Monday, September 8, 2014

Fathers Day Special - The Back Yamma BigFoot

As with all epic mountain bike rides, the preparation and what happens before and after race, often takes up more words than the actual ride itself.  The Back Yamma Bigfoot is a race I have always wanted to attend, so with a fixed elbow and a thirst for racing I entered on the spur of the moment (never a good move when you have family) only to realise it was Father's Day.  Hmmm, now some might say, hey, it's Father's Day, you should be able to do what you want! and that's true to a degree, but I hated leaving my family, so that's the price you sometimes pay to race at a high level.

The Road Trip

It was so good heading west out of the big smoke and many drivers were treated to a view of two gorgeous Lamborghinis cruisy down Pennant Hills Road in the wet traffic.  The guys were just cruisy slowly so you could follow them and pass them and take a really good look.  Wow!
Heading over the mountains, the mist and rain was beautiful and then once I got past Lithgow, the rain halted and gradually the clouds broke to reveal a picturesque landscape of blue skies, puffy clouds and lush green and golden fields as far as the eye could see.

Lamborghini on Pennant Hills Road

Michael's Mistake

The legs were a little stiff and definitely in need of some blood flow so a quick rego and tent pop up and I was off to enjoy a dusty ride as the sun set.  I'd bumped in Grantley who had just finished the first 30 km in a little over an hour, which would suit me fine.  I'd be back for dinner and an early bed.  I took a big gulp of water, fixed my lights to my helmet and I was away, and didnt it feel good.  The track was bone dry and dusty as .... in the race, you couldn't see the ground for the dust being kicked up by the wheel in front!

Sunset over Canola fields Back Yamma State Forest
I was having such a great time as I flicked on my lights, I didnt really notice I'd missed the turn off back to the event centre until I looked at my Garmin and it said 35km.  Uh oh, well nothing for it but to continue on, for some reason I had in mind that the 30 km loop went back through transition and it wasnt till I clocked up 40km that I realised my error.  Now I was really in a deep hole and I just kept digging.  No idea where I was, my lights were dimming, I was tired and thirsty, and just top it off, on a bit of fireroad I caught a tyre track with the front wheel and went down pretty hard, oh great now the gears arent working.  All the worst thoughts were racing through my mind from, "how will I fix my bike" to "I'm going to get cleaned up by a Kangaroo or a Cow" to "I'm going to miss dinner" to "I'm going to be stuck out here all night!"
Finally I flicked over to the map page on my Garmin and saw the "Begin" point wasnt too far away.  Oh thankyou! The navigational logic of the Garmin has always been pretty dodgy but on this occasion, it totally saved me.
I still had 10km or so to ride and even when I got to within sight of the event centre there was this dirty great ravine keeping me at bay, so I scrambled down and found a way out and headed straight for my tent.  By this time I was pretty cold.  It was now 9pm and all was quiet in the camp site.  Peter from Rotary, saved my life with a couple of sausage sandwiches some Milo and we even shared a beer as I recounted my ill-planned reccy, and he explained to me a little about the history of the land and the relationship with the kangaroos!
It all ended well and when I got back to my tent I was bone tired.  I washed all the dust off and set about getting some sleep while I pondered how I would repair my bike before tomorrow's 7:45 race start.

Rise and Shine?

At 5:30am, the alarm was not welcome.  I had sleep quite restlessly and you always feel you have only just dozed off into a deep sleep when the alarm goes off.  First things first, get some fuel into the tank, I was starving.  Second things second, figure out the bike.  I had kinked the cable and damage the ferrule so I wandered around looking for some friendly mechanic who might have a spare cable and ferrule.  Rod Farrell (race organiser) was kind enough to find his last gear cable and end cap for me to use, but I'd have to make do with the split ferrule.  Back to the bike, and I swapped the two ferrules at either end of the outer, inserted the new cable and reset the gears, "Yes! we now have a working bike, I wasnt really looking forward to going single speed today."

Chatting with Alex on the start, noone seemed all that keen to start on the front row

I lined up on the start next to Brett "Jeebus" Bellchambers.  I have no idea what he was talking about (the brain still foggy from last night's misadventure) and yet he still made me laugh and I was thankful just to be there.  The race start wasn't too bad and I was hanging onto the lead group for a while but soon the gaps started to appear and I was pretty tentative on the track not being able to see where I was riding for the dust and had no desire to wash out again, so I backed it off and saw my adversaries sail past.  First Jason Morgan and then Quantum team mate Alex Kooijman in hot pursuit and my heart and legs just come up empty.
Great shot courtesy of Michael Crummy drifting out of another perfect corner
For me it would be a case of enjoy the ride and use it as a training exercise in skills and nutrition and to that effect I had a great day. I rode with a group of 5 guys from the 20-40km mark and hit the front to do some work. After a few k's I had a gap with only the singlespeeder on my wheel.  At the half way point there were some pretty tired 100k riders; two guys quipped that they were trashed, but I felt pretty comfortable and had been careful to keep up the fluids and gels.  A quick bottle swap and I was off for the 2nd 50km.  For this lap I was pretty much on my own and I picked up a few riders who were succumbing to cramps, it had suddenly got hot!  The trails are so much fun out here, I liken it to Kowen Forest without the Pine trees.  Lots of flowing corners and a few tight ones that can catch you unaware.  Lots of sketchy gravelling descents that tempt you to drift into ruts and stay off the brakes.  Again the Ellsworth 29er was the weapon of choice and the 1x10 setup was perfect and kept the legs spinning all day.  The Curve/Rubena pairing continues to outperform and there was many a loose corner when the Rubena Kratos bit and held the line as my heart was in my mouth for fear of washing out.

Ellsworth Enlightenment, shod with Rubena tyres and Curve Carbon hoops
Alex had a great ride and was unlucky not to podium.  Unfortunately for him there was no Elite category so James Downing automatically took 1st place in Masters and overall, what a machine!  The next 3 places in Masters were spread by only 6 minutes and I cheekily took 5th in a dash for the finish line a further 12 minutes back, not too bad considering.

Hit the Road Jack

But my day wasn't over yet.  Normally one to stay for pressos, I was on a mission to get back for my son Thomas' confirmation.  Now 16, he made his own decision to make a public declaration of his faith in Jesus Christ.  I don't want to make a big song and dance about it, but I am incredibly proud of my son who is growing into a thoughtful, mature, happy, respectful and well balanced young man and he now has an eternal perspective on life.  What more could a Dad ask for Father's Day?

Keep Riding

Hebrew 10:23
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful"

Tom and 7 others ready for confirmation with Rev Chris Edwards at St Philips Turramurra

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