It's been a busy time of year with the Scott, the Spring Cycle and another round of the STM series racing by so here is a quick update on what's been happening.
For a throw together team, we had an absolute blast and of course the icing on the cake was winning the Masters Mixed 4 category. One morning at coffee Sandy mentioned he had a team entry and no team, so I was in. Next up was Brad T, who had never done a 24 hour and was keen to get amongst it. Finding a willing and available female was a little harder, but a post on Silent Revolution did the trick and before long we had a few choices and Fiona got the nod. The lead up was hilarious, first Sandy had done some damage to his back at the TORC skills session. Picture this, a 60 something year old bloke turns up at the doctors and says "I hurt my back when I fell off my bike trying to do a wheelie". But old Sandy is as tough as old boot leather and rode like the hard a**e he is. Fiona couldn't decide what would slow her down more; the mysterious virus or the 8 stitches in her shin from a recent OTB. I have to say Fiona won the prize from most valuable team member, first for braving the rain which seemed to arrive exactly on time for Fiona to start another lap, but also for providing the lovely marquee heater and then the post race beers, boy did that taste good! The pre-race strategy was simple, have fun and dont hurt yourself, but secretly I thought we had a pretty good shot.
I got the to do the run start lap and by the time I reached the bike it felt like I had lifted both big toe nails. The track was good and it was a hoot heading up the trunk trail in a huge train, until we caught some of the younger and less serious solo riders. Not their fault but perhaps a note to the organisers to rethink the start order. The rain and mud was a bummer but sometimes that's just the way it is. I was lucky to do a Blue lap as the sun rose and the view from the top of Willo Link was something I will never forget. My last two laps in the morning were a blast as the sun slowly dried out the quagmire and best of all, Tom, my 14yo son in his first 24 had a ball, he'll be back!
I have to say the commentary and giveaways could have been done alot better. The idea of randomly distributing $1000's of dollars of valuable and kindly donated kit from generous sponsors to whoever was proud or brash enough to make up a story that appealed to the compere's idea of entertainment was frankly pitiful and the throwing of kit off the pavillion at the presentation to a bunch of screaming kids while the majority got cooked in the hot sun was undignified and amateur. For all the effort we went to and for winning our category we got a jersey we'll probably never wear. Whereas some random walking away with a coupla hundred dollars worth of kit just doesnt seem fair. It would have been nice to see this stuff distributed in the race bags rather than thrown randomly to the masses, oh well there's my rant, sorry folks now back to regular programming.
The Spring Cycle
A great fun day, usually I am crawling in the masses of every shape and size of bike and rider imaginable, this time Tom and I were fortunate to be invited to ride in the lead bunch. By the time we hit the bridge, the bunch had departed and we were left riding together through the city like we were the only two people on the road. We soon linked up with a bunch that included one Opposition leader Mr Tony Abbott and no matter which side of politics you come from it is always a hoot to ride with someone like that and be able to offer a wheel on some of the steeper bergs. Riding home Tom was beat but did incredibly well to keep up with the bunch and clock 100 k's for the day; his biggest ride to date.
After a feed and a change of kit I returned to Homebush for the crit run by LACC. The less details given here the better, as I pretty much sucked at this form of racing, but atleast I gave it a go and it is something I would love to get better at. I then took a slow ride home to clock 150km for the day. Rolling back through Eastwood late in the afternoon, the air was thick and warm after the threatened southerly buster dissipated was pure bliss.
STM Round 5 Rydal
I'd already had a big week, with lot's going on at home and work. What a blessing it was to stay with Mum and Dad in the mountains the night before to be fed and get an early night. I looked dog tired and hoped 9 hours sleep would recharge the batteries sufficiently to get through the 8 hours of punishment awaiting.
Off the start I was flying and as usual marked Jase and Garry who were dog fighting. In the first four laps I saw 4 good riders go down from momentary loss of focus. It was clear this track would be challenging. Interestingly I was noticing it was 26" riders struggling for traction while those on the circus wheels cruised a little more smoothly, but as the day wore on, the course started to get pretty cut up and every corner was becoming an exercise in playing chicken.
The weather also stuffed us up a bit, I had mixed my bottles a tad diluted expecting some warmer temperatures from the start, but it stayed cool for atleast 4 hours, the fluids weren't going in and so neither were the carbs. I managed to make up for the debt with some food, but many struggled late in the day as the fuel tank started to splutter.
On lap 9, I had a massive off. Having just enjoyed an awesome tow up the fireroad courtesy of a Mitch from Stevens team, I let him go and settled in for the rock garden when my front wheel caught an edge and I was ejected over the bars before I knew what happened, I was heading chest first for a stump that looked like it might impale me. Somehow I managed to dive to the side, but landed very heavy on my side. The reason I tell this is Mitch actually stopped and ran back the 20m to check I was OK. What a gentleman! thanks Mitch
No permanent damage done but it slowed me down a bit for the rest of the race as I went in a little more tentative.
The day after, my arms, hands and shoulders hurt the most as well as the hip I used to break my fall, so demanding was this course.
Late in the afternoon my lap times started to dawdle but I just focussed on keeping it smooth through the corners and keeping an eye out for Phil Welch who I figured wouldnt be far away. As it turned out Trent Moore was chasing hard and got to within 7 minutes to take 4th. Garry won again :( but the gap to me was just over 10 mins, not bad after 16 laps. Jase pulled out an awesome effort to take 2nd and get close to Garry. He sure can chase hard. Mid race I had a 30 second buffer, but he came back hard and just kept motoring. (A mistake in the entry process saw him grouped in the open males instead of masters and it wasn't discovered until after the cutoff). The other pertinent point is last year I broke my hand here. This year going the other way I still wasn't having any heroics and any doubles that came up I just playing it safe and mono-ed over them. That is until the camera crew camped by the biggest scariest jump on course and willed riders to boost it. Nothing for it but give it some air and what fun it was. For the last few laps I looked forward to that jump every time.
For a course so flat I have never felt so fatigued. The constant braking, accelerating and manoeuvering the bike takes it's toll and even though your heart never really goes ballistic, the course is a real test.
Thanks to everyone out there on the day and those cheering at home. I felt truly blessed to be enjoying such a great sport amongst so many friends and got to take home a prize as a bonus.
It's been by far the best year of my short cycling "career" with not only lot's of good results, but many many great people who have spurred me on and become very good friends. One more race for the year at Awaba, it's going to be a celebration of a huge year, see you there
PS Huge thanks to my buddy Brad T who generously lent me his ENVE carbon wheels. a light, stiff wheel is just what the doctor ordered for this course and these puppies were awesome. Not quite sure I can justify the price tag, but it was a thrill ride probably the best wheels currently on the market. Thanks mate, I owe you.