Man (and Bike) vs Rock
After another early rise I was packed and off to the WA XC State Champs at the Goat Farm. The weather was looking a lot better than Saturday morning, except for a strong wind, but in mountain biking the wind is less of an issue and actually was of benefit to staying cool while out on the trail.
Madrapper and myself arrived early but with no intention of wasting energy by doing a practice lap. We registered and setup bikes for the race. While preparing we heard the reports of what to expect on the course from those who had ridden it already. We were in for some climbing (which is pretty normal at the GF) but this time it was steeper and with a more technical surface (read heaps of rocks & gravel) than usual.
Just after 0930 we started, fairly uneventful with a nice wide road for riders to self seed on. Right from the outset it was climbing, the 1st km was the longest stretch of straight climbing with about 100m of vertical gain. A few riders got a bit of a push around the 1st corner by a keen spectator, while not overly needed it did aid the traction and relax the legs momentarily.
The first lap was just a matter of getting to know the course ready for the next 2 (normally thats what the practice lap is for). Most of the field had taken off and left me tail end which is normally the way on a track like the GF which has a large amount of climbing, I catch them on the downhill though (if they are not too far in front). The course zig zagged across the hill face with a few more ups and downs to mix it up. The GF has some fast sections, but is generally technical in nature due to the abundance of rocks.
After the initial climb I kicked back to enjoy the ride and lapped up every downhill run or change to get a bit or air. I passed thru the start/finish line and swapped my water for a chilled Powerade, ready to tackle the climb again. Needless to say I probably walk half of it. Saturday’s SPR ride had drained a lot of the energy I was relying on for today.
I was relieved to finally reach the top and get into some descending. A few nice switchbacks and little jumps had me feeling good again, but that was all about to change. On a fast sweeping left I went in carrying just a little (a lot really) too much speed, normally this is ok as u can usually use a bit of run off, but this section was different. The corner was off camber and the edge lined with rocks. The largest one I knew about so avoided that, but unfortunately there were many more hidden in the grass. Handfulls of brake did nothing to slow my speed, I went from 30km to nothing very fast as I collected a number of rocks and sailed over the bars, sliding to a stop in the grass. (This would have been quite spectacular to watch as a spectator)
After a moment or two laying on my back checking for feeling I sat up to see where I had landed. In some miracle my body had avoided any rocks on the way down(the bike was another story), and the only damage to me was a number of grazes, bruised shoulder & kit full of pointy irritating grass seeds. The bike didn’t fare quite as good but came out a lot better than expected. I blew out both tyres and twisted the bars and all attached cabling backwards. The rims look alright but will need a good inspection this week. The rest of the bike seems to have pulled up ok, save for a few scratches, but thats normal for MTB, (no flimsy roadie frames here 🙂 ). Also thanks to the fellow racer who stopped to check I was ok, I must have been in a bit of a daze as he triple checked I was ok before continuing on.
Once I had gathered my brain and put the bike back into shape it was a nice walk down the hill to the carpark. I loaded the broken beast and headed to the finish line to wait for Madrapper. He ended up meeting me half way there and I snapped him loving the climb back up the hill on his final lap. I hang round the finish and caught up with Nic and a few of the other lads whom had DNFed as well or finished earlier races. We checked out the new season’s stock of Merida bikes and watched some rounds of the State 4X Champs that were also on at the time. Eventually Madrapper came in and we refueled on sausage sizzle and Coke.
A rather disappointing finish to the season, but I will be back next year to improve and hopefully have a better season. This was the last XC race for the year excepting the Round Tu-it 6hr & Alcoa Dusk til Dawn 12hr in late November. I hope to make the 12hr work permitting and field a team with Madrapper and a few others.
Course & Stats (at least the lap I managed) *Note the sudden drop in speed at the end when crashing but also the sudden spike in HR when I must have been midair. You can also see how off course I ended up.