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What am I being CONVICTED of?

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 05 May 2013

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2013
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
100km Male Open
Position (Category): 

UPDATE: My friend Graham kindly came along to watch, first at the canoe bride and then at the end, and has a short clip of the river crossing


Convict 100 2013 was my third MTB race since leaving school, and after having a good result last year and a dismal failure in Capital Punishment this year (for reasons beyond me), I set myself to do well this year, and I do mean well. Specifically, after a time of around 4:45 last year, it was my goal to hit 4:30 this year, if not even 4:20 as well as get top 3 in Senior. The supporting factors were all there for this to happen: a) I had become fitter and a better rider since then, b) I’d experienced the course this time so had a better idea of how to attack it and c) I now have obtained the proper nutrition/hydration gels and electrolytes (thanks Hawkeye).

So when say I trained, I made the most of it. My standard 2 gorges 45km road loop time had improved by a rather major margin in a matter of weeks, and I had done as much training as possible in all other forms. My new ‘training concept’ was that of what I call “easy speed” (no, it’s not an oxymoron!). It’s the idea of remembering to get speed before a shortish hill, and essentially be able to hold whatever gear/cadence to the top (usually around 2-4). The “easy speed” idea also came into play in remembering to power gentle descents with as much power as I could where speeds in the high 40s could be obtained. Longer ascents, of course, had to be attacked in a more manageable gear, in one that I could hold for 4km, and all this I worked at long and hard both on and off road.

The only glitch was my managing to get my brake lever through my thigh keeping me off the bike for my last weekend worth of bike training. Despite that, it all went together well and by Friday night, I felt well trained, in good health, and my bike was… well, in as good condition as a 3 year old Anthem X3 can really be!


Up at 3:40am, I slammed down a quick, but substantial breakfast, and got into the car as quickly as possible. Living in Hornsby, and comparatively close to the venue, I could see why so many people camped the night. After a smooth journey there, I registered at 5:30am, in time to have a casual warm up, make sure my (Camelbak) bladder was full and my other bladder was empty (several times, actually.) Come 6:50am and I got in the very back of the start line for Wave 2, nerves and adrenaline pumping hard.


I probably did not cross the start for a minute after out gun had sounded at 7:10am, but due to the flatness of the road, I found it relatively easy to overtake and find myself up at the front over the first 3km, where I was able to cruise. (This may have not been such a bad thing being at the back to start – I was in the same position as the people at the front but had a minute less on my clock!) I find the first 10km a good warm up, being able to hold up around 35km/h is relatively easy when you can draft and it’s all flat. Also good idea for whoever chose to block the road this year, to put it mildly, having cars in the other direction with hundreds of racing cyclists is NOT safe!

The first ‘little’ challenge to negotiate was Blue “in the face” Hill. I had described it as the vertical line on the C100 elevation chart… which feels pretty much like a vertical line whilst climbing it too! Having just ridden it a week ago, I was glad to remember how the sharp left followed by a sharp right marked 300m from the top, and was able to pace myself on gear 1-3 up to the top. Having reached top, it was now to put the “easy speed” concept into play. Of course, it wasn’t perfect, and I routinely in too low or high a gear on the uphills, but for most part, I was happy with the rate I was heading at, despite mostly people overtaking me, and at the 28km station in what seemed to me good time. (Can’t remember the figures off hand now though…)

5km more of undulating (it seemed to me more downward) before the second T where we met the famous Great North Road. Although feeling a bit sore in various locations by this point, like last year, this appeared to be my strongest section. For 13km, I weaved, overtook, dropped, climbed, descended briskly on what, of course, is my favourite section. The only glitch was where the person in front lost balance in a track around a puddle, and hence I lost balance. Needless to say, I abruptly overtook him after this… Eye-wink

The technical, rocky section seemed to fade and when the track descended with a bunch of mini waterbars, and I knew I was just about at the Dubbo Gully junction. But metres before that I heard a call of “On your right!” where a cyclist swept by me… perhaps a bit too fast… for leaned to hard and fell off just as he merged in front of me… which was fantastic because the bike landed so his rear wheel was just in my path. Although I hit it, I was able to land on my feet, and abruptly get going. And he was ok as well and did apologize so can’t complain… though maybe not best to overtake just before such a corner!

Now I jumped into my top gear and ground downhill hard, (as per the “Easy Speed” concept), past Clare’s “Bridge” and toward Ten Mile Hollow through the timing tent. My watch read around 2:08, down 2:15 last year. The 4:30 time was playing through my head like a symphony, and I had no intention of backing down on the goal. Kept going, and uphill on gear 2-6 past the Buddhist retreat. Here came the section of track that I knew best and knew I had to make the most of my home ground. As planned, I just ground hard up ascent and held it until the GNR split off and got rocky again. Ensuring to pick the fastest lines I didn’t do badly. I almost made it up the massive rock step, but diverted just at the last minute. Ahh, damn, I’m going to practice that more! On my casual rides on GNR I recalled the signs documenting the harsh conditions convicts endured whilst building the road. I wondered if they were quite as painful as what these cyclist were feeling then…

I continued at a decent clip, though managed to pick the wrong line for another rocky ascent (that I know I can do) so wasted some time walking up it. Reaching the end of the rocks, I sped downwards, towards Shepherd’s Gully. Buy this time, there were very few people around and I felt sort of detached. Down the increasingly rocky track Shepherd’s Gully (I sometimes wonder whether the “gully” refers to the massive ditch along the darn track itself!), I lost balance once, but was prepared for this and landed on my feet, I zoomed toward the canoe bridge, where by my surprise one of my friends had come to watch and take a photo of me. Motivated by the encouragement, I crossed the bridge without incident and headed to the road, where I heard the familiar voice of Wayne Dickinson greeting me! Staying with him along the 4km of flattish road, I’ll never forget his comment to me… “30km left… 20 hard ones and 10 easy ones!”

That line couldn’t be more accurate; the Womerah Range track, although not nearly as steep as Blue Hill, seems much longer, and there’s no really defined top, just the ratio of uphill to downhill gradually decreases. Still no less determined of my time goal, just less confident whether or not I’d achieve it, I ground, glided and powered the flats, descents, but mostly UP! Like last year, a medley of curses played through my brain every time I saw an uphill, but I was not going to forget about “Easy Speed.” I cried, moaned, cursed through these 10km of beautiful track (though stopping to take photos was about the last thing on my mind!), frustrated about the inconsistency of the distance markers – my speedo read 85km where I passed the 80km mark (though had mostly been accurate for the previous ones). The first verse of Psalm 13 flew through my mind as well; “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?”

Well the turn off to Jack’s Track was one of the Lord’s marks for the length left. I knew it was mostly, then all downhill to the road, and it was heartening that the distance I’d ascended wasn’t my imagination, it really was 300 metres!

Back onto mostly flat road, I looked at my watch. It was about 11:25; to make my goal I’d have to be done by 11:41. I sped along, in pain and exhaustion, toward the river crossing. Though planning to ride through, my wheel just STOPPED as soon as I hit sand. I cursed my way across the damn river and tried to run up but running through sand is like trying to knock down a wall with my head. Watch was at 11:35. Back on the bike, I ground out the last 3km or so until I finally, FINALLY saw crowds. Around that last bend, I burst over the finish line, totally spent.


1 minute over.



After stumbling off with my “free” beer (heck, I looked drunk THEN… what’ll it be like after I actually DRINK it?), I saw my Mum and friend Graham (who had watched me at the canoe bridge), and looked at the preliminary results, and here it was, 4:31:15.
4th in my category.
Just missed out.

Was I satisfied? Yes and no. I know, with slightly better tactics, I could have made it in under 4:30 and come 3rd in Seniors (which was 4:29:30 or so), but there was plenty I was. Either way, I have shredded 13 minutes off last year’s time, and that’s not something to complain about. And being just outside proved that indeed I set a realistic goal. No cramps, mechanicals or stacks either, which definitely was good.


3.5L of electrolytes (as I have a high sweat)…
10 High5 Gels (had 1 every 10km or so)

Both worked great, though after the race I felt if I had another drop electrolyte, I’d throw up…


As C100 is my ‘home’ event, I’m going to make it my training ‘focus.’ Hopefully I can hit 4:20:00 and the podium! I’d also like to complete it without putting a foot down (the main challenge is the river crossing at the end.0


A man will do almost anything to get his mind off the pain he’s experiencing, and my method seems to be to think up stupid (but funny) jokes when engrossed in painful physical exertion…

Q: What’s the difference between a Mountain Bike Marathon and a bullet?
A: A bullet kills people quickly and painlessly. Laughing out loud

Oh, and I worked out what I was being convicted of to suffer all this pain… It was the belief I could complete it in four and a half hours!


Before and after 100km of hell.

Fatboy's picture

Great read @tristiana and well done on your results. You've got a great future ahead of you in the sport. Go latch on to someone like @antsonline and get expert advice on getting to the top.

I laughed at your comments re thinking of jokes and referring to the bible to get you through. I always tape a picture of my family to my stem and talk to them when I'm in the hurt box. Yesterday the only pic I could find in my wallet was my 6yo son Lachy so it turned out to be a father & son day out ...

craked's picture

that was an awesome ride Tristan, congatulations

jp's picture

Congratulations Tristan, a great ride and a great write up. I'm sure there are plenty of riders finishing around 4:30 who have lighter bikes, coaches and years of racing experience, so I agree with Fatboy - if you choose to pursue it, there is no doubt you can do very well in this sport. I know uni keeps you busy (I did Electrical Engineering too, and it's a pretty intense) - but if I had my time again I would dedicate more time to other pursuits to balance with the study. So if there is a coach out there who's willing to help you, I think you should seriously consider a more structured approach to training. I'm sure many of us would love to see how far you can go.

But for now, rest, recover and enjoy your success!

obmal's picture

great write up, congratulations! an awesome time.
there's always next year and you've got at least 30 more of "dirtworks years" to beat your last years time to go Eye-wink

hawkeye's picture

Glad the nutrition information helped Smiling

Great write-up. Funny the things that go through your mind in those events. I hope you got to lie down in some green pastures besides still waters at the end, without having to pass through the valley of the shadow of death!

I reckon with some structured training you'll threaten some of teh established names.

Brian's picture

Well done Tristan on an awesome result.

ps's picture

Well done Tristan. Good to see that 26 inch bikes still rock.

doc's picture

Great to see another fantastic race to back up last years effort and after Capital Punishment dissapointment. Keep it up !

Tristania's picture

Thanks to all those who have supported me, both for these comments, and advice over this time, it is not unnoticed. Indeed to @Hawkeye, thanks again for the nutrition article, which definitely helped. And admittedly, I got to lie in a green pasture beside still waters without passing through the valley of death... the MOUNTAIN of the shadow of death is more like it, but luckily "He gives me a new strength and guides me along the right paths as he has promised..." and indeed a banquet was prepared for me!!" But seriously, much appreciated.

And to @Anstonline, @Dicko and @ps and several others, whom I coincidentally ran into at Wisemans on Anzac Day and joined on their 80km training ride, that was perfect training and I appreciate you having me along Laughing out loud

You're perfectly right, @jp, and it's a very busy life for me, but I'm under the "You can sleep when you're dead" philosophy and am going to make a '' 'career' of training. I think you can do both, the excuse "not having time" means "not making time." Of course, financing the events is another story, which is why I'm focussed on quality rather than quantity (though currently interning full time, the budget is a bit more generous now). And being the "volatile" years of my life, I'm want to do stuff such as running marathons and rogaines as well. But I'm determined to get better on the bike, and know I can.

And to @ps, "Good to see 26 inch bikes still rock," maybe you really mean "26 inch RIDERS still rock?" Eye-wink But seriously, my Anthem has reached the end of its three years, (needing a rebuild of the suspension) so I'm planning to upgrade to an Anthem X 29er... let me know of any other suggestions though...


garyinoz's picture

Nice write up, good to see a little video clip. So they had one bridge to ride and one to walk this year?
Keep it up for the years ahead.

Antsonline's picture

Thats a great ride Tris.

4.31 is very fast.
Bigger wheels will help, but so will some planning and strategy....

I'd have thought a 4.20ish would be a fair target next year, but lots more racing before then should be the plan....

Well done.

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