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Who let the cows out?

jp's picture

By jp - Posted on 09 November 2015

Re: This ride meeting: 
Highland Fling 2015
Race Category: 
Half - Men

I didn’t expect to end up in the middle of a cattle muster at the Fling, but that’s how I spent part of my race on Sunday.

I went into this race not sure how I would go. Last year my training was very structured and consistently around 12 hours+ per week. That resulted in 11th place in a field of nearly 300. This year it was more like 7 hours a week, but did include some power-based training at Cycle Studio with James Lamb (highly recommended). Overall I knew I was reasonably fit, but not sure if I was as fit as last year.

So my plan was to pace myself in stage 1, then step it up in the second stage if I felt up to it. And hopefully avoid cramping.

Stage 1 went like clockwork. After the first few kms I settled into a nice little group of 5, and we rode together at a solid but comfortable pace to transition. We were chatting and enjoying ourselves, and I felt good.

I usually don’t stop at transition but this year I had stashed a bottle the night before. My transition went smoothly and I was back on the road in about 45 seconds. My group was just up the road, but with a bit of help from another rider we soon joined them. They welcomed me back. The pace was picking up a bit which was perfect for me. All going to plan.

Then came the cows. A few kms into this stage as we rode across a paddock, a marshall had stopped about 5 or 6 riders. We were stopped behind them and told to hold our positions. About 200m ahead there were cattle all over the place and three farm vehicles trying desperately to get them under control and out of our way. After a couple of minutes the marshall decided it was OK for a few riders to go through - but I didn’t make the cut. They went on and we stayed put. And there we stayed for another 4 or 5 mins, while 20 or 30 more riders joined the queue. Eventually the marshall let about 12 of us through, but 100m down the paddock we were forced to stop again, as the cattle took another wrong turn. And there we waited for another 5 mins until the path was cleared. By this time I reckon at least 30 more riders had joined the group waiting behind us. It occurred to me that I really was in the wrong place at the wrong time - riders who were just seconds ahead of me now had a 10 mins+ advantage, and riders who were 10 mins behind had now caught up.

So once we were back on course, my group were swamped by riders who we had worked to get away from. And we had no chance of catching anyone ahead. Psychologically for me the race was over - I just rode at a comfortable pace, and happily let people pass me if they wanted to.

I’m not complaining - there really is nothing the organisers could have done. And the marshall did an excellent job under the circumstances. Most riders took it in their stride and kept a positive attitude - there was plenty of friendly banter as we waited for the cattle to be moved on.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. My plan had been to push hard in the final 20km, but I knew the pointy end of the race was long gone, so there was nothing to be gained.

I picked up a few places through roller coaster, throughly enjoyed the singletrack, took the longer (easy) way at your call, and rolled over the line in 2:58.

Congrat’s to all who achieved their goals. A mate of mine who’s joined many of our regular Saturday rides improved his PB from 3:45 to 3:10!

See you on the trails.


Lach's picture

Sounds like he was the "culprit".

No sign of any bovine rebellion when I went through - must have got them all sorted by then. There did seem to be an unusually large amount of pretty sloppy cow s**t around this year. I'd put it down to plenty of green feed, but maybe there was an element of panic in the stampede that left its mark.

Not a bad time by you nonetheless!!

beetle's picture

Sorry mate , it was me who let the cows out ! I didn't know how close u were to me so I had to think of a way to slow you down . But you still won the series between us 2:1.
Thanks for the training rides, hope to catch up again soon for a more leisurely paced ride.

jp's picture

I just checked the results and you were already 3 mins ahead of me at transition... so no need for the cows! Well done on your race Bailey, awesome result.

Tristania's picture

And sorry you had to, quite literally, wait until the cows came home and waste all that effort. But I'm sure it was satisfying in the first half at least, to know that you've built up some strength. Looking forward to some social rides soon (or any ride)!

Fatboy's picture

You win JP. The rest of us were blaming fatigue, wrong turns, mechanicals..but cows! Smiling

sikllama's picture

i could tell you were a little disappointed when I spoke to you after the race, especially with all training I know you do in the leadup to these races. Taking out the time lost because of the herd and you are on par (or slightly better than?) your time last year. Winning times this year were generally slower than last year (muddier course?) so you can be satisfied you did well.

See you on the trails.

jp's picture

Thanks for the comments, and for revealing the cause Lach!

The more I think about it, although the cows affected my time, they probably didn't affect my position very much. I probably couldn't have gone much faster than I did.

Antsonline's picture

Fitness and form isnt a once a year event JP - you are a fit guy and a good rider. Sometimes races just dont work out. dont let your form or your journey to getting fit feel like a wasted one.
Use the knowledge you have gained, and the fitness gains you have made to find something else to do. Another race - a club XCO, something in the new year maybe - even just a time trail around your favourite loop.
Its a shame the race outcome didnt come off - but like I found out too - even the best plans, executed perfectly, can come unstuck. It doesnt take anything away from the effort, the input and shouldnt reduce the sense of satisfaction.
You were ready, you rode well, you executed a plan, and it didnt work. Its still a job well done.
New goals, new plan, and renewed vigour.

(still have to get you out on the road sometime...)

the pedaling donkey's picture

A fine story jp and even better riding and dam good result considering the loss of momentum with your seriously lengthy hold up then buttoning off the way home.
Your right the marshal did the best he/they could, even though he looked stressed to the max and was great to see most riders take it in there stride too.
Im pretty sure cows in paddock aren't in the handbook of how to run a "mountain bike race"

cheers josh

jp's picture

Cheers Josh,

And thanks for the words of wisdom Ants. Great point, I always enjoy the "fitness" journey, which never ends. On to the next race!

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