A week out from the the race training started & I felt good besides legs tyring a bit faster than usual for the first few long rides but I was really keen to ride the Piney once again.
I woke up with a sore throat & a slight pain in the tummy but it soon went away after breakfast, so at the time not thinking much of it I put it down to maybe something I ate the day before while carb loading.
We got out to the race with just enough time to get myself ready before the start thanks to my sponsor Graham Seers Cyclery for saving a spot under shelter for the race. Dave from Seers had two teams racing in the event & myself as a solo rider, making a large crew of riders from Port Macquarie & I was looking forward to racing alongside them all day. Something I don't get much chance to do travelling all over the country racing long races so far from home.
In this race I also had another sponsor competing as well in the same category 12 hr solo, Duncan from DIYmtb is always keen to race at the Piney and made the long trip up for the event. Good thing he knows all about servicing suspension with the rough track the Piney dishes out over 12 hours.
Jason English & some of the other gun riders were at other events competing over the the weekend so I was in for a good chance.
I brought a new GoPro Session for my new Trail Terra business & decided to give it a test run on the first lap so you can all see what the race was like first time around for a solo rider.
The start was a lot faster than previous years with younger XCO riders growing up fast & racing in teams now at the Piney 12hr. Riders like Holly & Michael Harris who recently won races at the National XCO Champs only weeks beforehand.
Heading off into the single tracks I settled down into a nice rythem after getting carried away trying to keep up to the team riders at the very start. The Piney had a lot of new gap jumps scattered all over the place & there was no way I was taking any on unless I got to follow a rider that knew they how to hit them, so my first lap became a bit of a recce ride with that in mind as I did not seem to have a rider to follow most of the time that was hitting them up. Every year the Piney seems to be getting more roots & exposed rocks making the race harder on the body for a 12hr race, or at least that's the way it seems for this old fella.
I liked the way the local MTB club linked up the trails this year allowing a good climb to recovery ratio. A few new shorter but harder A lines around the 14 km loop had also been added in giving a great option if you had the energy to take them on.
I followed a riders wheel over the 2nd lap & got to hit a couple of the gap jumps quickly finding that some of the jumps took out a lot more energy than I wanted to give away if you wanted to clear them in a 12hr race & some were larger than others to gap making it easy to make mistakes when the body starts to tire. So that fun idea didn't last long at all but I can't wait to come back for a XCO race one day soon or maybe next year I take the soft option & race in a team.
I decided to stop at a remote pit toilet half way around the track & see if I could suppress the tummy aches but in doing so at a smelly toilet I found myself bringing up what I had eaten quite fast. I quickly got out to get some fresh air & a drink to wash out my mouth while watching riders go by.
Looking at the GPS I had done just over 100k & still had another 100k to go at the half way point in time & thinking ahead of racing the following weekend for 7hrs I decided to call this my last lap.
I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the race, especially with my family & sponsors who were there as well, but at the end of the day I put it all down as experience & look forward to the next days racing.
I am not entirely sure on why I was sick but as a good guess it could have been germs from the toilet pump out that I repaired on a charter boat the day before after still smelling it on my hands after showering & then eating my dinner.
It was not long & we were heading back home on the three and a half hour drive down the mountain where I surprisingly started to feel great again before getting home half an hour till race end.
Watching the photo's & results roll in during the night I was happy for the riders making podium & those that finished the race. Well done to all that competed in what is one of my favorite 12 hr races. It was awesome to hear that there was over 300 riders.
Thanks to the New England Mountain Bike Club for organising such a great race & also all the volunteers helping out. I know how much goes into running a great race.