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Round 5 – Victorian Enduro Series – Creswick (Ballarat)

It’s a little over two weeks ago now (almost three ?) – has been a bit craazy in Wookieland lately – AFL Grand Final, and a 160km road ride – kids on school holidays – and I finished off Tomb Raider (XBox 360) – as well as the awesome ending of Breaking Bad – such a great show.

Anyways – I’ve completed another round of the Victorian Enduro Series – round 5 !

It was an early Saturday morning as I headed off for Ballarat – with the next MTB race being held at the Creswick Forest Resort – a Novotel hotel about 20km from Ballarat.

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When I arrived, the carpark was full – I guess lots of people stayed overnight – but the tranisition area was only just waking up.  

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I said hello to a few people – and helped a guy setup his marquee – and asked if I could grab a corner, and be his “race-neighbour”.   We chatted lots – and turns out he’d been to most of the other races – I’d seen his name on the leaderboard.

I setup my table + food – and got my race number.   I was #53 for the day – that’s the same as our house number – which we joke is “5” for the total count of people in our family – and “3” is for the number of kids.   So – 53 was a great omen/vibe for me.

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Was an awesome blue sky day too – check out the start/finish area here.

With the race HQ being the Novotel, the MTB race loop had a start/finish just next to the carpark – with the riders heading along the walkway on the outer edge of the hotel.

I chatted more to other race buddies & race regulars (Kelvin, Reece, Steve, Ian & his son Ben) – and so 10am arrived fairly quickly !

Ready to race – with everyone bunched at the end of the gravel road approach to the venue – and then we’re off – six hours to go !

First lap – traffic + discovery

As always, it’s the first lap that spreads out the field – while also checking out the trails, and seeing what the singletrack will be like, and the hills & climbing.

I’d checked the loop/map on the website – saying it was about 100m of climbing – which isn’t too much – going to be a fast & hectic race – much like You Yangs….(?)

The initial section was on the concrete “walking path” past the Novotel – and down towards the golf course – with some muddy water-logged parts and a bit of singletrack – before shooting out onto a golf buggy track.

This was the first climbing part – short but pinchy up – and then a loooong flowing gravel road down hill.    This was the access path for golfers – between holes – it was literally the “buggy road”.

When we got to the top, we turned past the tee-off point – and along the spine to the right of the fairway – in between some trees – I guess you could call it SingleTrack – but nothing too memorable.

After another buggy track – and some tree-lined SingleTrack, we hit a blue gravel uphill segment – along side the tennis courts – which was really steep.   My Garmin showed 18-20% – only 200-300m long – but pretty hard.

More downhill buggy track – and then through some scrub (which was nice) – and then back to the top of another golf tee-off point.

This then lead into the flowline along the outer perimeter of the venue – overlooking some pine trees.   This section was actually kinda nice – with a little drop-off/jump half way along.   At the end – it was a singletrack climb – and back onto ANOTHER golf buggy track.

Is this a golf course – or a mountain bike course ??    

And so it went – with short+pinch up, and flow down – half buggy / half singletrack – some of it was even carved out of the back wall of a golfing green.  

No golfers on course thankfully !

The last little segment was a big climb up and over the hill (buggy track) – with a fast flowdown on the buggy track – back to transition.

Second lap

Despite my initial impressions of the course, I was still keen to give it a proper go as a MTB race – even though it was more akin to a CX course created around a golf course.  

Mark Twain once said that “golf is a nice walk in the country – spoiled”.   

+1 to that – I frickin haaate golf !

I scooted through transition – was only 12km done – and onto the second lap.

With a little less traffic (bunched up riders) – it was easier to get some speed up in sections – it still felt like the trail was either UP, or DOWN – and that damn gravel road buggy track.

My Garmin was showing 500m of climbing by this stage – so I figured the initial estimates of 100m per lap shoulda been closer to 300m.   (Triple !)

I was feeling OK in my legs – but had been battling a damn cold/flu for the past fortnight – so not 100% full-o-beans – and was just riding at about 80% of normal attack.

I kept on rolling, enjoying some of the singletrack parts – nothing too challenging or enjoyable – and tough uphill gravel road sections – and then a zoom downhill to transition again.

More Laps

I stopped for a bite to eat – scoffed some cake – and changed out my water bottle – and rode on again.   It seemed like there wasn’t many other riders – compared to other events in the past – so I was riding on my own for fair portions of the circuit.

I’d completed 4 laps – and it was just over 3 hours done – 1pm – and clocked up ~45km – doing OK.

The sky was an amazing rich blue – and it was nice to be out riding – but that was as good as it got.

When I got into the pit area the next time, my DAD was waiting for me – he’d been up to his holiday house in Avoca – and came to see me in action (this was about 2pm by now).

As I was chatting, I saw my race pal Kelvin – already dressed in jeans/shirt – oh no !

I asked if he’d crashed or anything – and he just said “no, I was kinda bored – not into it – this trail is a bit odd, eh ?”  

I’m glad it wasn’t just me – his friend Reece had pulled out too.   And Steve too – in the 3 hour race – he said “just not feeling it today – not into it”.

I guess I was there for six hours – so I didn’t think about ditching.

Some orange quarters – and then Dad cheered me off as I started my 6th lap.

Last Stretch

After 6 laps, there was still an hour remaining in the event, and so I figured I’d slog it out for a 7th and final lap – I was feeling a little like the other guys – it wasn’t a great circuit, but I kept at it.

Only 10km more, but took me the best part of the hour – and I finished up just after the clocked ticked over the 6 hour mark.

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Dad gave me a pat on the back as I caught my breath, and sat down to rest my aching back – and tired legs.  I was a little muddy – the bike was filthy – but I was done.

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Finished Up

Dad headed off, and I started to pack up and load the car – and get away before the crowds – so I didn’t hang around for presentation.   I had a 2.5 hour drive – feeling kinda knackered – and feeling lucky that I’d booked a day off work the following day (Monday) !

Results

My Garmin showed that I’d ridden 76km – and 1950m of climbing – phew !  

Average speed of 13.8km/h – which is OK – nothing like the top riders, but alright.

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And I finished in 16th place for the 40+ event :

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Average lap time of ~50mins – top riders were doing 35mins per lap :

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The better news is that I’m now into 13th place for the season – out of 78 riders !

Of course, that’s mainly due to ‘participation’ – I’ve done every event so far.   In fact – I’m one of FOUR people who has – see the results in 1st, 2nd and 5th.

The guy in 9th has only done ONE race…!

after-round-5

What’s Next ?

The next event is on October 20th – same day as the annual “Around The Bay” – and also – the same day as we leave on our family holiday to *FIJI* !!

So – I’ll be skipping that race – with only one more event to come.

The Buxton Bootcamp on November 10th – I’ve ridden there once before – it’s an awesome trail – couldn’t ask for better to close out the season.

And – it’s looking like I might meet my goal of “top 20 in 40+ for the year”…

🙂

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