MCES Round 1

With my pain subsided (rather quickly) after the Avoca Nemesis Marathon Challenge back in April – my 1st ever race event – I had a look around for my NEXT Mountain Biking day out + competition event.

I’d never ridden the forest trails at the Wombat State Forest – so I was keen to join up and participate in the Mountain Challenge Enduro Series (MCES) – with Round 1 being held at Wombat.

From reading on Rotorburn, it was looking like the event might not actually work out so well – with a date clash – same date as the Bendigo 6 hour – and only 10-12 people registered with a week or so to go.

But – I roped in a few other work friends – one guy who was a very experienced MTB’er – and three others who were new to the sport – and decided to have a competition (race) as their learning curve !    (LOL !)

We met at around 9am on a rainy & windy Sunday morning (winds blowing in from the Antarctic !) – and was good to see nearly 70 people there for the race.  

A few ‘classifications’ with pairs events – one at a time – and a solo, elite, womens and 40+.

I was just out for some fun – and to beat my time/distance from the previous race – so I let everyone stream off ahead and took up a place near the rear.

The first part of the circuit was a forest trail – to spread out the field – and then onto singletrack for the rest of the day – w00t !

Conditions were tricky – very slippery and muddy – we all ended up COATED in mud – and I had a few slips & falls – so had to take it fairly slowly.  

The trails would be amazing in dry conditions – with some great flowing trails – switchbacks and flow-downs – and a few fast sections, even in the wet/mud.

I completed TWO laps – and then met up with everyone at the cars for a chat – and some food – and to see how they went.   With the first lap only a 2/3 lap – because of the forest trail – I’d essentially done a 1.6666 lap – in about 90 minutes – about 18km all up.   (this is my normal Sunday ride distance – so was pushing ahead)

I headed out again, and lost track of my friends – and just got in the zone, and enjoyed the ride on my own.   Lots (LOTS) of mud – see the pictures below – but great riding.

My GIANT ALIAS was ticking along nicely – just some ‘grinding’ of dirt in the gears & brake pads – not surprising !

At the end of the third lap – nearly 30 km – I had a bit of cramp, and sat by the cars & chatting to my friends.  They were all done – and wanting to go home – but I was needing another lap – if only to beat my race distance “p.b.”

I shivered by the open fire for a bit – and warmed up – and had steam coming off my wet clothes !   OK – time to go – and took off for a last lap.   I was actually shivering a little at the start – it was really THAT cold.  

And – had mud on my glasses – and my water bottle – was kinda getting annoying !

All the marshalls were great support as riders were passing through – offering encourangement – and I stopped for a chat with a few of them.

The last few km’s were super tough – stopped a few times due to cramping – and just plain knackered.  Also – I had a very sore lower back – and tight neck – which is caused by riding the ‘wrong sized’ bike.

But – in the end – I finished the lap – and had completed 4 laps in total. 

Doesn’t sound like much – I’d done 40 km in 5.5 hours – but some seriously difficult riding – and cold/wet.   I was pretty proud of my achievement – a new Personal Best…!

Check out some of the photos below – and results – I came 10th !

The view of the car park + start/finish area


Beanie on – before the race – and popped in my pocket just before we started :


My buddy Christian – on a brand-new Avanti (bought it the day before)


Mud after only two laps – half way


Grabbing a sandwich, and checking in with the wife. 

“Yes, I’m alive – muddy & cold – but OK…!”


Having fun on the trail – for sure !


Results – finished in 10th – but a new ‘personal best’


Might have to book in for MCES Round 2 – on Sunday July 17th.

Who’s with me !!?!     



** Wrong sized bike – I have an XL size bike, which is stated for riders 6”1’ – 6”4’.  But, I’m only 5”11’ – and hence I’m noticing more back pain on longer rides – and a little hard to control at speed sometimes – like perched atop a Penny Farthing.

So – I’m considering a new bike – a few on my list to check/test :

  • Specialized Epic – race-style XC bike – sadly, a little out of my price range
  • Specialized StumpJumper – 140mm All Mountain – brilliant bike, but again – $$$
  • Specialized Camber – mid-way between the two – 120mm XC bike – and should be OK for price point.   Need to ride one to see – might even try a 29’er (!)
  • Trek Fuel EX 8 – great specs & good reviews – and on the money for my price range.  Need to ride it to see.
  • Giant Anthem – more affordable with end-of-2011 run-outs – XC style 100mm – like a cheaper version of the ‘Epic’
  • Giant Trance – again, much better value for money – akin to a StumpJumper or Camber – I like the look of this (on paper).

Realistically – I only have (up to) $2,500 to spend – and hopefully be able to sell off my old bike – and get a few bucks for it.

So – the shopping list – for test rides is :

  • Specialized Camber Elite – 26 or 29
  • Trek Fuel EX 8
  • Giant Trance X2  (and maybe try an Anthem X2)

Just have to see if I can get a run-out 2011 bike – and/or take advantage of the EOFYS sales on at the moment.

In the meantime – just going to replace pads on my GIANT ALIAS – and get out for some more fun on the trails – probably Lysterfield (again).

Let me know if you want to hit the dirt – ride hard, have fun & come home muddy !

Ride, rinse, repeat…



3 thoughts on “MCES Round 1

  1. Great write up Chris. Muddy rides are hard at the best of times and the cold sounds just plain old horrible, kudos for pushing though! Keep me posted on Rd 2, hopefully I can make it down.

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