It was time for the final race of the Super Series, an 8hr enduro at OHV. I felt about as good as I have before any race this series. With a slightly lighter than normal commuting week and a full day on Saturday to check bikes and pack the car, it was a pretty cruisy preparation. If I was lacking anywhere it was in nutrition, and all I had was muesli bars and gels, plus some treats of licorice allsorts. THe forecasts were for fantastic weather. On the drive out I saw the outside temperature plumet to 2 degrees on the car thermometer.
I arrived at OHV to find transition was setup at the Billabong rather than the Resort. Andy and Lee had already set up camp. I registered and picked up my goody bag. There were about 7 riders in the Single Speed class, making a reasonable field. As I was putting my number on the bike, I noticed riders riding across the land crossing in the billagong, and viewed from a distance it looked really cool. We were to realise later, that the crossing was quite muddy. These days, it seems there just has to be mud.
Race start seemed to go extremely fast. One second there was 2 minutes to go then it was 10 seconds, and I was still trying to fire up my Garmin as the race started. I was further from the front than I would have liked, but by the time we got on to the first climb I was following Al Cook as he made lots of passes. By the time we got to the dirt road we could see Matt Dog and caught him up. We all rode together for a while. Swapping and changing position. I have to admit at this point I was feeling like I hadn't ridden a Mountain bike for weeks. Once we got through Rockbottom Matt was an orange dot in the distance. I though about chasing him down for fastest lap, but figured it was going to be a long day. Climbing Escalator I had small off, clipping my foot on a rock on the trail edge.
Apart from the final laps, Lap 2 was the most drama filled for me. About half way around the lap, something did not feel right and I thought I had a puncture. I almost riding off in to the trees trying to look at the rear tyre. I had definitely lost pressure, but it was still ride able. I rode on taking it easy in the rocky stuff, hearing(and feeling) a few rim strikes!! With Al riding off in too the distance, I made it back to transition with about 12psi in the tyre. Andy grabbed a track pump and pumped it back up to my desired 30psi. It felt like an eon at the time, but in the end I lost about 5 minutes.
Back on the bike I pushed to catch Al. It took a couple of laps, but I finally caught up on lap 5. I rode with Al for a while, then decided to pass him on the dirt road leading up to Aeroplane. As I did, Al says to me "Dog" and pointing up Aeroplane to where Matt was about 200m ahead. With a new lease of energy Al pushed on and I followed. We caught Matt as he was passing my friend and super MTB Chick Lee :) and another rider. So the SS boys had come together and it was looking like an interesting afternoon, but as we dropped in to Rockbottom, Al must have said something nasty to Matt because he disappeared like the proverbial "Bat Out of Hell" :) Once Al and I got out on to the flat of Bear Valley, I decided to chase Matt down and thought that Al would come with me. I'd almost caught Matt by the time we got back to transition, as when he stopped to get water and food I took the lead.
By this stage the Billabong crossing was getting very muddy with many riders walking. My legs were still feeling good, the rear tyre had maintained pressure but my fingers were starting ache and there was a Dog chasing me. The next couple of laps were fairly uneventful, concentrating on pedalling circles and keeping focus on the non technical stuff. On lap 7 or 8 I lost the front end on the 2nd berm on Happy Gilmor, and I noticed later just how loose this berm had become. No major damage, just a graze and scratches on my left thigh.ith about 3 laps to go I passed Graham "Wingadelic" Menzies and he came some encouragement that gave me another boost. It was on this lap that I again clipped a rock in the grass while climbing Escalator. As I hit the dirt road on the way back to transision, I noticed my Garmin was gone! I realised that I must have knocked it off as my chest brushed the bar when I nearly came off the bike on Escalator. I was now riding blind, not sure of how long was left in the race and what lap times I was doing, not to mention that was going to be expensive to replace, but hoping Graham had seen it on the trail and that it hadn't fallen in to the grass.W
Laps 10 and 11 were spent looking over my shoulder. I'd seen from previous laps that Matt was still chasing me down. I'd figured from when I still had my Garmin how many laps were remaining, realising I was going to cross the finish line at about the 7hr50min mark and that Matt would also make it under the 8hr mark and that an extra lap was going to be necessary and that was going to be one lap too many for me. I knew too though that Matt would be hurting a bit too..even if he is part machine :) Looking at the final lap times we took turns at faster laps and in the end I mad it home in 8:34:42, just over 1 minute ahead of Matt. Thankfully too having my Garmin handed back to me.
In the end, I covered 154km(11 laps) in 8:36 to finish 1st in the Single Speed class closely followed by Matt and Tim Clarke(who I had a great chat with after the race). Clint Pierce took out the 40+ category and overall win, Sean Bekkers was 1st in the open category and 2nd overall. I was 3rd overall with Matt in 4th, so a good show in the SS category with the closest fight of all categories, although Rachel and Kylie had a great battle in open female category too. Another great event by Tailwind, and thank for all the support from spectators and fellow riders. A special mention to Andy and Lee for packing up my gear and Graham for finding my Garmin. Full Results.
Congrats to Matt for taking out the Series. I had a ball, with a couple of hiccups along the way, but lessons learned and look forward to next year.
Edits to add some hyperlinks.