Arriving at Bendigo just on dark I found a great little camp site in The Greater Bendigo Nation Park to set up my tent for the night. I had a quiet nights sleep, waking to light rain on the tent & the sound of inland birds. On the first sign of the rain easing up I packed up & headed in to the race centre getting all things ready before a warm up ride with the Fizo Cycling crew.
I chose to race with a Camelbak hydration pack with 2 litres of Fizz electrolyte & a bottle of Heed on the bike that I was to swap with fresh one after the first 50 km lap. With the long laps & a lot of single track I figured this strategy would pay off in the end without having to get bottles swapped mid lap & saving a bit of time.
The start was a bit congested into the first climb of the day to the top of a dam wall. Mid way up the dam wall climb I was already starting to be passed by what seemed like everyone on the start. Looking down at my heart rate on the Garmin Edge 1000 it was already well up the top of my threshold zone, so I backed off slightly with the hope that all the riders going around me were caught up in the moment with going out to hard.
I will not bore you all with the track description, but I can tell you that the track had a lot more hills than I had been led to expect. Or at least they were a lot steeper than most tracks & a lot of them. There was no place in the entire 50 km loop where the trails felt all that flat. Littered with quarts & shale from the gold in the area made it a rough trail but the new X-Fusion Trace RL2 suspension fork from DIY MTB was eating up all the bumps & hits like nothing I had ever experienced on a cross country bike. In fact, the only time I was able to gain on other riders with my current level of fitness seemed to be over the rocky terrain & rough descents with the forks making bike handling a breeze.
The only thing you had to be careful of was going off the singletrack, because if you did you would likely end up in a hole that had been dug in years gone by during the 1850's Australian gold rush. Everywhere you looked there was evidence of gold mining & most of the soil had been turned over at some point in time. Every now & then we had to cross over a two foot channel of water flowing down from the top of the hills where fossickers would pan for gold. some of these had been left alone after being hand dug by pick & others in recent times had been made into a cement channel where they could set up a gold sluice.
As I rode the first lap I could see Masters 4/5 rider Gary James a few hundred metres in front of me & my aim was to try & catch him. I knew that he has also had time off training with arthritis problems in his knees & looked to be struggling to be where he wanted to be in the placings also.
First lap down & feeling like I had ridden for twelve hours. I swapped a bottle & headed out for my final 54 km lap as it turned out to be, measured correctly with a wheel speed sensor connected to my GPS.
I had been taking Hammer carbohydrate gels every half hour like I normally do in a marathon but they seemed to be having not much effect with my current level of fitness & my pace started to drop off dramatically at the start of the last lap. From there, I didn't see Gary again for the remainder of the race.
Half way through the second lap my first carb gel flask ran out & I started on a new one filled with caffeine gel. Lucky for me, but now toward the end of the race I started to pick up the pace & rode around rider after rider till the end.
I remember now that the awesome effects of caffeinated gel with a cold helped me once before in a race. I must remember to take it from the stat next time, but then again it can't be to good for your heart if it gives it that much of a boost when your recovering from sickness.
To follow up with some research on the effects of caffeine during endurance exercise, I have found that you need between 1 mg to 3 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight to have an effect on performance & once you go over that, it has been shown that your performance starts to decline. Furthermore it was on the banned substance list until 2002 before it was taken back off. They are now looking at putting it on the banned substance list once again after modern research.
Hammer Nutrition for the awesome race & recovery foods.
Moxie from Fizo Cycling for all the race assistance you could ever ask for.
Kim From Francis Furniture for helping me get my bike set up with a new stem & measurements.
I finished 10th after a tough day on the bike & my plan now is to get back up where I need to be with my fitness & catch the guys I normally ride with that beat me by over 30 mins. So until next time we race again....catch ya latter :-)