Brisbane-Melbourne and the Wombat 100

Spending a week in Brisbane with Mark and Bec Frendo was a treat.  Mark introduced me to early morning rides ( he was trying for 6am, I bargained for 6:30) so we could hit the trails before work.   I tried to remind him that there’s little training effect before 8 am, but he taught me in Brizzy it’s a good idea to get out before the heat hits which I soon found out.   The riding was a pleasant surprise with some decent swooping trails at Mt Coot tha, and a pile of fire roads from there heading into the rolling outback.  Afternoons were spent cruising the river bike commuter paths looking for parks to relax and read, and the evenings full of hearty meals and some Ozzy-Canadian chit chat.

The trip down to Melbourne for the Wombat 100, race # 3 in the National series, was a wild ride from the start.  Touching down at 1pm Saturday afternoon I spent the afternoon waiting for one of my bags to show up.  This was time well spent in the Virgin Lounge with Jason English as he had a spare pass. We ate way too much food and drank wine for 2.5 hrs.  The ultimate carbo load,  unfortunately my bag was still MIA so we hopped in the rental car, jamming the seats all the way forward so we could add Mr.English’s bike box as he was a late addition to the trip and thus my car built for 1  bike racer was a little tight.

We drove up to the race sight, built our bikes, dropped bottles off at the feedzone  and then I took off to my billets in Woodend. Huge thanks to Pete and Kate for taking me in for the night! They had a delicious Tasmanian Salmon veggie stew made up which really hit the spot and took my mind off the missing bag.   10 hours till race time I had enough to race, with a bike, helmet and shoes but nothing else.  Ready to head down to the pawn shop to snag some old bike kit, the local delivery guy showed up with the missing bag.  Wahoo!

Without a ride on Saturday, I made sure to pedal through the dark out to race sight to awaken the legs.  The weather was perfect, hovering around +12, and the course was drenched in slick mud from the weeks previous rainfall.  From the gun the race cruised 10 km on fireroad before funneling into some unexpected singletrack.  I was asleep at the wheel and went into the trails last out of 30+ riders.  The ”elite” ahead of me was apparently new to bike racing as he  purposefully road straight through all the puddles, wrecking his bike and drenching myself behind him.  Eventually I got by this puddle splasher and started the long chase back up to the leaders.  Jason also had a rough start and was just over a minute ahead.  I figured if I could catch him before he got his legs going that we could likely catch the lead group of 6 by working together.  Catching up to the 24 HR  World Champ, we worked will together slowly gaining on the lead pack.


60 km in we caught them, soon after I lost focus on a dh, hit the bushes, got up and soon found the lead group gone out of sight again.  Somehow they had a 1.5 min time gap again by the next checkpoint.  This was a bummer, with no Jason to chase on with and the mindset not focused on the race I figured it was going to be long cruise in for 7th.  Soon after the trail turned down a long slimy descent, just like the trails back home in Canada.   This uplifted the spirits and by the bottom the lead group was back in sight, one small effort and I was back in the race.  Right then we hit the only big climb in the race.  I had no idea how the legs were going to hold up for the last 25 km, so I opted to go off the front as being off the back for the first 70 km of the race was getting tiring.   Opening up about a 1 minute gap on the chasing 6 over the climb boosted the confidence and kick started the afterburners.

There was a problem as I had no carbs in my drink bottles this day (due to the delayed bag) and thus started to run low on fuel.  With 25 km to go I had 1 gel and started to ration this.  5 km to go this was gone, with the chasers just 20-30 secs back I was a ticking time bomb before a massive meltdown happened.  Soon after I hit some trail which caused some problems as we had to navigate around the 50 km racers who had started after us on a smaller loop which we were now on.  I usually try to be polite while passing but this day I was little more aggressive with a pack of wolves on my ass and $1000 waiting at the finishline.    One guy got scared and crashed, laying flat across the trail as I came down on him at 30 km/hr.  I was committed to bunny hop him until he got half way up and looked my way like a kangaroo in the headlights.  I was going to take his head off if I tried the bunny hop idea, so I opted to hit the bushes beside him, just barely breaking through and making a wicked pass. Pretty lucky they were bushes and not trees as I came in way to hot to stop in time.   It likely saved the race as after that there was one last 20 second climb before a descent to the finish.  The bonk hit at the bottom of the climb as I started to get dizzy and was now firing blanks in the legs.  I willed the body over this one and tried to keep from falling over before the finishline, coming in just in time to turn around to see the 5 chasers sprint for 2nd. 

It appears the body is back online after the Nepalese stomach gong show:)

After a couple days staying with Rohin (mate from the Mongolia Bike Challenge) and his wife Joe in Melbourne it was back to the Central Coast to prep for the next round of the Marathon Series in Atherton and the Cairns World Cup coming up April 25-27th.  As far as Melbourne goes it is a pretty nice place with some good culture, bike paths all over and a very artsy feel.  It’s also very hipster, a bit of a shock for my country blood but a good experience nonetheless.

Big thanks to Henry and the rest of the Wombat organizing team for helping me get down to Southern Oz for the good times.

Below is a cool race recap video from the Wombat. 3.9


Over and Out.

Kona King Kahuna

Kona King Kahuna bike review from Down Under!

PS This bike is now for sale in Australia.  Email if interested:

Early Season Racing

The last weekend in Nepal there was an XC eliminator race as part of the Himalayan Outdoor festival.  Heats of 4 riders raced around a hilly 1.5 km loop for two laps, with the first 2 riders moving into the next round.  It was a great introduction to this sort of racing with lots of festival goers yelling as we filled our legs with lactic acid for 9 minutes at a time.  Having 60 more pounds then most of the Nepalese guys I had a unfair advantage on the power sections and took out the win.

Catching a plane to Australia the next day I got another dose of the Nepalese weight watchers program as another stomach bug hit.  The first 2hrs of the flight were horrid as I tried to keep things under control, holding back puke and other nasties.  Eventually I passed out, mostly due to the lack of being able to drink or eat.  The rest of the flight flew by and pretty soon I was at the Wisatas house on the Central Coast, home away from home for the next while.   That week I dipped back down below 155 lbs, 10 lbs less then normal at this tme of year.  Thank you Nepal!

Next up was racing the Rocky Trail Grand Prix series at Awaba state forest.  Over 300 riders showed up for the festivities and to race in either the 4 or 7 hr races.  Tarren and I headed up to take on the 4hr race which turned into 8 laps around the 9 km loop.  The course was typical to Australia with tons of flowing single track, which is all about cornering and carrying your speed over the smooth but often loose terrain.  This is much different then the trails on the west coast of Canada which are more about powering through tough sections and picking lines over wet roots and rocks.  Its taken a while to get use to the Aussie trails but I’m slowly adopting this sort of racing which is all about conserving energy and being smooth.

It was a great day at the races, Rocky Trail does a nice job of creating a fun atmosphere for everyone from begginners to pros alike.  My race went well for 3 hours and then the body started to meltdown.  This was unusual as I can typically hold this sort of race pace for 6hrs.  I had been fighting a virus from Nepal all week so I hope that is all it was.  Luckily building a big enough lead early on I could hang on for a 2 minute victory.  Huge thanks to Tarren for getting me out to the race and looking after the feedzone.

Training on the Central Coast the next week was great.  There’s a good trail network at Ourimbah state forest connected to a pile of fireroads which is perfect for the mountain bike.  The road riding is good as well with lots of options along the rocky coast line and up into the outback, a good place to get away from the traffic.  Martin and I had a few nice rides, Tarren showed me a beach or two for recovery and then it was off to Brisbane to meet up with Crocodile buddy Mark Frendo and his wife Bec to take on the Australian Marathon Champs at Mt Joyce.

This race I was fired up for and feeling great.  Not being in contention for the Aussie Champs Jersey I figured I’d lay all my cards down and go for it from the gun.  It’s typically not the smartest move but it would let me know where my fitness stood and would gurantee a hard day on the bike.  The legs were feeling great with Andy Blair and I going over the top of the first climb in the lead.  On the decent Andy took over the lead and I followed down the fast descent before coming to a drop off.  Not knowing the course I took the wrong line and endoed over the handlebars into the bush with my bars and stem twisting on the Kona King Kahuna It was a soft landing but it took a minute to re adjust the bike and soon I had dropped back to 7th.   From here I chased back up to 4th, road a lap with Peter Hatton, then had to stop a couple minutes to fix a small puncture once again dropping back to 7th.  From here things went down hill as the body once again had a good meltdown, this time about 2.5hrs into the race.  I would make it around the course, eventually coming in 6th, but waayy back from the leaders.  Overall it was a great race course, lots of climbing and 80% IMBA certified singletrack.  Andy Blair dominated it and had a great ride to take the win.  The guys over here are riding well at this time of year.  I’m not sure if its lack of form this early in the season, or if something is still lingering from Nepal but having these metldowns in these relatively short races isn’t something I’m use too.  For now I will focus on the fact the legs are feeling really strong for short periods of time and work on building off this positive in the coming weeks.  Once the meltdowns fade away it is going to be a great year on the bike!  Big thanks to Marks wife Bec, and his Dad for looking after us during the race and keeping us hydrated in the dry heat.

In a slight change of plans I will be staying with Mark and Bec in Brisbane for the week for some solid training in the ideal +28 degree weather.  This is a real treat for my Canadian blood and should provide a good boost to both the fitness and skin colour!

Up next is Round 3 of the Australian Marathon Series down in Melbourne this weekend at the Wombat 100 .