Archive for October 2013
I didn’t do any real specific training for the Southern Exposure Surf Coast 100. It’s a 100km, it’s a (relatively) flat course, it’s certainly nothing like the Otway Odyssey … what could go wrong?
What I neglected to consider is that, while 100km might make a delightful pre-breakfast jaunt on a road bike, it’s still a pretty hefty chunk of distance-change on a mountain bike. I also realised too late, just how much of a beating even a mildly rocky or rooty course dishes out. It’s a double-whammy, because everything’s fine if you stay above a certain speed, but it’s a slugfest below that. The combination mandates a minimum sustained effort if you want to survive (or at least if you want to enjoy your survival).
My first lap was pretty conservative. I would say I rode it like you ride a 24 hour race — thinkin’ about where you’ll be at 2 a.m. and playing the patient tortoise game. Not the way to ride if you want to lightly skim the root-tops.
By lap two I’d figured out that I needed to kick it up a notch, and did so. Everything got more fun. Switchbacks weren’t no thang. Riders in the distance got closer, then passed, then dropped. The trail felt smoother. Life was sweet. I eventually found my mark, a guy about the same pace, behind me and together we ate up a few of the slower 50k stragglers.
We crested a sustained climb, dropped down through some quick singletrail and then climbed a harder, switchbacked climb. About a quarter way up that climb I. Just. Slowed. Down. At the top I rode to the side of the trail and waved him through. I’d been hit by the man with the hammer. Bam.
I’d been drinking steadily, but with no get out of jail Gu I’d have to mope along to the end of the lap, getting kicked in the butt and hands at slow-speed along the way. Some guys I’d passed re-passed me. (Ouch.) My left foot, which had been aching, started to hurt — really hurt. I started to get a twinge in my vastus medialis, which turned into the threat of real cramp, which, by the end of the lap, had become a visible spasm on the upper inside of my left leg above the knee.
Not a big deal.
I rolled back into the feed zone thinking I’d take five to ten minutes out of the race to down a whole bottle of recovery drink, eat a Gu, stretch and then jump on and ride the race to completion. When I got off the bike though, I was shocked. Firstly at how much my left foot hurt, then at how Goddamn stiff I was — it was hard to bend down to release the shoe — and then how hard it was to stand up. Yikes. Either way, I drank, I Gu’d, I stretched and I got back on the bike.
I got back on the bike, rode down into the pit area and quit. My hands felt like I’d just finished the Odyssey. I felt spent and tired. It was Just Not Happening.
I had a number of possibly admissible excuses for succumbing to the dreaded DNF — a finishing status I’ve been quietly proud to avoid until now (one nasty little case of heat-stroke notwithstanding) — big, stressful work week, interrupted sleep, whatever. Now might be a good time to think about focussing on finishing what you start.
Anyway, I was pretty damn tired after that. Andrew also DNF’d with a bikeful of chain-suck. The guy I was chasing, and several guys I passed also pulled out. All in all, there were only 12 finishers in the Men’s Vets, but Dave managed to pull through and nab third (we didn’t know this until safely back in Melbourne).
Dave booked an awesome dinner at a sleeper of a Greek restaurant in Airey’s Inlet, where we ate duck and lamb with a local red and romanticised about hitting the hay early. Which we did, but Mae proved difficult to settle. Once she was down, Fee and I drifted off until Fee woke at about 1:30 to find Claire in the kitchen, coughing an awful wheezy cough. She said she just needed a drink of water, but 10 minutes later Fee woke me up to come and see Claire, who by then had the full stridor breathing croup going on. I called Geelong hospital, and on hearing her in the background said come on in. I called 000 and the ambulance was there ten minutes later.
I went back to bed to get some rest with Mae, but it was a while before I could get back to sleep. At 5:45 the phone buzzed with the news that we could go and collect Fee and Claire, which was good news, but the rest of the day was brought to you by Coffee, Coffee and more Coffee; and to be honest, I was pretty thankful not to have made the extra exertion to finish the race.
52.2km, 1,174m, 3:05h
Windier out on course today, with everyone watching and covering the Phoenix Racing boys after their win last week. With a bit more organisation at the front of the bunch (thanks Gareth!) most breaks were kept under easy control, left to hang out in the wind and die. But still, the last lap or two were a furious mess. I finished somewhere around eighth or ninth wheel, off the echelon and without the legs to make a real go of it. Gareth took 5th place.
31.5km, 426m, 1:40
SKCC – C Grade
I had a good ride, hiding in the bunch mostly but coming out to chase a couple of attacks just to warm the legs up. The rain begain to fall — not heavily, but enough to wet the road — in the last five laps. I finished with the sprinters bunch, moving through gaps that opened and closed. Maybe I could have finished higher, but it would have meant charging a gap or two with questionable safety.
One observation from today is that C grade is pretty friggin’ disorganised. Breaks go as single riders. The bridging riders go too late and too soft, burning so much that they have little to give in aid of the break-away when they get there and, by the third rider, taking the rest of the bunch with them. Once they do cross, there seems to be very little in the way of real organisation. For the main bunch’s part, they’re no better. Everyone senses the need to shut down the break and the speed increases, but only slightly, until someone gets on the front and drives. When they do, the pack falls in line behind them, waiting for them to burn out. Only when they do does the next driver take their place and the cycle repeats itself.
So it has me thinking — an organised, well timed punch from a three or four turn-rolling riders could probably make a good break and stay away. Or at least wreak some havoc.
36 km, 51:00
Up an at em particularly early given that I only realised that daylight savings kicked in at around 11:00. Which made for a 12:00 bedtime and a rise and shine that felt a lot like 4:15 instead of 5.
Still, it was worth it. The air was warm and the pace was decent, enough to incur a re-taste of breakfast at the top of one particularly lengthy climb, although (thankfully?) not the battery-acid flavour of the evening TdBs of old. Also in attendance were Tom A from work and Mr Chiro, Trevor Jung.
63km / 773m / 2:18
+ various ad hoc pull-ups during the day. Trying to get to 5-10 strict.