There we all were. Packed in, rubbed down and fired up. I was so up for this race it was getting peculiar. But I wasnt alone in that sentiment, and as the gun went off, the speed at which the pointy end opened up pretty clearly indicated that most of these dudes were not only hungry to race but were sons and daughters of this trail too.
Generally the starting speed of a race is usually directly proportional to the number of elites, divided by the length of the race in hours. I don't know what the numerical representation of "fark-king-hell!" is, but it appeared that most cats in this race had been on their bikes when they should have been in maths class. A wave of riders 12 wide and 25 deep poured towards the valve that was the opening to the single track - with me getting tossed around up in the middle like a tourist in the surf.
It could have been an explosion in a bike shop, but testament to the mad-skillz of my fellow races, we all squeezed in and opened our respective racing accounts over this very, very sweet XC race course.
Each lap started with whip through the Kurrajong trees and a small climb with a gradient about as steep as a sea breeze. We would then get loose with some big spandex air through with what constitutes a jump park in XC terms, hit some more fast berms, wind up the heart-rates on the fire roads and hurtle fire back towards camp.
Hot laps were being cut, people were popping, others were attacking and all I trying to do was hang with the team elites for a while. This worked out, I managed to stay within complaining distance for the opening couple of laps - and hoped that had given me a handy start over my solo 40+ competition.
The race progressed to plan. I pulled in some of the elite solos, mistook a dude for another dude, and turned myself inside out catching him - only to realize that all I'd done was burn a bunch of matches gapping the 40+ category cats trying to get to me.
Matches however, I had many of. I was running purely on Pro4mance gels and bottle mix - and despite yearning for a vegemite sandwich - I was jumping out of my skin with energy. My legs were spinning like government marketers and my mind, usually sulky with pain and suffering was gibbering like a grade 3 class who'd discovered a big stash of teachers Koolaid.
Five hours in and I was still time-trialling the fire roads, tearing up the quasi climbs and having the time of my life tweaking out the big jumps at the top end of the loop.
My raceday lines on the YYs jumps
I was having obscene amounts of fun. This was turning into that one in a dozen race, where there was nothing but free speed and glory. And I love glory, almost as much as I like obscenity.
Turns out there was a bit of it going around. I managed to cross the finishing line in first of the old buggers and sneaked my creaking carcass into 3rd overall - covering about 157 kms in a little over six hours. It not only meant 80 arbitrarily valuable points in the Victorian Enduro Series, this being the first of seven six hour races that make it up - but it almost meant two big bags of grocery trophies. Yum!
|Gradient profile that looks like a pump track - sweet!|
Big thanks go to all those excellent cats who make my racing life so much fun. Cycles Galleria deserve props for looking after me and my truly epic Pivot Mach 429C, Pro4mance Sports Nutrition for 6 hours of power, to the GMBC for an absolute chuckle-fest and to J Lefebvre, GT, K Skidmore et al for all their help pulling down camp while I was bathing in category adulation.
Racing! Groceries! W000t!