Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunshine Series Round 5 - The Final Round

And it began again...
Countless hours training, preparation, bike maintanence and its back at the race track. This time for the final round of the Cross Country Sunshine Series.

A Few last minute adjustments and a bit of warmup and we are up to the line.

Some pretty glum looking faces as we all prepare to "bring on the hurt" for the next hour and a half. Being this late in the race series there isn't much chit chat before this race.

With a couple of practice laps under my belt from Saturday, I was pretty confident of a good result and maintaining my series lead for the overall win.....

The buzzer when and we hit the first hill. What a dreadful start, couldn't get clipped in properly and I was totally unable to get a good pedal rhythm before I hit the bottom of the first hill.

Struggling to keep up the pace I jump onto the back wheel on I rider I could see was making his way through the pack.
At the top of the hill we pass the feed zone then the first section of single track starts. I knew I didn't want to be to far back when we hit the single track, with no where to pass I could easily loose touch of the leaders.

Heading into the single track I managed to pull up in 4th, two riders were already a little way in front and another rider was right behind me. The strange I could hear my bike making during warm-up was still, but could find what it was.....

Through the first section of single track and up the next short climb, the rider behind me quickly moves up to 3rd in one foul swoop. After about 2ks we begin to close in on the lead 2. The rider in third is pretty soon in the lead and continuing his fine form picks up the race pace quite considerably. At this point I begin to realize this could be a real struggle.

Surely but steadily the main group began to ride away from me including the rider in forth. Sure that I could make up the time at a later stage I tried to find a steady rhythm and conserve valuable energy for the rest of the race......

By the time I hit the 2nd lap I was beginning to really struggle. I could no longer see the main bunch of 4 riders and I was beginning to fade fast - so early in the race. I hoped that as I went past the food zone and grabbed a new bottle and gel (thanks to my angel for feeding me) that once I got a chance to take the gel, I would be back on the pace.....

As I started to use the gel on a fire road section to my disbelief I was passed by yet any competitor. Placing me in sixth - this was looking really bad not only for the race results but also the series and the noise from my bike was not going away. Unsure if the noise was the freewheel (the part that make the wheel go forward when you pedal) or the spokes. I kept looking at down at my bike I realized there was a buckle in the rear wheel – I had broken a spoke somehow during warm-up… This can be a bit of a worry due to the lose on strength in the wheel …

Washing down the gel with some water I thought 'I had better pull my finger out'. Wasting no more time, I did my best to start pulling in the riders in front of me.
Within about the next 1 - 2 klms I was able pass 5th and make a bit of a gap. Then I began to start getting some back pain – I never usually have a problem with this…..

Lap three. Still no signs of anyone not even on the switch back sections. I was trying to block out the pain and just KEEP GOING. By the time I hit the steepest climb on the trail my back was really hurting. Still in disbelief of my efforts at this point I just kept pedaling. Suddenly from out of know where I caught the rider that was earlier leading the race. He is just rolling along the trails ‘I ask if he is ok’, he replied ‘that he had hurt his back’. This created a little bit of excitement inside (although I felt bad for the guy) but made it a bit easier to keep going knowing I was up to forth.

Just as I was getting the end of the 3rd, one of my mates Mika that had come to watch was yelling ‘keep going there’s another rider just up ahead your catching him’. By the time I went over the start/finish line for the final lap I have caught the rider in 3rd it was BOB. I can’t believe my luck – the universe must be watching over me. (speaking wit hBob after the race he informed me that a gel had gone done the wrong way causing him to go into a coughing fit)
Knowing all I needed to do was stay in this position on the race to win the overall series I was stoked – but also nervous, especially with I broken spoke making my rear wheel sound like a wind chime.

I tried to stay on a steady pace and pick really smooth line, but this gets harder and harder as you get tired as well as a lot of discomfort from my back.
I kept it together for the remainder of the race.

I finished 3rd on the day making me the overall winner of the ‘Sunshine Series Expert Class’. This was definitely the a ‘Moment of Glory’

I found it much easier to keep racing on the day with the support of my friends that came out cheer for the last round. Thanks a million to Mandy and Heather for supplying some awesome shoots of the day and my girlfriend Kylie for feeding me on the day. It certainly beats trying to use and esky.

I have decided with the success of this series that I will move up to the Elite level for the QLD Championships. Stay tuned for results………

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunshine Series Round 4

Well we turned up for Round 4 of the Sunshine Series... Weather was awesome, atmosphere was great (just being around nature) all pumped and ready to go.

This is one of the locals checking out the MTB scene.

13 Riders had turned up to compete in the 'B' Grade' class and with the series rapidly drawing to a close everybody is looking to grasp those extra points for their overall standings.

As usual the horn sounded we took off and Brendon (BOB) hits the front. This guy would be a Short Track Cross Country legend (Mountain Bike Short Track: A mountain bike race similar to a criterium where riders do as many laps as possible laps of a short 3-5 min course over roughly a 20 - 30 minute duration.)....

I decided to sit the start out a little on this one and dropped back to about 4th of 5th. We headed up the first fire road incline and into the start of the single track. About 3 corners into the single I manage to shoulder barge a tree, run into a bunch on stick and cut off the poor guy behind me re-entering the track - oops. Steering back on track and sitting in 4th with 5th right on my hammer.

I could see the lead 2 guys slowly slipping away up ahead and became concerned that I was going to lose touch. Having a fair bit of single track on this course I knew there wasn't much I could do until the next fire road. We hit the fire road and I moved up to third.... Hello, out a no where a new face appeared on the scene and over took me. We headed up the dusty old fire road - I guess its about 800mm. I sat in forth for the next lap and a half. In the mean time the rider in third had caught up to the lead two.

By the end of the second lap the rider in third had dropped back again and on the start of the third lap I felt it was time to start making a move. Up the last climb of the second lap and onto the start of the fire road I grabbed a bottle from my feed box and chased down the lead two. I managed to pass them just as I hit the single track. I though 'awesome, hopefully I can make a gap'. I head down the single track like a cut snake up the next couple of short climbs and into the switch backs , trying to push big gears and create a bit of gap. On the switch backs I noticed the rider that was in second was now in hot pursuit. I hit the long fire road, hammered down a gel and tried to keep on the gas. In the next section I could see the track switch back on itself, I figured I had about a 15 second gap. Coming into the last climb of the lap I though 'S#*t hang on a minute they upped the laps before the race, its a 5 lap race not 4 as usual, dame' Realizing this and pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to keep up the pace for the last 2 laps I decided to back off a little and let the rider behind catch me.......

As suspected he took the bait hammered the last two climbs and took the lead. I grab a new bottle from my bottle bucket and headed down the trail after him. He was on a mission, I could see him mashing the pedals through the trees and standing at every chance he got. Battling to try to keep him in close range I did what I could. Heading down the last technical section before the last climbs of the lap I could see I was making ground. Into the last climbs - I had bought the gap down to about 10 metres. We headed up the hill to complete the lap and......

The rider in fronts chain came off. With a drastic effort to get it on as quick as he could, I jumped out of the saddle and started the final lap. I headed down the first fire road incline and into single track knowing I have a few seconds up my sleeve, big gears all the way. I though 'this is where all those early morning rides are gonna pay off'. As I rode as fast as I could I realised........

This is bad........

My rear tyre is going.... down......

Mr light weight here, had been listening to all the B.S and decided to NOT use sealant in his tubeless tyres. Rotating mass, light weight, more speed, blah, blah, blah, and now I am gonna have to pay the price. I though 'maybe I can go the distance' Within another couple of corners I realised that was not an option. Going up the last climb before the long fire trail (about half the course to go) I decided to get an air canister out of my saddle bag and pump up my tyre. I pulled over at the top of the climb and frantically refilled my tyre with air. I just nipped up the presta value I looked up to see the rider in second appear over the rise. Wasting no time I jumped on the bike gasped a mouth full of water, thinking it was probably gonna be my last chance and accelerated away as fast as I could. Head down non stop pedaling down the fire road.....

Tyre was still hard, like a rock actually bouncing me all over the place, but I was just happy it was still up. On a couple of the switch backs (about 2 kms to get) I thought I could here someone coming but decided not to look and just KEEP PEDALING.

I headed into the last bit of technical trail before the final climb and finally took a quick look, it seemed safe. With blazing barrels I headed up the climb, scaring the life out of of my mate Wags who was just about to start his final lap in his class. Wags decided he would have a drag race with me up the last climb. I could hear him there and thought,'What who's coming , where did they come from'. With great relief I crossed the line in 1st and to win my first MTB Jersey. ....

Tyre was still up. Awesome feeling, just to look back and see some improvement.

Bob finished Third, awesome effort Bob.

Thanks to Wags for car pooling and giving me a lift to the Meeting and thanks for all my buddies for the supportive text messages etc.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Christmas (usually wins Vets) on Saturday, what a top guy. Raced Elite at this events and went awesome finished 3. And thanks to Dave "the man" Whitney for his occasional pointers and positive feed back.

Oh and yeah, this was definitely a 'Moment of Glory'!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Round 3 Cont.

Here is one of those moments I mentioned earlier

This place always seems cold, but an awesome and welcome sunrise all the same.

This is what is looks like to not get the the winners jersey. LOL

Round 3 Photo's

This is one of my MTB hero's (he just doesn't know it). This guy has a life filled with 'moments of glory' - you just have to see him with his kids to know that. He plays dad and husband all week, works none stop then turns up to race. What a guy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Champions, Skill and Will

"Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."

Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sunshine Series Rd 3

Well the day finally arrived... 3 weeks since the last Cross Country event.

Its was time to see if the countless sunrises and endless hills were going to pay off.

A lot seemed to have happened in the last 3 weeks. I destroyed 2 sets of Lycra, a helmet and damaged my ego no end - sometimes I wonder if not riding at all might be better, maybe roller blading or something.

Anyway, the time had come for Round # 3. We lined up on the start and off we went. The field seemed a little smaller than it had been, the current series leader wasn't there but there always seems to be a surprise rider at every event....... and there was.

Heading up the first hill one of the top 'B' Graders Brendon hits the front, he's known for his fast starts. I decided to stick with him hoping that the two of use would make a bit of a break on the rest of the field......

About 7 or 8 minutes into the race once most of the step climbs were out of the way, I took a short glimpse behind to notice we weren't alone. The rider in third soon passed me and then took to the lead (the surprise rider) while the rider in 4 th also moved up in third, placing me in forth. The rider in front, seemed to just disappear in the distance. Meanwhile I battled to stick with third place. I never remembered this track having so many hills - the pain....

I had big plans of putting in some fast laps on the 3rd and 4Th lap, but after the fast start I was pretty much unable to recover. The third placed rider ended up getting a flat tyre on about the 3rd lap. I managed to crawl home in third about 5 minutes behind 1st and 1 minute behind 2nd. A bit disappointed at first, but later I realized it just created more fuel to burn for the last 2 rounds....

I guess third was still a small 'Moment of Glory'

Thanks for reading.

Photo's to follow.