Last weekend was the first round of the 2013 Vic Enduro Series – a bunch of 6 hour MTB races around Victoria through the year.
The first event was at the You Yangs – less than 90 mins from my house – so I entered within the “40+ solo male” event.
I’ve done a few events now – a pairs 12-hour recently (Gravity) – but this would be the longest race that I had done as a “solo” entry.
And – this would be the first race on my ‘new bike’ !
Yes – I need to write up a bit about my new bike – has been crazy busy in our household – and I’m preparing for a work-related conference. It’s on the to-do list.
For now – I’ll mention that the new bike is a Specialized Epic 29er – and it rocks !! (more later)
My previous bike was a 26’er – and so I was interested to see how the new 29er would go for a race event – I’d ridden it 4-5 times – including a 50km ‘warm-up’ stretch on the previous weekend.
The night before the race, I did as all MTB and cycling ppl know that you should NOT do – and I fiddled with the bike. Admittedly, I was simply planning to re-adjust the brake handle – and set it a few degrees different – nothing too drastic.
SNAP – oh shit – the bolt head just broke off on my allen key – fvck !!
I frantically rang my local bike shop (LBS) in a panic – they were still open – but it was just after 6pm – and they closed at 7.30.
I quickly loaded the bike into the car, and raced off to the shop – please help !!
They couldn’t get the bolt out, and so it was basically “stuck” – and needing a solution – as I had no gears or brakes !
The mechanic scratched his head, and looked around the shop – and eventually decided on TWO components to solve the problem :
- Brake lever + brake line + caliper from one bike – meaning that the brakes would NOT need to be ‘bled’
- Changer from another bike – brand new bike – I was instructed to take care of it – don’t smash the changer…(!)
He said it would take a while – about an hour – and said to come back about 8pm – staying open later than the 7.30 closing time. I raced home, scoffed dinner, grabbed a 6-pack of Heineken outta the garage fridge – and drove back to the shop.
Suffice to say – he saved my butt – it was all working, and ready to ride ! The rear brake was a little sticky – but working OK – as was the changer.
I was sooo appreciative – and handed over some beers as a thank-you (and paid for some shop time – with the later “put it all back” to be managed next week…)
I tucked my stressed out stomach and heart back into my rib cage, and drove home – and packed the car ready for an early start – and race day.
Up at 6am – and some toast+jam – and about 1hr10min drive over to Lara, and the You Yangs National Park – where the event was happening. I arrived just after 8am – and grabbed my race number – and setup my table.
A few buddies arrived shortly after – Steve + Kelvin – and so I had some companions for the day – and I was able to share a marquee with them.
Lots of pre-race checks and food preparation – and chit-chat – and then it was time for a race meeting.
The Geelong Mountain Bike Club (GMBC) were on the ball – very well setup – the race director just described some basic safety info, and transition area tips & safety.
He made one great comment about ‘fast riders wanting to pass’ – that we’re not playing for sheep stations, be courteous and polite. “If people are rude, and another rider gets your number, we’ll have words about it. If it happens again, you’ll be disqualified. We’re here to have fun, and that shit won’t be tolerated.” Nice, eh ?
Ready to race
All riders were taken about a kilometre or so up the road, with a long forest road to ‘self-seed’ before entering singletrack.
We started off at 10am – with 6 hours of riding – until 4 pm !
First two laps
It was pretty chaotic and crowded for the first few km’s of the start – lots of traffic jams with other riders, and gradually spread out. The trails were very sandy & a little slippery in corners (nearly had a few front wheel wash-outs) – no major climbs, just a few steady gradual uphill sections – I settled in to learn the trails – and enjoy the riding.
The circuit was about 5-6 sections of singletrack, joined together with some fireroad trails, nothing too technical – other than some 4x (BMX) style jump sections that had to be treated with caution – otherwise, just some nice flowing singletrack – about 12km per lap.
I finished up ONE lap – and kept going through transition without a stop – about 34 mins for the lap.
Mother nature made me stop – with all the pre-race hydration, I was busting for a wee ! I changed gear as I stopped, and heard a loud metal clanging – uh-oh !! Only 15km done – noooo….! It turned out to be simply that the chain had jumped too far, and over the cassette, and caught on the spokes. Easily fixed – and I rode on…
I was cruising along nicely nearing the end of lap-two, when I felt the back of the bike getting a bit soft/squidgy – dammit – puncture !!
I pulled over, and grabbed the wheel off the bike – and began ripping the tyre off, and getting the old tube out. (The back wheel HAD been tubeless – but had gone down a few weeks earlier – and I’d put a new tube in).
Being a tubeless tyre, the bead/rim was very stiff – and hard to get back onto the wheel – I managed to get a new tube in – just gotta pump it up.
Working on the bike by the side of the trail, I had a dozen or more people ask “are you OK ?” – or “need a hand ?” – or “got what you need ?”.
It was amazing that nearly EVERYONE passing was asking if I needed assistance – MTB folk are awesome like that.
I tried pumping up the tyre with my travel pump, but it wasn’t really working – and so I hot-footed it about 1km to the transition area – and my buddy Steve was able to give me a hand – and I could use a proper track pump.
The tyre wouldn’t inflate – the valve head/stem was broken – perhaps when I was trying to pump it up earlier – dammit.
I grabbed another tube – and had to get the stubborn tyre back ON the wheel – very stiff and unforgiving tyre – but managed it eventually.
Then – again – it went down immediately. After grabbing out the tube (2nd replacement), I saw a tell-tale pinch flat puncture – crud !
So – third time lucky – and my last tube – and again had to battle with the tough tyre rim – but managed to get it on this time.
Steve pumped up the tyre, while I had some food and drink – and I was ready to GO !
In all, I think I lost about 30-40 mins with the tube/tyre stuffing about – and YES – I need to convert it over to be a tubeless setup – soon !
Two hours down, and I’d only done two laps !!
Lap 3 + 4
I was a little annoyed at my time loss, but I guess I had a chance for a ‘rest’ as such – so I was keen to charge on more – and wanted to get back into a rhythm.
I blasted around my 3rd lap – and didn’t stop in transition – and then did a 4th lap on the go. This was actually my fastest lap of the day…
I stopped into the pits again at the end of the 4th lap – and had something more to eat (gel+banana) – and swapped over drink bottles.
I’d done just under 50km by this stage – not too bad – over half-way on the clock too.
The 3 hour riders had just started (1pm) – and so it would mean more faster riders and lots more passing and ‘traffic’…
Lap 5 + 6
I made a goal to do laps in pairs – with a water bottle change after each pair – the laps were about 12km – and I was doing just under 40mins for each lap.
My back was starting to get a little sore – I had a few disprin at the next stop – and some orange’s quarters – just like I used to love in junior soccer at half time (when I was 8 !)
Life was getting tough in the saddle about this stage – about 80km done – and my back was VERY sore – having to stretch it out a bit – and some twinges in my legs.
I made sure to stop & stretch – and had a can of “V” drink to boost some energy.
My mind started working out how much more I could do – with thoughts of “pain doesn’t last, but results do…”
I could surely fit an 8th, and possibly 9th lap – based on the maths of time remaining – and my speed / average times.
I was heading out for lap 8, partly thinking that it was my last, and partly hoping that I’d be able to do another afterwards. My leg twinges turned into cramps that I had to pull over and stretch out – it was getting hard now !
The timeclock showed about 5hrs 10mins – and I was sure I’d be back to transition by about 5hrs 40-45mins – and “could” do another lap – but do I want to ??
More cramps, and empty water bottle – sore legs & back – and I rolled into transition at 5hrs 48mins – with 12 mins to spare.
The guy at the desk said “you still got time for another” – but I said “nope, I’m done”…
When I rolled to our table/pit area – I stopped my Garmin – and I was DONE !
8 laps – 96km – 5hrs 48mins.
With my time loss of 30-40 mins, I could possibly have done another lap – maybe ?
As it was, I finished in 30th place – out of 39 riders in my event. Only 15 seconds ahead of 31st place – it turns out…!
As you can see, the winners and top place riders did 12 laps or more – wow…!
My times look consistent (39min or 40mins) – with two fast laps – lap #1 and #4 were 34 mins – and you can see the time lost, with lap #2 and #3. (times in red numbers)
There was a presentation to riders for all the different categories (1st, 2nd, 3rd) – but I packed up pretty quickly (after a recovery sit+stretch – and scoffed a BBQ burger !)
There were some big names – Paul van Der Ploeg had raced the 3hr elite event – he’s done World Cup races – fairly big names in the scene.
But for me – I felt a bit flat / deflated (no tyre pun intended) – I’d thought I would have gone better than I’d done – and had a disappointing drive home, feeling a bit down on myself.
The stress & chaos of the Friday night to get the bike ready – and then the tyre & tube dramas – I guess it was an anti-climax in the end – or something like that. Dunno.
Oh well – it’s all fun & games – in reality, I did amazingly well in my first 6 hour race – and on my new bike – won’t be the last…!
And – the furthest I’ve ridden on my new bike.
I’m still yet to crack over 100km – that was another goal that was “sooo close”.
Here’s the map+info via Strava – 833m of climbing :
There were some cool photos – check out these :
And YES – I supported the local photographers – and bought one of the pics :
And – of course – there has to be a photo of the “Happy Feet” – LOL !!
What’s next ??
The next event in the VES calendar is in Mt.Beauty – which is past Bright – so I might skip that one.
Round #3 is not until JUNE – and it’s being held in Albury. I have a bunch of friends there (Scott, Matt, Jen, Tim, Matt, Ant) – so I think I’ll make the trek up for that race.
Until then – gotta get the gear handle fixed – and tubeless tyres !
(and some other work related stuff to sort out – and some road riding perhaps)
Thanks GMBC for the awesome event at You Yangs – cheers !