I noticed an entry list go up on the web & had a sneak peak at the competition & after assessing it realised that I had recently beaten two of the favourites in the World 24hr a month before, so I figured it may not be a bad thing entering the event as a 40 year old after all.
Next was the weather ? The entries closed a week before the race & I figured that would give me a good enough prediction with what the weather was going to be doing. After looking at the weather up to the day entries closed I seen that rain was predicted but in the way of showers (that was not so bad). What I was concerned about was the fact it was only gong to be 11 deg C dropping down from 38 deg C two days before & with the cold snap was the rain. After much thought I went with deciding to enter the race because after the hot dry weather we had had it would most likely be a great change keeping me enthusiastic.
Next was to work out how I was to get down to Bundanoon where the event was to be held & where I was going to stay. After emailing & calling around for accommodation I realised it was going to be tenting it at the event because all the other accommodation was already booked out for the event weekend including the National Park Camps. After discussing it with my family they were not keen on the idea of camping in the rain, so I approached my dad thinking it may be a great opportunity to spend some time with him over the weekend camping & maybe doing a bit of fishing before the race as a bit of a rest day.
We decided to leave 2 days before the race so we would have some time to do some fishing & have a look around the area. Travelling down to the event I took our small car to save some money on fuel. Loaded up with camping gear we set of down the coast through one of the hottest days we had experienced yet this year at 38 deg C with no air con working in the car, I managed to keep hydrated by drinking 4 litres of fluid over the 6.5 hrs drive & we managed to pitch the tent & go for a bit of a look around the local sites in Morton NP before getting back to camp for the night.
I got a very broken sleep during Friday night with pains in the stomach & feeling ill, waking up Saturday morning (the day before the race) tired & still feeling sick. Plans for Saturday went out the window as I spent most of the time laying in the tent trying to recover besides forcing myself to go pick up my race number from registration. Not good at all the day before the race I was doubting whether I would be starting the race at all the next morning after not being able to hold down any food when I was meant to be carb loading.
The next morning (race day) I woke up feeling ok but very light in energy, but decided to go ahead with racing after managing to fit in a large bowl of weetbix & a bottle of Hydrolyte.
Warming up before the race was hard in the cold rain but I was feeling ok still. Lining up on the start in the front of the field with all the other 100 mile riders my thoughts were whether I was going to be ok out on the bike for the next 7 hrs or so in the cold rain while I shivered from head to toe even with arm warmers & a rain jacket on.
The start gun fired & I managed to hold a good pace with the leaders as we rode through the first 27km Ground Effect stage but I was finding it harder than usual to keep my normal pace with my heart rate extremely high. I was starting to wonder how long I would be able to keep the pace up as thoughts went through my head from the day before.
Refuelling at the first check point I was starting to get stomach cramps but knew I had to down some food if I was to do any good. As the second Shimano 53km stage progressed I was feeling very sluggish watching riders effortlessly ride past me as if I was standing still. I was feeling worst by the minute, wondering if I was going to finish at all, & it was at this point at around 60km into the race I had to make a decision on weather I would be able to ride the 53km loop again with all the 100 mile riders before heading onto to last stage or to just DNF & go back to the finish with all the 100km riders. The rain was only light most of the time with parts of the track being still dusty under the trees but riders were still going past me as if I was standing still unless we were on a single track where there was always some rider in front ruining the fun by going so slow they would fall off or walking in the middle of the track. At around the 75km mark the first bunch of elite 100km riders went past me after starting nearly an hour behind & this is where I made the decision to make my way back with the 100km riders feeling I would not have the energy to continue much longer.
Entering into the second check point I grabbed another drink bottle & a flask of Gu gel for the last 32km Gu Stage with all the 100km riders as I got my timing transponder removed from my fork while wondering if I was going to make it back to the finish at all. During the ride back to the finish I started to feel a bit better but knew it was too late now because it didn't matter how slow I rode I was out of the race now. The last stage had a lot of fun single track that took my mind away from the stomach pain while I was able to ride free of traffic that was now riding even slower than me just trying to get back to the finish after zooming past me on the fire roads earlier in the race. Most of the hills toward the end were steep but rideable in a small gear as most other riders around me were now walking.
Crossing over the finish line I signalled I was a non finisher before they yelled on the mike that I had finished first place in the 100 mile & rode off to camp before for a hot shower & dry warm clothes.
To sum up the race, I can't change what happened but it did remind me what it was like to be very unfit riding so far back in the field & also realised I was faster than most riders in the technical single trails & stronger on the steep pinches but needed to do some faster road riding in training. Maybe next year I will be back for another attempt.