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Convict 100 2016 - 1st non 'Elite' - 6th overall

Japhnet's picture

By Japhnet - Posted on 04 May 2016

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2016
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
100km Male Veteran
Position (Category): 

Hi all,

You guys don't know me, but I keep a blog on my website and thought I would share in case anyone was interested -

Saturday 30 April 2016. Back to the scene of my hardest day on the bike - the Convict 100.

I attempted the Convict last year in when it was scheduled in August. At that point, I'd only been riding for a handful of months and my longest ride prior was 3 hours and 90km... on the road... That never bodes well for a mountain bike race 100km long, that's expected to take up to 5 hours.

This year however was a very different story. I've been training really well and slowly building up the kms. For the last few months I've averaged over 250km per week on the road, plus another 4-5 hours on the ergo. The proposition had changed from, "will I finish" to "how fast will I finish".

When entering the race I had to choose between entering as an 'Elite', or just in my age category 'Veteran'. I knew I would be fast enough to compete with the elite field, but was concerned about how hard they would hit the first steep climb, potentially leaving me in no-mans-land between the elite field and the age riders. I erred on the side of caution and entered as a Veteran.

I woke-up at 5:00am on race day and jumped out of bed. I'd been looking forward to this race for a few weeks and was definitely feeling ready to go. I'd packed up the car the night before, so all I had to do was down a giant bowl of porridge and jump in the car.

I rolled into St Albans just after 6:30am and stopped in to say g'day to couple of my Cammeray Roadie mates (G'day Andy and Maarten), who had driven up the night before and camped. Andy looked like hell first thing in the morning (sorry buddy), which made me pretty happy with my decision to sleep in my own bed and drive up on race day.

After a 10 minute warm-up spin with another Cammeray mate, Pete McManus, I headed to the start line for the rider briefing. Most of the age riders were already in place in the starting shoot, so I just popped my bike over the guard rail and took my place at the front.

Right on 8:00 the gun sounded for the start of the 'Elite' field and a small group of 15 took off down the road. Just under 3 minutes later the second gun went and the age riders took off in hot (eh, maybe mild) pursuit.

The start of these longer races is usually surprisingly sedate, with everyone a bit nervous about what they have in front of them and not wanting burn too much too soon. I sat in about 3rd wheel for the first 10km and let the others take the wind, right up to the base of the first climb of the day - Jack's Track. It's roughly a 20 minute climb right to the top, but it's punctuated by a few very steep and sandy pinches that top out at around a 25% grade. The slightest mistake and you're off you're bike and running up the hill.

By the time we crested the hill, the lead group had whittled down to a select group of only 5 riders. The 5 of us agreed to work together until the 5km road section 25km in. We could work as a team and would be a lot faster together than if we tried to attack individually.

Immediately after the first water station we faced the second big climb of the day - Shepherds Gully. The climb was a lot easier this year as the road has been graded, making it a much smoother and steadier climb than the rock infested trail we faced last year. The group of 5 held together through the next lot of techy rock sections, but I started to feel like I could be riding a bit faster. As soon as the trail widened at the 48km mark, I put the hammer down and made a break for it. I had a quick look over my shoulder after 30 seconds of effort and no one had followed, so I put my head down and pushed as hard as I could.

Within a few km I starting picking off the elite riders on by one. I cruised up to Dave Evans and he jumped on my wheel and we set off after James Downing who we could see just up the road. We collected James and the 3 of us pushed on together up the road to the 72km water station. I was slow to react and found myself at the back of the group coming in to change bottles. By the time I grabbed my bottle and downed a swig of coke, Dave and James had already pulled away and started up the next climb.

I used a lot of energy to chase back, but as soon I was within touching distance I started to blow and had to back it off a little. I knew that they had started a few minutes in front of me, so as long as I held them in sight, I would still beat them overall.

The Convict offers up an incredibly tough way to finish an MTB marathon. Lot's of super steep pinches followed by flat sections providing no opportunity to recover. The final 12km was a solo time trial effort on a slightly undulating fire road and then sealed road. I got as aero as I could pushed hard averaging over 32km/h for the final stanza.

I passed Shaun Lewis in the last few km (I think he had a mechanical towards the end) and knew if I could just keep Dave and James in sight, I'd finish pretty high up overall.

I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin. 4:08.52 - 22 minutes faster than last year. A quick check of the time screens confirmed that I had finished 1st in my category (by 11 minutes) and a respectable 6th overall.

A big thank you to the Cammeray Roadie boys for sticking around for the preso and to Pete McManus for taking the cover pic.

What's next? Not sure yet. I've just had a couple of days off, so I'll get back into my training and work out what race to tackle next!

Thanks for reading!

Andrew O'Neill.

Fatboy's picture

What a great story. Never heard of you Andrew and found your story fascinating. So you do less km than many of us and are new to the sport and you beat most of us by hours and just for fun you chase down the likes of James Downing in the back half of a marathon. Doesn't get better than that.

Japhnet's picture

That's very kind.

I ride mostly with the Cammeray Roadies (as per the blog), so feel free to check me out on Strava:



andyfev's picture

You don't get to read stories about elites being put under pressure from the main field all that often... Great result... Obviously you have 'elite' cability and mentality Eye-wink

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