were in Ipswich, we did the next best thing before bed time, which was cutting laps around town in Shippard’s SUV. He had hired a Mitsubishi Outlander, which had almost stalled going up the Gateway bridge due to its absolute lack of power. Finally he figured out that the vehicle had ‘sports mode’ and he then utilised the paddle shifters to manually get the car to red line and actually get up to speed. Fun times were had taking on other local SUVs at the lights and drag racing them to the next set of red lights. Way too much fun on the eve of a race.

Shippard could probably be a racing car driver if he wasn't driving a gutless SUV

It seriously was....

The morning of the race it was super foggy. It almost even got cold, getting down to 9 degrees on the drive out. However, that fog soon lifted and we were on the start line at 7:50 for a 8:00am start. That is pretty civilised. Most race starts are at 7:00am, so this was an absolute luxury.

Everyone was talking, Blairy was assisting Robbie McEwen with his camelbak, media were taking photos, the HR was just buzzing with anticipation on the start line. The countdown came and we were off.

It was a pretty mellow pace. Justin Morris (Team Novo Nordisk) and Robbie McEwen (Orica-Greenedge DS) , the two token roadies at this race were doing the pacemaking early on, just keeping us moving at a nice pace on the open fireroad. There was 5km of fireroad prior to the first climb, which also happened to be singletrack. Shortly before the steep descent, I went around them both and upped the pace slightly so as to get a cleanish clear run down the hill. A few others had the same idea, and the race was properly on.

The flat valley area allowed the group to swell up again, and when certain people you don’t know start moving up…. Well, things get twitchy and the pace lifts again. That and the fact that the singletrack was coming up. This was the first little heart starter and rose about 100 metres straight up the side of a mountain past checkpoint 3. Over the other side, it was across some grass before getting into the funner part of downhill singletrack. Andy Blair (Swell Specialized) had dropped his chain here and lost a few spots at this stage.

We then lost all of the elevation in a wild ride down a dusty double track through farm lands and then spilled out onto the first bit of bitumen. 8 of us here, Shippard stated “that’s the first selection then”.

As the pace here was pretty chilled in order to get a drink and a gel a few more riders got back on. From here we climbed another 100 metres up another hillside that had some really interesting gravel points just thrown in for fun I am assuming. At this point, Adrian Jackson was climbing about 10 metres in front looking strong. As I was on Jason English’s wheel 8 riders down, it was pretty apparent that some team tactics were being played out between the Merida team mates.

After the traverse around the mountain, we descended this sketchy fireroad. Shippard somehow managed to hit a rut and catapult himself out at 45 degrees into the side of the hill at the base of a large gum tree AND managed to ride it all out as if nothing had happened. Luckiest SOB ever! The run out to this descent was a sweet fast flowing open farm road which we hammered along at 45-50km/hr and we all spilled out onto the bitumen shortly thereafter for a drink, a gel and a natural break for those that needed it.

It wasn’t even an hour in and we had covered over 25 kilometres. That was awesome. However, it also spoke volumes as to what was coming up as the race winning time always tends to be around 4 hours. As we went through the first feed zone, the pace was getting a little too slow. My heart rate was about 130bpm, so when I came rolling through to the front, I just upped the pace about 10% and when I checked behind, no one was following. So I just rode off. I didn’t go super deep, but kept it just beneath threshold and opened up about a gap of 30-40 seconds on the group. I had thought about this the night before after doing the recce.

I was only doing it so I could climb up slowly and minimise losses

My plan was….if it unfolded….to get a gap to the base of the steep climb up Sunset Boulevard, then do the 15-20 % gradients at my own slow chugger pace. Hopefully I would get up the climb and not lose too much time. It worked. I got to the gate prior to the 2nd part of the climb and then just managed my losses. At the top, I had Justin Morris in sight and caught back up to him, and then we soon picked up Shippard who had thrown a chain.

That's how steep the climb was..... stem was thoroughly chewed

Rounding one corner, we came across a herd of cows. Big buggers they were too. They were on our right on the high side of the hill and you could tell that because of the direction and the way that they were moving, that they wanted to run on the trail in front of us. So being 1000kgs each, we let them do just that. One of them got the crazy eyes and chucked in a desperation move off the left side of the trail, which went straight down the fall line. He was running straight down the hills dodging trees on a 30% gradient. Amazing. The other 10 cows were slowing us down running in the middle of the trail. I yelled out ‘track please’ and they finally got it and moved left upside the hill. True Story.

After the bovine incident, we were back on it. This included some super steep pinch climbs as well as one of the steepest and sketchiest ‘doubletrack’ descents I have ever done. I got to the bottom of this climb and could smell someone’s rear brakes absolutely cooked.

Then it was through the creek bed and up a crazy steep rocky loose climb. This then made its way along a rocky singletrack traverse before coming out at Checkpoint 3. At this stage we were only half way through the 87km and I was looking forward to the run to the start finish transition where my esky filled with ice and cold drinks awaited me.

We had lost Morris with a double flat in the singletrack prior, and Shippard and I started hammering the sinuous singletrack. My chain dropped off and got caught between the chain ring and the frame underneath the front derailleur, and it took a fair while to get this sorted. I lost contact with Shippard at this point, but could see him up ahead with Shaun Lewis who due to the team dynamics was getting a nice tow in the vortex. I looked across to some trees in the paddocks, and noted that the camels were there.

The day was heating up a fair bit, and his was soon made evident to me climbing the last bit of singletrack up to the transition point with Nigel James. Yep, the good old cramp in the leg. I quickly downed the rest of my electrolyte drink which made them go away, but the 30+ degree temperatures forecasted were here, and the Garmin said 40 degrees riding up that climb.

I followed Nigel through transition and stopped at my esky and grabbed two chilled bottles. These were to last me 30km until the final checkpoint where I could get some nice sun-warmed electrolyte drink.

The next bits of singletrack were absolutely fantastic, and even in a deranged, fatigued, dehydrated state, I could enjoy every metre of them. If you are a trail builder, you should do yourself a favour and get up here to see what a good trail rides and feels like.

What was slightly amusing was the magpies. To them, we were merely sport, and when cruising the open trails, they were more than happy to bomb us and snap us. It was good because it kept the focus tight. The 30 km were gone in an amazingly quick time, and the time was taken to manage energy outputs with regard to fluid and electrolyte intake.
With 2050 entrants, the magpies would sleep well that night

Heading up the twisty, rocky, switchbacks at the 78km mark, I noticed the green Attaqeur outfit that Shippard was wearing. It is a little known fact that this outfit was inspired by the Versace dress worn by Jennifer Lopez. Shippard even had the zipper fully open to simulate the navel shot that J. Lo rocked. Unfortunately, for Shippard, he was done for the day, beaten by the heat rather than by lack of form. He was flying early on.

OK, this is not what Shippard looked like, but his outfit was eerily similar in colour.

At the checkpoint I grabbed two warm bottles of electrolyte drink and sculled a truckload. Right then. Nigel had bolted, but with an extra 250mL of fluid and salts in me, I was ready to race the last 20 minutes or so. I quickly caught up to Nigel in the singletrack and we weaved in and out of the backmarkers of the 50km pursuit and 87km epic riders who were probably in for a rather long day. At this point of the race, you are just emptying the tank and a lot of it is probably running on the smell of the fumes of the adrenalin.

It feels like you are flying and is an amazing feeling. You are seeing the track and hitting all of the lines. In all reality, you are probably going pretty slow and are just so cross eyed that it is making all of your sensations totally amplified ---- or it is somewhere in between.

As we were going across the grassy plains, we picked up a passenger. Not sure what race he was in, but he must have been an OK guy, because he was on a Cannondale and riding out of the LifeCycles shop in Brisbane that the Stockwell family used to own. Not sure if they still do or not. We had actually passed him back near the barns way back up after a grassy descent.

Just prior to the last singletrack climb he got the holeshot to the skinny trail and led us up the climb. I was on Nigel’s wheel, and he was on Mr Lifecycle’s wheel. We must have overtaken close to 20 people up this last section. I saw Kylie yelling encouragement to us all as well as trying to direct some traffic for our clear egress through this vital section. When we came out onto the fireroad I knew that we were almost done. Mr Lifecycle pulled off to the left, I gave him the thumbs up for his assistance and got into Nigel’s slipstream. I got around Nigel just prior to the last bit of ragged singletrack and crossed the line after 4 hours and 14 minutes in the sweltering heat, which was good enough for 6th place.

Top ten results

I was stoked to see Kylie at the end, and provided Mike Blewitt from marathonmtb.com with a quick interview before jumping into the swimming pool with all my gear on, helmet and glasses included, to cool down. You simply can not beat a race that has a swimming pool at the finish line!! Race promoters, please take note!

Stating the obvious is sometimes the best policy

We found out shortly thereafter that Kylie had taken the victory in the 50km race, which was sensational for her. She also battled the heat and was extremely fortunate to have Dave http://dave-livingthedream.blogspot.com.au/ help her through the last bits providing advice as to what was coming up whilst she was seeing stars!! Only a little bit dehydrated! Cheers Dave!

So, all in all another great life experience on the books. This event is pretty hard to top. It is definitely the best event that I have been to from an atmosphere and logistical point of view. The awesome trails were just icing on the cake. The promoters managed to put on a superb event for a record 2050 competitors. That is just amazing!

For this event, I chose to race the Cannondale F29 hardtail. With 2500 vertical metres, a light bike will always help me. I can pick lines through the rocks pretty well in singletrack and the way I see it…. It’s going to hurt the next day anyway regardless of what bike you are on. The hardtail is my only MTB and I like it.
I seriously love my Cannondale F29er. Perfect geometry with F1 technology

I’m still running SRAM XX. I like and need the super low gears that the 2 x 10 range affords. However, with a few front chainring drop issues that I have had at crucial time at races this year, I am definitely considering going to SRAM XX1 for next year. I’ve just got to sort the gear ratios for the specific courses.

My Sugoi RS PRO jersey was pretty amazing in the heat. It did end up covered in salt crystals as I sweat like a mofo, but due to the awesomely placed mesh inserts I wasn’t overly hot or bothered. It’s amazing what the technology is capable of in these garments.

So today, it’s 11 degrees and raining back in Paradise City. A stark contrast to yesterday’s 35+ and beautiful QLD sun.

Up next…..bike clean and rebuild in time for this weekend’s Kowalski Classic at Kowen and Sparrow Hill.