The weekend weather forecast had been foreboding, but reports from Wingello indicated it wasn’t looking too bad on Saturday afternoon. After waking to heavy rain early Sunday, a quick check of the BOM radar and the NOBMOB weather page convinced me that heading off into the wet darkness was right thing to do.
Got to Wingello in light misty rain and a cool 13C. Registered, suited up, dropped an esky trackside so I could ride without a hydration pack and had just enough time to get down to the start before the 75 kms folk were waved off. Not much of a warm-up, but with a pretty flat few hundred metres of fire trail into the sniggle, I figured that a warm up was not important if I wasn’t aiming to be at the head of the 50km pack.
Only a bit of queuing to get into the single track and then the slippery slide started. Sure, I’m heavy and tall, so my centre of gravity is not great for sliding around on greasy single track. Yes, I could have swapped out my Bontrager X1 rear tyre for something with some tread on it if I’d thought about it. Maybe I could have spent more time ice-skating as a kid. Anyway, I was slippin’ an’ slidin’ around so much that the guy behind me at one stage asked me what tyre I had on the rear, and then asked me to remind him not to buy one. Like I’d see him again once he got past me…. In fairness to Bontrager, the X3 on the front coped really well, but for a lot of the first lap the X1 seemed to want to be going in a different direction to the X3. I think the rear did a few hundred extra metres on the uphill bits as well.
Anyway, after the (mainly young) guns from the 25 km crew threaded their way through, I seemed to ride most of the rest of the first lap with 25km riders. After a brief stop for a water bottle change and to rinse the sticky mix of mud and energy gel off my left hand, I headed off on the second lap. By myself. The forest was empty. First riders I saw were Trekky and Dan McConnell flying past on the first bit of uphill fire trail. The majority of riders I saw for the rest of the lap were a few more elite 75 km riders pushing past. Most impressive was Dylan Cooper who showed how to skid the rear wheel around the for-me-impossible left hand switch-back just after the bottom of one of the newer sections of sniggle. Ant and Cape Epic partner Dave pushed by soon after.
I caught a few 50 km riders in the back half of the second lap as the track dried out and I could push a bit harder, although the climbs did feel a bit tougher on the second lap.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the effort levels. Went into the red zone on all the steeper climbs and recovered OK. Hit a Strava suffer score of > 300 for the first time ever.
However, I still only finished 5th out of 7 starters in the Masters 7/8 Men (or actually last of the finishers). The first bloke was well ahead, but I was only 12.32 off 2nd place, so it was actually pretty close for the remaining places. Overall, I was 122nd out of 176 starters at the 50 km distance.
Had been hoping to do a bit better after a fair block of (relatively unstructured) training, but in the end I was happy to just stay upright on a slippery track and to finish reasonably strong.