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…