Last weekend, about 1,000 mountain bike riders descended upon the Cammeray Waters Bushland Conference & Event Centre near Woodend, for the return of the “Wombat100” race.
This was my 4th race event (although one event I was a DNS – with a bad back).
The previous races were 33km and a 5-hour lap style, where I did ~40km.
But – I’ve been riding lots more lately, and so I chose to (ambitiously) sign-up for the 100km event. At the time, this was over DOUBLE the distance I’d ever ridden my MTB.
I began some training rides – from home, to Lysterfield, and then home again – with a 40km, 50km and 60 km rides in the month leading up to Wombat100.
I figured I could ride 60km – in about 4.5 hours – so I should be OK for 100km – right ?
The day before the race (Saturday), I loaded up the Festiva, and drove over to Woodend – about 1.5 hours drive from my house.
I’d booked a tent for the night (only $10 !) – and so I pumped up the lilo, and then sat to relax with a magazine, and a beer – noice ! (I don’t get out much, eh ??)
I chatted to a few other riders, including one guy who I nicknamed “The Underestimator” – who hadn’t done much MTB’ing – but figured he’d ride quick up the hills, but not so fast coming down – and aim for 4-5 hours. WTF ?!
We headed out together – to explore the trails that we’d be starting on. Quick 15-20 mins or so, and we turned around – and then Scott had a flat ! He runs tubeless – so it was actually a punctured TYRE – in the tyre wall. No tubes, so it was a walk of ~20 mins or more back to the event centre.
Next up was dinner – and then some prep for the morning – hydro packs & water bottles, packs of gels, and chews – and LOL’ing at Scott’s ‘foam roller’ device.
And – the lads suggested I put my lilo on the floor of their hotel room – rather than sleep in the tent – which was great – as it pissed down rain overnight….!
Race day !
A wake-up alarm at 5.45am – and quick shower, brekky of muesli & honey – and a “V” drink – and I was ready.
The event centre P/A kicked off at 6am with a trumpet wake-up call – following by Queen’s “I Want To Ride My Bicycle” – LOL !
I had a self-goal of about 7.5 hours for the race – thinking I’d be happy to average 12-15 km/h – that was about all I could predict…!
We all lined up – said hello to a few other ppl – and good luck’ed each other – and I took off about 7.15am.
The first section of the ride was along some fire trails & wider+open tracks – with a fairly quick pace. I’d set my Garmin to show average speed in big numbers – and duration – as well as distance and heart rate.
After the first hour – I’d completed 16km – which was above the average speed I’d been hoping for – but then it was onto the singletrack, which is slower & more technical – but much more fun !
A quick gel (one-per-45 mins or so – or one per hour – was the plan).
Missed a turn into the pine forest, when I blindly followed a few other riders, so had to back-track about 1/2 km or so. Lucky I checked – as it was some very VERY cool trails through the pine forest – so nice !
Was a little wet & slippery – and had a minor fall sideways when my front wheel slipped on a wet tree root – oops !
I coulda sworn I was in a Canadian forest trail (B.C. / Whistler) – awesome trails !
Passed a few other riders – hey, it’s Mr.Underestimator ! He says to me that “the technical stuff is slowing me down more than I’d thought” – this was at the 24 km mark. As we rode on together, he crashes right in front of me, riding over a gully lip – and the bike wheelies up – and he lands on his back. (going to be a long day for him)
Another few riders ahead, with one guy crashed on the ground – wincing in pain, holding his knee and gently walking about. I called out if they’re OK – “yes, but can you tell people ahead”.
Rolled into the first food zone (28km) – and told the medico’s to go check on “the big guy with the beard”. They headed off, and missed him, as he rode up to the food stall – what a champion… (He asked to have the gash on his leg checked – and grabbed a drink).
I had a banana, cup of coke – and re-filled my water packpack. Another gel – and rode off.
The “Wombat trail” singletrack was awesome – I remembered some trails from when I’d done the MCES in June 2011 – and was having a good time.
Two hour mark – and I’d done 30km in total. That’s about 15km an hour – great…!
Not long after though, that all changed…
That slow-mo crashing feeling
Some nice flowing trails, and a sign for an “obstacle ahead” – a raised bridge that looks very green – and thus very slippery. So – I take the B-line around to the left.
As the trails converged after the obstacle, I looked back over my right shoulder as I heard another rider coming – and inadvertently must have turned a little to the right.
I looked forward again, and there was a TREE in my way ! I hit the tree with my handlebar, or maybe clipped with the front wheel – either way, I was ejected up-and-over the handlebars – and landed heavily on the trail.
OUCH – dammit – oh well – let’s keep going…
As I picked up my bike, I first thought my handlebars were a little mis-aligned – but then realised that I’d buckled my wheel pretty badly. SHIT !
(and said a few other worse words – thinking that my race would be over).
I scratched my head – should I back-track – or walk on to the next marshall point ?
I can’t believe my race is over – I’m not going to finish it – only 35km done ! FAIL !
Another rider asked “are you OK ? oooooh – bad buckle – can you turn it ??”
I tried pushing the bike forward – and the tyre was rubbing on the forks – so I laid the bike down, and starting BENDING the wheel (I figured it was already bent !)
It was rubbing on the left fork – so I pushed it to the right – and then it rubbed on the right fork – jjjeeezzzz….!
I bent it back as best as I could, and starting riding – “blrrp, blrrp, blrrp, blrrp, blrrp” – a repetitive sound as the tyre rubbed on the fork with each wheel turn. Hhhrrrmmm, this could get annoying.
I’d only done 40km by now – probably 3.5 hours done – not even half-way.
I was feeling dejected and annoyed – not angry, but disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to keep going – oh well, I had to “get home” at the very least.
I made sure to keep grabbing a gel and drinking lots – feeling physically ok, lots of energy – and heart-rate pretty good – around 150-160bpm.
The 50km mid-way point was back at the event centre, so I was able to stop and grab some more food – and asked if there was a bike mechanic to check my wheel.
I accidentally (stupidly) rode up the finish line section – and so my bike transponder beeped – my race was DONE. (~4 hours riding)
The bike mechanic looked at the wheel and said “erp, no, that’s rooted – going to need a new wheel”. I asked if I’d be able to keep going – worried that the wheel might collapse – I could REALLY get hurt if that happened.
He said “should be OK, but you wouldn’t get a result now – after riding over the finish/timing line – you’d just be doing it for fun”.
I remember thinking “I could hang out and wait for my buddies to get back – and that would be the end of my race” – OR – “I could just keep riding”.
So – I scoffed some fruit cake, downed another “V” drink – and rode on !
The second half
The next few hours seemed like a bit of a blur, lots of up/down trails – singletrack and fireroad – I had to stop a few times to take a breather, and again to make sure I was eating & drinking properly.
My average speed was showing 11.5 km/h now – and I started doing maths in my head to work out how much further I had to ride – and what time I might make it back.
Eeek – there is a cut-off at 7.5 hours – at the 78 km mark ! I was at about 65km, and my head was spinning working out average speed, time-of-day, and distance.
Righto – just had a gel at 5:15 – so have another one at 6pm. Oops – I mean 6 hours – yep, was all starting to get muddled in my head.
There was a sign at every 10km mark, showing 40km, 30km to go – and then I was racing against the clock – to make it to the last food station.
78km mark, and I smile as I see the final station – did I make it in time ? Yes – 45 mins before the cut off. Scoffed some awesome white-choc-slice – and a cup of blue Gatorade – and stupidly forget to fill my camelbak – and take off.
Only 20km to go – this should take about 90 mins or so, right ? Better speed up !
I change my Garmin to include ‘speed’ – and keep an eye on my pace.
“If I roll at 25km, it will take me less than an hour, right – so I should be back to the event centre – and get a time of ~8.5 hours ?”
And then – into some more singletrack – rolling along at 6 km/h – doh.
Nothing to do but “keep on rolling” – had a bunch of 4-5 riders that I’m swapping positions with – we’re all tired/hurting – but still going.
Uh-oh – camelbak is literally empty – sucked dry – never done that before – luckily my water bottle still has some greenish energy drink – quick short drink – and keep pedalling.
Oooh – a sign ahead – 5km to go – wow !
I start to recognize the trails from the pre-race Saturday afternoon ride – so I know what’s up next. I make sure to push harder – I wanna beat those 4-5 guys I’ve been riding with – so yep, time to push hard.
Through the gate, and up the last grassy hill – and I can look down on the event venue – it’s less than ONE km to go !
Just before the bridge, I see a photographer – and I do a “tough-face” and raise my fist for the camera – fvck yeah ! I’m gonna finish !!
The last bridge section – along the lake wall – and into the last corner.
I step up into a harder gear – and charge HARD – to race over the finish line as fast as possible.
To my right, I see Scott, Matt and Bruce yell and cheer – and I can feel myself grinning – and I blast over the finish line – w00t !!
I’m a little shaky with excitement and relief – as the marshall hands me a beer (!) and a bottle of water – and I make sure to press STOP on my Garmin.
8 hours and 10 mins… Amazing…!
My buddies are patting me on the back – and saying “awesome !” – and THEN, I tell them that I’d crashed, and ‘check out my buckled wheel’…!!
They’re amazed that I rode with the wheel like that ! “When did you crash ?” “35km mark – I rode that for 65km”… “Srsly !?! I can’t believe you rode on – great effort !”
I shake hands with a few of my ‘back-marker comrades’ – and we say “well done” – and clink a beer – CHEERS !
There wasn’t many people left at the venue, the elite riders had finished in 4.5 hours – so they were probably already home before I’d even finished.
Nevermind – I chatted & swapped stories with my buddies, and then had a shower – and something more to eat. And then, had to pack up and head home.
The official results show that I got a proper result (they fixed my DNF). And so, I finished in 215th place – out of 305 competitors – over 70 ppl didn’t even finish….
(and I was 59th out of 79 competitors in the “Veteran” category).
The very last finisher completed the race in 8 hours 54 mins – nearly 9 hours !
Here’s the STRAVA map – looks like a 3 y/o’s scribble drawing :
Click here to see it – the ‘suffer score’ was 404 – LOL !
I did a quick hunt on YouTube, and found the section of trail where I crashed – damn tree !!
You can see the trail I took – to the left – see the video of the trail here.
Here’s the wheel too – might have to get a NEW one to replace it – doh !
My buddy Scott filmed me riding around, just after the finish line – click here.
The rest of the bike was brilliant
Otherwise, my Specialized Camber Comp performed flawlessly on the day. It was so well balanced, that I began to forget/ignore the buckled wheel – it wasn’t affecting me much at all – seriously ! Even zooming down fireroads at up to 40 km/h – no probs.
And those big front brakes continued to work as normal – I was a little amazed myself !
By the end of the ride, my right hand thumb and fingers were seizing up – from so many gear changes – and I ended up having to change with the base of my palm – to push in the right gear changer.
Even the next day, my fingers/hand were still a little sore – and hard to move (no strength).
And – I had a minor cramp in the upper/inner thigh for a minute or so – after jumping back on the bike, and pushing hard up a steep climb. I just said “Oh, no, no, no – don’t you cramp up” – and stretched out my leg – and it went away (!)
Wow – what an amazing weekend – great fun with some good MTB friends – and I’ve now done a 100km MTB race event !
A work friend commented that my longest training ride was 60km – and that I actually rode MORE than that on the day – with a buckled wheel !
Anyway, what’s the next event ?! Bring it on !
Sorry – but I haven’t got many photos – I was too busy RIDING…!
I’m sure there will be a few soon – once the event photographers upload their shots.