Am I Really Ready
I decided to enter the 12 hour solo & treat it as a training ride in the least if I did not do very well & planned to tapper toward the race like I normally do by getting out on the MTB a few days before adapting my muscles better than that on the road bike. I found myself rolling around with ease when on the MTB but just put that down to taking easy leading up to race day.
Some Piney Fun
I picked up Jase on the way out of town at 5:15 am on our three hour drive heading up the winding mountain toward Armidale, the same as last year. The morning felt warm and the weather looked good for the day in Armidale. Because daylight savings had not ended yet, the sun does not rise till near 7 am, so it was quite dark & there were a few animals about. Just after overtaking a car at 110 km/h a medium kangaroo jumped out onto the road in front of us & could not decide on what way to head. breaking hard & trying to avoid the roo I myself had no where to go to avoid it & ended up unfortunately hitting it head on at high speed sending it flying off the side of the road. The poor thing had no chance of survival being hit in the head at the speed we were travelling.
A toilet stop at Walcha at the top of the mountain was a bit of a shock to the system being only around 1 degree & it had me concerned on whether I had bought enough clothes with me for the end of the race. The race started at 10 am and finished at 10 pm & I remember how cold it was standing at presentations last year.
This year the New England MTB Club had changed the track layout around quite a bit. I thought it was fun to ride every time I had ridden in the Piney but this track layout was the best yet with no huge climbs & lots of fun down hills to keep me smiling lap after lap.
The first four hours went by in a flash & the pace was steady as Jase & I found ourselves riding together along with Kerrod Parker. At around the four hour mark Jase & I had managed to find ourselves both sitting in first place in our categories with an update from Paul in the pit tent who had been working hard keeping three riders hydrated & energized. The day had turned out to be quite warm peaking at an inland 25 deg C at around 2pm but there was a nice cool breeze that made the riding comfortable.
I backed off the pace slightly after hearing I was now a lap up on second place & was happy to be riding under my threshold, although as the afternoon approached other troubles started to take over & found me slowing my pace even further. On an A line at the top of Free Air while ascending a rock I got lazy & compressed my fork too late driving my front wheel into the rock & lifting my rear wheel into the air, as the rear wheel landed I had lost momentum with one foot off the pedal & started rolling down the hill backward, grabbing a hand full of rear brake in the panicking moment I was bucked off the back falling down the hill on to a large boulder injuring my left buttocks & leg making it hurt when I put pressure on the left pedal.
Back in the pits Paul was doing a great job with the three of us now sitting in first place over our categories although I think Jase was getting most of his food at the top of Makin Bacon where there was fresh cooked bacon on offer.
Lapping during the night had me stopping three times a lap to top up the air in the front tyre before every descent or otherwise I was risking having to fit a tube into the tyre & maybe getting caught by second place now after all the mishaps slowing me down.
Crossing the line just before the 12 hours I rushed over to the showers before presentation & the three hour drive back home.
Thanks to the New England MTB Club and all the helpers, sponsors & volunteers for putting together a great race with a friendly atmosphere that you get at a great event. If I can run my events with my new business at Trail Terra that well I will be very happy :-)
Of course thank you to my sponsors Graham Seers Cyclery & Enriched Health Care for there ongoing support. It was great to have Dave Marshal from Seers in the race as part of a four person team as well, even if I did not get the time to have a chat. The boys got 9th in the four person teams.
Paul's little team on the podium in the pictures below.