Monday, October 6, 2008

Woodend Mud Bash 2

WHO SAID LIGHTNING DOESN'T STRIKE TWICE? Well it was nearly another de-javu at this weekend's ride at Woodend. Mud caked bikes, Dana crashing, getting a little lost and me struggling way behind Paul were the order of the day.

AS USUAL, an email from Paul midweek started the ball rolling. The weather was a bit questionable with heavy rain on Friday afternoon casting a shadow on this ride. In the end, it was Andrew Wade who went to the trouble of looking up the long range weather forecast, checked the rainfall rate in Woodend in the past 24 hours and one hundred other little things which I don't even know about which got us over the line. No one was to pike from this ride.

SO 7am START AT KFC @ WESTGATE BRIDGE. Bloody hell, it was an early start. No big deal for Paul & Dana who lived in Port Melbourne, Andrew had to get up at 5am just to get to my place at 6:15am so we could carpool. Andrew however was not going to miss this ride, rain, hail or shine because he's just got himself a new bike, an 09 Giant Anthem X1. And quite a bike that was, 100mm travel, hydroformed tubing everywhere and not one single ounce of wasted material anywhere. OK I admit I have a soft spot for the Anthems. I admire it's design brief of making a "no-compromise" all out XC racer, built to do nothing but to go as fast as possible. A pretty brave move by Giant to bring out such an uncompromising short travel bike back in a time when big travel free ride bikes were all the rage. But looking at the number of Anthems at a XC race event today, Giant's decision proved to be an astute one.

ANYWAY, THE RIDE. As usual, Paul led the pack, fast and furious pace, followed closely by Dana, me and Andrew. I was being my usual self of an old school hold out, riding a hardtail (Zaskar)
running V-brakes among a fleet of Epics and Anthem. Probably a odd thing to do to but I'm truly comfortable with hardtails and V-brakes. The muddy single tracks and wet pine trails were littered with viciously exposed tree roots but it didn't slow me down too much. I was trying out the new Maxxis Monorail tire on this ride, although a good tire in it's own right, it soon became apparent these couldn't give me the same cornering confidence that a Highroller offered.

HOWEVER, MY BIGGEST PROBLEM was, and one that's going to concern me for the foreseeable future, was how far off the pace fitness wise I was compared to Paul, Dana and Andrew. I couldn't keep in touch with Paul, barely kept Dana in sight, and if Andrew was not on a maiden ride aboard his Anthem, he would also be long way ahead of me. I just didn't have the wattage or the stamina to keep up. Keeping them in check through winding single track was OK but as soon as the gradient went up, I was left for dead. My winter preparation appears to have been inadequate so I have a lot of work ahead of me. Hmmmm.

A RIDE WITH DANA would not have been complete without him crashing, or doing something spectacular then crash, or doing something stupid followed by a crash. Well Dana was about to break his jink on this ride until he didn't clip out in time and fell over while waiting for us at the trail head. At least this time he was prepared and had a wound dressing with him. Seeing Dana drawing blood made me ill but he soldiered on as if nothing happened nor did it slow him down a bit. Tough bloke Dana you are. Hope you've got a good private health insurance policy.

MECHANICAL 101. Besides remembering getting separated from Paul and Dana & getting a bit lost, I had nothing more to report. The Zaskar was running flawlessly, unlike the last outing at Chase the Sun Round 3. Andrew on the other hand, broke his chain on the way going up a hill climb. Combining mud, gradient, rushed gear change and Andrew's colossal wattage, the chain simply snapped under the strain. The picture on the right is Andrew getting down and dirty mending his new bike to health again.

Well that's about all, a good ride but it exposed my lack of pre-season fitness against the benchmark rider, Paul. If I was hoping to do well in the upcoming summer racing series, I'd better step up with my training program. On our way back home, Andrew was bubbling with enthusiasm with his new Anthem and was genuinly looking forward to Kona 24. Deep down, I know I have a lot of work ahead of me if I was to become a worthy riding partner for him in Forrest at end of November.

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