Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 4 & dodging champagne...

Another 'choice as' day in WA!

We all made it to Cape Naturaliste today - dusty, tired and the legs well and truly toasted. I had a good ride crossing the line in 5th and securing 3rd place overall. Congratulations to Jenny Fay & Jodie Willet on their fine performances - taking out 1-2 on the stage and overall.

Today's stage was always going to be a tough one for me as it is a fast and furious 67km of mostly fireroad, rail trail and bitumen. I am no roadie, so the plan was to ride smart and strong. Right from the start the pace was on as the boys at the front had a real race on their hands. Lachie Norris was holding a 34 second lead over Andy Blair, and the others were fighting it out for pride and place on GC.

The front of the race.

I tried to hang tough with the main group early on but didn't have the power to hold on. Pretty quickly my legs were protesting. Keeping in mind I had 2.5hrs of this ahead of me I reluctantly slid off the back of a couple of trains and found a happier pace. Working hard all the way I ticked off the km's and beamed a smile when I got to the last 5km called Brown Street. This is a sweet little network of trails in Dunsborough.
The 'pea gravel' surface is sketchy as and definately sent a few weary riders down in a heap. I was enjoying the A lines and turns that much I didn't really want to finish the race!

However all good things must come to an end and, it was a great way to finish a great race.

Just as enjoyable as the race is the post-race debrief hanging out chatting to the many riders from all places, particularly the ones you spent time with throughout the race grovelling on their back wheel or chasing down a single track. One special mention has to be for fellow kiwi Basil who at 70years old finished the race in great time and was looking fresh as a daisy after the race when I caught up with him - legend!

Then we had presentations with champagne! Check out the sequence from event photographer Travis Deane...

Jenny blasts Jodie


And I even stayed pretty dry! Will post some riding photos soon too.

I think everyone who rode will agree this years race has been an absolute blast. An enormous thank-you and full credit to all event staff, volunteers and organisers. It has been a wonderful 4-days, cheers everyone! See you next year. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Margaret River 'Special Stage' 3...

Todays stage is suitably named the special stage as it offers up everything great about the Margaret River township... not just beer & wine but in particular the 20km of single track the local club MRORCA have crafted in 'The Pines' - it was sweet!

I was stoked to get off the pea gravel and hit some dirt berms... so happy that I pedaled to 2nd place on todays stage! Jodie Willet & I had a good ride with one another, she was determined not to give up any time but I managed to claim 2nd to remain in 3rd place overall.  Jenny Fay was off the front in a league of her own as she claimed her third stage win in a row.

Everyone was content to finish the stage at the Colonial Brewery - the lawn was full of  dusty bikes and tired bodies.

We are off to a function at the Brewery this evening and I think a wee sampling wouldn't go amiss. After all, on the toilet door I learned that Benjamin Franklin reckoned: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy". I think I laughed out loud!

Today my top speed was 62.3km/hr - no lies, my fancy Magellan Switch told me so!
It also said the max temperature was 27degrees and that I burned 1200 calories... I definately think I need a beer.

Will put up some photos and video link as soon as I have it. Final 67km stage to Cape Naturaliste tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

The Placebo effect...Day 2

Another mint day here in WA - tan lines are coming along great - or is it dust? Either way today was another tough but enjoyable stage. 64km all up and again everyone was suitably buggered but beaming a smile at the stage finish at Xanadu Winery this afternoon.

I had a good day moving into 3rd place - stoked! I started out conservatively, but found my legs and enjoyed rocketing along the fire road and smooth meandering descents on my big (for me) wheels. 650B might be 'pretend 29er' but I reckon it combines the best of both. The bike remains stiff & nimble in the single trail/tight stuff, and I can still accelerate when I need to. But, it also has the benefits of the bigger wheel with regard to rolling resistance and momentum. Placebo or is the goods for me! There are a heck of alot of 29ers here too. I reckon if you got a puncture and needed a 26" tube you could almost be out of luck! 

I have got back from the Redbull Sundown Shootout. This is a smashfest in 'The Pines'  where the top 10 women and top 20 men race a 2-3minute race track...for $500 cash and time credits. I got 2nd by 1-second! Bec Henderson won, good on her. It was a great course with some neat doubles, table tops, fast berms amongst a hard out 1min climb in the middle of it just to burn up the legs and lungs some more. I think I might have earned all helps.

Other stage musings...
  • One dude got cleaned out by a kangaroo! It got spooked and jumped out totally taking out his front wheel and sending him into the dirt. Unlucky but also could have been much worse. (Remember the footage of the caribou/deer that cleaned out that rider in South Africa?)
  • Meanwhile the guys up front were unsure what to do when an emu jumped out and proceeded to run down the single track in front of them. Fun times.
  • I overshot 3-corners because my 650B wheels were rolling so quick I ran out of time to I got tangled in some barbed wire which opened up my shoe pretty good (stopped me in my tracks) and cut my big toe - oops!
  • OK so perhaps bike handling on the 650 might need some work.
Tomorrow we go from Xanadu Winery to the Colonial Brewery (54km)...with over 25km of single track on the menu...does it get much better? Only if legs were fresh - they are definately feeling a wee bit tired climbing up the stairs this evening.

I will post a link to a video created by Chris and Mick from Flow MTB (Australia) that captures Day 2 nicely and I feature in an interview. Check back soon...thanks for reading! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cape to Cape MTB Day 1

Quick update from Nic in Western Australia...

Made it to Perth Tues & then south to Margaret River Wed...stage one kicked off the race today! It is awesome to be back here, the  region really is an amazing place. Today we raced from Cape Leeuwin - the south-west corner of WA north to picturesque Hamelin Bay. It was a neat sight to see 1100 riders lined up at the Lighthouse ready to tackle the first 41km of the 225km ahead of us.

The stage sounds quite short at 41km but heck, everyone's first comment was 'that was hard!'. There is a bit  of elevation (1000m) but it is the energy sapping sand that makes riding the undulating sections tough. Riding downhill is bloody good fun as the sand makes traction and steering a little unpredictable. Braking is not desirable as you do not want to scrub the speed you worked so hard to achieve!

I finished 5th elite women. I am 3min off 3rd so will be working hard to try and pull that back in the next 3-days. I am happy enough with today's outing -I felt good throughout, and finished off strong. Will see what the legs wake up like tomorrow!

Postcard stuff, stage finish at Hamelin Bay today.

Day 1 done..& dusted

Pretty nice huh?!

A stingray joined a few of us for a swim!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Long time between updates, but we've been pretty hectic. Nic somehow manages to juggle seemingly endless work days with swim/bike/run/paddle sessions. I meanwhile have had head down bum up and managed to piece together the most complete 7-8 weeks training in a LONG time. Injury free even!

It can be pretty draining with the end goals such big ones, but with our respective international trips just a week away (me - XTERRA Worlds, and Nic - Cape2Cape + Anaconda Adventure Race) things are tracking along ok.

Last big hit out was last weeks Motu Challenge. We raced as a mixed team, but there was no competitive strategy behind our day. I simply wanted the long MTB +Run hitout under my belt, and that left the final legs (Road Cycle and Paddle/Bike/Run) for Nic. Which wouldn't have been so bad, except for the fact that some epic weather hit and Nic was left with by far the most brutal stages (and consequently 3/5 of the race time wise). While it wasn't that plesant for my legs, by the time we sent Nic away it was torrential rain and massive gusting winds that had people getting off their bikes in places and holding them down. Some even walking descents.

Pretty gnarly day, but Nic coped pretty bloody well, and bought us home 7th overall after I put together a bike/run combo that left me pretty positive ahead of Maui. Big congrats to the bushman Sam Clark on a rather memorable breakthrough win in the individual. Well deserved that man. He teams up with me tommorrow as we split the MAgellan Whaka 100 MTB as a team in my last hitout before I fly to Maui. Should be good.

Early on in the MTB was a relatively relaxed affair. Guys on CX bikes smashing it off the front, whilst I sat in the comfort of the bunch and watched the "Jones watching Jones" show, and waited to follow their inevitable attacks
Insert appropriate Mark Watson comment about "going to a dark place..." 1400m+ climbing will do that to you.
Finishing off a run I was pretty happy with. Flying first 12km, struggled with the last 5. Not so bad as XTERRA is only 10. The end of the run highlighted how bad thewind had got as I narrowly avoided running straight into the side of the bridge behind me, such was the force of the gusts.
Feeling a bit guilty as we send Nic off into the unknown! Well, not totally unknown. We knew there was torential rain, a rapidly rising river, gale force headwinds, and 27km to paddle... hence the guilt.
And the unknown was somewhat as expected... brutal. Wave trains heading back up river, demonstrated here as Nic tests the submarine properties of her sprinter.