I had never ridden at the Singleton track & was looking forward to a new location. It felt like it had been too long since last racing in a Rockytrail GP event & I missed the first round while preparing the track for the Bago Bluff MTB Marathon.
Like last weekend in the 12 hr I was again able to race alongside one of my sponsors. Fizo Cycling had two teams entered & two solo riders including myself in the 7 hr event.
I left Port Macquarie late Friday afternoon packing the car at the last minute for the 3.5 hr trip.
Arriving at the event location just outside Singleton around 8pm I was greeted by all the familiar faces that race these long events sitting under a huge setup by Grahame Sonter for the event weekend. Chairs & tables, LED lights, generator & even a shower.
I set up my little tent & got some sleep after catching up with all under a comfortable starry sky. Waking the next morning it was good to be able to lay there with no kids & gear to pack before heading to the track. The sky had a layer of high cloud keeping the temperature down slightly on what was to be a 29 deg C day.
The track was in very open bush with gum trees scattered throughout & the track didn't go any further than 1 km away from the start I was told with lots of corners at around 10 km in length per lap.
I took my time in getting ready & was looking forward to seeing what the track had to offer. After setting up for the race I took a quick spin to warm up the legs & check tyre pressures on the corners before heading to the race start where there was cow patties scattered down the road we had to ride through before entering the first single track.
The first lap seemed to go by very fast as the track weaved its way through open tree scattered paddocks linked by steel over passes through the fences at the top of a hill.
In the first hour I seen three riders loose traction at high speed on the fast dusty corners & I began to concentrate on body position through every corner that was now becoming like fine powder. If you looked carefully at most of the off camber corners you could rail around small ruts that started appearing from all the riders giving the benefit of not having to use brakes so much, thus saving a little more energy.
I was averaging over 25 kmh for the first few hours of fun & was feeling good, but did notice my heart rate well above lactate every time I looked at the readings from the GPS. Knowing that I seemed to be caught up with the fast flowing track & having a higher than normal heart rate for a 7 hr race I backed of the pace slightly before I found myself hitting the wall with my energy.
The first 4 hrs seemed to go by fast while having so much fun touching up my cornering skills as I rode most of it with Micheal Crummy who was competing in the 4 hr solo category. 500m of track split while riding down a slight decline to mirror the other track beside it, making for some very fun duel slalom riding, glancing across at each other trying to get to the front before meeting up again. This was by far the best part of the track & something I would love to replicate near home.
As the 4 hr riders exited the track the sun began to peak giving no where to hide from it's rays in the open paddocks. I started drinking on bottle of electrolyte every lap instead of every two laps in the attempt to keep cramping at bay. Drinking one bottle after another had its own problems now starting to make me feel nauseated & all I wanted to drink was water. In the final hour of racing I was told I was sitting in 2nd position & it kept me riding strong till the end, picking up speed each lap as the clock counted down.
I rode back past Ian Bridgeland who went past me at speed earlier in the race. I knew he was not in my category but found him to be a great pacing tool toward the end keeping me strong on the pedals, also I did not know what position I was sitting overall & knew that he could potentially take the GC podium from me if I was in the running.
Thanks Grahame Sontor for helping out in the feed zone & letting me use the awesome hot shower to wash off all the dust before heading home.
Also thank you to all my other support to make it to races: