The weekend started with one of these
On Tuesday night I was fortunate to visit Anthony Shippard in Bosstown to see Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators and their support act, Steel Panther. I drove up with Grant Johnston Tuesday lunchtime and we drove back to 2602 on the Wednesday morning in time to clock in for work. These are some of the sacrifices that have to be made in order to enjoy life to the fullest some times. The concert was absolutely brilliant and I have to thank Peta for giving Shippard and I such great birthday presents! Our birthdays are a couple of weeks apart which is pretty much totally irrelevent, but sets the scene for why we got the tickets. In #pro form we rode to the Hordern Pavilion. SHippard had lent me Briony's beautiful Cannondale Flash 26er hardtail ( ergo: brand appropriate) whilst Grant rode Black Beauty the commuter and Ships rode a pink step through beach cruiser which underpins his panache on the bike in general.
At the concert we openly considered the fact that we may have not had enough tattoos between us for this concert. I think we had 1 tattoo between the 3 of us. However Grant did wear snakeskin boots and we figured he knew what he was doing because he had seen Guns n Roses in 1993 at eastern Creek with 90,000 other bogans and was seeing the Foo Fighters on the following saturday night in Melbourne. Yes, he is a total rock groupie.
Slash goes for it on the Paradise City double time section
My highlights from the concert would be the solo that Slash did during 'Rocket Queen' and the Steel Panther classic '17 Girls in a Row'. I am also going to give a supplementary commendation to Slash for doing 'Double Talking Jive' and Steel Panther for premiering '10 Strikes You're Out' for the first time ever in concert!
Steel Panther got 17 girls up on stage during one of their songs!
One of the highlights of the trip home with Grant was him figuring out how to use the 'how much fuel left' function on his new car. Even better was the fact that we had 13km to go to empty. Totally winged it to a petrol station!!
So anyway.....I drove down to Nowra on Friday after getting a new set of rear tyres for the car, which I got fitted that morning. The guy that fitted them also has the same car that I do so we chatted about car stuff and I pretended to know what I was talking about. Look, honestly, I just use the car to get from A to B and don't really know what sort of mileage it gets on a full tank. I do know that the premium unleaded fuel makes the car 'feel' better when I give it some off at the lights but by how much, I cannot really quantify.
I took the short cut route down to Nowra via Braidwood and snuck down Nerriga Road which has a little bit of gravel road but the twisting section through the sandstone outcrops are worth it. In 2 hours I was down at event HQ and got the bike out and went for a spin around the first 30km of trail. Due to some recent rain, the trails were moist in places and the puddles were quite large. It is common folklore that this area is actually below seawater, and therefore being quite close the ocean, the tides influence how deep the puddles are depending on the phase of the moon and the tides. I'm not 100% sure how real those tales are, but the puddles were deep. I got to one of them and truth be told, it may have been a creek as I could not see anyway around it. There was a dude on the other side and he old me that he had just crossed it and taken his shoes and socks off so that he could get across with dry shoes. Fair call I thought as I waded knee deep across the clear water body.
Pretty cool rock formations
I got registration sorted and caught up with Ben Read who had sent me a text message asking where the event HQ quarters was. I asked him if he had the rider's information booklet. He said that he had and that he didn't live in a particular suburb of Canberra, (yeah I don't know either). I then asked him if he had read page 1. He said that he had not. A yes, a trap for young players no doubt as page 1 did indeed state that there was a new event HQ for this version of The Husky100. Nice one Ben...
Race recce going well. Puddle shaped like Australia
After scouting the trails for a couple of hours, I went down to Huskisson to check in to my salubrious digs for the night, Another common misconception is that racing is always about staying in amazing locations, eating copious amounts of Thai food, and staying in 5 star lodgings. Again, because we're going into details, the motel doesn't really have to be all that much. I mean, all that I am doing there is cleaning my bike, shaving my legs, staring at the ceiling and waiting for the alarm to go off.
My sort of singletrack! \m/
When the alarm went off, I smashed some breakfast and got straight out to the event HQ in order to snag a parking spot close by. With that mission sorted I was super ready to get onto the start line. Unfortunately I had to wait about an hour and 20 minutes as I may have been quite enthusiastic to get there.
Finally at 7am we got underway. The start was so beautiful. A downhill gradient for about a kilometre made things start off incredibly easy.The track had dried just a little bit from the day before but I knew what was coming up so I positioned myself at the front of the bunch and got ready for the puddle sections. It was probably best to be at or near the front for these as it made it easier to see where to go. Some of the puddles might be only 3 cm deep, others might be 50cm deep, and like buying fruit, it can be a bit of a lottery as to what you will get.
I'll dot point the exciting things that happened:
- Dan McNamara hits a sandy spot and bins it
- I ease up a bit so that he can get back on. He brings across another dude with him. He is saying that he busted his bidon cage and lost the bottle
- We roll through transition at 18km and I grab 2 fresh bottles to last me until the 73km mark
- It is probably 90% humidity right now
- At the 30km mark we come across some people moving the bunting and saying that they are "going to close us down" and that "you'll probably be the winners" - - we are a little perplexed by this but the arrows are still there so we keep on racing
- At the 50km mark Dan says that he has 57km on his computer.
- Dan notices that the other rider is lagging on the steep techy climb
- Dan decides to channel his inner MC Hammer and gives it some 'Hammer Time' (TM)
- We drop the other rider and keep motoring on
- Dan gets cramps due to lack of electrolytes, fluid and 90% humidity due to lost bottle
- I head off in search of my next feedzone which is 20km away - I too am running low on fluids
- Turn right at the 65km mark and go through this amazing bit of rainforest which made me feel as though I was in the wild forest of Borneo or somewhere crazy like that
- Spy a couple of dropped bottles on a bit of track we are going back over. Very tempted
- Make it to feedzone with Tristan Ward, who is 1st place in the 50km race
- Grab fresh bottles and more gels. Head out for 2 laps of the short last section
- Tristan and I pretend that it is Tuesday night and we are racing dirt crits at Stromlo getting our two wheel drift on through the sandy singletrack of Coondoo. Except that I don't use my elbows on him this time!
- Tristan hits the wall with 3 km to go and lets me through
- I have got to hustle another 15km or so.....so basically just emptying the tank
- Start to dream about an icy cold coke that is waiting in the esky for me
- Have an unplanned front wheel drift to footplant to hope that noone saw that maneuvre
- Finish off the final loop and cross the line in 1st place. Really, really happy with this!!!
Ok now for some stats
- Litres of Sukkie drink drank: 5
- Number of Pro4mance energy gels consumed: 13
- Time racing: 4 hours 36 minutes 22 seconds
- Humidity: 90%
- Number of drifts: 243
- Litres of coke smashed post race: 1
- Number of big macs hoovered post race: 2
Bike was happy after I took it to the carwash. Number 1 plate for winning the previous edition. 1st place trophy for winning this edition. Very pleased!!
After the race I headed off down to Callala Bay to jump in the ocean and soak the legs and clean up. Whilst in the water I reflected on the Husky 100.....This race does suck you in a little bit. You think of it as being flattish, fast and somehow 'fun'. It is probably the allure of racing near the beach that does it. When you are at the 55km mark do you realise how hard this race actually is. Due to the damp conditions it requires more power output and due to the humidity and heat it takes a lot more out of you than you think.
This is so much more apparent the next day. On Sunday I had 6 double espressos and was quite content lying in bed drinking electrolyte fluids until 2:30pm!!! Yes, the Husky 100 smashed me once again. The last time I did it I drove home then jumped on a jet to London 2 hours after getting home. At least last night I got to chill out a bit and wind down watching crappy TV!
If in doubt.....affogato
Next up - Capital Punishment on Saturday the 7th of March