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.
Below is a cool race recap video from the Wombat.
Over and Out.