Monday, April 19, 2010

Avoca MTB Marathon Championships – 90km He Says….

I went into yesterday’s race with no desire to “race”.  Just have a good ride.  I’d heard the last half of the 90km was going to hurt.  But I didn’t expect it would be as hard as it was.

For the first 6km on flat dirt road I kept near the front and out of trouble.  Mass starts always make things interesting with a few hundred of varying abilities chopping lines.  Once the road headed up I jumped off the bus and waved bye bye setting my own pace. 

After the first feed zone there was some really nice single track as we came back down a ridge and then a few km’s on the flat before the second feed zone.  Then more easy single track before hell arrived.  Up until the 70km point I was feeling pretty good.  After another long dirt road climb we dropped down a great single track descent to the bottom of the valley.  But then it went straight up the other side.  I’m sure someone would say the track was following the contour line but it sure wasn’t a level contour.  This is where the brain turned off.  I’m sure normally it would be hard but doable riding but now the brain wasn’t willing and the legs weren’t able.  It took an hour to do 7km.

By feed zone four I was really empty.  Downing a bottle of Endura with a mini muffin and banana chaser I was good to go.  Down a nasty, rocky and powdery descent that the 45km riders had to do and more hiking track until the last feed zone.  Mostly fire road from here with a few decent pinch climbs and lots of water bars on the descents.  Then to finish off a bit of the old Avoca national course from 98/99.  See retro video here  I’m somewhere at the back of the elite men’s start.

Crossing the line I was totally spent and I hadn’t even been riding hard but it was nice to get 10th in Masters.

Avoca MTB Marathon Championships - 45km She Says....

For me it was 45km of a relentlessly hard mtb course. Without any offs, thank goodness, and blessedly no cramps, or mechanicals but also no glory as I was simply trying to ride around the darned course and couldn't comprehend trying to "race" it. (I finished 6th)

As for stats: I discovered my heart rate monitor battery was flat the day before and as I trundled around the course I worked out I must have set my speedo for a 16" kids wheel cause I was going nowhere slowly. You know it's a long climb when you can figure out the maths, average speed, projected arrival time etc etc. Brain fade hadn't yet set in and even I don't ride fireroad uphill for 45 mins and only do 6km. The later hike-a-bike singletrack did slow me down that much and by then I was starting to wonder if my speedo wasn't right after all and would I get home before dark!

The fire road climb suits me but I'd like to have had the fitness to have made more of a go at it. The 8km or so of insanely dusty, treacherous singletrack down and up the valley was as hard to push out of as it was to control the slide down into, and was less to my liking. Then just when everything's tired, the brain's fading and the legs are threatening to seize up we get some madly steep fireroad with loose surface and massive water bars. Hang on for dear life and try not to over correct anything. Coming off would have hurt way too much to contemplate. I'm sure there were some fun bits but they were brief and I'm struggling to recall them. Lets call it a course worthy of a national championship race.

Still, when the the weather is spot on, you're alive, the view from the top is beautiful and you're on your bike there's no cause for complaint.

Thanks to Grandpa Jim and GrandPam for hanging out with Piers for the day.


Photos courtesy of Stephen Rowe at

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 State XC Championships – You Yangs

Not the best weather for the State XC Champs at Stockyards, You Yangs yesterday.  Kind of reminiscent of the Nation Series race last summer.

Geelong MTB Club set a great course.  Very tough.  Going up Bolder track was something new and having Lactic as the other major climb made for a very technical course.

After a minutes silence and parade lap for Willo we set off for four laps for Masters.  BJ lead up Bolder the first time while held his wheel.  About halfway up after a few stuff ups on the tricky bits BJ got away never to be seen again.

By the top of Lactic and with Anthony on my wheel is was feeling very ordinary.  For the rest of the race it was going to be a battle for the minor places.

For the next three laps the two of use stuck together and kept each other honest but on the last lap I got a small gap before the descent down Trav’s Diamond.  The only problem was I had a small leak in the front tyre.  Not an easy descent with the front wheel squirming all over the place.

It was nice make it across the finish line in second place with a small buffer.  Anthony came in 34 sec later.  BJ just blitzed it taking the win by over four minutes.  So no Masters state title for me this year.

Thanks to Shelley and Piers for being the best pit crew and holding the pop-tent down in the wind.

Photos courtesy of Stephen Rowe at


Monday, March 1, 2010

State Enduro Series 2 – Mt Beauty

Even though we desperately need a weekend at home the lure of racing at Mt Beauty was too great. The second enduro race in the state series was on Saturday so we headed up late Friday night.

Saturday’s weather was, at times, perfect for mtb racing. When it wasn’t perfect it was raining. Thankfully the thunderstorms and torrential downpours didn’t arrive until the middle of the night so we only experienced enough rain during the day to make the grassy, newer sections of the course a bit hairy.

As always, racing at Big Hill Mountain Bike Park meant a lot of climbing. Team Mt Beauty had promised us a very rideable course and they delivered well. I’d argue that it still presented plenty of challenges for novice riders but for me it was an achievable lap with the chance to go “dab free” if I could keep up the energy and momentum for the few tricky uphill sections.

As the race progressed the course just got better with the previously tricky wet, off camber, grassy downhill turning into a great bit of fast, bedded in singletrack thanks to all those wheels. With most of the descending occurring in the last kilometre every lap finished with a “wee that was fun, let me go again” feeling. It only lasted about 10 metres as the start of every lap was a real uphill grind.

We swapped doubles for singles, then a double for me, and eventually 9 laps for Tim and 6 for me with almost equal riding time, achieving a second place in the mixed pairs race.

Photos courtesy of Stephen Rowe at

Sunday, February 7, 2010

State XC #3 - Bendigo

It was a hot one on the side of a hill in some dusty paddock near Sedgwick this morning.  State XC round 3 was at Scotty’s track which I’ve only ridden as part of the Bendigo Marathon.  Quick summary of the track, lots of rocks even for Bendigo races and steep loose climbs.

The usual game plan, get to the front and stay there.  But the tricky bit is not stuff anything up.  Lots of rocks mean lots of opportunities to pinch flat.  As they say ride lights.

I got a good jump on the first lap and moved through the traffic of the other categories that start ahead of us.  At least for this lap the climbs felt comfortable and I had the reserve to put in surges to pass.

The second lap and it was getting hotter.  Still felt ok on the climbs and after two laps of the course, sighting and lap one, I was starting to remember where I was going.

Lap three and it’s even hotter and the climbs are hurting.  The last thing I want now is a flat but fatigue brings sloppiness and those rocks are looking sharp.  But I’m lucky and get away with bouncing along.  Every climb gets me closer to the finish which couldn’t come soon enough.

But I make it and it’s another win in  masters for the series.  One race to got next month and the series result is looking good.

Av. HR: 179
Max HR: 191
Av Speed: 17.7

Didn’t know I could get up to 190 HR anymore.

Photos courtesy of Stephen Rowe at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alpine Classic 2010

It felt like all the fast boys were doing the ACE 250 at the Alpine Classic last Sunday.  At least that’s what I was thinking rolling out of Bright at 6:20am on the front at a very leisurely pace.  Normally Crowie or JB are driving hard to the base of Tawonga and everyone else is just hanging on. 

This year the climb up Tawonga A was a good solid pace.  Not an all out max effort.  I was in a small group that got away and we picked up a few early starts along the way before the top.  Making the climb in a respectable 24 min from the 8km mark.  I stopped for a nature break at the top and then bombed the descent to catch the lead four.

Top Shots PhotographTop Shots Photograph

Coming into Mount Beauty there was time for a gel as we regrouped a bit.  Somehow I found myself doing the work from Beauty up to Cranky Charlie’s.  We then picked up a guy with aero bars on the fun undulations to Bogong.  This is probably the most enjoyable part of the whole day, other than finishing.  The temp was just right and the scenery is fantastic.

Past the concrete bridge and the real work begins.  The past two Alpines I’ve struggled with the pace from this point.  This year I was a lot more comfortable.  We kept together as a group of seven until Howmans Gap and the ticket box.  The last four k’s is probably the steepest so I just kept plodding along.  One guy jumped off the front but only got a few hundred metres gap and stayed there.  I reached the top third wheel after a 42:30 climb from the bridge.

With a quick refill for water and some muffins I was off.  Craig from the O2 team was first leave and had a good gap by the time I got rolling.  Another fast descent trying to catch Craig.  Lots of riders coming up the hill now.  It’s very hard to pick familiar faces but I spotted Lee near the top and Shelley going strong.  The difficult part of the descent is watching for cars.  They have a knack of being on the wrong side of the road just as you come around a corner.

Just after the bridge I caught back up to Craig and we descended back to Mount Beauty together.


At the base of Tawonga B I let him go.  He was far stronger on the climbs.  For the first half back up I soloed it.  Then a guy on a nice Serotta came past and we climbed together for a 28:26 time.  On the descent I dropped him.  Down Tawonga A is one of the most fun descents, but there’s a few corners to watch out for.  The trouble is some riders don’t and as I came around for the hardest corner there were people waving and an ambulance on the side of the road.  Hopefully nothing too serious.

The solo back to Bright was a killer and the last 5km to the check point felt like an eternity.  Finally getting to the footy oval it was nice to get off the bike.  More water and food and I was off again.  Then more soloing to the base of Buffalo.

Ten minutes up Buffalo and Craig comes storming past and disappears up the road.  I just keep at my comfortable pace and enjoy the scenery.  There’s a cool little breeze and I’m feeling pretty good.  Usually by this time I’m spent and this last climb is a killer.  At the half way water point I caught Craig.  A bit further along I pass and gap him.  Reaching the saddle in 71min it’s nice to roll down the other side but the last 4km to Dingo Dell is not nice.

With an elapsed time of 6hr 8min as I left Dingo Dell I had a bit of work to do if I was going to finish in under 7 hours.  From the saddle to the Buffalo ticket box it took 20min averaging 53km/h.  The road surface is just so rough and it was getting soft in some spots under the sun.  At the bottom of the hill I had 23min to get home.  Into time trial mode and with a slight headwind the last 12km just hurt.  An average HR of 149 does not do the pain justice.

Thankfully I crossed the finish line after 6 hours 59 minutes.  First finisher for the 200km and no one noticed for the second year.  A few minutes later and Craig came in.  Now time to eat.

Thanks to Audax for putting on a great event once again.  Can’t wait for next year now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Summer in Beauty

Back from holidays in Mount Beauty.  It seems like a world away now  that I’m back at work.

Riding in the crisp morning air and going to the local pool in the afternoon.  What a life.

The Alpine Classic was on the Sunday.  Report to follow.

20100120-DSC_2706 Overlooking Mount Beauty with Mt Bogong in the background.

Shelley climbing Tawonga B.