Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dirt Riders MTB race event

CRASH AND BURN. Well, it wasn't that bad really, but today was the first time in a long while that I've had a proper crash, Colin McRae style, on my bike. Got out of it surprisingly unscathed, other than a some superficial cuts on my left arm & leg and a big new hole on my cycling shorts, it was otherwise a fun racing event and a great Sunday ride.

I HAVE BEEN LAYING LOW LATELY since my recent trip to Canberra to watch the Nissan UCI World Cup event (see separate blog), and got a severe case of chest and throat infection for my trouble in watching the world's best battle it out at Stromlo. So really I haven't been doing any significant bike rides since, other than the occasional short rides on bike paths and a lap or so at Lysterfield Lakes to test out how my chest felt. Let's just say I got bored enough sitting at home I've managed to teach myself how to build wheels & bleed brakes.

So when good o' Kath emailed this week saying she's heading out for a training ride, I jumped at the opportunity. Don't know what others friends of mine have been doing of late, but no one seems to be riding anymore. Anyway, during our ride, Kath mentioned that there was a race on again at Beconsfield this Sunday, and she was going to check it out, so I thought, hell why not do a race, since I quite like the Beaconsfield track and small club race scene, not to mention that it beats sitting at home eating medication and fixing bikes on a Sunday.

PERFECT WEATHER THIS MORNING, blue sky and light wind. Got up early, happy and cheery, got myself sorted and motored down to the GWS Scout Camp, thinking that's where the race was held but when I rocked up, there was no one but some scout girls doing orienteering. OK somethings not right here, so after a few frantic text messages to Kath, I was on my way to the correct race venue. The event was due to start in 30 minutes, so it was a bit rushing around getting myself sorted before the race. Thank god Kath was there and helped me with registration, otherwise I'd probably forgotten half of the race essentials in my haste to get to the starting line.

SO TO THE RACE. As usual I got all excited at the starting line and when the flag dropped, I took off like a rabbit. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do but I thought hell why not? A fully rigid crappy MTB leading a train of fully suspended superbikes, might as well enjoy a bit of limelight while I can. So first half lap I was going pretty quickly and doing well with only a couple of riders managing to keep up with me (one of them eventually won the race), until we came to the section where there's a boulder step up. I could remember everything in detail - went down the steep hill a bit too quickly, tried to lift the front wheel to step onto the boulder, but no, got it wall wrong. Front wheel first crashed into the boulder, followed with a big ugly sound of metal grinding on stone, and ended up in a massive nose wheelie position but somehow didn't crash. That head-on encounter with the boulder bent my front wheel and the tire burped out half the air. (I run Stan's) Phew, lucky escape - could have been a lot worse. So turned the bike upside down, jumped up and down on the front wheel a bit to straighten it out so the rim doesn't rub against the V-brakes pads and got the pump out and furiously pumped away to inflate the half flat tire. Soon all good, set off in I think 7th or 8th position, now with a lot of work to do to catch up with the leaders. Probably a bit ambitious really but I can see them about 1km up the hill so it was worth a shot to see if they can be caught.

THE BIG STACK. Not sure what the others were doing, but I was catch up and passing others without too much difficulty, all except the top 3 riders which were no where to be seen. I was feeling good and in catching and overtaking slower riders, I got all excited again, probably a bit too much because I was going very hard the on downhill sections, braking late, double jumping tree roots, doing cutties and drifting out of turns. Then I came to this place where there stood two trees, side by side with j.u.s.t. enough of a gap to squeeze a riser handle bar through. I saw it coming and I thought I'd be OK, as I cleared it in lap 1 no dramas. Big mistake. The right hand side of my handlebar clipped the tree trunk, and before I could say "oops" I went down like a pile of shit. Bike was a twisted pile of mess, another flat front tire and in doing so, managed to cause a little road block for all other riders behind. Don't quite remember how I actually crash landed but after the race one of the guys approached me to say I did a pretty spectacular barrel roll into the ground bum first and I was lucky that he didn't run me over!

RIDING WRECK. So after picking myself up and making sure that I was still in a functional state, I got stuck into my bike, straighten my bars, seat post, untangle gear & brake cables plus chain, then proceed to panel beat my front wheel back to a rideable shape and re-inflate my front tire again. Stan's goo's amazing. The front wheel's taken a beating but somehow it still held air, right to the end. So wobble-wobble-wobbly off I go again, this time definitely no hope of catching the leaders. That crash shook me up pretty good, very lucky to get out it so lightly, and because it had been a long awhile since I've had a proper crash like that, survival instinct took over and I rode like a grandma for the rest of the race.

Was pretty glad the bike held up for the rest of the event and I crossed the finish line shortly after without further dramas. Normally I'd be annoyed with myself for messing a race up but today I was just happy to ride again and didn't do anything more damaging than a bent front wheel. Well, I was pretty chuffed actually, I totally enjoyed the event and I still had enough left in my tank afterwards to do another lap with a friend after everyone's departed.

So that's it for now. Time to go to do some laundry and fix a broken GT. Once again thanks to Steve Rowe for great photos.

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