Having been out of racing for ages thanks to a certain desert ride, I was psyched to be heading south for the Mebbin MTB marathon. 75km with lots of challenging hills. Let me at it!
It rained LOTS in the lead-up to this race, and evidently most of it poured into the Mebbin district. I knew all my time yesterday spent cleaning my bike was a complete waste:( Never before have I seen such a mudfest! Clay was alreaedy caked to many bikes prior to the gun after a just a short warm-up.
The race organiser had already shortened our race from 75 to 55km. The 45km was reduced to 35km; conditions were so bad.
My race started ok, well up to about the 2km mark with my first big off. Both wheels slid out under me on a boggy camber. I was up in an instant though and on my way. The course would have been great in the dry; very challenging with some good climbs and technical creek crossings. In the wet, everyone was reduced to the inginity of pushing their bikes up so many long steep climbs. It was not only impossible to get traction to wheels, on many ocassions it was difficult to get traction to shoes.
On several occasions I'd slow down and lean forward to scrape handfuls of mud from either side of my front wheel. Then I'd unclip one foot at a time, and scrape more mud off my rear wheel. This procedure was annoying, bit it did reduce the number of times I had to resort to a stick.
After a painstakingly slow 20km I took an OTB tumble on a steep rocky creek crossing. This place was dangerous in the wet; slipping and sliding from side to side, it would be easy to end up hugging a tree if you didn't exercise a bit of caution and keep speed down.
My third big off was on flat boggy ground, in a deep puddle. I did have too much speed coming into this one. Again, both wheels washed out and one calf landed hard on my bike. Once again, I was up and off in a flash. The remainder of the first lap was an absolute grind. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but my calf had blown up like a balloon.
At the start of the second, shorter lap, I pulled out. The leg was just going to get worse, and I really wasn't enjoying pushing my bike up slippery clay hills.
Casper Oxlee did an amazing job to complete the 55km in 4:01 to take out the win. Given the winner averaged a meagre 14km/hr, and was nearly 40mins up on 2nd place, this is testimony to how tough conditions were.
Prize for courage for the day goes to an 11y.o. riding the 25km race alongside his father. I have it on good advice this lad was already struggling big time at the 6km mark, so kudos to him for sticking it out when I couldn't!
No-one escaped the mud today:(
This creek served as both bike-wash and bath. It felt so nice to be clean again:)
Even after an epic 5 hours plus on the course, we couldn't wipe the smile off Hucap's face. You're a trooper dude!