After the Around The Bay, I hadn’t done much riding, and only a few MTB rides. My last race event was back in April (Wombat100).
My local trails (Lysterfield) were hosting the Chase The Sun race – so I decided to enter. It was the first time for me, but glad I didn’t miss out on participating in a race at my local MTB park – and it was the last-ever Chase The Sun (end of an era).
This series itself has been a little hit-and-miss over the years – with some cancellations during to weather & track closures, and some re-schedules – and a resulting decline in participants.
There’s so many other events these days – people are spoilt for choice.
The format is simple – Mountain Bike Lap-Style Enduro race – for either 5 hour or 8 hour. I had a time limit imposed on me (niece’s birthday + family BBQ on the Sunday arvo) – so I went for the 5 hour option.
BUT – rather than start at 9.30, and finish at 2.30 – it started 3 hours LATER – doh !
So – I switched to the 8 hour race – with the plan to ‘quit’ at the 5 hour mark. *shrug*
Each rider was given a transponder, and bike number – to register lap times. I was competing in the “over-40’s solo male 8 hour”.
The course was to be the full “Comm Games” circuit – as was used in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
I knew the trails fairly well – with a tough, pinchy climb to the crest, and then a flowing section downhill, before a rough + rocky left-right section of berms – over some bridges, a fast motorway section (in my words) – and a rock garden – and then back around the to the start. All told, it’s a 6 km circuit.
My previous times show that my best time for the loop was 37mins – so I was thinking (planning) to do about 6-7 laps in the 5 hours, with some rest breaks and such – and do a ride of 30-40km.
I had another goal of making sure I ride up-and-over the tough hill climb without a break – I normally just get to the top, and have a rest break – nice view, and good spot for a breather and something to eat.
I prepped my bike the day before – cleaned up and fitted some new tyres.
Race day was overcast, with a forecast of 22 degrees – I’d loaded up the Festiva with my bike, riding gear, esky with drinks & food – and set up a little beach tent as my ‘pits’ (race HQ).
Just next to the singletrack about 50m from the start/finish cross-over.
Start – first two laps
About 9.30, all riders assembled for a race-meeting – and then we were OFF…!
The solo riders, and ‘first lap’ riders (for those in pairs or triples teams) were waved over the start line – it was a cloud of dust as we entered the forest section, and was bumper-to-bumper for the first 10-15mins.
I found my own rhythm, and pushed along – up-and-over the first of many hill-climbs – and zoomed back down. When I got back to the start area, after the first lap – I’d only registered 1/2 an hour – less than 30 mins for the first lap – nice !
And – I hadn’t stopped anywhere along the way, hadn’t even unclipped my pedals during the hillclimb, or anywhere else. Great stuff.
I took off for another lap – with the intention of doing 2 laps straight up.
After the 2nd lap – 12 km – the race time was about 54mins – I’d done two laps in less than an hour.
So – I took a quick break – ate a banana, and re-filled drink bottle, and took off again before the one-hour mark.
Next four laps
Another quick lap (3rd) – again, up-and-over the hill-climb without stopping – I was pretty chuffed with how I was going. And – back to my race HQ for a time of 1hr 28mins.
Consistently doing ~30min laps – I figured that I could almost go for 10 laps – in 5 hours – wow ! (wait and see how I go eh ?)
Scoffed a quick gel, and washed down with some water – and then rode off again – for my 4th lap.
Was starting to get warm now, very sunny – blue skies – and very dusty/gritty.
The next lap was great too – into a good rhythm of my own – was getting passed by a few people by now, but riding my own race.
I did the next two laps as “pairs” as well – and before I knew it, I’d done 6 laps in three hours – wow.
I’d done ~36km in distance (6 laps / 3 hours) – so I stopped for a longer break, and ate a chicken sandwich, and cooled down for a bit. I figured a 10-15 min break would mean I’d be refreshed for some more riding.
As I sat to eat, the 5 hour riders took off – it was 12.30pm.
I gave my wife a quick call to let her know how I was going – and then grabbed my helmet & gloves – and took off for some more laps.
Last three laps
As I rode off to commence my 7th lap, I had a bit of a leg cramp, and had to actually stop for a second to stretch before riding on. Perhaps I’d stopped for too long, and cooled down ? Or was it just a lot of riding (?!!)
I had slowed down a little as it was getting tougher to ride, but I still managed to get up-and-over the tough hillclimb section – I was pretty stoked with how I was going.
After the 7th lap, I stopped again – and finished off the chicken sandwich – was feeling pretty good from a food/energy perspective.
Lap 8 was a daze, starting to fade a little, and another cramp – so I decided that the following lap (ninth) would be my last. I could possibly push for a 10th lap, but that would be the-end-of-me – and didn’t have TIME to do anymore.
As I crested the peak on the 9th lap, I was glad that it was my last lap – I was getting a sore back, and starting to hurt a little in thighs/calves – and some cramps too.
As I rolled through the rougher sections, I was getting cramps/sores in my biceps and even my outer finger joints – yep – this was my LAST lap !
I crossed over the line, and pressed STOP on my Garmin – 4hours 43min.
I’d managed NINE laps in the time – was 3hours 50mins of “moving” time – an average speed of 14km/h – awesome !
And – my goal of NOT stopping over the CommGames hill was beaten – each and every lap. I’d only stopped for breaks, and a few times with a cramp – otherwise, it was just ride on !
My Strava recording shows a truckload of PR’s – including my previous 37min time being beaten down to 23:50 – and I beat my time for the hill-climb segment too – 5 times…!
Wow – I was pretty chuffed with how I went – 54km – and 1,350m of climbing !
After I was finished (self-quit), I packed up and loaded my bike in the car – and said goodbye to a few people.
The race was still underway – I had a wife-imposed finish time – and had to race home, and shower up – and head off to a family BBQ.
I was pretty tired, sore and dusty – but elated with my performance !
After the race was all completed (a few hours later) – I checked the results – and I actually ended up 3rd in my category !
I’d completed 9 laps – but they only got 8 of them for some reason – perhaps with the 5hour + 8hour mix-up / swap-over.
Amazing to see the top rider had done 21 laps ! (in 8 hours)
A buddy of mine knows Richard Read (4th) – apparently he had a BIG crash – I saw a photo of him from a hospital bed in a neck brace, and bloodied nose – oops !
He didn’t know what happened, he’d blacked out when he crashed.
I spoke to Kelvin as well (5th) – I know him through the Lysterfield riders club – he said he hadn’t ridden for a few months – busy with work, and studying for a Masters as well – was great that he was able to get out for a ride.
I spoke to a few other people I know through the Lysty club – great to be a part of it all.
Thanks FGP for organising – and Lysterfield – hopefully we *DO* get to do another Chase The Sun one day !