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.
When I arrived, the carpark was full – I guess lots of people stayed overnight – but the tranisition area was only just waking up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) !
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.
And I finished in 16th place for the 40+ event :
Average lap time of ~50mins – top riders were doing 35mins per lap :
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…!
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”…