Sunday, October 26, 2008


THE 2008 SURF COAST 6 HOUR will go down as one of my best endurance race event in recent memory. The past 3 months of steady work on improving my bike riding endurance, taking part in the Knobby Sport Dirt Crit events and heeding advice from others, as well just getting out and doing the hard yards seems to be paying off. An event with a happy ending.

IT ALL STARTED a few months back with emails from Matt asking if anyone was interested in doing the event. After reading up Troy Bailey’s website and the rave reviews on it, I put my hand up and was to form a team with Matt and Andrew Nurse as Men’s Triple. Unfortunately, due to interstate work schedules, I couldn’t commit, so it was decided that I best be left out to allow Matt and Andrew to proceed with the event entry. Luckily, as result of my interstate client’s delays & indecisions, I was given the all clear this weekend to race. Wasn’t keen on doing any more solo races after the less than successful Anaconda Series earlier this year, I went around hunting for riding partners and by chance, Damien was available and after a few phone calls later, an all clear was given for what should be a good team.

THE WEEK PRIOR to this event, I caught up with Tim Rowe at the Dirt Crit event and he advised me that Anglesea track was no hardtail country, so decision was made to give my butt a break and roll out my GT I-Drive Race for her race debut. The I-Drive Race, which I have only recently acquired from a home of neglect, needed some major work. After replacing the fork, headset, all the cables, seat post, saddle, grips, stem, handle bar, brake pads and wheel set later, this outcast was restored to former glory and was a surprising full 2 kg lighter than my other I-Drive 1.0.

THE PLAN WAS to for me to do 2-3 laps in a succession, as Damien was scheduled to arrive later. Somehow he managed to get here before race commencement. After some discussion the revised plan was to do 2 laps each before each transition, so each of us get one reconnaissance lap in before doing the second lap at racing speed. Andrew Nurse had to reorganize his race entry as Matt broke his ankle a week prior, so this will be his first Solo event & he naturally was showing some signs of nerve. As we readied for the start, Damien was cruising about preparing himself, while Victor, with military like precision in his race build up, was like a colt ready to bolt out of the staple.

SO TO THE RACE. Since I had zero knowledge of this course, starting at the back and work my way in made sense. The usual traffic jam at the first single track entry ensured a slow start for all but the fastest riders. So I stayed behind Nursey for the first 10min railed his tire tracks as he’s done a reconnaissance lap. A wise decision because the course was mostly covered with a very fine layer of dust making cornering, not to mention seeing and breathing a tricky prospect. Once I was warmed up, I fare welled Nursey and set off at a comfortable pace to make up for the lost ground. Beside the dust, I found the track much to my liking. The I-Drive, with it’s Giant Anthem-like short 3.2 inch of travel, was nearly perfect for this kind of course. It climbed like a hardtail, yet it had just enough give to take away all the jolting from trail without feeling mushy like longer travel bikes do. The Monorail / Larsen tire combination was doing a good job keeping me upright in sand so my progress through the pack was fairly rapid. Then it all felt apart.

ROLLING THROUGH A SAND PIT at a fair pace, the front tire bottoming onto something hard. Then burrrrrrp, the tire was off the rim & sealant went everywhere. Just super. No big deal, pull over and fix the flat. Then I realized I didn’t have my pump with me. Fcuk it I thought, ride the thing out, since Damien is waiting and time lost trying to borrow a pump and fixing flat would be better spent just getting back to pit. Surprisingly, riding on rim in deep sand actually wasn’t that difficult and as long as I kept the weight off the front tire, I could hold a good pace. Got plenty of crowd support as I made my way back, feel a bit like a wounded soldier in a parade. At the marquee, Damien had a good laugh before taking over – I seem to get a flat tire whenever he’s around. Victor was recovering after a serious case of head-butting a tree branch, while Nursey was still somewhere behind me minding his own solo business. A pretty eventful start for us all.

SOON, DAMIEN WAS BACK from his maiden lap and I was out for my next lap. With front tire fixed and good knowledge of the course now, the second lap was tackled with a bit more pace. By now, the field had spread out nicely so there were plenty of overtaking opportunities, which I seized whenever it presented itself. I must remind myself not to get too carried away during races, because when I get all excited I tend to end up making a mess. After overtaking 8 riders in a row going downhill at warp speed, my progress was to spectacularly end up against a tree. Basically a case of Newton’s Law in motion and I went straight in the sandpit, left knee first. Tree didn’t move a bit but I did and it hurt like hell. For a scary second I thought I also broke my leg because it was twisted awkwardly. Luckily a quick check up revealed nothing more than losing a bit of skin, so dug myself out of the sand pit to set off again, but now more wary of the type of stupidity I’m capable of.

FOR THE NEXT 4 HOURS, everything ran like clockwork. No more mistakes and I surprised myself by being able to finish this event without any major pain, suffering or negative effects that I usually get at the 4th hour. Damien was a seasoned endurance racer and he finished the event drama free. Teaming up with him always has a positive outcome. From his meticulous preparations prior to an event, to giving sound tips during the race, or just sit back and goof around while you are just bloody knackered and ready to throw it in, Damien’s experience and presence benefited all who was around.

We didn’t hang around for the presentation because it was already 10:30 when we finished packing. The compulsory post race McDonalds junk fest followed but somehow we lost Victor in our convoy. I was so tired that I had to pull over at Newport for a snooze (I must have a death wish) coughing up a tone of dust in shower and slept in till 10 Sunday morning. With a sore knee, I turned down all the offers of riding today and happily spend the whole day cleaning and tuning the bike for the next race, the Golden Triangle at Bendigo next weekend.

Special thanks to Steve Rowe for the great photos again, best of luck in your upcoming operation, wish you the best and hope to see you back in action again soon.


Kat said...

Nice one Andrew, sounds like your experience was a good one, well apart from the tyre of course!

Catch ya soon, we gotts get off those bikes and get running!

mj.boyle said...

Mate - you're really into this mtbing thing aren't you?! I didnt know you had a blog of it all! I'll try to remember to check it now and again.

I got out bid on that epic, think ill buy a car first, its getting cold real fast, and been raining all week! Already planning snowboarding in the Alps though, which is a fair consolation!