Preparing the bike for racing I luckily noticed that I could barely turn the front wheel & I rushed down to see Dave & Mal at Graham Seers Cyclery before the shop closed up & the boys hooked in to get the wheel fixed replacing the rusted bearings after hours, so I could head off in the morning.
I packed the car & left Saturday morning to make it to Grahame's just after lunch & headed to the supermarket where Grahame gathered some ingredients to cook up an awesome lasagna & potato bake for diner. After being impressed by Grahame's great cooking skills I didn't know how I was going to tell my wife Cindy that her famous lasagna was now second best, not to mention the potato bake.
I got a great nights sleep before heading off early to be at the race in time to get organised. After picking up my race number I went looking for some Hammer Nutrition electrolyte tabs after reading that they would be at the event. But after looking around & asking, I was told that they were only there the day before, so I guess this four hour race was going to be my first I could remeber to be raced with just water in my bottles.
The start was slow or maybe my bike was now rolling faster with new wheel bearings, but it was impossible to make my way through the field without knocking a rider off there bike so I had to wait for every chance I had to go around riders, but I was so far back in the field that there was always a rider going slow in front of me. turning into the main steep climb of the race, called the Camel Bak Climb I was able to make great progress going past most of the slower riders & at the top 6km mark in the track I was now riding behind even more slow riders. After what felt like a long period of following a slow rider taking up the track I politely asked if I could get past while noticing there was no riders in front of him & a trail of riders behind me, with a response of OK, but with many places to let me past in the next few k's he still had not gave me a chance to get past, so I asked once again, only to be abused by the rider telling me that he was trying & asking me to go around him if I thought I was good enough. So forcing my way around him on the side of the track, he now picked up the pace on the track making it harder for me to pass & I was disappointed in the guys attitude, I had never had that problem in 14 years of riding mountain bikes.
Now moving forward I had an open track in front of me & before to long the timing tent was coming up for my first lap as the track came by the other way looking across to see Stu Adams speeding past now at least 2km in front of me already after lap one.
It was the second time for me racing at Awaba after racing it in the mud at the Shimano GP in a reverse direction so I was once again getting use to the track, especially with the dryer ground & higher speed into the corners. You could see that the track had got a lot of use with all the breaking bumps into the corners & I was glad to have a duel suspension Giant Anthem MTB to smooth the track out slightly.
In the first few hours I was keeping same pace as some of the team riders as one would go around me before changing to another rider that I would then go around the next lap making the time go by fast & keeping my pace high.
I often train with only water in my bottles & never cramp, but I was always wondering if I would cramp at race pace with no electrolyte. Now I have my answer.
The track was now becoming familiar now that I had done a few laps & I was starting to enjoy myself coasting the downhill sections with speed & zooming over bridges until I found myself having to keep pedaling because my rear wheel hub was seizing, causing the chain to fly off the front chain ring every now & then, for the last hour or so of the race. The weeks leading up to the race I had replaced all the running gear, the cables, my front wheel bearings & got my rear rim back from Mavic after being cracked around the spoke. I guess if i'm doing the k's I have been riding nothing lasts forever without servicing. A lot of time was lost in the last few laps having to stop & put the chain back on but the Taree Tip Riders boys cheered me on every time through the event center keeping my spirits high until the end where I finished in 3rd place behind Stu Adams who was the overall winner & Brian Dunkin in 2nd, both on the same amount of laps. That keeps me in second place in the series so far.
I would also like to thank Seers Cyclery for replacing my front wheel bearings after shop hours just so I could head off early to race.
Also a big thank you to the Taree Tip Riders for all the cheering through the event center. Sometimes it gets lonely in these larger races when no one comes along from my own MTB club in Port Macquarie for support.