The night before: spinning shit with friends "hubcap", Gary & Karen.
The Noosa Enduro is a favourite course of mine. Excellent course; technicallay challenging and lots of great climbs and hairy descents. Beautiful rainforest with lots of creek crossings, and magnificent views of the whole hinterland from the high-point of the ride. This year there would be some changes to route to meet some QNP&WS requirements for use of trails. This was the third year the race was held, and I have done all three.
This year I toed the line with the elites to get a clean break before the hordes converged on the trails and single-track. The elites get a 3 min head-start for this clear run. Well, unbeknowns to us we were lead on a wild goose chase around town and find out just as we enter the singletrack that most of the open riders are already in front of us. WTF? Evidently they were escorted the correct way through town:-(
It takes quite a while to weave through all the traffic. The trails were very water logged. Lots of creek crossings, mud, slippery rocky climbs, but how can one not enjoy riding through such a beautiful forest. The mud and long grass get into everything on our bikes. I'm cringing at the wear and tear on my drive-train. Already I couldn't use the two highest gears on my cluster.
About 30km in, I'm bombing a hill and continue the climb on the other side. I didn't see the well camoflauged trail marker on the side of the track, and there was nothing else to highlight a direction change, not to me, and not to about 30 others that took the same diversion (some also ahead of me). We were spewing, it was an extra 10km round trip in a 100km ride.
When we get back on track, again we had to negotiate through the traffic, but at least now it is well spread. 10km later I lost touch with a pace-line I had joined. At the half-way point, I needed to find a stick to clear my cluster.
Since I've had a lazy training week thanks to watching the TdF, I wasn't planning an all-out race today. Instead I though I'd challenge myself to ride the "Mother". This is one very, very steep pinch climb, possibly 200m in length. Out of all the elite riders and Word champ reps we have in Qld MTB, only 5 (I believe) have done this climb without putting a foot down in the 2 previous years the event has been held. My climbing has improved heaps, so I would give it a crack!'
When I arrived at the foot of the Mother after 5km of climbing shallower slopes, I could see I had no chance. The surface was a soft clay. NO CHANCE. No-one climbed the Mother this year.
The rain set in. Oh no. For the rest of the ride, the course surface turned to what could best be described as grease. It was very tough going. I felt bad for the intermediate 50 riders. They were all diverted from the flat 50km to the hilly 50km because it was supposed to be dry. Elite riders needed to walk many of these pinch climbs. There was no traction in so many places. Some people doing the intermediate 50 must have walked a large proportion of this course, and were still coming in 6hrs later.
16th/26 in elite finishers. Not a great result but diversions and mechanicals didn;t help the cause. Regardless any rider should feel proud of finishing either course today. I saw more than one of these:
.... [Dances backwards in the hope the next race will be dry] ....