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Flung by the Fling!

andyfev's picture

By andyfev - Posted on 11 November 2013

Re: This ride meeting: 
2013 Highland Fling
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Position (Category): 

My first words after finishing was "none of that was enjoyable".

My biggest mistake, and I had a few of them, was using this event as an excuse to get out on the bike more. Up until 6 weeks ago I'd put in only 200km since November last year. Between purchasing a renovator and attending to our little boy, now 18 months old, and our 3 month old baby girl their isn't much time left in the day. So that's the first excuse out of the way Eye-wink

The night before the Fling I decided to strip my bike as the past 6 weeks I managed to get a ride a week some of which was on the dirt. After removing the rear cassette, jockey wheels, chain and chain rings and giving them a good clean I neglected to re-tune the gears... This would end up costing me dearly.

After a midnight finish cleaning the bike I was awoken at 3:45am. After loading my mates car we set off for Bundanoon just after 4am. Madness in itself. I was happier doing this than camping in freezing conditions.

I had all intentions to go out with the 3-4 hr group but lost my fellow, similar paced rider, somewhere in the crowd. I was standing with PeteB, the third man in our group, not far from the front of the crowd so ended up getting caught up in the 2-3 hr group. The initial pace didn't phase me as some of the limited riding I had done has been MTBing around Akuna Bay & West Head etc. I had got packed in early on and lost PeteB by the first water crossing. I knew I wouldn't be seeing him [would normally paraphrase "for dust" but it was wet!] again until after the race. I quickly settled into my own pace and had Antsonline pre-race write up, which was really well done by the way, in the back of my mind... I knew the last 10km was gonna be tough.

By now, my gears had started giving me curry and I had all but lost the ability to use granny ring. Every time I tried to shift down to the smallest chainring she wouldn't go. The only time she did the chain turned itself inside out and jammed. Having had a chain snap a few years ago during the Rock Wallaby I didn't fancy it happening again. So middle ring it was from now on in, which was about 10km or so in.

I hit the big water crossing, second one I think, and as I was making my way to the edge the ground went from beneath me... I was the guy swimming with my bike. Now I really was cold and wet all the way up to my armpits! Thanks to everyone who asked if I was ok... Apart from being cold and soaking wet through I was pretty embarrassed!

I then discovered that when trying to get into granny gear in the middle chain ring the chain kept jumping into the spokes. Was starting to feel like I was on a singe speed by now and hills were getting bigger too! Still, I rode into transition at an hour and 21 mins and despite all my issues was feeling pretty good. I had some food for a minute or two then set off for the Gu stage. I knew 3hrs was probably not realistic. Little did I know just how unrealistic it would be.

I was going well until the 40km mark when those nasty climbs started... I got halfway up the first, in middle chain ring and not quite granny gear, when out of nowhere both legs suffered quad and hamstring cramps all at once. I didn't know what to do with myself as any leg movement was horrendous. I managed to get out of everyone's way then walk to the top of the first climb, still cramping with every step. I refuelled again and gingerly stretched out. After 3-4 mins I set off again and like a fool tried to ride up the next climb... I actually made it this time but the damage it caused was permanent. Yep, I cramped again. I knew this was the end of my legs and I still had plenty of climbing left to do.

After what felt like an eternity I made it to Broke Back Mountain. I managed to climb it nursing cramping legs and a broken bike. I towed 4 or 5 riders behind me which kept me going. It was a very long and very slow climb but we made it. On reaching the summit the quadruple cramp attack struck with vengeance causing me to disembark in a not so traditional way. I sat at the top thinking to myself how I would possibly make the distance. I was starting to loose the mental battle. I limped on and got through the technical section that followed. By the time I got here I was so exhausted that my technical skills were very sketchy. I rode through it all and managed to stay upright... Somehow

The last 5 km was the worst. My legs were completely shot, my heart rate had dropped to low 120s and my mind was somewhere very very dark. It felt like Xmas when I reached bitumen and it was pointing down. Managed to spin the legs sitting around 30-35km then hit the climbs again, which instantly brought me to walking pace. I just couldn't turn the pedals any faster. By the time I got to the "your choice" section I had to stop. I did consider the shorter route but knew it would be a false economy. I also thought about the GumTree ad I was going to write for selling my bike. I was done both mentally and physically.

I rode the longer route and was seriously doubting my ability to make it back. Lots of kind riders gave me support as they whipped past. Thank you to everyone that did it really helped me. At last, there it was the banner to end the misery, I'd finally made it home soaking wet, freezing cold and exhausted. This section took me 2hrs and 19 minutes... Ouch Eye-wink

During the last 5km I was accompanied by another rider and if it wasn't for them I don't think I'd have made it home. A BIG thank you for your support.

Event organisation was 1st class and a credit to the volunteers and town of Bundanoon. Will I be back next year? Not sure, but knowing me I have a mental battle to settle with this event. I won't rest until I've overcome it.

As for today, let's just say that smartest part of my race preparation was taking today off work Eye-wink

Ps I've now covered 505km in 12 months... Yippee!

jp's picture

Sounds like a tough day out Andy, but you still beat over 50% of the other riders.

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