Wombat 100

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 ?

Saturday (pre-race)

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 ?!

I took off for a quick spin around the event venue, and met up with my buddies from Albury – @scootaworks (Scott), @mattunderground (Matt) – and “Captain Slow” (Bruce).

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 !

The aftermath

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 !

IMG_2773 IMG_2772

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.


2 thoughts on “Wombat 100

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