Yellowmundee kicks my arse

21 02 2010

Today was the WSMTB 4 hour, the end of the summer series and  my first enduro for the season.

The day started at 0345hrs when the alarm went off. Having packed the night before, i dragged everything outside and waited for Dr_Rob to arrive so we could roadtrip to the race venue.

Very dark. Why aren't I still in bed?

The drive all went well, although 0400hrs is an ungodly time to go racing. Knowing the sun isn’t going to be up for 2 hours is highly de-motivating.

The drive went smoothly and we were track side just as the gates were unlocked and scored a pole position park and proceeded to set up our table at transition, register, and do all the usual pre-race prep work.

I bumped into a few familiar faces and caught up with some people and generally enjoyed the pre-race buzz.

Pre Race feeding

mmm banana

Dr_Rob looking resplendent prior to the start

At the start line, I seeded myself on the second row of the grid. This was goign to be an interesting start as the single trail began about 30 meters after the start and the grid was about 15 people wide and my maths correctly predicted that 15 into 1 wasn’t going to work very well. Being at the point end of the field meant that i managed to file through pretty well however I am sure it would have been chaos further back in the pack.

The first lap was my warm up. I was pushing a bit, but generally feeling how the bike was handling and remembering the course having not ridden it in this format before. I found my tyres were probably a couple of PSI too hard as it was a little loose although I could live with it.

Halfway through the first lap i decided to start paying attention to my HRM as I felt I was pushing a bit too hard. I glanced at it on my wrist then thought “no, that couldnt’ have been right” whereby I glanced again. Then I looked back at the track to realize I was now way off line and headed for an unavoidable impact with an old growth tree. I braked as hard as I could, but took the brunt of the impact on my right shoulder. It knocked the wind from me and really shook me up. Thankfully, the only thing injured was my pride.

Yellowmundee is a bit like that. You only have to lose concentration for a split second and you have crashed. There are so many rocks, roots, trees and hidden obstacles that it really catches people out. There were lots of crashes today as people became complacent and the course bit them.

After re-composing myself, I pushed on and re-caught Dr Eggs and co who I had been right behind. On a nice smooth bit of track, I made a pass and then re-entered a rutted climb only to pull my second epic nOOb maneuver for the morning and come off in front of them, whereby they re-passed me and then proceeded to laugh at me for the next half a lap.

On my second lap, I got passed and then proceeded to bury myself as I was in clear air and didn’t have anyone to pace myself off. Besides, I knew Gixer7 was somewhere close behind and I would be damned if I was going to let him catch me 😛

The next four or five laps passed without incident although the nature of the course was starting to leave me fatigued. There were quite a few punchy little climbs and the downhills were all rock strewn and hard work. There wasn’t a lot of track where you could take a breather.

The heat of the day was also starting to take its toll. I quickly realized i wasn’t drinking enough to keep pace with the climbing temps and ended up going from a bottle and hour to a bottle every half hour as the day warmed up. By the end of the race at midday, it was showing 35 degrees on the car temp guage.

Somewhere around lap 7, I was sneaking around a root when i caught my right foot on a branch/tree/stump/immovable object which launched me forward over the bars and slammed my knee into the stem. Both my feet unclipped but i ended up landing with my stomach on the bars while my hands flailed in space. I didn’t fall immediately however. I just rolled along doing some kind of circus trick/superman impression by balancing on my abdomen on the handlebars. Eventually the bike stalled and I tipped over but it was one of the weirdest crashes I have had in a long time.

I dusted myself off, continued on my way only to realize my cycle computer was now AWOL. Damn it. Amazingly, it was lying on the side of the trail, completely un-damaged and I retrieved it the very next lap.

By hour three, I had already been doing the maths in my head. I knew my rough lap time and I knew how long was left and it was going to be touch and go as to whether I was going to have to go out for one additional lap depending on whether I arrived before the time cut. I was pushing as hard as I could but I was fading fast. I wasn’t dropping positions, but I wasn’t looking like I was going to make any up either.

Somewhere around the 3 hour mark, I caught and lapped Dr_Rob at the bottom of the rocky, techy, muscle climb. Despite feeling completely hung out to dry, I pushed myself to smash my way up the climb rather than getting off and walking as I had been forced to do 50% of the previous laps. We rode together for half a lap or so and then traffic got in the way and I slowly pulled away. It turns out he had been plauged by mechanical dramas (on a single speed?) and so he was looking strong but struggling mentally.

I crossed the line and knew I needed to do a 23 minute lap in order to make it back in time to go out once more. Now lets not kid ourselves here. I desperately didn’t want to go back out for another lap. I was really hurting now, but I thought I would push a little and see what happened. Cramps is what happened. It was clear that my legs had other ideas about that additional lap. So I limped my way around the last lap and dragged my sorry carcuss across the line in 4:03 with <edit> 11 laps under my belt. I stopped the bike, fell off and layed in the shade until my breathing slowed and my need for fluids became to great. I then proceeded to drink like a horse led to water and demolished two biddons, a bottle of water, a red bull and half a flat warm coke. Mmmmmm fluids.

Me after a solid arse kicking from Yellowmundee

The WSMTB set up was awesome and they had an additional laptop where people could access the race results and while I waited for Dr_Rob to come across the line, I found I had managed <edit> 9th from a field of 100 solo riders. Pretty respectable. Not as good as I would have hoped for, but respectable none the less. I think the positions were very close and it was only a matter of a minute quicker and I would have finished several places higher.

Several things were evident today.

1. I need more miles in my legs. I was really quick to start with but faded quickly. I simply haven’t done enough long rides of late.

2. The fast guys are really really fast. There weren’t any big names in attendance today, but the Sydney A grade riders are extremely quick, and there was never a chance I was going to be fast enough to worm my way into the top 5.

3. All the fast guys aren’t carrying any extra baggage. I need to lose a bit more weight yet if I am going to try and keep up with them.

4. Portable Marquees are a good idea as they keep all your stuff at a reasonable temperature. My 40 degree gatorade mix just wasn’t overly appealing midway through the race.

5. Getting up at ungodly hours isn’t too bad if you plan for it and make sure you get a reasonable nights rest the day before.

6. Endurance racing is hard. The little voice in the back of my mind started up with his incessant “why are you doing this?”, “you could just pull the pin and sit and watch everyone else with Scott?”, “I don’t think you have another 2 hours left in you!” etc that plauges me when things aren’t going well. I managed to ignore him today and I am glad I did. I hate him and it is him I must punish by doing these long events.

So a successful day and a nice start to the endurance racing calender for the year. Happy days!

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One response

23 02 2010
Matt Juth

Good job on a top 10! I caught my pedal on a rock at a race two years ago, and it about killed me. I bounced twice and hit a tree about 20m away a meter high up the trunk….ugh whenever I hear about a someone hitting a pedal I think of that day…

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