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Highland fling review 2006

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By craigs - Posted on 14 November 2006

Well what an event. There was quite a lot of reference to 109Km this year, even from Huw at the presentation. I thought is was harder than last year, probably for two reasons, 1. it WAS harder and 2. I think in hindsight I might not have been as well prepared as last year.

This year we stayed in a nice big house "Inverard". The crew (Craig, Jemima, Christine, Will, Sergio, Sharon, Dwight and Justin) had arrived by dinner time Saturday night. I had decided at 7:00pm that the chain issue had to be fixed so off to the boys at legend cycles for a new middle sprocket. While I was away dinner was being prepared. A rather large amount of pasta was cooked up for the eight hungry mouths. Huge logistics doing 3 courses for 8 people!!! There was a stack of yummy food full of carbs and sugar. Couple of beers along the way to add to the carb loading. 500ml cans I might add. We were all asleep by about 10:30pm.

Was a bit bummed that Greg couldnt make it and Rob was I was resigned to riding it alone. Thankfully met up with Tom on Saturday at the dash and we made a rough plan to meet at the start.

Sunday 5:30am...cant sleep so get up and start packing for the day. Pace around a bit, do some stretches and so on...
6:30am the house rises and we have brekky. Banana toasted sandwich. Couldnt eat much still had pasta in the guts.
7:30am The starting gun sounds under cool cloudy skies.....Went out at a comfy pace and found the average sitting on
18Km/h. First crash I saw was about 15-20 mins in, poor bugger I thought. Shortly after, 40mins in, I hit a largish rock and suddenly found myself in the dust at about 25Km/h. Didn't feel any pain so got up and got on with it. Had stop stop a short time because chain was jumping all over the place and getting very annoying. Lost Tom at this stage. A light rain shower occurred just to keep things interesting. Sometime later I had a look at my knee and found a nasty gash full of dust and gravel, I thought I had better keep riding before it started to hurt. Creek crossing was fun as always, thigh deep(for me)coolish water and this year, thinking ahead, had a spare pair of socks!! Good thinking.

Got into Wingello at 9:07 which I was very pleased with. Stocked up on sports drink and munchies in the jersey and off I went in to the forest. Still sitting on a cracking pace av. 18Km/h I am starting to think of glory and finishing in 6.5 - 7 hours. That was short lived. Arms and shoulders were starting to ache from massively stiff front suspension and gears were screwed from crash, I think the derailleur is bent. So granny gear didn't happen at all and I had slipping on the high gears of the middle chain ring too. There were some really long fast sections that were also very bumpy requiring lots of concentration, speeds 45-50Km/h here. So by 55Km, halfway hill, I was pretty stuffed. Had done a fair bit of walking by now with the gear problem and it was starting to get hot. Av speed was dropping rapidly. Interestly, I was walking alongside people riding so not sure how much time you loose by walking but more annoying was the long legged dudes overtaking me walking!!

After half way hill there is a long winding uphill section. Killer red mud in the wet, crusty and rutted in the dry. Legs were burning badly even walking. Walking did help ease the sore back though! I had begun to get twinges of cramp during this stage, in the back of my knee and in the front, one crap on the upstroke and one on the down, joy. The forest section seems to go on forever but eventually I hit the road and back into Wingello. The road ride is undulating and while you try hard to keep up the pace it really takes it out of you....

Really tired at this point and not feeling like the strong finish I had planned. Had a lengthy break here eating and drinking and stretching out, searching for something extra to get me to the finish. 80Km done. Its interesting how you can talk yourself into getting back on the bike, when there is nothing left, to ride another 30Km on a track where there is no point stopping till the end...Had to really get psyched to keep going as I knew the last 30 would be really hard.
Was going pretty slow by now and the technical stuff was as hard mentally as physically. Av speed down in the 15's now. The thought of a better time was gone and finishing was the new challenge. Somewhere in this section(or maybe it was in the forest section??) there was a very very steep section out of long down hill, there was no one riding then a couple of guys came through and powered up the hill. Absolutely amazing to see these guys determination and power.

I had a few breaks in the de-forested area to gather my thoughts and to ease the burning in the legs and arms. Gears were a constant struggle but I had worked out combinations that were usable. Past the Yacht club I was starting to think of the finish. Through the last stages I had bursts of energy and then extreme fatigue. I managed to team up with a few riders from the point of the final bike wash through the sandy desert, then taking the shorter but steeper choice. All I was thinking was that it was 450M shorter! After that back on to the road for the last 5 k's. Set a good pace here and finished with a burst to look good through the finish gates...memories of Rob outsprinting me last year driving me to the end Eye-wink

There was some great single trail and fast downhill runs. Bloody bumpy at speed but quite a buzz, even with tired arms and shoulders I still went as fast as I could. The new steep bits were challenging and would be a blast to do fresh!
You might notice the details get a bit sketchy as time goes on and focus changes from enjoyment to survival.
This year I was fine mentally, but the body gave out. Something to work on.

The event is always fun and everyone is friendly and up for a chat as you ride with them, but the one downer is how disappointing it is to see all the litter around the track. It's just plain slack of people not containing their rubbish or using the bins provided.

Top speed was 52Km/h. Drank 7 litres of fluid, ate a host of food, bananas, brownies, energy bars, sandwiches. No
flats. One crash. Hundreds of wombat caves. Ride time was about 7hrs and official elapsed time was 7:46. I am really pleased to have made it to the end and to have had a great weekend.

Everyone competing in the house did fabulously well and finished. There are many more great stories and lessons from the weekend I am sure you will hear in the coming weeks.

I had Monday off work and was very glad about that, legs are still rubbery on Tuesday.
I kept telling myself on the ride that I would not be talked into doing the 100Km again.
I do think the 50 would be a great ride......but then you never know.
More hill training next year, urgh!...well more training anyway.



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