Yes I know its been a while as a few of you have mentioned to me, but bills need paying and bikes need to be ridden, plus the occasional sleep helps achieve all this.
Today was round 5 of the PMBC XC series, held at Boddington south east of Perth. Besides the few locals, Boddington is basically a mining (gold) town with a very small population, but until they decide to dig a bit further the mine has allowed us to keep using some of the land as an MTB course. This is currently on a year to year basis so if you get the chance to ride the trail down there, do it! cos it just might not be there for that much longer.
Anyway due to an injury earlier in the week I wasn’t going to be racing, but with the lil lady looking after those of you who struggle to stay upright I was heading down to help anyway. This provided a great opportunity to see a bit more of what goes on in the field when I’m normally racing, or as some of us like to call it, “we’re doing a timed ride”. Really who calls Sport a race, besides the few sandbaggers at the front, the rest of us just do it for fun and to beat our mates to the first beer.
The weather forecast had been a bit mixed and the trip down was not really giving any indication of what to expect. In the end we got a bit of drizzle here and there but generally ended up being a great day for riding. The rain in the buildup to the weekend had made the course nice and fast, firming down the usually loose gravel we have learnt to love here in WA.
Racing kicked of in the usual fashion with the juniors smashing out the short laps with good competition in the under 13s. Special mention to young Riley whom I think had to be pried off his bike at the end of the day. I’m pretty sure the only time he got off all day was to grab a quick hotdog. This was followed by the first wave of the “big kids” races. It was a bit of a slow start with our trainee commas-airs going through the procedures (these guys will be a valuable asset to MTB racing in WA in the coming years) but we riders were soon out on the trail and lapping it up.
It wasn’t too long into the day when we had our 1st and only casualty of the day. Lewis, one of the younger riders misjudged a trail feature and decided to get closer to nature (or maybe he was trying to find some of that Gold buried in the dirt). Thankfully our trained 1st Aid staff were on hand to help him back and get him cleaned up. He may be feeling it a bit this week, but hopefully Lewis will be back for Marinnup. For his efforts Lewis took home a $50 voucher to a long time sponsor, Bootleg Brewery.
Besides that bit of excitement the rest of the race went smoothly for most with the usual suspects placing. We must congratulate the new riders to novice, for some of them this was only there 1st or 2nd race. It’s good to see some new blood coming in and we hope they enjoy themselves. Marrinup is easier so no excuses.
Next on the agenda was the big boys of the local racing scene, with only 5 riders in the elite field today everyone, who finished, was getting a place. The 1st 2 laps were like a freight train with the field just sitting in. Lap 3 was where things changed with breaks forming and stretching riders out a bit. This was where the race was won for the top dogs & eventually taken by Robbie Rhodes.
Expert was also hotly contested, well except for the machine that is Reece Tucknott, coming of the back of a TT the day before he was on a mission to catch the elite riders. With such a huge lead it was left to the remaining riders to fight it out for secondary placings. JC was keen to make his presence felt, with fresh legs but recurring mechanicals saw his steed launched into the scrub in frustration. Not to be out done, PMBC club president, Greg Murison, who has been battling multiple flats in almost every race this year, except today, was pushed back thru the field with cable issues, but did manage to baby his ride across the line to make a finish. Another rider pleased with his efforts was Ash Genefaas, starting the day with top 8 aspirations (in a field of 8) he was happy to claim 5th.
We can’t forget the women’s field, with the new combined expert/elite field this year there is a great mix of talent here to be seen. Especially with the likes of Cat Norris mixing it at this level within her 1st year of racing. Look forward to seeing more from these ladies.
All in all a decent day out, as always thanks to the volunteers who help make these events happen, and also the sponsors who support them and the prizes they provide.
Last weekend saw race 2 of the PMBC XC series contested down at Pemberton in WA’s beautiful South West. This was set to be a big weekend with 2 XC races on the Saturday with 20% extra points up for grabs followed by a Super D on the Sunday.
With a bit of prepacking on Thursday night it was a dash home from work on Friday to load it all into the car before heading south. The trip down was pretty boring except for the spectacular meteor that flashed across the sky half way down. A quick stop for food in Bunbury and I was soon in Pemby where I met up with Doozy and we headed to our humble accommodation for the weekend, the Pemberton Forest Stay. 1st on the list was to get the fire going so there was some warmth when we hit the hay, really should have been going and waiting for us but we won’t hold that against the rest of the crew 🙂
Saturday morning after some sort of sleep it was up and at em. The crew was ready to roll with 6 of us mounting up for the day including our new recruit Gemma, this was to be her first XC race (did she really know what she was in for??) Most of us were hoping to get in a practice lap before rego and the race, as per usual this didn’t happen. I managed to take Gemma for a quick lap of the skills loop to give her a taste for the terrain and bit of a leg warmup.
A bit of a quick opening presentation and the juniors were soon off and racing, some of these young riders are well on their way to being future champions. Soon after it was time for the 1st wave of riders to line up and head off. Mike was first off with the old fellas soon to be followed by myself in Sport Men & Gemma in Sport Women for race 1. Mounted up with 2 cameras this race I was hoping for some great footage and the spanking new seat post mounted GoPro did not disappoint. The start was not too frantic with many riders choosing to take it easy early on as part of their 2 race strategy.
We headed around the skills loop and back through the transition area before heading up the hill via a number of switchbacks and the firetrail before heading back into the singletrack. A few kms of this and we were soon at the top of the Relentless Blue Downhill course. This is a nice flowing downhill run with a number of small North Shore obstacles to liven things up. This included the much loved wooden berms were I got some good footage of the rider behind be eating dirt on the exit straight (he has informed me that although a little sore he is stoked someone got it on camera). Lap 2 was much the same but with less fuel in the legs and the inherent need to keep some reserves for race 2, and the fact I did an extra lap of the skills course at the end didn’t help.
The GoPro at work
After finishing it was time for a rest and to see how the others had fared. I caught up with Ness (the better half of my team mate at the 12hr) to see how her race had gone and in the process found poor Gemma in the ambo being attended to. I though great this is what she needs in her 1st race, an accident to spook her. Well there was a bit of blood and a nice ‘trophy’ of the incident but Gemma HTFU and was keen for race 2.
By now Cat, Ash & Doozy had headed off for their races so while we rested and waited for our 2nd race we cheered them and the other riders on. There was some tight competitions happening between the different categories which definitely kept things alive from lap to lap.
Soon enough it was time for race 2 and too much chatting and catching up on how the others went almost saw us miss the start, but we made it just in time. Race 2 incorporated some common parts of the race 1 lap but threw in the Hell Mile. As the name suggests, its not the easiest piece of trail to ride, especially for your 2nd race and with the ‘lovely’ conditions. This section would make or break some riders. I took a nice swig of HTFU and just kept on going, the only thing stopping me was a few mislocated tree roots that proved a little slippery for everyone. We soon came out of Hell Mile and hit a bit of familiar trail that would lead us to the top of Cool Runnings. Now this is a lot more enjoyable, a nice downhill run consisting of a number of dirt berms and jumps to negotiate. I swear this is the only reason we are stupid enough to ride up hills.
The first lap was spent mostly trying to find the right pace and get through to the end. Lap to was just a matter of getting to the end and not giving in. Most of this lap I spent with 2 other riders who were around my pace and we helped push each other through and have a laugh along the way. As we were nearing the end of lap 2 I passed the ambo out on course, never a good thing. They already had the rider so I didn’t know who it was. I finished of the lap and was soon to find out that it was Ness. She had come off and bashed her knee on a rock. After a quick pep talk and reassurance we would grab her bike (the most important thing) Ness was off to the hospital for a checkup. (don’t worry she was fine and made it to the presentations that night)
Race 1 Start
Mike, Gemma & myself stuck around for a few laps of the 2nd race for Cat, Ash & Doozy before heading back to camp to get in a quick shower before presentations. Soon after the rest of the gang rocked back to the house, got cleaned up and we headed in for a feed and presentations.
Presentations went alright for the crew, with Mike getting 2nd for his category, Gemma picking up a bottle of wine for competing in her 1st race and Ash claiming the Grand Prize in the raffle. All in all a great day was had. Thanks to everyone who made this event possible, I don’t need to be individual Tony has done that, but I will thank him for making this race happen. With out him and the support he gets from everyone these events wouldn’t happen for us.
Note – I didn’t see much of the Super D as I had to head back to Perth, but it sounded like it went well and the bit I saw will make it worth staying for next year.
Most photos thanks to Jose from Apogee Photography – the race gallery on the Apogee site is progressively being updated this week so check back regularily to find a photo of yourself.
With the Dwellingup100 off-road enduro coming up in September and having just done the Kep track with PIHC I was in need for some more distance mountain biking. I’d only ridden the usual XC rounds and a few small enduros since the last 100km effort (2010 Karri Cup). I remember telling myself after the Karri Cup that I’d need to put in some more saddle time before doing the 100km again. The time for action was nigh.
I was keen to give the Kep Track a decent effort after the small introduction a few months ago. It’s basically a dirt track that follows the Golden Pipeline from Mundaring Weir to Northam, 75km away. It’s not technical at all but does provide ample riding distance on dirt which would suit our purpose nicely. I’m not really into touring and staying in Northam didn’t interest us, so it was put forward that we ride it out and back. It’s not even hilly but my thinking was that what it lacked in elevation would be made up for in distance. The Dwellingup100 involves quite a lot of up and down but is only a mere 100km – so surely this would be a good training ride! A few emails to some interested parties, a short debate on a free weekend and a date settled on. It’d be good to knock this one over in a day.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around our band of riders had been whittled down to four. Lee, Craig, Dave and myself, rocked up to Mundaring Weir Hotel carpark at 0600  where it was deserted and dark. Dave and myself on dually’s, Lee on his cool Focus hardtail and Craig on his Surly Long Haul Trucker. After some Mindless Banter™ – mostly about how chilly it was, and jibes about Dave and myself not having lights we set off shortly before 0630.
The other three headed up the road and then wondered where I had got to. Having done this ride before I knew the way. I did the first half klick on the track whilst the others plodded up the road and then joined the track. Jumpers and jackets were discarded shortly afterwards. The 7km or so to Mundaring township is mostly wide-ish sniggletrack , crosses the road a couple of times and very pleasant to ride, even uphill. It was dark, with just enough moonlight, and a bit of mist. A favourite part of any ride, we were just waiting for the Tauntauns to appear out of the white haze…
We negotiated the unsigned dogs-leg at Mt Helena with no hassles thanks to my prior knowledge. Most of the track is easy to follow but this intersection could be a trap for first timers.
Past the BMX jump track near Chidlow, the rest of us resisted Craig’s call to ride the jumps. I was keen not to break anything too early in the day.
The next section of flat path was dry but quite bumpy. In the not too distant past it seems a horse or two had been through here when it was wet and left many hoof marks which had now dried hard. Kind of like corrugations but different. Certainly not the most pleasant surface to ride on.
Went past Baker’s Hill and it’s pie shop. Plodding along at a steady pace, Dave starting to feel the effects of his limited saddle time of late and the previous day’s crit race.
Nearing Clackline there was a fun downhill run ending in a gully across a stream. Video
Six or seven kilometres of deserted road provided Craig with a chance to stretch his Surly’s legs necessitating him to wait for the rest of us at a lovely paddock edge. Reminded our two ex-pats of Wales apparently. It is quite scenic in parts and all the sheep were out with their lambs following them about. We continued on past the West Northam water tanks followed by a nice run of downhill sniggletrack just before Northam where I got the chance to open it up and show Craig he can’t beat me at everything on a bike. A cool, rough downhill, complete with dodgy pipe crossover (almost came unstuck here) before a short pathway blat into Northam town centre where the Garmin told me we had done 75km on the dot.
Not much doing in Northam on this lovely sunny Sunday. I was looking forward to the mountain bikers lunch of choice  but was sadly disappointed with what was on offer. A bakery, a cafe or Chicken Treat. We settled on the bakery which was empty when we arrived but within a minute of entering it was filled with more than a dozen locals. Purchases were made and we adjourned to the local park by the river to scoff down our sausage rolls, pies, buns, pastries, milk & Cokes.
After refilling CamelBaks and bottles we headed back out of town and climbed the steepest part of the ride. The rough track next to the pipeline wasn’t as hard going up as I thought it might be when I was barrelling down it earlier on, but was still a task after the recent belly filling.
A regroup at the Wales-esque paddock took place as the others waited for me, before the short roll down the road to Clackline. We waited there too as it seems Lee had a puncture. Craig went back to help him out with Dave and me heading off up the track. It wasn’t too long before Craig and Lee caught, then passed us and we were off the back again. This was the last time I saw Craig until I finished the ride! Lee I could see in the distance for a bit then he disappeared into the yonder again. I was struggling at this point but a short break and a few lollies gave me an energy burst and helped me catch up to where Dave had stopped and waited for me. He was knackered and inhaled his emergency gel and we had some more lollies to see us thru. A lady rider heading the other way said she hadn’t seen anyone else on the track. We figured Lee and Craig must’ve finished. We re-mounted , determined to finish off the day. Dave spent most of the remaining kilometres back to Mundaring township yo-yoing off the back of my wheel. I perked up once we reached the downhill sniggletrack back to the Hotel, this was the prize at the end of the day and we bombed down it, legs forgetting that we’d already asked 143km of them. We rolled into the carpark, and the band was playing in the pub across the road, with 150km on Mr Garmin.
Craig was waiting for us – and had been for 25 minutes! Strangely, Lee turned up a few minutes later than us. Turns out he stopped to fix another flat and then got lost, missing the dog leg mentioned previously at Mt Helena on the way back and started heading to John Forrest.
The ride was certainly harder on the dually than if I had taken the hardtail as previous, but the whole exercise was time in the saddle on the same bike I would do the Dwellingup100 on.
* A big thanks to Dave since he wrote most of this and I edited in my bits.
 “It’s 0600. What’s the O stand for? Oh my God, it’s early!” – Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam
 Meaningless MTB-OZ reference
 Sniggletrack = singletrack
 burger with the workx & chocolate milkshake
Well it was going to be a big weekend for the 2010 KarriCup from the start, with a few weeks of organising and getting prepared, most of us managed to make it. Unfortunately a few of the crew dropped out due to work commitments (next time guys). The caravan was picked up on Friday afternoon and bikes readied that evening. Saturday morning was almost a no go when someone’s alarm didn’t go off. Luckily the missus woke up and we got the show on the road with not too much time out. The car was packed and we hit the road for the trip south.
Normally a trip south is a couple of hours and not too bad but towing an ‘anchor’ in big winds can double that and the fuel usage. Eventually we made Pemberton were the fellow SPR guys were to race the Pemberton Classic. A quick stop here to drop off a jersey(thanks Kimbo) for Dave then onto Northcliffe to set up camp and have a quick rest.
Our accommodation for the weekend was Round Tu It Caravan Park in Northcliffe. A lovely bush setting to park the caravan and take it easy when not on the bike or checking out the local tourist attractions. We parked up the van and set about getting it habitable, with annex and bedding etc. Once all was done and a quick rest out of the way, I set off back to Pemberton with the ol man to catch the action at the Pemberton Classic Crits series. Meanwhile we left the wife and my brother to guard camp and have dinner ready for our return 🙂
We made Pemberton in quick time and arrived to the SPR crew warming up and getting ready for their Crits races. The lads were looking sharp with a good showing of force in the SPR Team kit. The guys put in some big efforts to make a few key placings, despite the unbalanced grading. (full report here) While in town I caught up with a few of the locals from when I grew up and caught up on the goss about the new MTB course being built.
After the completion of the Crits races we bad the guys farewell and wished them luck on the road race the next day. From here we headed back to Northcliffe with Dave in close pursuit for our pasta dinner and a good sleep before the race ahead.
The campsite was packed with fellow riders and I ran into a few of the regulars who get to these events and had a quick chat about plans for the next day. After a good carb load dinner and final bike and kit prep we were off to bed.
No sooner had I fallen asleep (had a pretty average nite trying to sleep properly) and it was time to rise. The park was springing to life with bikes and riders everywhere. We had a quick breakfast and kitted up for the short ride to the start at the Northcliffe recreation oval. Everyone hustled around the start to hear the pre race briefing, catch up with friends and chat to other riders. Before we knew it though the start was underway. We said farewell to our support crew, my wife & father(thanks guys, was much appreciated by the 3 of us), and got under way. The start was slightly staggered but maybe not quite enough to avoid the congestion on the Round Tu It single track. It was a quick start for most until that point when it became a stop or walk situation for a little bit, but eventually things sorted themselves out and there was free roads ahead.
After the Round Tu It single track there was some open road and fire trails to get riders warmed up. Just before this ended and we hit the paddocks, riders had to negotiated a nice sand patch before the Borara Rd crossing. This proved entertaining to watch as inexperienced riders came unstuck or got caught out. It was then thru some paddocks, over a dam wall, past some cows and back into the bush. Fast flowing sections of firetrails and single track ensued broken up with a couple of river crossings which proved a bit too much for some riders who didn’t exercise caution and had some OTB moments. Thankfully the few incidents I saw were not too bad. It wasn’t long and we were into the Borara State course, which brought back a bit of technicality to the ride and kept you on your toes. Soon after and we were at the end of the 1st stage, were Dave was already waiting.
We had a quick rest & resupply, water was much needed as the day was warming up and then it was on the way again. Stage 2 was the shortest of the 4 and also the fastest. It was mostly flat lantana and dry swamp flats with a few minor undulations. Dave pulled away and Devan and I continued on at our own pace. There wasn’t much to say about this section as it was over pretty quick, just dusty and fast, but fun.
End of stage 2 was the half way point and lunch. The organisers provided a good selection of food including fruit and sandwiches to help riders refuel. Also the local CFA had a truck setup for getting a hose down and bit of a wash to freshen up, this proved pretty popular. As I pulled in the 50km riders were just heading off.
After a good rest, feed and knicks change it was back on the bike. Stage 3 started with a nice section of technical single track just to remind you this was not going to be easy. I found this by far the hardest stage of the day, not because of the actual course but more probably by the fact i had just had lunch and fatigue was setting in. This section was a good mix of terrain and even a tree across the trail (that had fallen overnight) for riders to negotiate their way thru, once some figured out that yes they were going the right way. I think I spent a fair bit of time pushing my bike on this stage as my back was giving me grief and cramping was hitting me. Mainly I think due to poor nutrition, I was finding it hard to eat even though I knew I had to, my stomach just felt nauseous. At least I was able to pump the fluids in but food was probably more needed.
I eventually made the end of stage 3 where Dave & Devan were already waiting for me. I managed to get a bit of food in here which pepped me up for the final run home, even though I did have serious thoughts of throwing it in. But I had come this far and wasn’t going to give up too easily. We set off on stage 4, basically the reverse of stage 1, for home. Dave was off from the start and I hung with Devan for a bit but he soon took off as well. Back thru the other half of the Borara State course was quite pleasant and I had a little chuckle at the downhill corner, jump with a tree in the middle of it, knowing good and well that many a rider had been caught out by it earlier (the bonus of knowing a trail). Out the back of Borara and it was into a good section of flowing downhill trails, which brought some welcome relief for the legs. These continued down til the creek crossing and then it was back up again, yuk, I hate hills.
Eventually it was out of the trees and back to the paddocks and I knew the end was not too far way. It was here I caught up with Devan again and we tackled the paddocks together, before he took off again. Coming thru the last paddock, the farm owner was kicking back in his camp chair (minus a beer) cheering the remaining riders on. Back thru the sand pit and along the final fire trail and I forgot about the 50m section of calf burning hill I had to negotiate. I finally made it back to the short bitumen section and rolled almost to town, the temptation to pull into the caravan park on the way and finish there was strong but with only a few kms to go I struggled on and eventually made the finish.
I collapsed into a chair and stretched the legs a bit, while getting more fluids in as it had been a hot day. We watched the final few riders come thru and had a bit of a chat with a few of the organisers while waiting for the presentations. They kept getting pushed back so we ended up going back to camp for a well deserved wash and feed, before making it an early night.
All in all it was a good day. Having done a few 100km races/rides before I thought this would have been a bit easier. I think my nutrition was what let me down the most, as I was fitter than when I had done the previous events. But next time(if there is) I hope to be even better prepared and have more training under the belt. It had been almost 6 months since Dave & myself had been on the MTB bikes, too much scumming had made us soft we think.
A few improvments for next year –
- a few extra signs on some of the confusing intersections
- make distance markers harder for delinquents to remove (this 1 is not always easy)
- more staggered start or change the singletrack location
- bit less of the paddocks, while generally ok, a few grass hidden holes seemed to catch some out.
- better organisation of presentations time as it got pushed back twice (1hr 1/2 in total)
Other than that a big thank you to all the organisers and volunteers who helped make the day what it was. It is a well run event and really well supported by the locals, whether they were lands owners opening their land for use or helping thruout the day, Thank you.
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.
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).
Recently I attended a PIHC workshop on cycling nutrition & hydration. Part of the night involves door prizes and other random giveaways. I managed to win a free bike clean on offer from Eddy Holland’s Bicycle Services. The prize of the night was Bont shoes which went to the guy next to me, damn it (I needed those as i had just broken mine – see Broken).
With the Dwellingup 100 this weekend and having just done a training ride on sunday the mountain bike was in need of a tune up and clean, what better time to take advantage of this great prize. I phoned Eddy on the Monday night and was able to book an appointment for Tuesday morning, Bonus!!
Eddy rocked up on time and ready to go, I’m not sure he realised the state of my ride before hand, and given most of his clients usually have road bikes, mine was nice and dirty. He got to the task and had the beast tamed within an hour. The most notable area of cleanliness was the rear cluster after a few wet, muddy rides this had built up a nice dose of crud, but now looks as new.
All in all a nice job done considering the original state. Next time I might be nicer and let him have a go of the roadie, minus mud. So if your time poor, lack the skills or just lazy, give Eddy a call to come tune your ride and keep it on the road. He does the job onsite so no need to worry about getting it to and from a shop.