Saturday, June 28, 2008

Insomnia 24hr MTB Enduro

Mens Solo - 2nd place - 350km

Well bugger me. We may not have had a whole lot of rain in the lead-up to this event, but one section of this 17.5km course was a swamp. Whilst axle deep mud would have been enough adventure for any 24hr MTB enduro, there were a couple of unseen sinkholes that laid in wait to swallow a whole wheel and buck the unassuming rider ungloriously into the mud-slop. We were a sorry bunch, but once fully caked in mud, nothing mattered anymore. I was on the look-out for hippos:-)

The race was set in Kerwongbah on Brisbane's northside. A nice setting with lake on a well treed property; a relatively flat course. The organisers had gone the whole hog on arranging live music and a bevy of food and LBS stalls. Pity as a solo rider I never got to see any of these.

My race was tempered. I knew I was not at full strength. It's amazing how much conditioning one can lose to the flu. But the plan was to get ahead of the hordes for an unscathed run through the swamp. Having done the course last year, I knew better than most how wet this course could get.

After a fast-faced Le mans start, I find myself on Jeff's wheel. This wouldn't last long though. Jeff dropped me at the first climb, where Craig Storey also snuck past. I knew I wasn't on song today, and I knew to go out too fast would only bring a world of hurt. I settled into my own rythym. In the space of half a lap though, Jeff had lost a peddle and started pedalling on one leg, still faster than most with both, and Craig had blown a tyre.

I find myslef in first, but there's still 23.5 hours to go. By the 3 hour mark, I was still in first (solo), but wanted to pull out. The condition I knew I should have just wasn't there. Jeff and Craig both caught and passed me in quick succession. I find out Jeff's only racing for 5 hours as "polishing" for the World 24hr Champs, so it looks like Craig is the main competition. I wasn't going to challenge him today.

One friend summed up my race nicley. Sometimes you have good races, sometimes you have bad races, and sometimes you persevere and make good from bad. Today I needed to do the latter. I would persevere. Come nightfall, temperatures dropped (not that it was hot), and I found some rythym. I just kept pedalling, and pedalling. The laps slowly accumulated, and it sounded like I had a comfortable buffer on 3rd. I ran out of juice towards the end because I neglected hydration and nutrition. Craig was one lap up but also eased off the gas towards the end. I was really pleased to have salvaged a respectable result under the circumstances.

The race organisers and sponsors did a great job with prizes for this race. I scored a nice set of Ay-up lights for my troubles. A big thanks to sponsors, race organisers, and all the volounteers that helped out to bring us this great race. Most importantly for me, a HUGE THANKS to Matt Powell and his son Jax for their terrific support for my solo effort.

In the end, my bike didn't look a whole lot different to my post-race bike last year:

Lap 17: Still smiling:-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rain, Hail or Shine

The rain today brought back memories of last years Insomnia 24hr race ... and to think I cleaned my bike at the 12hr mark. Retirements last year were fast and furious. Fortunately the forecast this year is all rosey, but in-case things go pear-shaped, the show WILL go on!

Brisbane Forecast
Issued at 4:15 pm EST on Wednesday 18 June 2008

Warning Summary

Forecast for Wednesday Evening
Cloudy with a few showers about. Light SE to NE winds.

Precis: Few showers

Forecast for Thursday
A shower or two about, before some light rain developing late. Light to moderate
NE to NW winds.

Precis: Shower. Light rain developing
City: Min 14 Max 22
Bayside: Min 14 Max 23
UV Alert: 10:20 am to 1:20 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 4 [Moderate]

Friday Mostly fine Min 14 Max 24
Saturday Fine Min 12 Max 22
Sunday Fine Min 10 Max 21

Monday Fine Min 9 Max 22
Tuesday Fine Min 9 Max 22
Wednesday Fine Min 9 Max 23

Back in the saddle

Finally over the flu:) Now it's time to get some climbing back into the legs ahead of the Insomnia 24hr. My plan Saturday was for a roadie ride taking in the lovely sights and sounds (love these) of the Tamborine & Lamington mountains. I was expecting dinosaurs to emerge from these ancient trees hugging this narrow road en-route to O'Rielley's.

I love this view of the SE rim from the top of Mt.Tamborine. Even better is the climb up the goat track to earn the view.

Not a bad view to end a 190km ride with 3500m ascent eh!

Sunday's ride was with a group of friends in Whian Whian State Conservation Area. No mountain was too high for this entrepid troop. A fun social ride in a new setting. I never tire of riding through rain-forest. Another 1000m climbing for me too. It's all very much needed ATM.

I can't believe Adrian was riding this bike. I didn't realise bikes this old still exist. I didn't slow him down much though.

Still, his crusty clunker outlasted my new black steed. After dodging a million bloody sticks on these trials, my derailleur hanger finally met its demise. It did make for a fun 10km run slash roll back to the cars though.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mt.Perry 6hr MTB enduro

I was very much looking forward to the Queens Birthday long w/e. Mike Zande and his tireless crew had put in an amazing amount of work in advance for this event, and the result wasn't to disappoint. Far from it, this was this best circuit track I have ridden:) It was a tough one for a solo rider, and sadly for me on the day, I was still recovering from the flu. After 4 laps of this 10.5km circuit, I withdrew to join in on some of the great support atmosphere, and to allow myself to fully recover ahead of the upcoming 24hr race. No single photo does justice to this great course and the atmosphere for this fun event. I'll be there next year for sure. Event details:

There are some tight, steep switchbacks heading down to this timber bridge which we also head under on the way up the mountain.

Me soaking up some flowing downhill

Those crazy Mexicans cheering everyone on at the summit!

Big Al digging deep for a superhuman effort. Great race Al.

Where do I get me some of those pink slippers???

Nick cruising along the summit ridge, soaking in every minute of this great track.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

TransOz Cycle Epic

15 Dec 2007 - 6 Jan 2008:

I decided to upload some photos from our grand adventure earlier on in the year. The whole journey was an experience that neither of us will forget. Brad and I standing outside our backpackers hostel on day 1. Would we have proceeded if we knew what the next 3 weeks would have presented us - bloody oath!

Food glorious food. Only 3 days in, and the weather has already given a thorough working over. We're both already eating like machines.

Ah, this was a special spot. Playing on a dried out salt flat on route to Norseman.

Start of the longest straight road in Australia. Nearly 150km long. A lot of night riding on this stretch. Our minds were playing games with us by the end of this stretch. When we got to the truck stop in Ceduna, a truckie tells us he had the same problem. He thought the rear lights on our bikes were aliens. It didn't SOUND like he was on drugs?!?

Ah, the longest straight stretch in Australia just made breaky that morning all the more enjoyable.

A week on the road, and our first border crossing was within reach. What a great night for riding.

Winds across the Nullarbor were soul destroying. We just had to keep plugging away. We stopped at every look-out to take in this marvellous piece of Australia that is the Great Australian Bight. Spectacular views!

Now is that the face of dogged determination or what? Brad Poidevan ... there is no stopping this man. Thanks for sharing this great adventure amigo.

Hammer Nutrition were our sponsor for this epic ride. Thank goodness for our HEED & PERPETUEM drinks. I've been using these for years now, and were very grateful we had these drink supplements riding across Australia in mid-summer heat.
The support from all our mates through the MTB Dirt website was extraordinary. It definitely spurred us both on. How could you not be inspired to dig deep with support like this:
I've included a more detailed trip report in the above thread.

The Ride Route

Monday, June 2, 2008

Far Distant Horizons

Work for me last week was in Adelaide. A 2.5hr flight from Brisbane to Adelaide; easy! The view from the window held special significance. My last flight from Adelaide was in November 2007, a month or so before Brad Poidevan and I had planned to embark on a ride from Perth to the Gold Coast - 4400km in 3 weeks.

In November when I peered out that plane window, my jaw dropped at the thought of what lay ahead. What the hell are we getting ourselves in for?!? 2 months prior, I had never ridden more than 2 days/wk. At least by November I was riding 5 days/wk. Still, thoughts of trepidation were unnerving.

Now, in June 2008, I peer out the window with a sense of pride that Brad and I achieved this massive undertaking. The whole experience changed our lives and will be fondly remembered for the rest of our days.


Boonah Lite MTB Marathon

The weather prognosis did not make for pleasant reading. There was a low pressure cell in the area, and the wind and rain in Brisbane weren't inspiring any confidence. I'd had the flue all week, and knew racing this weekend was not a good idea. Fortunately I'd only signed up for the 50km.

I felt like I was nearly over my cold, so race strategy was to go out hard and "test myself". Just maybe ... a full week without any training would lend itself to a good taper.

In theory the above sounded good. After all it would only be a 2 hour ride. Practically a sprint! Yeah right. I'd convinced my head, but I'd neglected to run this plan past my legs. They didn't want any part of this deal. The first minor hill we encountered, I came to appreciate today would be a survival race. Let's see how long I can hang in there with the lead group. I'm still learning things from the elite riders in every race I do. Today would be a learning experience.

Today my legs had nothing. I was in a group of 5, and there were two individual riders ahead of us. We worked well as a group, regularly rotating leads and coaching each other for our mutual benefit. Slowly we reined in 2nd place. At the point where the short course met the long course, we also timed to perfection to meet the leaders of the long course. These guys were blasting down a steep hill. The 5 of us rode flat stick and jumped on their tails. Now it was impossible to tell who was in what race.

Heading up the wall, a sustained 8km climb, my legs demonstrated what a week without any conditioning can do. Half way up the bunch dropped me, but I kept going at a speed I knew I could manage for today. I caught and passed some, but some others also caught and passed me. The remainder of the race was a struggle with three more very good (steep and sustained) off-road pinch climbs.

For hills I knew I should be cruising, today was a struggle. Oh well, I'm not about to throw in the towel. I was pleased just to hold things together. Since two races combined onto the same course, we all lost touch with placings in our own races. In the end I managed 3rd in age group, and 5th overall. I'm pleased with that for today.

The course included some tough climbs; 1230m ascent in 47.5km, but lacked any single-track. In my eyes it was not a terrific course, and not one I'll be rushing back to. Everyone was grateful the bad weather held out. Those dark clouds loomed all day.

My mate Hank is below on the right. Hank's just bought himself a brand new swish full carbon Epic S-Works. I'll be expecting big things out of Hank in the upcoming Insomnia event:)