And now for something completely different….. A man with a cat on his head! Wait no, that’s totally normal for me. Annnnyway I went and did something a bit different – I actually used the race MTB for an actual MTB race. All that lightweight carbon ued for commuting and the odd firetrail run actually got used in anger….. well maybe mild annoyance….. at Lake Crackenback. Yes I know cracks are usually to the beack, that’s the actual name of the place. I suppose the namers were thinking about something dirty, given this was the 1800’s and there were more or less only cattle for a late night bit of lovin.
At 75km and in what appeared to be difficult terrain, I was pretty much expecting to fail to finish. Moutain Bikes do put a lot more drag on the legs than a road bike and while I’m at home pushing out the kms on a roadie, 75km on a MTB was a very tall order, esp given I had never done such a distance in one hit. And also, 8-10% climbs are pretty much stock rather than the exception.
On the Friday afternoon after we got down there, I did a bit of road time to settle inot the MB and also get a guage on the topography. Annnnd…. 5 kms of 3-8% climb that peaked out for 400 meters of 20-32% going over a ridge at 1300 meters. Oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck that made me breathe hard. 21kms in total for a 512meter total climb. And that was the road……! I did ride a bit of the course and it was actually easier.
Saturday rest 7th Day Adventist style. Or do they rest on Sunday? Okay I have no idea. The point was doing as little as possible and stuffing my face with food. Mmmmmm steak goodness.
The first thing is getting up at 5am for a race is actually pretty normal for me over the years of motorsport. 1 degree however? In SUMMER? That was a shock to the system. It was time to pull out the winter clothing big time and try to somehow stay warm….! With race breifing at 645am and the race starting at 7am, I set up the feed zone, found a cup of tea, checked the bike over and battled the penguins for a place next to the heater. The Magpuies were also hopping from leg to leg to avoid being frozen to the wire fences.
The Garmin was switched on and set to race mode. But frankly my strategty was quite different from the straining at the bit raw meat eaters up front – I’d just tool around and just try to beat the cutoff for the last lap at 1pm. With a rather approriate song by Cake (Going the Distance) blaring, the horn was blasted, startling the magpies and penguins to a battle for the nearest warmth and some 100 competitors sprinting away…. while the stragglers like me cruised up the first hill and onto the coruse proper. And yes, I was very much cruising, there was no hard push at all. Over take a couple of slower riders, get overtaekn, ride through kangaroo shit, a creek crossing then a bit of climbing to the Ski Tube car park, cross that and then up again. 100 meters climb in 5 kms. The nexk 5 kms were easier and a lot quicker – with some great jumps and some vicious single track that really wasnt made for 29er. Oh and wombat holes with more wombat shit. By this time we are by Threado river and it was COLD. Frozen water and frost, my feet utterly numb and this sheen of shit everywhere. The front of the bike was in fact black with shit. A roll uphill then around some more bridges slippery with ice, back to the blaring music and….. 1 hour for the first lap. Run to the bathroom, run back (Note utterly no feeling in feetquick water bottle refill (noting to take the lid off before drinking) then away again with a clif bar in the gob.
And to be honest for the next two laps that’s about all the highlights. By 10 am I had done 45kms and worked out hey…. I was pacing well and even if my knees were not happy and my legs pretty much held together by my leggings, the finish was possible. I was keeping up fluids and also scoffing gels regularly so I wasnt bonking….. just doing a nice consistent 1 hour for a lap kinda pace. But I did notice that if I got off my bike my legs would howl and get VERY sore. Not sure why that would happen but the last lap was certainly a do. not. stop not even for a breather. I did that at 55kms and my legs were not happy. I would have hought a slight rest would be a good thing? I guess not and I’m not sure why.
Anyway, decided to throw a bit more in at the end pedalled for the line and threw the bike down as I finished and collapsed. And smelt myself. Oh…. holy…. moly! Sweat mixed with kangroo and wombat shit is NOT a good thing. The bike was cleaner due to a couple of water crossings but my leggings and shirt….! And SHOES! Agggggh! I could not imagine I could smell worse dead!
Not exactly the most plesant of drives home and even the washing machine fought hard to not have those foul clothes stuffed in it. It wants to press charges of cruelty to washing machines. The shoes got dunked in alcohol and hot water. I basically took to myself with a wire brush to scrape stink off me.
So….. yep, different. Finished. Time wise? Eh. Dont care. It was slow. The point was never to go at the pace I could have gone at, but to finish. It’s basically a good bit of training for the Novemeber Hell month of two 70.3’s in three weeks. A good long hard event to give me confidence I’d have energy left even after 5 hours. Thence… ticked the boxes, move onto the next one. Which is a Tri Sprint in Wollongong.
But before I get there….. ew equipment is coming.