Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The real reason I got to race National XCM

Picture this, a wife at the end of her tether after weeks of report writing, marking etc...this teaching gig is TOUGH, it makes a 24 hour solo MTB ride seem like a stroll in the park. Now Sarah is not normally one for tearing off for a dirty weekend of mountain biking in the middle of term, so you can imagine my surprise (read GLEE!) when I casually mentioned the idea of heading to Canberra for the long weekend (umm yes I did mention that there was a tincy wincy little mountain bike race on) and she said "BOOK IT MIKE, TAKE ME AWAY!"
I was on Wotif quicker than Josh "Frother" Carlson rockin' it loose down Skyline.
So it came to be that our car was adorned with 5 MTB's and conveying the Children of Israel towards the Mecca of Mountain Biking (hmm might have mixed my religious metaphors there!)

We had a great run down to Canberra Saturday morning and arrived in plenty of time for the Junior Marathon. Tom and Liam were entered and off they went on their 25km loop. Meanwhile Sarah, Dani and I tackled the Trunk climb together, it was so good to be back here breathing in the fresh air and riding our bikes.

Tom and Liam had a great race in the U15, taking their time and enjoying the ride. This is their second real race (both times at Stromlo) and each time they get better and better. Thanks to the sweep rider who followed Liam every step of the way.

That night I cooked up a pasta storm and slept like a baby ready for my race the next day. I was feeling pretty good, the training is going well and I had a new bike to test out (Giant Anthem 29er). The idea here was to test the legs and see if I could pace myself a little better from the start. The field was completely star-studded. See Jason McAvoy's blog for some examples of the talent we were up against, but knowing the track and how hard the course would be I was confident I could put in a good show.

Interestingly the pace from the start was not the usual heart exploding 5km time trial and I settled into a sustainable pace for the first few km's. Eventually I did drop off the back but there were plenty of respectable riders nearby so I determined to stick to my plan and just ride solidly all day and enjoy it. Nutrition wise things were going ok and the bike was awesome. Really nice handling with the added luxury of a rear shock to bring into play on some of the techier sections. There were lots of highlights throughout the day, the only lowlight being when I heard something fall off the back of my bike through Little Seymour and realised my saddle bag had opened sprinkling a lovely trail of track candy through the scrub. On my second pass I managed to stop and pick up a few bits and pieces, but my trusty old Topeak multitool was nowhere to be found. RIP!

That said there were heaps of positives, including riding some long distances with Tim Kerle and Rich Peil. Rich went on the attack at about the 60km mark and ended up beating me by 5 mins and taking out 3rd, well done mate you got me again! Having my own cheer squad was also awesome as my family screamed and cheered each time I hit transition, thankyou my darlings you made my day.

The track was a ripper, signature Stromlo with heaps of climbing rewarded by several white knuckle descents. I especially enjoyed the two proper downhill sections thrown in for good measure.

The next day we had some time to spare and the kids were keen for a Questacon visit so in we went for some brain stimulation and it was great fun as always. Here is some huge froth for all my extended MTB family

Food, 3L Energy, 0.6L Opti, 8 gels, 2 bars, 2 bananas
90km, over 2000m vertical, just over 5 hours, 5th in Masters


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