Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The end of a very long race phase

The last three months have been possibly the busiest and most ambitious 3 months of my entire life.  When you roll together the XCO series plus a couple of marathons, training, one full time job and one part time job, a family consisting of three challenging yet gorgeous teenagers, one of whom is doing his HSC, you might say I bit off more than I could chew.

So it was with some relief and a sense of accomplishment when I slumped in my seat on the flight home Saturday night and looked back over the last 3 months.  It climaxed with a 4 day conference in Melbourne and then a quick detour via Forrest for the Otway Odyssey.  Actually I was just thinking, I made it, thank goodness I didnt miss that flight! I just need to get home.

Looking back at the last three months.
9 races in 5 different states
6 flights and 5 road trips (You Yangs, Toowoomba, Pemberton, Stromlo x 2, Forrest, Yellowmundee)
Car hires galore with a little bit of Uber thrown
AirBnb and hotels also feature heavily on the Credit Card statement
1 new bike + bike bag
countless bottles of Gatorade, gels, coffees

Capital Punishment was a race I love doing and am really sorry to see it end, but I guess the logistics of organising such a journey through the city of Canberra have taken their toll.  All the same I had a ball at this race, even if my form was a little down and managed to finish in just the same spot as last year overall and just enjoyed the banter and comeraderie and the simple pleasure of riding (semi-)fast through the Australian bush.  For most of the day we'd formed a nice little bunch, crucial for when you get to the fireroads and Trent Moore was showing the way on the climbs.  Ben May was also having a great ride, and a few of the Quantum boys featured in our mini peloton as well as some mates from YEOW-MTB.  It was a great day out.
I never tire of the Stromlo trails, especially Skyline/Luge.  Photo Talentspotter
Andy Lloyd and Michal Kafta of Quantum fame on the start line
Canberra MTB brothers, Grantley, Trent and Clayton


The Odyssey is a race of huge reputation and one I've always wanted to do, so when the chance came I jumped at it and it did not disappoint.  Arriving around 5pm Friday evening, I picked up my race plate and was struck by the chilled vibe to the whole event centre.  This vibe would continue all weekend, I dont know if it was the culture of Forrest or just the general chill-ness of all those Melbournites, but I appreciated it and soon began to wind down.  I had to decide, would I drive the 30 minutes over to Colac for a first ever green curry with JD, or would I be better served to relax, spend 30 minutes doing a little reccy of the course and then finding dinner at one of the two local pubs.  Common sense prevailed and the reccy of the single was just perfect as the sun slowly set.  
Keeping in mind my escapades a few months back when I got lost out at Back Yamma, I made sure to err on the side of caution and headed back in plenty of light to find dinner.  Surprisingly the legs felt pretty good, I'd had a cruisy week at the conference, only allowing myself the short rides on the town bike too and from the hotel.
OK I did let loose one afternoon and took my town bike on a loop of the Yarra, but that was just good fun and I enjoyed freaking out several roadies by sitting on their wheel and spinning away with the three speed hub.  I got more than a few smirks as I turned back and took a final lap up Swanston St amongst the trams, cafes and commuters.
The beautiful Yarra, at this point I was ready to sell up my Sydney abode and move us all down to more a civilised city where cyclists abound

Dinner at the brewery was awesome.  sometimes you manage to get it just right and the lasagne with a pot of stout turned out to be the perfect race prep, not to mention the slice of Lemon and Pistacio cake with ice cream.  All I needed now was a good sleep and Rishi and Ben had organised this trendy little cabin just 1km from the start line.  Also good meeting Andrew Ferg and Steven Fortuyn, a couple of more cycling blood brothers I've only ever known via the twitterverse.


On the start line with Pete and Trent

The race itself lived up to and exceeded all my expectations.  I was well rested and well energised/hydrated all day.  Strangely I only drank 3x600ml bottles of Gatorade, but that seemed to be all I needed plus the 9 Clif gels (5 caffiene) and one endura carb bar.
The start was surreal, as we headed up the first hill almost like a neutral roll out, we circled the town and headed north toward Barwon Downs.  It was the easiest start to a race in living memory, I was sitting in the bunch about 30th place, the guys were just happy to roll out gently and warm things up.  The sound of the rubber on the road and guys chatting and laughing was really cool.  There were a couple of little bergs that got the breathing heavier but the first 30 minutes was really just a river cruise.  Even the first bit if dirt road was pretty sedate, but a sudden right turn followed by a long descent and things soon got pretty serious.  
We were into it now for keeps and the first section was mostly fireroad with some pretty burley climbing.  I dropped a few places but kept my competition in sight happy in the knowledge that it would be a long day with plenty of tight single track for me to excel.  The motorbike trail was bizarre, like this freshly cut single track through dense bushland scrub, but it was heaps fun to ride and I was happy to catch Trent here.  He'd come away with the victory at Capital so one of my goals was to stick with Trent for as long as I could today.  In the end the tables were turned and the 1% favoured me today so we are tied at 1-1 in this race within a race after his win at Capital.
The next bit of euphoria I remember was a track called Slingshot.  Wow these trails were so beautifully honed.  I found you could go into a blind corner with a berm pretty hot and come out the other side with the same speed, safe in the knowledge that the corners wouldn't bite, such was the flow.  I was a total newbie to these trails and loved every metre.  By the end of the race I was having to slow down, as not only my legs tired, but my brain started to fatigue from the constant processing of line choices and bike handling in the single track.

By the 68km transition I had overhauled all those who had passed my in the first 30km and still felt pretty fresh.  PVDP had pulled the plug early and gave me a big fist pump and a "Go get some!" as I headed out for the last 30 odd k's.  This is where the rubber hits the road well and truly as you go straight into a 10 km climb with 400 vm.  Even the last 20km are pretty lumpy and you want to make sure there is something left in the tank.  I had a few twinges of cramp, but mostly felt good and continued on.  Ben May from Brisbane has been another constant buddy on the race scene, no matter where we ride, we always seem to end up chatting and helping each other out as we strive for the finish.  There were no words spoken now in our little in a rotating group of 3 or 4, it was just a given that we'd continue sparring to the finish.  Once you summit the climb you are rewarded with a dead straight bullet like descent on narrow single track called Short Fuse, I came out of the scrub to find a hard left hand turn and the bomb nearly exploded as it was all I could do to turn the bike with a massive handful of back brake to avoid careening off into the fast approaching ravine. In the end I was stoked with my result of 38th overall from 308 finishers and 10th in Masters.  It's been interesting to see how much the XCO series has honed my skills and enabled me to attack harder when needed, but I still need to work on my climbing speed.

At the finish with good mate Peter Lister, does it look like he is holding me up?



So what's next? A bit of time off the bike with a tour to School Football Tour to France and Spain, then ramp up again for the Convict and the 12 hour at James Estate.  
Keep Riding
Mike


1 comment:

Md. Shazzad Hossen said...

Worth reading such amazing blog post regarding such bike race! The story telling ways are very impressive and I like the way that race come to an end. Three months that's long time for a race. I've enjoyed reading every details of such race and what happened till the end. Thanks for a nice share. Bike Baby