2012 Tathra 100
I found it very tough to decide what race to do on this particular weekend. My options were a local 24hr race, the Wombat 100 which was part of the XCM marathon series or the Tathra 100. After talk of increased single track on an already fun track I was off to Tathra!
The weekend starts on Saturday with a 10km time trial. This always seems like a crazy thing to be doing the day before the main event but it is a good chance to see some of the single track. For some reason they started me off last meaning I got to pass lots of riders. It was a great track they had put aside for this event which ended up being closer to 13km. Despite the amount of rain that was falling all over the state I was beginning to feel optimistic about a relatively dry race.
Dinner was booked for 8pm and I had the best intentions of making this appointment until I was falling asleep at the computer around 7:30pm as I tried to do some school work. Andrew from Trek deserves a big thanks for doing the breakfast shopping which had me primed for the main event.
From the start I was trying to imagine the pain that the elite boys will be inflicting at the Convict 100 in a couple of weeks time and so I tried to replicate the pace that I felt I would need to maintain for the first part of the race. I cant remember the last time I have blown up in a 100km race so I thought I would try going fairly quick and see how I pull up. Around the 40km my legs were starting to feel hammered. I tried to keep the pace on through to the 50km checkpoint as I knew the final 50km was mostly single track.
At the 50km drink station it was time to swap bottles and smash some fruit cake. I wasn't game to use the Easter eggs or other tasty treats provided as a race fuel for the remaining part of the race. At this point in the race I felt like I was rather clean, the early sections seemed quite dry.
The last 40km was fantastic. It had some really fun sections of track. Lots of berms and flowy single track which made me think they had saved the best for last. It was in this section that the track did get a little wet in parts but this was just to link all the fun sections together.
With the over 35 age group starting 30mins ahead I was starting to run out of time to catch them all! I had almost forgot I was racing as I was too busy having fun. It was with 2km to go that I caught up to the leading over 35km rider Brett Bellchambers who was having a great race to finish 4th overall on his single speed!
A big thanks to everyone involved with the Tathra 100. It was great to come back again and see a whole community involved with running such a good event.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Common Mountain Bike Festival is the closest 8hr to Port Macquarie which was a good enough reason on its own to head across. What made this event more appealing was it was sponsored by both JetBlack Products and Merida Bikes, both of whom support me, so it's always good to attend the races these guys support.
After entering this race a few pictures surfaced on the internet which clearly showed whipper snipped paddocks with a few random rocks around the place. I started to question my motivation for riding around for 8hrs.
Upon arriving at the venue it was fantastic to see so many familiar faces from both Port Macquarie and Newcastle. The race location at Dungog is around 1hr from Newcastle and 2hrs from Port Macquarie making it quite accessible for the surprisingly large turn out.
The race started with a pace car and memorial loop in recognition of Jason 'Jack' Hile before a few guys smashed off the front. Having not seen the lap I was quite interested to what can be done on a farm. I was amazed. After growing up on a farm and having my first mountain bike experience along cattle tracks dodging cow manure this course seemed to suit me. The course designers obviously don't enjoy riding up hill and so every hill has been switched back and forth. This provided a great chance to talk to riders as you slowly caught up to them.
From the start I wasn't sure who was solo and who was racing as part of a team so I just thought I would try racing everyone. After spending most of the week riding my hardtail around it was awesome to get on the Merida 99. It was so much fun to ride. There were quite a few sections of track that I really looked forward to as it was a chance to just hold on and smile. I really enjoy a lap based race as you get faster and better at line selection. With a couple of hours to go I was feeling pretty good so I aimed to do each lap faster until the race finished. In the end my fastest lap was my last by about 2 minutes!
I think the venue at Dungog is a perfect setting for a skills clinic so next year when I come back Ill see if there is any interest in a half day of line selection.
The things that stood out to me were the riders enjoying the Merida demo bikes, the variety and technical nature of the trails, the friendly Newcastle crew and the awesome race cookies that Tanya Pretty made!
A big thanks to all the guys from Gordon Street Cycles who came down and kept Jen and Archie company.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
2012 24 Hour Solo National Championships
|Archie cheering his dad (Russ Baker pic)|
I found it hard to think about the race and mentally prepare for it. Instead, I was just looking forward to riding my new Merida 99 bikes. I had ridden one of them on two occasions leading up to this event which had me even more keen. After a few solid carbohydrate loading sessions at the McAvoy's I had some serious energy on board ready to burn. Archie too had demonstrated his excitement being at the McAvoy's before the race and found it hard to sleep. My lack of sleep meant I needed to throw a couple of extra Shotz Caffeine gels in the food box as I would need to start taking them earlier than usual.
|The Race Start (Dan Mackay pic)|
Around 3-4 hours into the race Sam Chancellor had charged off the front. I wasn't going to ride his pace and I let him go along with the rest of the lead bunch. I was then back in a small chase group that seemed to fluctuate in numbers as our paced often changed. I swapped onto my second bike around this stage and I was amazed at how good I felt with the different bike setup. Having my seat around 20mm further forwards meant I was far more comfy and was balancing out the use of my quads and hamstrings. I really started to enjoy this race with so much fun single track. I would guess that 90% of the track was single track. There was nowhere to really put the power down or you ended up on the brakes as there were so many corners.
|Fairy lights! (Dan Mackay pic)|
Once night kicked in I seemed to get a small gap as I tried to maintain a good pace in the dark. My motivation here to keep the pace on was to chase down Sam. I was beginning to question if I would catch him after a few hours of this solid pace. When I stopped for a battery change around 11pm I was told that Sam had actually pulled out of the race 3-4 hours earlier and I was in the lead! I kept lapping around at about the same pace and I was generating a 1-2 minute buffer each lap.
|Dan Mackay pic|
I need to thanks lots of people for making the race possible for me:
Darcy from Gordon Street Cylces in Port Macquarie spent hours swapping bits and pieces to get my bikes in race condition. All Jen had to do was oil the chain to keep these bikes going.
Kylie McAvoy for looking after Jen, Archie and myself not just for the 24hr race but before and after with some serious carbohydrate loading and recovery fuel!
|Winners wheelie (Russ Baker pic)|
JetBlack Products for sorting me with NiteRider Lights, Stans Wheels, Crank Bros pedals and cockpits.
Merida bikes - The new 99 bikes are amazing. I had them setup with 40% sag purely for comfort and they still accelerated like a hardtail. They felt really quick through the technical sections and I had far more confidence both downhill and on the rocky off-camber sections.
SRAM have also been working hard to ensure I have two bikes that are made up of the best components available. I had one of my XX forks set to 5" of travel and will be giving the other fork the same treatment!
Shotz caffeine gels were fantastic. They are my only source of caffeine for the race. If I am feeling tired during the race either from lack of energy or lack of sleep these things had me covered!
|Podium Pic (Russ Baker)|