Waking up Saturday morning to a fresh glazing of frost on the ground was a great way to start the day. Knowing I was in for a long day in the saddle on a course that has been described to me as "rocky as hell" left me a little unsure whether to be excited or scared of what was to come. I had the tactical decision not to pre ride the course - I wanted to take it as it comes and have no preconceived ideas. My support crew (Mum and Dad) rocked up nice and early to greet Jayden and myself as we polished off our breakfast.
The 10am start rolled around nice and quick. The air was still fresh and the track had soaked up most of the dew, leaving it in perfect condition. The smallish start group lined up for a rolling start. The atmosphere was relaxed and I was looking forward to a nice fun, cruisy 12 hour MTB ride (is that even possible) ... even though 4 of the male soloists were using this event to prepare themselves for the world 24hr champs only eight weeks away.
As I expected, Clackers took off with the quick team riders and disappeared into the distance pretty quickly. He made it look so easy, but I knew this was not an option for me. This race was almost double my weekly training time over the past 2.5 months so I had to watch my heart rate closely or I knew I would pay for it later on. I didn't get any gap splits until about 3 hours in, and I was very surprised John was only 7-8 mins up and I had 20 mins on third after Troy Bailey lost 10 mins early on with a mechanical (stick through rear derailleur).
By about hour five my legs began to feel the pinch of the first climb on the course, so I decided to go 'Josh Street style' and walk it to conserve energy. This avoided the onset of cramps and allowed me to knuckle down and enjoy the rest of the lap. This continued for the rest of the race and although I lost 30-60 seconds by walking, I reckon I gained that plus some over the rest of the lap. The course was so much fun ... yes it was rocky and yes I did climb over 4,500 metres, but I stayed very comfortable, kept my heart rate well under control and finished with a big smile on my face.
I had to take Jayden for a spin on the course on Sunday morning before we headed home as he was keen to ride the entire loop (we managed about 2km's).
Thanks to the rider who removed the branch responsible for these scratches. You can count my first 5 laps on my arm - it would have been heaps worse if the branch was left there for the whole 17 laps. Ouch.
I will hopefully have some more pics to add later in the week.