Monday, December 29, 2008

new rides, old fun

Took a ride to Queen Mary Falls with a great bunch on the weekend. It is really fun to ride somewhere new, and good to have that 'not knowing how far you have to go and will I make it' feeling. Was a great group - Meg, Kim, Pete, Sean, Nick, and my usual ride company TR.

The ride started about 20km outside of boonah and went up almost immediately along a road called 'the falls drive'. The mist was swirling as the clouds were lifted over the mountain and there was some reasonable rain - actually quite welcome given it was already 24'c at 6.30 in the morning. Made a mental note never to ride with Meg and Pete again and pledged to give up bikes. We missed out on the view as we reached the first plateau - but not the chain smoking bogans. Once regrouped we quickly pressed on up the second climb. I don't know how high the climbs were or how long we took but I remember that it hurt. I'd like to know the gradient. It was definitely double digits in parts I think.

The scenery on the ride was awesome - rain forest alternating with lush green paddocks. Beautiful river spots with big flat boulders perfect for swimming holes. We noted a few mystery tracks for exploring next time. The traffic was light and ridiculously courteous. Every one waved, people even pulled off the road to allow us to pass - amazing stuff!

We reached Queen Mary and stopped at the cafe for snacks and the obligatory WRB photo shoot.
Back on the bikes and onto the outskirts of Killarney before turning north(ish?) along the condamine river gorge. We made a total of 14 creek crossings travelling the 4WD track back before rejoining the road at the top of the first climb.

By this time both the clouds and bogans had cleared and we got to see the view we had earned. I couldn't see much though, thanks to the size of TR's head.

Wicked descent reminded me of why I LOVE my new bike so much. It is better to descend fast mountain roads on than my road bike. Ridley have it dialled. Thanks to Jez & Ride Inn I dropped everyone on the way down. Some fairly stupid sprinting along the flats to the cars saw 80ish kms in the bank, and 1800m of ascent, followed by chips, beers, and roast beef rolls at the boonah pub. Not a typical MTB day out, but solid training and great fun.

Note to self. Anytime Meg & Pete invite me riding - say yes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Contemplation

Over christmas it is time to kick back with the family, and ride for fun. No programs, no pressure. If I don't feel like it, sleep in.

With 2008 drawing to a close, there is reflection on the year that was.
Like 2007 I have completed some great adventures - Inferno, Dusk 2 Dawn, The national 24s, ARQ Adventure racing series incuding Hells Bells, Geoquest, Insomnia, The Epic, Teva Adventure Race, Kona 24 hour.

What will 2009 hold?
World Solo Champs? Nationals? More marathons? Probably.

And I can't wait.
It starts again with an epic ride to Queen Mary Falls on the 27th with a couple of my bike heros (hello Meg, hello Winner).

It is probably also time to say thanks to my main riding buddy for 2008. Always up for a ride, and always happy to do whatever it is I am meant to be doing that day. Thanks TR.And buy a new undershirt. That one is nasty!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kona Qualifying.

It wasn't my day. There were no parking spaces, there were no luggage trolleys, there were huge lines. My flight was delayed, the aerobridge was busted. There were road detours on route to Apollo Bay, there was fog. Was the universe trying to tell me something? I had to push so hard just to get to the start line, that I was tense and uneasy arriving. Everything was rushed and I knew I hadnt had enough sleep, food or hydration for the ideal race. But I was determined to take the chance and see what I could do. Alex did an awesome job setting up our campsite while I contemplated what was ahead.

video

The Day 1 lap was more than I expected. Tight, twisty and logs a plenty. I had just fought my way clear of the mad rush, and then BANG.... Ripped my tyre off the rear, despite my tubeless there was no resealing. Tried some CO2 to get it beaded and resealed. Forget it. Watched all the people I passed get back in front while I struggled to rip off the rim strip and get stem out to replace with a tube. Done and back on, but alot of time lost. Got by with another few laps before another slow flat. Pumped it twice, before giving in and accepting I needed to change the tube. In hindsight, apart from being demoralising these mechs were seriously messing with my nutrition plans (forgotten in the heat of the moment!). Very hard to shake the feeling it was not my race... to give today away. That stayed with me, to be my battle for the rest of the race.

Night came, and with it a new lap. Slightly less climbing but long and gradual and man I totally froze. Seriously. It was down around 2 or 3' and damp. I have never been that cold in all my racing. I struggled with strong sleepiness - in hindsight I think it was mainly the cold, and the missed nutrition - though at the time my addled brain was blaming my poor preparation and advising I give up. I also started to have some problems with my eyes from the dust. Another good reason to quit. I had a lap where I went awol and took forever my support crew kicked into overdrive realising how cold I was. Sleeping bags and hot noodles - shame I was so wasted I didn't know what day it was! Anyone tried to get me out of here, I stab.
Every lap from here was a struggle but I kept them coming. Breaks were longer than they should have been but I didn't quit and I knew I was still within the 75% of the leader I was hoping for.

Dawn came and onto the Day 2 lap. HOLY CRAP! This was a BT. Major part of it was marriners run, a black diamond trail with plenty of climb and far too long (close to 18kms I believe). Pretty hardcore if you have been riding for 18hours..... Still managed my first lap and found out on my return that I was well within my 25% - one more lap and I had it, plus just as a bonus I would finish on the podium for third!

Massive thanks to Alex and Christa for giving up their weekend to stand around in the cold, wondering what the hell was taking so long! You guys rock!!!