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Fling'n Fun

Lach's picture

By Lach - Posted on 10 November 2013

Re: This ride meeting: 
2013 Highland Fling
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Half/Male/Super Masters
Position (Category): 

Of all the XCM races on the calendar, the Fling qualifies best as a true “event”. I love it, even though the Half Fling is a solid 57 km, with all the hard stuff – big hills, technical single track – in the last 15 km. I love the themes – this year it was the Flingstones (with no apologies to Hanna Barbera) – I love the fact that the whole town gets behind the event (where else would you get the main street blocked off, just to accommodate registration for the event?), then there are the ancillary events – I had another go at the Rolloff this year, but couldn’t win my heat – not to mention the bagpipes at 5:30am to get you up and going and the village that the event centre becomes.

I usually love the weather as well, but this year was a bit below par. Saturday was fine, with blue skies and pleasant temps, but the wind turned cold and mean at dusk, rain came overnight and the Half Fling started in drizzle, with the temperature averaging 7C for the race according to my Garmin. This was the first year that Huw (the driving force behind Wild Horizons) hasn’t waved the requirement to carry a water resistant jacket, though I saw no evidence that they checked anyone?

I started in the second wave, which was pretty relaxed. Got passed by Hawkeye and Volker on the first hill and then had to stop once we got into the farmland to take off my riding glasses so I could see where I was going. Didn’t see Volker again, but caught up to Hawkeye again at Early Bath. They had put three lanes in place this year, so there was no waiting. I think I picked the deepest line. Had a Gu on the other side, hitched up my wet shorts and headed off into the double track drag race that is Boag’s Draft. By the time we were heading up towards Wingello, the sky was lightening and riders were kicking up dust. It was not to last. Got passed by Hawkeye again on the run up to the road into Wingello, but passed him again when he stopped just after transition.

I made it to transition about 90 seconds slower than last year, largely due to my efforts at pre-race front derailleur tuning to try to get rid of a bit of rubbing when climbing in granny, which left me with issues downshifting under load. I lost a bit of momentum on a number of hills having to drop to granny from big ring and spin crazily until I slowed down enough to match the gearing.

That wasn’t so much of a problem on the Gu stage. I always enjoy the run from transition through to the creek crossing, and was still going reasonably strong on the ensuing singletrack climb. Hawkeye caught and passed me again a bit later on the sharp little climb after the rocky creek crossing, but I managed to catch him again at Free Bike Wash and we rode together into the next section of singletrack. It started to rain again there and he had a moment on a tree root and cramped and I didn’t see him again.

I struggled with the hills in Roller Coaster, walking the steep ones, but made it up Brokeback Mountain. The last bit of singletrack seemed longer this year, or was that my fatigued imagination? It’s a great stretch of slightly techy sniggle, but it is pretty hard work at the back end of this race.

Then it was on to the Great Sandy Desert, with the sand a bit firmer than usual with the light rain. I took the short way up Your Choice, walking 50 metres or so up the steepest bit, but the rider who I was level with at the bottom and who went the other way was about 100 metres in front by the time I crested the hill. Maybe I’ll try the longer way next time……

Finished about 4 minutes down on last year’s time, but 13 places better in the 108-strong Super Masters field and over a hundred places better overall, so maybe there was a bit more sniggle, or maybe everyone found the conditions a bit tougher. Or both.

My riding mate who I’d come down to do the race with had succumbed to man flu after sitting around in the cold on Saturday evening and didn’t race. He had everything packed by the time I finished, so I towelled down, changed into some warm clothes and was out of there about 15 minutes after finishing, so I missed the free lunch and seeing the elites finish the Full Fling, which is always a highlight.

It was 12C according to the car, raining lightly and with a cold wind blowing as we drove off. Not good standing around conditions, but it had been OK for riding. Most of the track stood up pretty well – in fact the rain had only just penetrated the surface in many areas and the wheel tracks were often still cutting into dry as dust stuff underneath. The bike was a bit of a mess, with light rain and dust and sand contributing to a fair sort of build up of crap, which will take a while to clean up. Tomorrow….

hawkeye's picture

You did well. You were certainly a lot smoother than I was despite the front shifting dramas.

Interesting to find out that you passed me at the creek crossings a couple of time. I was thinking "huh? How did he do that!?" when I caught you on the climbs. Smiling

I should have taken off my my glasses too. Even with them pushed down so I could see over they were a hindrance. The idea didnt occur to me. Duh!

Top 20 for you next time? Smiling

jp's picture

Nice work improving your placing over last year Lach. You're right, there was more singletrack.

Lach's picture

.. that may be the first time anyone has described my riding style as smooth... Smiling

I'm aiming to build a solid base for an all-out attack on the Grand Masters category in late 2015 Eye-wink

Just need to decide whether the knees will hold out or I should take some time off and get a replacement or two done next year....

DudeistPriest's picture

So please tell me how old do you have to be to qualify for the Grand Masters category?

Lach's picture

... but it is over 60's. The Fling and the Husky recently have had them and the Fling even had a Great Grand Masters category in the Half Fling for the sprightly over 70's!

There's just too many young blokes in the Super Masters these days.....

DudeistPriest's picture

Thanks for that, I have a few years to go then.

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