One of my plans/goals for 2011 was to ‘up the ante’ with my Mountain Biking – and compete in a race event.
Last weekend, I completed the Nemesis Challenge Marathon event, held in Avoca – at the Mount Avoca winery – about an hour past Ballarat.
My Mum & Dad have a holiday house in Avoca, so I know the town well – we made a weekend of it, and loaded up the three kids, and dog – and headed up on Friday night.
On the Sunday, the weather was looking amazing – I was a little nervous, but so good to be a part of it all.
There were four race distances – 15km, 33km, 45km and 90km. The 15km was on a different circuit – just a cruise around the winery – so I chose the 33km distance.
I was number “207” for the race…>
The first part of the race was about an hour of steady climbing – up a winding forest trail – past the look-out and up to the top of Mt.Avoca.
I had my bike on the lowest cog (granny gear) – and just pedalled along at about 6-7 km/h. Slowly but surely – was a tough start to the ride (and only about 1/4 of the distance).
From there, the trail went into some singletrack, nice trails, a little bit of downhill, and back onto forest access roads.
I made a wrong turn at one point – or more precisely – I missed a turn off. Another bloke and I were chatting, and rode past a marshall point that had no ‘direction’ signs – just white lines sprayed onto the dirt. Another guy was ahead of us – so we just followed along.
When we got to a “Y” intersection – with zero signs – no arrows OR crosses – we had to back-track. And we met 8-10 guys coming the other way – who had also missed the turn off…!
When we made it to the food station, there were LOTS of grumpy riders – who made their point made to the organisers (!!)
Was a waste of about 10-15 minutes – about 2km in the wrong direction – and some head-scratching and working out which way to go – and then 2km backtrack.
The next part was very tricky – with a lot of uphill that I had to walk up (no-one could’ve ridden it – even a 4WD would’ve struggled) – and then over the hill – and it was the same DOWN hill. I had the back brake on ‘locked’ and kinda skidding down – and couldn’t really slow down ! I had to nearly jump off once or twice – tricky indeed !
When I finally reached the bottom of Mt.Avoca, my legs were shaking & cramping a little, from all the pedalling up-hill, as well as tensing up and shaking about when coming DOWN hill.
I saw a sign that said “5 km to go” – the final stretch…!
So I pushed a little harder, and was hurting a little more – thinking it must nearly be the finish. And then – I saw a sign that said “4 km to go”. Jeez !
Those last few kilometres were a bit of a blur, on auto-pilot almost – kinda lucky I didn’t zone out and fall off. Some last single-track, and then rode between the grape vines of Mt.Avoca winery – very cool.
I rolled across the finish line – and my wife & kids ran over to me – as I jumped off, and sat down on the ground – knackered !
In total, I’d ridden close to 37km – and the time was 3 hours 23 mins.
AND – I finished 11th in my category – stoked !! I’d hoped to “not be last” – and aimed to finish in the top 20 (hopefully) – out of 25-30 riders.
I’d been fairly nervous before the race, thinking that I was a bit of a weekend ‘hack’ rider – and hadn’t really practiced or trained – but there were lots of guys just like me – out for the fun of it.
p.s. The guy who finished FIRST in my grade took 2 hours 8 mins – a full 1 hour 15 mins ahead of me ! The guy in LAST was over 5 hours – yikes – and the last guy in the 90km event took over 9 hours – a full “work day” in the saddle. Doing it tough !!
So – all-in-all – an awesome event to be a part of, I was pretty proud of my achievement – to ‘finish’ – as well as to be placed in 11th – wow !
I used my iPhone to record the race route – click here to see it. Awesome view of the speed, altitude and map route – thanks EveryTrail…!
Here’s the height & speed graph :
The BLUE line is the gradient – up-and-up-and-up for the first hour – we climbed 500m in only 6 kilometres.
And the map of the route :
And – in the lower-left corner – you can see where I missed the turn-off and had to back-track.
Oh well – nevermind ! (I might have broken 3 hours otherwise – and finished 9th perhaps ?)
Thanks to my lovely wife for indulging me – letting me ? – enter a race event, I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last.
And thanks also to my big-black-bike – the Giant Alias didn’t skip a beat – no punctures, or mechanical troubles – and it took a beating…!
I’m still a little bit sore – about 48 hours after the end of the race – but feeling elated and have a great sense-of-achievement.
Now – I wonder what’s NEXT. he he…