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Mud Slogfest

Fatboy's picture

By Fatboy - Posted on 30 May 2010

Re: This ride meeting: 
Capital Punishment 2010
Position (Overall): 

Worst conditions ever!!

I had a bad preparation for the event as my back was still stuffed after the Dirtworks so I did only a couple of easy road rides between events. I put a new cassette on my spare wheels so also put a new chain on the bike and did a quick road ride a few days before the event in the rain with my race wheels. All seemed good so took the family to Canberra on Friday night knowing we were in for a wet one.

We took off Saturday morning after a surprisingly good night sleep and got to race start about a half hour before my 7:04 start time. Stuffed my pockets with food and jumped on the bike only to find the chain skipping on the cassette. "Oh crap!" The only thing that had changed since my ride a few days earlier was that I had lubed the chain so I decided to start the race with the problem hoping that when the mud removed the lube all would be good. I found the only gear on the rear that worked was the biggest (easiest) so at least I had a 3 speed!

Gun went off and now I could keep warm in the rain. After about 2km of smooth fire trail I had been completely left behind by my start group as the road was fast and I had to free wheel most of the time. Suddenly on a fast downhill section just before the single track I experienced something that was the highlight of my race. 3 Yeti Elite guys rode past. On a right hand bend that would be taken at 60-70 km/h in the dry was being taken at about 15km/hr by those in front of me and the Yeti guys led by Perren Delecour sitting on his outside pedal so his head was at the same height as his seat took the corner at about 60 km/h. It was amazing to see how he positioned himself next to his bike on the bend and how damn fast he went followed by Paul Rowney and their team mate.

The next 20+ km was awesome single track that was flowing and required almost no braking or climbing. I don't think my lack of gears cost me more than about 5 mins. I arrived at the 1st food station feeling very positive about the event and how it held up with all the rain. That all came crashing down very quickly. The next 10-15km was along open paddock around the airport on our way to Majura. It was raining, windy, cold, gluggy and bumpy. I was regretting riding my hardtail as my bum was aching from the repeated bumps. To make matters worse, my support crew (wife and 2 kids) weren't waiting to cheer me on as I exited Kowen Forest.

Finally I reached Majura and took to the single track with relief and high expectation. It had been trashed! While the tracks looked awesome they were the most slippery tracks I'd ever ridden. My front wheel kept turning sideways and I'd fall softly into the mud. I must have fallen at least a dozen times at slow speed and eventually rode the whole section in granny gear. After more falls I found myself sitting on the side of the track, head in hands feeling beaten. I walked most of the gentle uphills just because I lost the urge to ride. Majura had broken me!

Finally I arrived at the 60km feed station at Majura Vineyards but again, no support crew. I was starting to worry as I had given my wife estimated times based on a 6hr race - whoops!

I looked forward to catching up time on the ride to Stromlo. How naive I was! Most of the linking roads were paddocks or 4WD tracks that were so muddy it took every effort to turn the pedals. I was really not enjoying this ride. All that kept me going now was the thought there was an untimed section coming up where I could rest, lay down and cry for a while.

Finally at 70km I arrived at the untimed section which was a 7km road ride along a major road. I raced to the end where I calculated I had 18mins left to lay down, stretch then clean and lube the bike. The mud was incredible yet my bike had worked faultlessly apart from the lack of 24 gears. With seconds to go I passed through the timing mat then charged to the finish.

My legs were strong and the roads were much better now so I flew. I passed the 82km food stand and flew along the smooth fire trail through Greenhills. I recognised the road from the many times I've raced along it in my rally car and was now in high spirits. As Stromlo became large in the foreground we entered a single track. It was the worst experience of my life!!! It went for what seemed 2km and was not only unrideable but was almost impossible to walk while pushing the bike. The mud was so gluggy that it took effort to pull your foot out with each step so rolling the bike was impossible. I carried the bike the whole way and eventually popped out just before the crossing to Stromlo.

As I jumped on my bike to ride it finally I found it wouldn't even stay in the one gear I had on the back so I expected I may have to carry it for the 5km climb up Stromlo. I fiddled around and found by detaching the rear derailleur cable completely (I have reverse normal) it would stay in the easy gear so I smashed it over the top then down the descent to the finish. The rain was constant throughout the day and it was meaningful that it was at its heaviest as I rode across the finish line. Again, no support crew there to celebrate. I rode around the carpark to find my crew waiting. One look told me my wife had the day from hell with the kids so we had something in common...

LadyToast's picture

Ah the memories, I must have passed you at one point during the race, although you could have been one of the hundred odd riders I saw with bike problems.

Great write up!

Sinkes's picture

Great read....Loved the last sentenced, with you and the wife. Sounds like it was a long trip home.
Looking forward to the pictures from the event. Bike race that is.............

Fatboy's picture

I was the guy crying most of the way. You couldn't have missed me. At stages it was down to sobbing but still quite audible Smiling

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