** This is the final entry in the set of blog posts about the “Victorian Enduro Series” :
- 1 – You Yangs
- 2 – Mt Beauty
- 3 – Albury
- 4 – Blores Hill
- 5 – Ballarat
- 6 – Beaconsfield (skipped it – I was in FIJI !)
- 7 – Buxton
Last weekend, I competed in the final round of the Victorian Enduro Series, with the Big Hill Events gang hosting the race at Buxton, not far from Marysville.
I have fond memories of Buxton, from a high school friend who’s family owned a bush property near Buxton – and we had many awesome ‘gone bush’ weekends all through high-school and early 20’s days…
The trails in Buxton are well-regarded and highly recommended – I’d ridden there once a few years ago – and remember some great flowing sections. This was only my first mountain bike (Giant Alias) – so I’ve come a long way since then.
The VES series has been a great intro to 6-hour racing (for me) – I’ve competed in all but ONE event, with the “Beaconsfield Rockhop” being held while we were on our family holiday in Fiji – gee, damn !
It’s been fun to track the results through the year – and I’ve seen a few familiar names on the list, and chatted to lots of people.
The forecast for Sunday was looking a little rainy, Saturday was certainly very damp – and I’d been struggling a little with some Post-Holiday-Blues (back to work after 2.5 weeks off) – AND – I’d struggled on a road ride hill climb ride a few days earlier.
So my confidence + state of mind, and ‘form’ was a little OFF before I began – not good.
Anyways, I loaded up the car and headed up early on Sunday morning – and arrived around 8am – and set myself up – and had some time to sit & relax – and chat to other racers. And – I took a few Instagram videos – check them out here…
And – it was an amazing blue sky day – no rain !
Somehow, I twinged my lower back getting setup, or had slept awkwardly – and it was a bit sore – which wouldn’t bode well for the race ahead – sigh…
I made sure to eat a few things (PB sandwich) and some hydration – and a quick disprin to help dull the sore back.
The race setup was brilliant, with a coffee truck (in an old horse float trailer !) – and a great P.A. and music setup – and lots of friendly banter from the Big Hill Events crew.
I chatted to a few buddies – Corey, and Tom – who was my rival for the race – he’d leap-frogged me in the standings, after the ‘Rock Hop’ race.
We’re both on the ‘having a go’ end of things – nice bloke – and we chatted at the starting line – waiting for 10am to roll around.
After a fun & informative pre-race briefing, we were off !
I had a “thought in mind” to be a little more ‘race’ thinking for the day – rather than just a cruise ride – and so I took off at a quicker pace – not flat-out – but didn’t want to dawdle along.
The riders first headed up the fireroad – and then into the singletrack at the main entrance – and the field spread out and re-bunched-up again.
The singletrack at Buxton is just great – I was pushing along nicely – with a little bit of a sore back – but not too bad.
I remember having an annoying song in my head – the new DaftPunk song “Get Funky” must have been playing on the PA – and so I kept hearing “we’re up all night to get funky”… Gggrrr…! (LOL !)
I made sure to change the words in my head to be “we came out here to go racing” – and gave myself a mental push-along if the song came into my head.
The first lap was a combined route for teams+solo’s – with subsequent laps splitting the solo riders onto a longer course. For now, it was a 12 km first loop back to transition.
Did I mention that the trails are awesome ?! There are some great flowing sections – and I could feel myself grinning – and talking to other riders.
“This is just magic” – and “how good is this !?”
And the Big Hill guys had some fun in store – with a sign mentioning “ducks ahead” – and “whale spotting” – before a creek with a few inflatable pool toys – ha ha !
There was a bit of climbing – but nothing too massive – perhaps 4-5 short pinchy sections – but then big sections of flowing downhill – fairly steep in parts – and lots of berms.
And then we came to ‘Spider Gully’ – this has to be one of THE best segments of trail I’ve ever ridden – by far.
With a flowdown through some fern trees – and then swooping down a gully – and a berm at the top again – and swoop down again.
I actually said out loud “waahoo !!” like I was on a roller coaster – yep, this was great !
I lost count of the number of BERMS along the trail – there has been a lot of work done with the local clubs and forest group – kudos !
Towards the end of the loop, there was a DH style section of MASSIVE berms, reminding me of some segments of the CopperHead trail at Mt.Buller.
Swooping & flowing down – and into transition – ONE lap done…!
The timing table was via a ride through the marquee/tent – watch your head ! I said to the guys at the desk “these trails are fvcken awesome !” They LOL’ed and said “we know !!”
I pit-stopped quickly – just a few orange 1/4’s – and then rolled out – keen to keep up the momentum of riding – and have a blast on the awesome trails.
This time, there was a marshall waiting to split the field into the solo loop – and so I was off riding a section that I hadn’t done yet. This was fairly slow and windy – not much chance to build up any momentum, and a lot more climbing.
The solo lap was 15km in length – with ~300m of climbing – not easy, but not too tough, I guess…
I was enjoying pushing myself – and the great sections of trails, when I went to grind up a short incline – and had a little cramp in one leg. Dammit !
I scoffed some of my drink bottle – and stretched it out – and it eased off – and I kept riding. My back was still a little sore – but just “there” – nothing too bad.
The extra few KM’s felt a fair bit longer, and so it was almost 12pm (two hour mark) when I got back to the transition area.
I ate a few pieces of cake – and a gel – and a quick Red Bull – and changed out my drink bottle. I was feeling full & refreshed (to some degree).
This is where things started to go pear shaped – and my race turned from “these trails are awesome” – to – “I don’t like MTB’ing anymore”.
For a start, my cramping leg returned – in both legs – and I actually had to jump off the bike and stretch out – cursing myself…
I’ve had cramping in the past, but had figured out the cause for the most part – with some additional fluid and hydration in the days prior – as well as some longer training rides and practice.
I’d had neither of these before the race – and carrying a few extra kg’s from the buffet in Fiji – and a laissez-faire attitude – AND – I’d been pushing hard.
FAIL, Wookie, FAIL.
The rest of my 3rd lap was tough – had to stop 3-4 times to stretch out my leg when climbing, but great fun when zooming down the flowing sections of the trail.
Pit Stop –> Rest Stop
When I got back to transition, it was about 1.30pm – over half way through the race – and I’d missed the start of the 3 hour race – they were out on track somewhere.
I was suffering from a fairly sore back – and some cramping memories – and I almost pulled the pin then-and-there.
Feeling rather demoralised, and berating myself – I figured I’d take an extended break – and eased down into my deck chair – and my body gave a big sigh as I sat down.
I even made a quick call to my wife, needing some words of encouragement – body & mind were both lacking.
After about 15 mins, I decided I’d ride on – hopefully another two laps – but certainly one more lap. I’d only done 45km by then – just ticked over 1000m of climbing.
In hindsight, my body was saying to stop – but my brain (ego ?) was saying to keep going – and suffer out the last few hours.
So – I headed out for one more lap.
This was a real struggle, with back pain meaning it was hurting to stand up fully straight – and frequent leg cramps, meaning that I was pretty much in granny-gear for all the hills – and had to stop a bunch of times.
I was getting a little irate & frustrated – at myself – just having to ‘will’ myself onwards to get to the finish.
I’ve never been happier to cross the finish line !
There was no way I was going out for another lap – was 5hr 30mins – and another 15km lap would take me another 1.5 hrs I reckon.
I was done – sore & irritable – and very disappointed.
I checked the race results board – as I tucked into a burger (thanks to Buxton Primary for the BBQ) – and saw that my buddy Tom must have passed me along the way.
Perhaps when I was in a rest stop – or stopped for a cramp break…?
He’d done 4 laps about 10 mins ahead of me – and I assumed he was out for a 5th lap – nice work – but I was a bit miffed that I couldn’t give a bigger fight.
What’s the big deal ?
As I was packing up my table & loading the car, I was thinking to myself “why are you being such an idiot” – and to stop beating myself over the head.
Did I go on the attack too early ? Maybe I was charging ahead too quickly, rather than pace myself for a longer ride.
I’m pretty certain my lack-of-hydration caused a fair amount of the cramping – next time, make sure to drink lots in the DAYS before the race. I’d been back at work – and wasn’t in the mode of ‘pre-race’ drinking.
Anyways, I’d completed 60km – even with being fairly out-of-practice – and pushed myself waaay beyond the pain barrier – I should be a little bit pleased with myself…(!)
And – I’d gotten to ride some awesome trails – and a good day out – and amazing sunny weather.
Oh well – I guess it’s the first time I’ve felt a “low” after a race – maybe I had assumed I would do better – rather than just go for a ride day – like I’ve done in the past.
Have I become too self-competitive ? And set a ‘bar’ for myself ?
After all is said and done – the numbers speak fairly highly of my efforts.
63.5 km – with an average speed of 13.1 km/h.
It looks like I’d only been held up for 40mins while having a break – and/or stopping while out on the trail – and I’d ridden for 4hrs 50mins – and a suffer score of 331 !
OK – that’s kinda good !
AND – even though my buddy Tom had beaten me on the day – I still finished the race in 14th place – out of 18 riders. (Poor ol’ David – took 7 hours to do 4 laps !)
You can see the lap times – with the flying 1st lap – and then a slower 2nd lap – with the extended solo loop.
And then the tougher 3rd lap was a fair bit slower – and then almost two hours for the 4th lap (included the rest stop for 15-20 mins).
Oh well – live and learn – some good days, some bad days.
It was still probably a 6/10 as far as races go – and it was the finale too…!
On to the series standing…
Unfortunately, I’d missed the 6th event – which was worth 1.5x points – I probably could have placed higher.
In the end – I scored 78 points for the series – which is less than a single WIN – as you can see from a few lads in front of me.
If I’d done the 6th race (if only !) – then I might have finished in the top ten (!!). There had only been 11 riders – so a last place would’ve been 30 points !
Aaaah – stop it, wookie !
Thinking back to the end of last year, I had a thought in mind that it would be amazing to “finish in the top 20 for 40+ men” – and I did it !
16th place – out of 88 riders – that’s the top 20%…
That’s kinda awesome ! (yep – I’m trying to tell “myself” – not you)…
Break-down of Results
Interesting to look at the season “as a whole” – at the different events – and a link to the blog post for each race. NB. I’d missed round #6…
|1 – You Yangs||30th / 39||5||96.1km||833m|
|2 – Mt Beauty||10th / 11||33||56.0km||1601m|
|3 – Albury||26th / 31||5||70.9km||1594m|
|4 – Blores Hill||23rd / 35||8||94.3km||1331m|
|5 – Ballarat||16th / 20||15||76.0km||1947m|
|6 – Beaconsfield|
|7 – Buxton||14th / 19||17||63.5km||1371m|
|FINAL RESULTS||16th / 88||78
(top 5 results)
I guess it’s ‘consistency’ in the end – as I was in the lower end of the field for most events – but did SIX races – and the points add up.
And – to have ridden 450km – and over 8500m of climbing is kinda amazing !
Only a little more, and it would be the equivalent of Mt.Everest (8848m).
Highlights + Memories
I have some key thoughts about each event :
- You Yangs – technical troubles with brake handle, and then a puncture
- Mt.Beauty – awesome weekend away – camping, new car, great scenery, and big hills.
- Albury – was great to be with good riding buddies, and NailCan is just brutal.
- Blores Hill – some great sections – I think this was my best result/performance for the season
- Ballarat – felt like a golf cart loop – not much fun – good to have Dad to watch
- Buxton – awesome trails, good fun riding, but not for 60km !
And – I’ve made lots of great friends along the way – with Kelvin, Corey, Steve, Tom, Will – and the Albury gang of Scott, Matt x 2, Tim, Anthony, Jen.
It’s been a great experience – good challenges and personal achievements.
Where to next ?
Well, I haven’t been out riding since the race – I’m actually needing some physio treatment – even 4 days after the race, I still have a very sore lower back.
I’m acknowledging that I need to change a few things :
- Core strength – to assist with “preventing” back pain.
- Do stretching exercises – and maybe a foam roller.
- Train more on the bike, for longer periods – not just ‘get up and go’
- Hydrate for days before a race ride – as well as during
- Enjoy riding ! It’s supposed to be for fun, you idiot…!
As for next year, part of me is excited to ‘better’ my results – and I really *DID* enjoy some of the events through the year.
Another part of me is thinking “nah, been there, done that” – and to quit out of XC racing – and go back to ‘trail riding’ – ie. just for fun. Maybe even sell my Specialized Epic – and go for a more ‘trail’ oriented bike…..
I gotta think it over – no hurry – and gotta get my back sorted out and pain-free before that – and I’m not really in a positive frame of mind.
That could be part of the problem – I’m a grumpy old wookie – who’s sore from getting bitten by the bike he loves – that’s what hurts the most… (LOL !)
All good – hopefully YOU are enjoying some great riding – as long as we get some decent weather, I’m looking forward to getting out again…