ironing out problems
After a few rides I had the suspension dialed & now it was time to get the play out of my wheel bearings, that was a simple task after taking to Seers Cyclery but when I got on my bike to leave I found my front brake had now somehow lost its ability for the leaver to return after applying the brake & it left the calipers jammed onto the disc rotor. After trying to bleed the brakes we found the fluid that was coming from them was very ordinary & had caused a problem with the plunger inside the leaver. Being late Friday afternoon I rang around every bike shop near by & left messages on social media trying to find a compatible front brake. No luck though as my Shimano Deore XT brakes have the gear leaver bolted onto the brake leaver and are hard to come by. I did consider draining all the oil from the system and racing with only the rear brake but somehow I did not feel safe in doing this & I did know it was against the commissaries rules for any type of racing when your bike is not in proper working order.
I made it to the start
Arriving at the event I was impressed by the set up through the feed zone, there was even a lolly bar you could attend on the way through if you needed that little extra boost to get you around the 12 km loop. The track weaved its way through the event tents before heading back out into the dark forest alowing for teams and solo's to be track side under the light.
For those that do not know Jacks Ridge at all, the track is a buzz to ride with the first section taking you through what they call the roller coaster, a series of large dips across gullies on the side of a mountain where you hang on for dear life hoping that nothing will jump out in front of you travelling at break neck speeds. You then head back up Serpentine Climb to the top of the ridge weaving in & out of trees, over drops & into berms before heading back down Suitcase & into the appropriately named Snakes & Ladders. There was a new section of track cut in that I had not ridden called Chasing Teagues that flowed really well with some little steep twists that kept you thinking every lap & took me a while to master.
Looking down at the GPS I realized that the data on the screen had froze showing an average speed of 21 kmh & a total distance of 8km. Pushing all the buttons on the GPS I could not even turn it off so I changed over to my Garmin Vivo Active watch just to get an idea on what lap times I was doing, but I knew this only had around 8 hours of activity recording with GPS so my Strava download was not going to show the whole ride where I wanted to get over 200 km. These things happen I guess.
With the colder weather of riding at night I felt like I had hydrated a bit to much during the day & now needed to go to the toilet once again, so with the first opportunity I went around the boys catching them by surprise and slowly increased the gap until I had enough time to jump off the bike for a minute or so, expecting to see the boys come by I was shocked to see nobody as I got back into the swing of things riding through the night. At around 2 hours in I started hearing the shout of my name as Dave Speering was now trying to close the gap on me, as we passed on sections of track that were meters apart. Realizing that he was trying to get to me leaving Ben behind I increased the pace slightly, leaving just enough to keep him pushing hard but not enough to let him catch me & toward the end of each lap I put in a little extra effort giving me enough time to grab some food & drink as I went through the event center.
Dave yelling my name every lap at midnight was now starting to get to me & I had to try and loose him enough that he did not see me on the closer sections of trail anymore but with his partner trying to stall me on his behalf by offering me a free chain lube or anything else she may think of to give Dave a chance to catch up to me. I of course refused help & manged to do my own thing letting her know that I had it all under control & was feeling great, hoping that this information would be transferred back to Dave getting him back at his little mind games Mwah hahahaha!
It was an awesome atmosphere every time through the event center as everyone gave loads of encouragement & cheers that kept me smiling lap after lap. I was so surprised to see nearly everyone still up right through the night & it definitely helped me stay on my bike.
Just after 1 am some fog rolled through making it hard to see as my helmet light shined on the water particles in front of my eyes & it made you feel in a trance like state.
There was a point at around 3 am that I felt like the only one out on the track & I started to struggle to keep seeing straight. I forgot to buy some caffeinated carbohydrate gels before the race & I was really needing them now. I tried picking up the speed slightly in an attempt to keep me awake and found myself facing the other direction on the trail after sliding out on a bend. Having a lough at myself I got back on the bike & kept riding at an easy pace again only to find on the next lap near the same place I this time ran wide on the corner & hit some logs on the side of the track landing on my head, luckily OK.
I tried to take my mind off the race & picture all the solo training rides in the bush I have done in the past taking in the views and sounds of birds during the day as well as remembering back at the solo rides in the night to and from social rides out of town with my buddies & things were starting to feel good again taking away all the tiredness and bringing the flow back on the bike.
There was the cute little animals you see out at night in the same spot nearly every lap, like the small brown snake on the side of the track that seem to move to a different position every lap even though it did not look alive & the tiny bush mouse that ran across the track in front of me until a bat swooped down in front of my light grabbing it under its wings. Memories that stay with yo forever and things that make night riding such an adventure.
people to thank
What can I say about Duncan at DIYmtb, he is a fork god as a friend of mine said on Facebook. After servicing both my forks & rear shock, riding my bike for 12 hours felt like riding on a floating carpet. I don't remember ever feeling my suspension work so good & it made the riding way more enjoyable. It pays to have your suspension serviced by a professional regularly.
As you get older & train as many hours on the bike as I do you get injury's & in the last month I have been having issues with back pain. I have seen the Physio, Alex at Enriched Health Care and she has been been working miracles on my back problem & I was able to get through the 12 hours with ease.
Thank you to Switch Back Events & the Nambucca MTB Club for hosting such a great event. It is great to see clubs closer to my home town running the events most mountain bikers want to ride in & it makes it event more enjoyable with all the familiar faces from our local area cheering you along.
Last but not least I would like to thank all my friends giving me encouragement & trying to assist me before the race with my brake issues & also my dad that came to the race with me so I did not have to worry about falling asleep on the way home after the race.