Now I’ve had a chance to recover I can tell you all about my adventures at the Dwellingup 100 (104). It was a long hard day but after finishing I can say it was a rewarding challenge.
After doing the Otway Odyssey back in Feb I also signed up for the BMC & Dirtworks 100s. Then I moved back to WA and with those 2 races on the east coast, I had to pull out. I was left with a void, at that time WA had no 100km enduro races. Thankfully soon after the Dwellingup 100 was announced. For some reason I have that sadistic gene in me that likes to punish myself with these enduro races, (I can’t really call them a race, as at my end of the field its just an achievement to finish) so I signed up. Comparing the courses I expected this one to be slightly easier than the Otways. I also talked my younger brother into doing the 40km event.
The weekend started with us heading south to Dwellingup on the friday to find our accommodation and settle in and prepare for the big day. Finding a place to stay was pretty tight with so many people going down for the event but we found a quaint little place just out of town called Froggy Creek. Plenty of room for all of us and a nice break from society.
Having registered, packed and organised ourselves on the Friday night meant we could sleep in a bit longer on the Saturday, pre-race briefing wasn’t til 0815 so plenty of time to get there. The event was based around the town’s football oval so parking wasn’t too much of an issue. As we arrived everyone was putting bikes together and getting themselves warmed up. Was going to be a big day and a lot of riders on the course early on. The briefing was the usual, stay safe, look after each other and the trails, fairly standard, but some people need the reminder (and others still didn’t listen to the take out what you take in). At this time we also found out that there would be an extra 4kms added to the first loop, meaning the 40 became 44 and the 100 became 104km. This was due to all the extra rain making 1 of the river crossings non negotiable, so we had to go around, no real biggy.
From here the 100km riders lined up for the start. We began with a self seeding lap of the oval, I just sat back and waited, I was never going to be at the pointy end of this race. This ended up being a good idea as someone went down with a bit of a domino effect at the front of the pack. Nothing major but enough to dent the ego. After the lap we headed out of town to hit the trails, a short trip on the main road then the Munda Biddi as we headed into the bush, things were a bit slow moving here as the field was still spreading out. The first 10km were pretty uneventful, then we hit 1 of the steepest climbs of the day which had most people resorting to the hike-a-bike method, no point cooking yourself on the first big hill. Most were still jovial at this point but a few 100km entrants realised this would not be as easy as expected and knew they would be stopping at the 40km mark.
Due to the recent rain parts of the course had some challenging muddy patches to negotiate as well as the deceptively deep puddles and creek crossings that brought a few people unstuck including a spectacular OTB right in front of me (if only I had a helmet cam). I continued on at a steady pace not wanting to go to hard to early, stopping occasionally for the odd stretch and nutrition break and a bit of a chat to fellow riders. gradually the front runners of the 40km race caught us. About the 25km mark I passed some poor guy who had come off and done his shoulder/collar bone (unsure how bad-hope it was ok, said he was fine), not good cos it was a long walk back. Soon after I came to a sweet downhill run with a few nasty roots that I think caught a few people out going by the off course divets. The next challenge was the timed climb and again many resorted to the hike-a-bike method, I rode the 1st half then went that option myself. Some parts required you to be a damn mountain goat to negotiate, kudos to anyone who actually rode the whole climb. If it wasn’t the gradient it was the mud that brought you unstuck (or got you stuck). The remainder of the 1st loop was nothing exciting as riding goes, but did provide a few spectacular views across the valleys around Nanga Brook.
On the trip back thru town to the transition point it was good to see spectators out showing their support to the competitors, and encouraging them to the finish/transition line. Here I had a short break to refill water and get some more food into me, there was still another 60km to go. My support team were waiting with the food & refreshments as were the event staff. I stocked up on the essentials, did some stretches and got a nice back rub before heading back out to tackle the north side of town.
The beginning of the north loop involved a few kms of the black stuff to get us to some of the sweetest singletrack that WA has to offer in the XC track at Turner Hill. This was 11kms of pure bliss (well normally it is, this afternoon it was a bit more painful due to the 55kms already ridden). Turner hill has it all, and you can decide for yourself how technical it gets depending on whether you choose the A or B line. Both offer a challenge to the rider. I just wish I had more in me at the time to really enjoy it like it should be. It also was the location of my 1st stack of the day, fatigue had set in a bit and I washed out a gravel corner landing on a stump. Such is life in MTBing. I also had another close encounter with a tree in Turner Hill but thats normal for me. I finished here with 10-15mins before the cut-off and knew I would be pushing the daylight hours at the finishline, along with the other few riders with me, we were the tailend.
From Turner Hill it was 30km back to town via Oakley Dam and the Marinup singletrack. This section involved a lot of gravel or sand based double track, which made life interesting on the fast downhill sections. And then it started to rain, not a lot but enough to make the trail stick and the rocks slippery. Midway between the dam and Marinup was the knarliest descent of the day, bad enough to have a sign at the top advising riders to dismount and walk. Judging by the shoe prints many did, I prefer to ride the downhills, I did enough walking up them. By the bottom though the brakes were a bit warm. By now the body had had enough and all my efforts were put into just getting back to town. That last 10-15kms was a bit of a struggle but at about 5kms to go I ran into Tony Tucknott (race organiser extraordinaire) and had a quick chat and catch my breathe. Then headed off for the final burst to town. Coming into town was a great feeling, you knew it was almost over and you could unclip and stop pedalling.
As I came down the finishers lane – which had now become a quagmire – to the line, the presentations where just kicking off and my support crew were there to welcome me and cheer me across the line. I had finally finished and boy was I glad to get out of the saddle.
I got my finishers medal and t-shirt (not that midget M will ever fit me) and almost crumbled on the ground, the legs (and back) had had enough and knew they didn’t have to go any further. From here I grabbed something to eat and went across for the rest of the presentations. The winners had smashed it in at under 5hrs, making my 8hrs+ look very average. After the presentations it was back to Froggy Creek for a nice hot shower and a good hearty feed before some board games with the family (which wifey and I dominated) and then a good night’s sleep.
Before I finish though I must put a big shoutout to Tony Tucknott (from Perth Mountain Bike Club) and crew with the help of Tri-Events, whom put this marvelous event together. The ball was set rolling 11 months ago and they have done a great job to get this off the ground and do it so well. The course was demanding but fun including a bit of everything to keep it interesting. Course markings were some of the best I have seen and the organisation was almost flawless. Also many thanks to the volunteers that helped out through out the day with marshalling and timing etc, without them events like this don’t run so smoothly. My only qualms for the day were the 0830 start time, most enduro events kickoff about 0700-0730 (I am assuming this was to cater for people driving from Perth for the day) and the finishers t-shirt sizing. They were very small sizes and if you were at the slower end of the field you got stuck with a medium leg warmer. Guess I’ll have to fix that next year by riding faster.
But all in all it was a great event that in time could rival the big east coast 100km enduros for numbers and really show how much WA can put on a show. Hope to see you all there again next year and if you missed it this year, mark it on the calendar for 2010.
GPS trace for the day (yes i know it shows less than 100km but that seems to be a common thing for me on long rides with the 705, if you know how to tune the accuracy let me know).