Dirtworks 100: Race report

2 05 2010

What an amazing event. That was one of the best 24 hours at a race venue I have ever had.

We arrived around 3:30-4pm as the light was fading behind the big hills and set up camp. We jagged a fantastic spot about 300m from the pub (what isn’t 300m from the pub in St Albans though?) and sorted the tent and mattresses etc then did a recce lap of the town to familiarize ourselves with the lay of the land.

In our wanders, we came across the Niner stand where Dr_Rob had a semi religious experience by man handling Brett Belchambers bike. Its an awesome weapon and it was a privilege to even touch it.

Soon after, we had seen everything the town had to offer and proceeded to take up residence at the bar. We knew people all over the place and ended up setting up at a table with some of the sydney crew (Cameron, Kieren et al) and shooting the breeze for 2 or so hours. After many laughs, the call was made to head to the Fickle Wombat for schnitzel dinner. Fine cuisinne it was not, but what it lacked in taste, it made up for in quantity (and believe me, I made good use of the buffet).

Then we sorted out our registration, only to realize there was nothing to do in St Albans but go back to the pub. So more schooners were had before we powered down around 830pm and headed off to bed.

Race start was 0710 and I managed to jump the fence and squeeze myself into the first start group. I started right at the back of the pack and rolled along the start road chatting to all sorts of people who I knew amongst the crowd. We were flying (probably averaging 35kph) on the fire road and the first 12 k’s were gone in the blink of an eye. Before we knew it, we were on the first climb.

I had just been talking to someone about h0w I couldn’t see “how it would help you much if you rode the first climb since everyone else was going to be walking it and you couldn’t ride it much faster than walking pace anyhow”. So as I arrived at it, I symbolically dumped it into Granny and gave a few pedal strokes at the hill. Then the chorus of “rider” went up amongst those walking and it was like the seas had parted. With people hooting and cheering me on, I was now committed to riding it and I max’ed out my HR as I overtook at least 50-100 riders up the hill. I made it the whole way to the top without walking, but was wondering whether I had made the right call.

I kept on pushing hard and everything was going nicely and I rolled through the 25 k feed station and kept going. I had elected to forego the camelbak and decided to take 2 bottle instead. Since I had only drunk half of my first bottle at this point, I was feeling good. Then the techy rocky climbing started and when I next looked down, my second bottle was gone (stupid free Dirtworks P.O.S bottles). So now I had half a bottle to make it to the 50 k drink station. I slowed the pace a little to make sure I didn’t blow up and sat in having a chat with a rider from Orange mountain bike club.

I think I hit the 50k feed station in 2:18 and filled my bottle, grabbed a handful of gummy bears and half a banana and kept on rolling. There was more techy climbing and lots of sandstone ledges and boulders to deal with and somewhere around the 60k mark, I either cut or burped my rear tyre. It was getting squirmy and I could feel the rear tyre bottoming out so I had to stop and put some air in it. About a million strokes with the mini pump saw some kind of reasonable pressure and I continued on my way.

I finished my bottle around the 65k mark and heading into the famous boat bridge at the 70k mark, I heard the marshal say they had water but thought there was another drink station to come. With the blinkers on, all I could see was the bridge, so I rode across it and had a very close call with a deflating tyre which was squirming all over the place and an involuntary track stand in the middle of the bridge. Somehow I didn’t go into the river, although I was almost certain I was going to.

I just missed out on joining a fast moving group when we hit the ashphalt and was forced to time trial on my own for the next 5-6 k’s while they tore off into the distance. The climb at the 70k mark started OK but I had to stop around the 75k mark to put more air in my tyre as it was just about on the rim again. It was at this point I realized there were no further drink stations either and I had zero fluids left (and it was now an extremely hot day).

I continued climbing and cursing as this was the worst section of the track, you knew you were getting closer and closer to the finish, but the climbs and pinches just kept on coming. I was smoked. I needed fluids and food but I wasn’t game to eat without something to wash it down with. I kept willing myself on by counting down the K’s to the finish. I kept on suffering until the 85 km mark where I came across a faster rider cramping on the side of the trail and trying to figure out what he was going to do about his broken chain.

I was carrying a multi-tool chain breaker and a powerlink taped up to a tube and a tyre leaver along with a $20.00 note. So I just tossed him the whole thing, gave him my rider number and continued on since I was so close to home. About 200m further up the road, there was a small aide station and I managed to get some water – instant Karma. So now armed with water and Gu, I powered home (only to have to stop at 95k’s to put more air in my rear tyre).

As we popped down the last descent and onto more ashphalt for the run back to the finish, Myself, another Guy about my age and a highly placed female rider who I had been swapping places with as I pumped up my tyre, took turns pulling and flew along the sealed road.

There was a long sandy descent into a shallow river crossing about 4 k’s from the finish (104k race) and while eveyone else had to unclip and walk it, I somehow wobbled my way through it and stayed on the bike, only to have to stop and put more air in my tyre with only 4 k’s to go….

I smashed the last fire road home and rolled across the line in 4 hours and 55 minutes. I will have to wait for the official time to see if i actually broke the 5 hour mark since I was a bit late starting my watch. It is going to be close.

It was a fantastic race, a fantastic vibe at the event site, a great night before and a great result.  More lessons have been learnt about preparing for 100k races which include using bottles that fit the bottle cage and topping up sealant in the tyres.

Dr_Rob crossed in 5:17 which is a stellar effort on the single speed and absolutely crushed his expectations for the race. I am suitably impressed as I suffered on the hills and can only imaging how tough it would be on a SS.

Next year, it will be time to aim for 4:30 with a little more fitness and a few less mechanical dramas.

P.S I got my tools back at the finish line when the other rider tracked me down – I love this sport!




2 responses

3 05 2010

Everyone talks about the achievement of riding the bridge at this race….. I reckon the bigger achievement is smashing that first hill well done and great report

3 05 2010

Past 100 riders on the one hill, that’s pretty impressive. Well done.

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