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4 hours at a winery...

Lach's picture

By Lach - Posted on 27 April 2014

Re: This ride meeting: 
Shimano MTB GP - Round 2
Position (Overall): 
Position (Category): 

I decided to do this at the last minute. Had been toying with the idea of going down to Victoria to do the Giant Odyssey and rack up a few more Maverick Series points, but a bit of work, family stuff and imminent travel pushed it into the too-hard basket.

However, I wanted to do another race before heading off on hols for a few weeks (without a bike), so it was up at 4.00am Saturday morning for the near 3-hr drive to James Estate and the now infamous Bylong Valley. Got breathalysed about 5 minutes into the drive, but I wouldn’t have been racing that day if blowing over the limit at 5.00am was going to be an issue!

Got there in plenty of time, no queue for rego, small queue for the portaloos and enough time for a warm up ride up the first hill. I’d decided to go bare-back for the first time in a race, so had a small saddlebag, a few gels taped to the frame and an esky of water bottles at transition. It worked OK, although I think I would struggle to stay hydrated in hot weather. As it was, the race started at about 15C and got to 27C before cooling off a bit as cloud cover and a cooler change moved in. There were enough farm trail sections to get a reasonable amount of water in, although I got a bit sketchy a couple of times riding one-handed and drinking when the trail wasn’t quite as smooth as it looked.

After a pretty low-key starting process down amongst the vines, there was over 2.5km of uphill farm trail and mown grass track before the single track started. As did the queuing, with the first bit of sniggle being actually the techiest bit of the whole loop. The combination of mud and awkwardly positioned rocks and trees meant that after walking it in convoy the first lap, I didn’t clean that section until my last lap, by which stage the track marshals had done a bit of repair work to make it more rideable. Even then, I rode through about 4 people standing on the sides after they’d dismounted.

Despite this bit, overall the tracks were pretty damn good and the overall setting spectacular. Some nice berms, rocky sections and swoopy flowy sniggle. Some of the tree gaps started to seem awfully narrow to a big guy in the later stages of exhaustion, but I only managed to give one a nudge with the bars and grazed a couple with the arms and shoulders. The soil was granite gravel, a bit like Stromlo, but with maybe a bit bigger gravel size. So the dampish tracks were generally a blessing as the moisture kept them a bit less skatey than they would be in the dry. There were a couple of wet creek crossings in the scrub (which I imagine are dry 99% of the time) and a few sections of the vineyard tracks were very wet. There were a couple of pallet bridges to get across wet patches in the vineyard, the longest being about 30 metres long, with clear flowing water under it (and over it, especially when I rode across!). We even got to ride through one of the wine storage areas, a 50m corridor between very large stainless steel vats.

All of this was situated in and around the grounds of a picturesque winery, with the vine-covered hills in the foreground and the rocky outcrops of Wollemi NP in the immediate background. Great place to spend a day!

The tracks made good use of those vine-covered hills and the edges of those rocky outcrops. Over 200m of climbing a lap felt like a lot, but none of the climbs were particularly difficult, although a 150m grassy climb up between the vines late in each lap reduced me to granny gear on the last two laps. The climb up from the dam, through transition and on up into the first section of sniggle was nearly 2.5 km long and seemed to get longer each lap.

I managed to keep an average HR just over my zone 5 threshold for over 4 hours and nudged max HR a few times on the climbs. As I was pretty slow, it shows just how much work I need to do to improve my fitness / endurance capability….

hawkeye's picture

Great report, sounds like you had a lot of fun! Smiling

Bummed that I've now missed 2 rounds of this due to injury and then getting sick last week. 2 months without getting on the dirt, and only 1 actual ride (not counting trainer sessions) in the last 3 weeks!

Interesting comment about your HR. I found that in my first 50km race, where I averaged what I previously used to only hit occasionally on steep climbs. It was a real eye opener. Now that you know you can keep up that HR for so long, maybe you need to ajust your training zones?

Lach's picture

Yeah, it's a good place to ride, though a long day with 6 hrs of driving and 4 hrs of riding. If folks are doing the 12 hr race later this year they'll probably need to camp a couple of nights, or stay locally - Denman is only a few minutes away...

With the HR stuff, I need to do some more research before getting serious about the training. I've been using it only as a guide to effort so far, which has been useful, but still fairly unstructured. My max HR seems ago be about 165 (which is pretty close to the "theoretical" 220 less age, and I've got zone 5 set at 85% in the Garmin. That % probably needs to be a bit higher to be a true "red zone" and I need to work all that out before I lock into a training methodology I suppose.

But that will all have to wait until I get back from hols. I'll then need to be do some serious structured training to allow me to tackle that first hill at the Kowalski without blowing up big time.... Smiling

Scottboy's picture

Glad you likes our few little repairs expecially the first creek crossing , it even caught me by surprise on the first sweep lap , second lap out for me after a quick bite and refill we cleaned out the trapped water and filled it in a bit , the first part of the techy sectioned you mentioned got worse after the 4hrs was finished , hope you enjoyed the day ..p.s. I was also up at 4.00am for the drive up and I also drove home that night the track was worth it but .

Lach's picture

.. not often that a track is better on the fifth lap than it was on the previous 4 when there are a few hundred riders blasting around it.

I'll have to get out there again and sample the full trail network AND the wines....

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