Last weekend was the THIRD round in the Victorian Enduro Series – to be held at “Nail Can Hill” in Albury.
With a bunch of MTB & Twitter buddies in Albury (Matt H, Scott, Ant, Matt H2, Tim, Jen, Bruce) – and a few other out-of-town buddies (Kelvin, Steve, Ross, Ian, Ben), it almost felt like a ‘home’ event – even though it was 350km away…
I’d setup some new S-Works FastTrak tyres for the Epic – my first attempt at tubeless – which went much easier than I’d hoped (what was I worried about ?) – and had a shake-down ride at Lysterfield on the previous weekend.
Friday arvo, I loaded up the Focus, with my bike gear – and team table + food/water – and headed off. 3.5 hours of driving – with some blaring tunes – great to be out on my own for a few hours.
I arrived about 10pm to Matt’s house – great to chat/hello – and was pretty-much straight to bed.
Race Day – Saturday
Alarm went off at 6.30 – I was keen+excited+nervous – Matt was a little less enthused. “Meh” was the word-of-the-day leading up to the event – but only 2 blocks from home – with some local trails – it would still be a great day out, right ?
After setting up our table/supplies in a side road, away from the main hussle & bustle, we rode up to the event centre to check-in to get our race numbers (and free choc’s) – and I prepared my water bottles & cut oranges & laid out food. Lots of fun joking & bantering – including some advice for *ME* that had us laughing.
We all rode up to the start line for the race meeting – and a 10am start time.
Ready To Race
Was a huuuge group of riders – waved away by the Lord Mayor of Albury – after a speech saying “it’s a great event, and you’re all crazy” – LOL !
The first section of ‘self-seeding’ was a big steep fireroad that went on forever – was up to 16 or 17% in some parts. I remember thinking “jeez, I’m gonna find it tough today” – and then we hit the singletrack.
Great flowing trails – BUT – sooo rough & rocky.
I was getting jostled about on the bike – my local Comm Games trails has some rocky sections – but only in a few places – this was everywhere.
The trail wound around the hill side, across the fireroad, and then down-down-down – and few swooping chutes – and then another 18% fireroad climb (only 150m).
Some more great flowing parts at the lower end of the hill (in the shade) – there were some very loamy & loose dirt corners – and some more big ‘gap jumps’. And then a windy singletrack climb back *UP* the side of the hill.
The next part was across the crest of the hill, following more rocky sections that woulda made Sam Hill poop his pants.
Another chute downwards, and I was back to the table area we’d set-up.
This was a challenging course – with a ‘bit of everything’.
First Lap Done
I scoffed a quick orange-segment – stopped for a few seconds – and kept on.
Not far to the start/finish – and I’d completed the first lap. This was about 2/3’s of the main full lap – after the seeding fireroad part.
Jen was on the timing table – and called out encouraging words (“C’mon wookie ! Keep going !”) – and I was into the 2nd lap – first “full” lap.
Not A Good Start
Not far along the initial part of the lap, I saw the medics through the trees, walking up the fireroad. I thought “uh-oh” – and came around a corner to see a kid aged 14-15 lying down – he had a bunch of people already attending to him – only just on-scene.
They were putting pressure on a big gaping would in his middle thigh area – he was talking to the paramedics, saying he could feel it “beating”. The reply was “yep, that’s the artery pulsing” – eeek.
The organisers realised that lots of riders were coming through, and diverted the trail a bit – and I lifted my bike up/over – and kept going.
I found out later that he’d needed 10 stitches, after a ‘clean-out’. OUCH indeed. And – this was at the 50 minute mark – not even one hour done.
I rode on some more – along the flowy rocky trails, and up/down the segments – I was being fairly conservative – with such loose terrain – and to make sure my body would hold out for 5 more hours.
Back at the team table, I swapped out my water bottle – decided NOT to grab the GoPro – and scoffed a PB sandwich & rode off.
My plan was to NOT stop at the team-table – not as much as I’d done in Mt.Beauty.
After about 3 laps, I was started to get some back pain, and downed a few disprin – and made sure to keep drinking.
Aside from the normal body & muscles at work, I wasn’t doing too badly at all ! But – keep on truckin’ – don’t get too confident.
A little later, I was pushing hard up the short uphill segment – and got a big twang in my leg, and cramped up – goddammit !
This was my worst trouble at the previous round – and I was adamant to NOT let that hamper my performance. Lots more fluid – and I rode on.
I had a buddy at work email me about my last event – thx Kev !
He was in my mind – as I shook out the cramp – and thankful to say it was the ONLY one for the day…
When I got to the team table at the end of the 4th lap, my buddy Matt was there sitting in my camp chair – and his bike was on the car – WTF !?
He’d had a crash – came around a blind corner – and another rider was crashed over the trail. Nowhere to go, and so Matt had gone down hard. He wasn’t too badly hurt, but damaged his bike, and wasn’t in the mood to carry-on. Such a shame – as it wasn’t his fault – and had been going so well.
Me, on the other hand, I was determined to keep going. I raced to the car to grab some ‘magnesium’ tablets to stave off the cramp – and a quick Mars Bar, a gel – and a new water bottle – and rode off.
Starting To Getting Tough
The ‘metres’ were climbing now – I’d done almost 1000m already – and only 40km – was just over 1/2 race time.
I saw the 3-hour group ready to ride off – 1pm start – so I knew I’d have a bunch of people passing me sooner or later.
I’m the “Eddie The Eagle” of Mountain Bike racing – I just doing my own thing – never going to win any trophies – and naturally I have people wanting to pass.
I’m OK with that, as long as they use some fvcken manners !
I was getting pretty annoyed in the end – one person nearly crashed into me as I began a swoop down chute into a gully – and he just half-spoke the word “rider”.
I went off-tap – and yelled at him : “that was a bad pass ! you need to let people know ! you fvcken tool !”
He was so fast that he was gone before he even heard the last half of my tirade – but it put me in a cranky mood.
After that, I made sure that *I* was enjoying my ride – and being really friendly & polite to people who were the same to me – and for anyone who just said “track” and then pushed past – I yelled out “YOU’RE WELCOME !!” *sigh*
We’re not playing for sheep stations here – and there are more riders like *ME* than the top end of the field – so it was a bit of a dampener on my race – oh well.
Seven or Eight ?
It was about 90mins until the cut-off time now, 4.5 hours done – and I was on my 6th lap – wondering if I’d manage another 7th lap – or 8 laps – or even 9 laps ?
It was looking like 45-50mins was my average lap time – so I was doing maths-in-my-head as I was riding along.
I came over the line at 5hrs 15mins – and couldn’t sit around for another 45 mins – so headed out for another lap.
As I started my 8th lap, I knew it would be my last one of the day – due to the time cut-off, but also I was getting sore & tired.
My legs were fine – but my arms/hands were sore & fatigued – tight & close to cramping – just from the “hang-on” factor – and the rough rocks & tough trails.
I had some of my buddies call out – Hambot came past – and said “into the parade lap now !” – and also Kelvin. He said we should ride it out together – another 1/2 a lap – but I said “no, you ride on – I’m knackered !”
Finish Line In Sight
As I stopped into the team pits area, I knew it was only 5mins from the finish – so I almost felt like I was done already ! I’d thought I’d pack up my table & gear – and then ride up to the finish – but my buddies said “no, go on – get to the finish !”
Great feeling for the last few km’s – I ended up crossing the line at 6hrs 15mins.
It’s all over
After enjoying the moment of “stop”, I called the wife to let her know I’d finished OK (I hadn’t SMS/Twitter’ed all day !) – and was good to chat to everyone else as they arrived.
One other rider was with me most of the day – we shook hands, and chatted a bit – good camaraderie…!
Check The Data
I was extremely pleased with my race – no major cramping – and was a “moving time” of over 5hrs 30mins – over an HOUR more than at Mt.Beauty.
~71km – and almost 1600m of climbing – wow !
A fairly massive profile of the event too – looks like a heart-rate monitor !
I was placed in 26th out of 31 riders – I wonder if I might have pushed a little harder, and got another lap ? That would have put me in 22nd…
On the overall standings, I finished in 102nd place out of 126 singles/pairs.
And – I was pretty happy with the lap times – best time was 41 mins (ignoring the first partial lap) – amazing to see that the fastest riders were under 28 mins – incredible…!
And – after the third round – my placing in the ‘series’ is now 15th place – out of 57 riders – how awesome is that !?!
Pack Up & Go Home
After the presentation to the top 3 riders in each category – and the prize draw for the brand new Giant Trance 29er mountain bike (I didn’t win !) – we all packed up the tables & loaded the cars – and headed off.
A quick shower – and then off to the pub for a well-deserved parma + beer – and chat with Ant + Ross – and then back home for bed – at 8.30 pm !
The next day, I had to be home for our son Charlie’s birthday party – so I was outta bed early (5.30 am) – and drove home to the family.
What a great event – thanks to every involved – and to all my Albury Twitter buddies – see you again soon !