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Buxton Bootcamp VES Finale

** This is the final entry in the set of blog posts about the “Victorian Enduro Series” :

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Last weekend, I competed in the final round of the Victorian Enduro Series, with the Big Hill Events gang hosting the race at Buxton, not far from Marysville.

I have fond memories of Buxton, from a high school friend who’s family owned a bush property near Buxton – and we had many awesome ‘gone bush’ weekends all through high-school and early 20’s days…

The trails in Buxton are well-regarded and highly recommended – I’d ridden there once a few years ago – and remember some great flowing sections.  This was only my first mountain bike (Giant Alias) – so I’ve come a long way since then.

The VES series has been a great intro to 6-hour racing (for me) – I’ve competed in all but ONE event, with the “Beaconsfield Rockhop” being held while we were on our family holiday in Fiji – gee, damn !

It’s been fun to track the results through the year – and I’ve seen a few familiar names on the list, and chatted to lots of people.

Race Day

The forecast for Sunday was looking a little rainy, Saturday was certainly very damp – and I’d been struggling a little with some Post-Holiday-Blues (back to work after 2.5 weeks off) – AND – I’d struggled on a road ride hill climb ride a few days earlier.

So my confidence + state of mind, and ‘form’ was a little OFF before I began – not good.

:-(

Anyways, I loaded up the car and headed up early on Sunday morning – and arrived around 8am – and set myself up – and had some time to sit & relax – and chat to other racers.   And – I took a few Instagram videos – check them out here…

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And – it was an amazing blue sky day – no rain !

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Somehow, I twinged my lower back getting setup, or had slept awkwardly – and it was a bit sore – which wouldn’t bode well for the race ahead – sigh…

I made sure to eat a few things (PB sandwich) and some hydration – and a quick disprin to help dull the sore back.

The race setup was brilliant, with a coffee truck (in an old horse float trailer !) – and a great P.A. and music setup – and lots of friendly banter from the Big Hill Events crew.

I chatted to a few buddies – Corey, and Tom – who was my rival for the race – he’d leap-frogged me in the standings, after the ‘Rock Hop’ race.

We’re both on the ‘having a go’ end of things – nice bloke – and we chatted at the starting line – waiting for 10am to roll around.

After a fun & informative pre-race briefing, we were off !

Race Start

I had a “thought in mind” to be a little more ‘race’ thinking for the day – rather than just a cruise ride – and so I took off at a quicker pace – not flat-out – but didn’t want to dawdle along.

The riders first headed up the fireroad – and then into the singletrack at the main entrance – and the field spread out and re-bunched-up again.

The singletrack at Buxton is just great – I was pushing along nicely – with a little bit of a sore back – but not too bad.

I remember having an annoying song in my head – the new DaftPunk song “Get Funky” must have been playing on the PA – and so I kept hearing “we’re up all night to get funky”…    Gggrrr…!    (LOL !)

I made sure to change the words in my head to be “we came out here to go racing” – and gave myself a mental push-along if the song came into my head.

First Lap

The first lap was a combined route for teams+solo’s – with subsequent laps splitting the solo riders onto a longer course.  For now, it was a 12 km first loop back to transition.

Did I mention that the trails are awesome ?!   There are some great flowing sections – and I could feel myself grinning – and talking to other riders.

“This is just magic” – and “how good is this !?”

And the Big Hill guys had some fun in store – with a sign mentioning “ducks ahead” – and “whale spotting” – before a creek with a few inflatable pool toys – ha ha !

There was a bit of climbing – but nothing too massive – perhaps 4-5 short pinchy sections – but then big sections of flowing downhill – fairly steep in parts – and lots of berms.

And then we came to ‘Spider Gully’ – this has to be one of THE best segments of trail I’ve ever ridden – by far.

With a flowdown through some fern trees – and then swooping down a gully – and a berm at the top again – and swoop down again.

I actually said out loud “waahoo !!” like I was on a roller coaster – yep, this was great !

I lost count of the number of BERMS along the trail – there has been a lot of work done with the local clubs and forest group – kudos !

Towards the end of the loop, there was a DH style section of MASSIVE berms, reminding me of some segments of the CopperHead trail at Mt.Buller.

Swooping & flowing down – and into transition – ONE lap done…!

The timing table was via a ride through the marquee/tent – watch your head !   I said to the guys at the desk “these trails are fvcken awesome !”   They LOL’ed and said “we know !!”

Lap Two

I pit-stopped quickly – just a few orange 1/4’s – and then rolled out – keen to keep up the momentum of riding – and have a blast on the awesome trails.

This time, there was a marshall waiting to split the field into the solo loop – and so I was off riding a section that I hadn’t done yet.   This was fairly slow and windy – not much chance to build up any momentum, and a lot more climbing.

The solo lap was 15km in length – with ~300m of climbing – not easy, but not too tough, I guess…

I was enjoying pushing myself – and the great sections of trails, when I went to grind up a short incline – and had a little cramp in one leg.    Dammit !

I scoffed some of my drink bottle – and stretched it out – and it eased off – and I kept riding.  My back was still a little sore – but just “there” – nothing too bad.

The extra few KM’s felt a fair bit longer, and so it was almost 12pm (two hour mark) when I got back to the transition area.

I ate a few pieces of cake – and a gel – and a quick Red Bull – and changed out my drink bottle.   I was feeling full & refreshed (to some degree).

Lap Three

This is where things started to go pear shaped – and my race turned from “these trails are awesome” – to – “I don’t like MTB’ing anymore”.

For a start, my cramping leg returned – in both legs – and I actually had to jump off the bike and stretch out – cursing myself…

I’ve had cramping in the past, but had figured out the cause for the most part – with some additional fluid and hydration in the days prior – as well as some longer training rides and practice.

I’d had neither of these before the race – and carrying a few extra kg’s from the buffet in Fiji – and a laissez-faire attitude – AND – I’d been pushing hard.

FAIL, Wookie, FAIL.

The rest of my 3rd lap was tough – had to stop 3-4 times to stretch out my leg when climbing, but great fun when zooming down the flowing sections of the trail.

Pit Stop –> Rest Stop

When I got back to transition, it was about 1.30pm – over half way through the race – and I’d missed the start of the 3 hour race – they were out on track somewhere.

I was suffering from a fairly sore back – and some cramping memories – and I almost pulled the pin then-and-there.

Feeling rather demoralised, and berating myself – I figured I’d take an extended break – and eased down into my deck chair – and my body gave a big sigh as I sat down.

I even made a quick call to my wife, needing some words of encouragement – body & mind were both lacking.

After about 15 mins, I decided I’d ride on – hopefully another two laps – but certainly one more lap.   I’d only done 45km by then – just ticked over 1000m of climbing.

In hindsight, my body was saying to stop – but my brain (ego ?) was saying to keep going – and suffer out the last few hours.

So – I headed out for one more lap.

4th Lap

This was a real struggle, with back pain meaning it was hurting to stand up fully straight – and frequent leg cramps, meaning that I was pretty much in granny-gear for all the hills – and had to stop a bunch of times.

I was getting a little irate & frustrated – at myself – just having to ‘will’ myself onwards to get to the finish.

I’ve never been happier to cross the finish line !

There was no way I was going out for another lap – was 5hr 30mins – and another 15km lap would take me another 1.5 hrs I reckon.

I was done – sore & irritable – and very disappointed.

I checked the race results board – as I tucked into a burger (thanks to Buxton Primary for the BBQ) – and saw that my buddy Tom must have passed me along the way.

Perhaps when I was in a rest stop – or stopped for a cramp break…?

He’d done 4 laps about 10 mins ahead of me – and I assumed he was out for a 5th lap – nice work – but I was a bit miffed that I couldn’t give a bigger fight.

What’s the big deal ?

As I was packing up my table & loading the car, I was thinking to myself “why are you being such an idiot” – and to stop beating myself over the head.

Did I go on the attack too early ?   Maybe I was charging ahead too quickly, rather than pace myself for a longer ride.

I’m pretty certain my lack-of-hydration caused a fair amount of the cramping – next time, make sure to drink lots in the DAYS before the race.   I’d been back at work – and wasn’t in the mode of ‘pre-race’ drinking.

Anyways, I’d completed 60km – even with being fairly out-of-practice – and pushed myself waaay beyond the pain barrier – I should be a little bit pleased with myself…(!)

And – I’d gotten to ride some awesome trails – and a good day out – and amazing sunny weather.

Oh well – I guess it’s the first time I’ve felt a “low” after a race – maybe I had assumed I would do better – rather than just go for a ride day – like I’ve done in the past.

Have I become too self-competitive ?    And set a ‘bar’ for myself ?

Final Results

After all is said and done – the numbers speak fairly highly of my efforts.

63.5 km – with an average speed of 13.1 km/h.

It looks like I’d only been held up for 40mins while having a break – and/or stopping while out on the trail – and I’d ridden for 4hrs 50mins – and a suffer score of 331 !

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OK – that’s kinda good !

AND – even though my buddy Tom had beaten me on the day – I still finished the race in 14th place – out of 18 riders.    (Poor ol’ David – took 7 hours to do 4 laps !)

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You can see the lap times – with the flying 1st lap – and then a slower 2nd lap – with the extended solo loop.

And then the tougher 3rd lap was a fair bit slower – and then almost two hours for the 4th lap (included the rest stop for 15-20 mins).

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Oh well – live and learn – some good days, some bad days.

It was still probably a 6/10 as far as races go – and it was the finale too…!

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On to the series standing…

Unfortunately, I’d missed the 6th event – which was worth 1.5x points – I probably could have placed higher.

In the end – I scored 78 points for the series – which is less than a single WIN – as you can see from a few lads in front of me.

If I’d done the 6th race (if only !) – then I might have finished in the top ten (!!).   There had only been 11 riders – so a last place would’ve been 30 points !

Aaaah – stop it, wookie !

Thinking back to the end of last year, I had a thought in mind that it would be amazing to “finish in the top 20 for 40+ men” – and I did it !

16th place – out of 88 riders – that’s the top 20%…

That’s kinda awesome !    (yep – I’m trying to tell “myself” – not you)…

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Break-down of Results

Interesting to look at the season “as a whole” – at the different events – and a link to the blog post for each race.    NB.  I’d missed round #6…

Event Placing Points Distance Climbing
1 – You Yangs 30th / 39 5 96.1km 833m
2 – Mt Beauty 10th / 11 33 56.0km 1601m
3 – Albury 26th / 31 5 70.9km 1594m
4 – Blores Hill 23rd / 35 8 94.3km 1331m
5 – Ballarat 16th / 20 15 76.0km 1947m
6 – Beaconsfield
7 – Buxton 14th / 19 17 63.5km 1371m
FINAL RESULTS 16th / 88 78
(top 5 results)
456.8km 8677m

I guess it’s ‘consistency’ in the end – as I was in the lower end of the field for most events – but did SIX races – and the points add up.

And – to have ridden 450km – and over 8500m of climbing is kinda amazing !

Only a little more, and it would be the equivalent of Mt.Everest (8848m).

Highlights + Memories

I have some key thoughts about each event :

  • You Yangs – technical troubles with brake handle, and then a puncture
  • Mt.Beauty – awesome weekend away – camping, new car, great scenery, and big hills.
  • Albury – was great to be with good riding buddies, and NailCan is just brutal.
  • Blores Hill – some great sections – I think this was my best result/performance for the season
  • Ballarat – felt like a golf cart loop – not much fun – good to have Dad to watch
  • Buxton – awesome trails, good fun riding, but not for 60km !

And – I’ve made lots of great friends along the way – with Kelvin, Corey, Steve, Tom, Will – and the Albury gang of Scott, Matt x 2, Tim, Anthony, Jen.

It’s been a great experience – good challenges and personal achievements.

Where to next ?

Well, I haven’t been out riding since the race – I’m actually needing some physio treatment – even 4 days after the race, I still have a very sore lower back.

I’m acknowledging that I need to change a few things :

  • Core strength – to assist with “preventing” back pain.
  • Do stretching exercises – and maybe a foam roller.
  • Train more on the bike, for longer periods – not just ‘get up and go’
  • Hydrate for days before a race ride – as well as during
  • Enjoy riding !    It’s supposed to be for fun, you idiot…!

As for next year, part of me is excited to ‘better’ my results – and I really *DID* enjoy some of the events through the year.

Another part of me is thinking “nah, been there, done that” – and to quit out of XC racing – and go back to ‘trail riding’ – ie. just for fun.   Maybe even sell my Specialized Epic – and go for a more ‘trail’ oriented bike…..

HHHmmmm.

I gotta think it over – no hurry – and gotta get my back sorted out and pain-free before that – and I’m not really in a positive frame of mind.

That could be part of the problem – I’m a grumpy old wookie – who’s sore from getting bitten by the bike he loves – that’s what hurts the most…     (LOL !)

All good – hopefully YOU are enjoying some great riding – as long as we get some decent weather, I’m looking forward to getting out again…

:-)

One Response

  1. 24hr Race :) Do it!!

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