When winter comes it can be pretty hard to get out on the bike. I love the bike and will always be addicted to the feeling that you get once you are out on the road or the trail and can think of nothing better to do. I also love racing my bike and obviously in order to make racing as easy as possible, it does pay to get out on the bike as much as you can and do what is needed.
BUT…..and there is always a but! When it is colder than normal, then it is hard mentally to get out the door. I do not do the windtrainer, so I have to always head outside. It’s not a problem as I am choosing to do that. But what can make it slightly easier is racing in order to get your ass on a bike!
In the last month this is what I have been up to...
Melbourne Cyclocross National Round 1 and 2: CX is booming in Australia and Melbourne hosted the first 2 rounds of the CX series. So, as I had a Cannondale SuperX at my disposal, I rolled on down to Melbourne and did something totally different. A one hour race requires a few things. A decent spot on the start grid never goes astray. I managed to get 45th spot on the start line. There were about 25 behind me.
Mucking around at Luna Park at St Kilda
It was a pretty decent field to be quite frank. 70 riders going mental into the first corner is a pretty cool thing to be a part of. An hour later and full of lactic acid, I had managed to move up to 17th place. That was as good as it was going to get with that volume of riders on the course! I was pretty happy with that in hindsight. I had never raced a CX race before, and only really ridden the bike about 3 times.
Thank god there wasn't a swim component
The next day at round 2 was a wicked little course that I really enjoyed. But, I had tyres that sucked big time in the greasy corners. Water and off camber grass are a handful at times that’s for sure! Anyway, I got through that one and finished around the same position once again. So, that was my introduction to the whole CX experience. The great thing was enjoying the cycling culture that Melbourne has to offer. It is totally different to anything that I have ever experienced, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Beach Road does actually lead to the beach!
Next up was the Albury 3 hour MTB race. Back on a familiar bike in my trusty Cannondale F29er, I ventured south-west to take on Nail Can Hill in a muddy 3 hour event. This course is pretty wicked and the singletrack in the wet was an absolute delight. For the most part there was superb grip in the wet as most of it is on a granitic base. There were also bits that were an absolute handful and the two wheel drift was employed at times to negotiate certain sections. Other sections I just employed the ‘force’ and closed my eyes and accelerated through bits as that is quite simply the best way to ride muddy sections!
3 hours on this course was thoroughly enjoyable and I had an absolute blast. The trails here played a big part of my enjoyment during this race. The choice of some tyres with some above average grip may have also played a small part! I managed to ride reasonably consistent and came away with the win which was quite pleasing.
The trails were wet but you could lean them pretty hard!
The next trip away was off to Wagga Wagga for their 3 hour race at Pomi Park. The last time I raced here was in 2008. And it was also a 3 hour race. I think that this course was about 98% singletrack. And it was seriously awesome singletrack. Like Albury, it was in a natural forest environment and these sort of trails absolutely rock! Way better than a sterile damp Pine Forest!
The start line for the Wagga 3 hour. Braving the cold with my best smile!
After a great battle early on with Daniel Beresford, I was able to keep my pace up and hit up 9 laps of this superb course. I took the win in the bike race and ultimately the win in the enjoyment race also here. Seriously awesome stuff!
This course at Wagga could be raced full gas everywhere!
Yesterday I raced the 3 Ring Circus at Wingello. All indications were good but, 10 to 15 minutes into the race I had an asthma attack. That put a halt on things pretty quickly. After being in the group quite comfortably I had to suck it up and just back off to granny gear for an hour and a half to calm everything down. Once the air got a little warmer and more humid I was able to ramp it up a little bit, but the day was over from early on. 12th place for me here, but health had to come first – plus it’s not like I could have pushed any harder for those 90 minutes – it was like breathing through a straw!!
So that is the executive summary of the last month or so. I’ve just used the racing to sort my intensity training during the week and really enjoyed every minute of it. Sometimes that is how it works out the best.
A wheelie after finishing the Albury 3 hour race sums things up!
Check out that beautiful ribbon of singletrack. Wheelies during the race indicate how much fun is being had!