Husky 100 - 2012
I’ll start this report with some facts. Number one - I have consumed a fair few beers. If there is a better beer than Happy Goblin ‘Strong’ – locally brewed, then I don’t know it.
Fact 2 - I have done nothing today other than lie in bed, and wash my bike. My bike is destroyed.
Another fact - if you had told me on Friday that I would have been 5th at Husky, given the strength of the Elite field, I would have taken it. I’d have been happy with that.
The final fact though, is that I’m not over the moon with 5th, as I sit here on a Sunday.
To give you an insight into it, I need to go back to last year.
2011, I raced Husky, in a much weaker field, and was involved in a sprint finish with Mitch Codner. I lost out, but was comfortable with that. I learnt the finish, I knew where I made a mistake, and I knew how to win it. I knew that final 100m perfectly.
Husky 2012. Everything was perfect. Rob at Jet had got my Epic 29er as sweet as it could be. The accommodation that Garry had organised was incredible. In front of the RSL race start. We didn’t get any traffic on the way down. The dinner we had was perfect, the race sign-on was smooth. I found myself in bed by 9.30pm, rested, relaxed, with the bike and kit ready for the race.
Race morning dawns (or not actually, as it was pre-dawn – 4.45am), and my team mate Kyle and I were in the kitchen getting ready. Oats, banana, smoothie, and we’re done. We take walk to the beach. Its still dark, and the stars are out at 5.30am, but its good to get the body moving, and some blood moving around. Back to the house, and we have a quick coffee.
Before we know it, the warm-up beckons. The ever-relaxed Gav Burland is waiting outside, and the three of us spin off down the road. A quick 15mins, a couple of wind-sprints, and we’re done.
Arriving at the start-line, and its pretty daunting. Shaun Lewis, Andy Blair, Jason English, Trent Day, Camo Peterson (a very successful roadie with RBS Morgans NRS team), Adrian Jackson, James Downing, Mitch Codner, teamie Kyle Ward, and a bunch of other hitters.
Damn – this series is really starting to pull in the good riders!!!!
Gun goes, and its actually pretty relaxed. Mitch hit the front, and set a solid tempo. We all got in line, and settled in. Typically for me, I crash in the first 2km. Some rubbish bit of slippery mud. Down I go. Muddy hands, knees, and we haven’t even hit the first bog!!! I jump back up into the middle of the elite pack, and work back up to the front.
After a few little efforts, and the odd attack, the lead group is ‘selected’.
From my perspective, this is a key point of the race. Typically – races start fast, the selection comes, then it settles and everyone accepts that its gonna be ‘that’ bunch for the rest of the race. This year, it was a big bunch. 9 of us were there. Blair, Lewis, Jackson, English, Peterson, Day, Andy Hall, myself and Kyle. It was a big bunch.
Being completely honest with you, I felt awful. I dont know what was wrong, but I felt dreadful. At 30km into the race, I was pretty much decided to pull out. I had nothing. I resolved to just push on for another 20km. I got dropped at about 50km (Butterfly track) I got dropped. I was off the back of the group, and found myself chasing. Rubbish. I went through hell. Push on, or retire?
I thought of a few of my friends – both of them athletes, one a mountain biker, the other a triathlete – both of them way more talented than I, and both of them with a greater work ethic too. I knew what they would say to me.
“Don’t be such a pussy! Get back on that bunch, and suck it up!”
I shut my eyes, I thought of them both, and pushed on. I was back on the bunch. For the next 10kms, I dangled off the back. The imaginary elastic had me close, then far, then close again.
And then, it was gone. I felt fine. Better than fine actually. It was easy. Everything was easy.
I sat quietly at the back of the bunch trying to confirm what was happening in my legs.
The final feed station came at 75km, and due to bottle madness, three guys got away, and attacked hard. Blair, Lewis, Jackson – the strongest in the race – were gone. I was furious.
And then it happened.
Without even breathing hard, I was able to just push harder on the pedals than I have ever done. It was a surreal feeling. I closed the gap to the 3 escapees with ease. I was on the back. I sat there, silently, hoping they wouldn’t notice. Shaun looked around and saw I was there. We rolled on.
Jason joined us with Andy Hall and Camo Peterson. Trent Day and Kyle had been dropped. And then there was 7.
Things started to get a bit ‘fast and furious’. The pace was up. Hitting what was the final rise – with about 10km to go, I find myself on the front. It was a long, rocky drag. Horrible.
I pressed on the pedals. It didn’t hurt. I pressed harder. Fine. What was happening?
People started dropping. First to go was Adrian Jackson. Then I saw that there were only four of us. Myself – leading, with Shaun, Andy and Camo. As quick as a flash, just as I relaxed, Camo hit us. Hard.
A huge attack, and I couldn’t cover it. Shaun went, and got on Camo’s wheel.
After the race, Andy Blair said to me that at that point, he thought the race was over. He thought it was Lewis and Camo for 1 and 2, and then he and I for 3 and 4.
The race as far from over though. As soon as the climb levelled out, I found a new strength. I drove hard. Knowing that there was only 9km to go. It took a full kilometre, but I chased the two down. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know where it was coming from. As I caught them, I just went past them. I was leading, with no concerns. My legs were full of riding. Fresher than they felt at the beginning of the race. On my own, I drove on. A gap had formed.
Could this be my win? I have dreamt of winning a Marathon so many times. A win. I train so hard, give up so much, one win – that’s all.
Like an idiot, I checked my shoulder. Why?
I see behind me that Camo had been dropped, but somehow English and Andy Hall had made it back. The four of them were together, and I was on my own.
I doubted myself. There was less the 3km to go, and I eased up. I thought ‘at least in sprint, I could get a podium finish’. I knew the finish – I had learnt it from last years disappointment.
We all come together and hit the golf-course.
On the trackside, team-mate Garry Millburn screams at me “You know you’ve got this – kill it”. I relax, and sit on the front at a comfortable tempo – something like 30kph!!!
Hooking in and out of the trees, I’m still on the front.
We hit the gravel road, I know where the finish it, so I sit. Garry re-appears. He screams “GO!” I think he is encouraging me. Then, on my right, Shaun, Andy, Jason, Andy Hall – they launch.
My mind immediately says “they’ve gone too early, I know the finish line”.
Then I see the finish line.
They moved it from last year.
I came 5th.
I’m pleased with the race. My form, strength. It was a great feeling. Its a great result really. It was a very classy field. Lessons learnt – many. Regrets – one. Always check the final kilometre of the race.
Before I sign-off, despite being delighted with my ride – I must say well done to all the Jet Racing team. Garry Millburn – 2nd in the 50km against an incredibly classy field. It was the ride of the day. Kyle Ward – he was so close to staying in the lead bunch, but that attack at the water-stop just was a bridge too far. There is more to come from him. Rob Booker – another excellent result in the 50km. 5th I think. Outside of the Elite, Paul Sloan continues to fly and picked up a podium position in his category, and Wayne Dickinson had a great ride with 6th place in Vets. Matt Russell stayed inside 6hrs with a good ride too. Jet Racing – on the week of the new shop opening – is on the rise.
Next up – Rocky Trail, and 3 Ring Circus. Come over and say hello.