The Convict 100km XCM has now been run, won, and done for the 10th straight year. When you stop and think about it, that is seriously quite impressive. One great thing about this race is that the course is exactly the same each year. Therefore it is quite appealing to be able to do the obligatory comparison from year to year to see if you have gone faster or not.
The race is pretty much a fireroad race. But with a twist. It has a truckload of rocky technical sections that pop up every now and then to mix things up.
I'm going to dot point this one for a change....There are quite a lot of things that happened in this race, and I am actually going to focus on the race itself in this instance
- 7:00am start turns into 7:05am start - no big deal.
- It is warmish
- On start line, Andy Blair is wearing an aero helmet. 2 minutes before the start he took his base layer off. Too warm. He then whispers into Shaun Lewis's ear....sweet nothings probably, but it is pretty apparent that he is going to attack early - you can just tell...
- Gun goes off, as do all of the Elites. Legs snap into motion. Blairy attacks after about 100 metres.
- He is brought back pretty quickly. I then counter attack. Pack is not keen to allow anyone off the front.
- I try and take off a couple more times. Joined by others at times. Pack says 'no'.
- Chris Jory does a flyer just before the base of the climb.
- Suck it up and sit in and position well for the climb....the 'Wall' with its 17% gradients.
- Hit base of climb in 2nd wheel. A few positions chop and change, but Jory is brought back, Cory Wallace leads the climb followed by Adrian Jackson, Andy Blair, Shaun Lewis, myself and Jason English in hot pursuit wheel to wheel.
- As we hit the KOM, Jason English exclaims that he is quite excited to have made it to the top with the front group. "First time ever" he says. His heavy breathing could probably earn him extra dollars on the side if he needed to supplement his income.
- Cresting the KOM, we just start rolling turns, pace kept high to keep those behind from getting on.
- Group of 7 working together then Andrew Hall and Glenn Columbine join.
- Andrew comes straight through and gets on the front and drives.
- Lewis cops a stick in the rear derailleur and grabs a handful of rear brake. Blair stops. Hall and jackson drive on the front keeping the pace high.
- It takes Blair and Lewis about 15 minutes to get back on. This was in a pretty quick section of the course, so they worked reasonably hard to get back on.
- We are now about an hour into the race....
- Blair loses his spare tube (I think) on a quick descent. It falls out of his velcro strap on his top tube. He fiddles with the straps to get them to stop flopping around.
- I squeeze on up between Jackson and Lewis, with Hall on the front. I then decide to do a sneaky ninja attack. Nothing agressive, just riding off slowly (yet swiftly) from the front of the group. To my amazement I get about 30 metres.
- Chris Jory then bridges across. When he gets on, I say to him "let's get this rolling" - so we just alternate turns on the front punctuated simply by a flick of the elbow.
- Somewhere along here I must have hit something with my rear tyre a little hard. I can't hold Chris's pace, look behind and see the bunch closing in, look down and see my rear tyre looking a little low - flaring out.
- Damn....decision time.
- I tell Andrew that I have a flat that I have to sort and to get himself up up to the front to get in the pack.
- English says that I should just attack off with Jory again. He does this occasionally. Nice work Yoda! I tell him that I have a slow leak that I have to sort it....he gets the memo, and chases back on to the front group.
- I stop, I am assuming the cut is through the tread as it is holding enough air to stop it bottoming, but not by much. The CO2 will probably blow straight through, so I grab the mini pump and jam a bunch of air in, hoping that the lower input pressure allows the stans to seal and hold a bit better.
- See you later pack.... insert sad face...
- Get going again....get a feel for what the tyre is doing....no sidewall stability - so cornering is a little povvo, but it has enough air to roll fast and not bottom out too much.
- Soon enough I find Oli and pass him through the first little rocky section.
- I then find Andrew Hall, in the 'singletrack' section. I ride on his wheel for a bit, but it's hard because I need to pick my own lines to protect my tyre. So I go past him.
- I'm still feeling good, but this will take a fair bit of effort.
- See Chris Jory at the 50km feed zone and he looks like he has seen a ghost. I find out later that he has had a bout off tachycardia and is getting his heart rate back down below 220bpm!
- At the base of the descent at the 67km mark, I see Jason English at the side of the track fixing a flat. Quick calculations put me into 5th on the road. I'll need a good 3 minute buffer over English though. He is a 'Closer' and can finish off a race better than most
- Grab a bottle, ride the canoe bridge, wave to the cameraman whilst on the bridge. Didn't even wobble. True story...
- ITT along bitumen road assuming the triathlon position. It's a pretty classy look....good for at least 40km/hr on the flat
- Climb the nice recently graded Webb's Creek Ridge Road and hustle hard.
- At about the 80km mark, English catches me back. Damn....We ride together alternating turns for about 15 minutes. Then he just attacks up a rise. The elastic snaps and have to let him go.
- Descent off the escarpment, farm road ITT into a strong block headwind.
- Creek crossing then emptying the tank to the finish.
- Cross the line in 6th place......for the 4th year in a row!!
- Nice work by Cory Wallace for taking the win, eh?
- A little bit of mixed emotions....I don't know if the 'on-paper' results would have been different, but it would have been nice for it to play out slightly differently. But, as they say, that is racing and there are never any do overs as St Albans.... and I didn't die wondering 'what if'....
next year maybe....
Up next: Alice Springs Mountain Bike Enduro Stage Race!!
Results on the day...
Real Insurance XCM Series...