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1st Convict 100 won't be the last

danielschipper's picture

By danielschipper - Posted on 06 May 2014

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2014
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
100km Male Sub Veteran
Position (Category): 

I've ridden bikes on and off most of my life, but just for fun. In 2010, with the arrival of my first 'little one' and moving into mid 30's I decided I needed to get back into some sort of fitness regime. Went out and bought some running shoes... Ran 7k's on a bush trail... Then came back bored and went and bought a bike instead; the trusty 2010 Trance X2.

Having kids resulted in a group of new friends and I was able to rope a couple into my new found MTB obsession.... Many thanks to our wives for allowing us to indulge! I had planned my 1st Convict last year but with the arrival of 'Number 2' my training went out the window and I pulled out. Fast forward to Convict 2014.

A mate and I decided to step up our riding from casual fun to something a bit more focused. 50k's or 100? We can ride 50 on the weekend was my response, only ever having ridden more than that once and with our rides averaging 15k's. but we decided if we were going to do a job we'd do it properly; so start with a 100k Marathon with 1800m climbing.

The motivation of a race has been sensational and although I didn't hit many of my training goals it pushed me to ride more and even start a routine of riding to work 2 days per week with 10k's of dirt as part of the each way commute.... What a way to start and finish a day!

Coming into the race I knew my strengths were descending and technical but my great weakness was climbing.... Yeah so why chose the Convict Smiling. With this in mind I set myself a goal of finishing in an achievable time of 8 hours.

The race was very different to what I expected. I had thoughts of Cascades Quarry Climb x4 for the Blue climb, followed by Terry Hills until a big descent into the canoe bridge, a Heath Track climb only longer then another descent. How wrong was I! So much more climbing than I expected and so much more sweet, technical single trail than I could have dreamed! I knew I needed to average over 12.5k's for the race to hit my goal and after a recky ride on Friday afternoon knew the first road section should deliver me around 23k's coming into the first climb. With everyone walking the first hill in my wave I didn't lose anything until the top. I hit the 1st hill and with 85ks to go decided to focus on spinning the small ring instead of pushing a big ring and destroying myself. And then, every so often.. my time would come on the descents Smiling.

I heard the warnings about water bars and certainly took notice... Although with many 4 Gates under my belt and the Acron and Quarry KOM i had some confidence, an awful lot of fun and plenty of hang time. Then everyone I overtook on the downhill would catch me at the base of the next climb. Fortunately I was only racing myself.

At 50ks in I was feeling good. I'd had a major blow up during training due to lack of food so had put a strategy in place that seemed to be working. I still couldn't climb but hey, I can't on fresh legs so what did I expect. I was actually pretty happy with the climb out of 10mile hollow; focusing on my position on the bike, breathing and heart rate and keeping my speed in double digits... and achievement for me on a climb.

The techy rock gardens were amazing, I'm going back to St Albans to ride them as soon as I get the opportunity. I was actually able to overtake some people uphill as lots of people unclipped on the main line and I was able to take another line around. Then Shepards Gully descent. What a blast, rocky fire trail leading into it had some great lines and the descent itself was fast, loose and had me focused the entire way down. Strava gave me a Top 10 on the descent and 7th for the weekend... So very happy with that!

The canoe bridge. I'd been going to ride it all the way up to the morning of the ride. With the cold and the wind and the knowledge of the pain to come with the final 30ks I didn't want to add being wet into the mix. I walked and was happy with the decision after being blown about with the wind and having to concentrate to stay on.

The final climb...oh the pain. The saddle pain was setting in, I had some cramps starting in the quads and I calculated that it may take me more than 2 hours to climb that final hill. I though about giving up for a minute but with the knowledge that my family were waiting at the finish line and the training that I'd put in with my mate who was probably already 2/3 of the way up the hill I refocused and knuckled down. Took me 1hr 12min to get tot he top.... But it didn't defeat me and I'll be back there on training rides to get this climbing monkey of my back, that's for sure.

The final downhill sections were fun... The final road section less so.

It was great to cross the line, to see everyone there to greet me, to realise I'd broken my goal by an hour and to see my riding mate had come out with a great first effort of 6:34.

I'm now even more hooked to this great sport and with some focus on my climbing issues hope to break into that 6 hour club next year. Look forward to seeing you all on the trails!

ahein's picture

Great ride mate I am so proud that we both went well under our 8 hour goal and it was good that everyone was there for us at the end. So given your training comment do you fancy a 50km ride this weekend Eye-wink

Blades_Utd's picture

Great write up of a fantastic ride. I would love to have some of your speed on the downhills!
If you keep riding up and down the hills in Cascades you will see improvements in your climbing in no time.

danielschipper's picture

@ahein... I wouldn't mind a good ride this weekend... but with it being Mothers day it's probably best we give the families some time back Eye-wink

@Blades_Utd; interesting thing is I ride cascades a lot, it's my main training ride and both Quarry & Heath form part of my commute. I've got my Cascades 4 gates time down from 1:25 when I started riding to 1:05 but my Quarry climb time is a good indication of my issue. After 4 years of riding I simply can not climb Quarry faster that 6:30... it's not heart rate, I just don't have the power in my legs.

I'd actually be keen for advice from fellow riders as I think I have an issue that I need to identify and get sorted; either cardio / fuel issues that are not giving me the power to push up the hills or possibly a physio type issue related to a bad back and poor core that has resulted in tight / overused hamstrings / quads. My current thought is to go back to my physio with the first theory and see what advise he has. I'm then thinking a proper bike fitting if that does't help then finally going a bit more extreme and doing some tests to look at how my body responds / works during exercise. Actually maybe I'm just soft and need to ride more.... happy to hear that advice as well Eye-wink

See you on the trails!

Tristania's picture

Firstly well done on completing the C100. I totally understand you wanting to give up on Womerah climb. I think even the top riders feel that so you are not alone. Glad you toughened it out - pain is temporary but giving up lasts forever - and made it over the line.

Just spending time in the saddle is the key to faster riding - a mix of long rides, (wherever you choose... but go to places you enjoy such as GNR again) yucky stuff like hill repeats of all types of hills and maybe high intensity sessions (like ride short sections of track as hard as possible). Spending time in the course before next year will help as well - try doing the Womerah section beforehand and get an idea of where the painful bits and good bits are. Bike setup is important though so may be worth looking into it if you don't feel too comfortable on yours at present...

Happy riding!

Antsonline's picture

This blog - and the one by your mate - is the very reason I love the sport, am happy to write the odd article on training, and do my best to help people out.
You just picked up your bike, entered a race, and got it done. What a legend.

I can promise you that from this point, things get a little easier, and a fair bit more fun.
Sure - you could climb better - so do some more climbing sometimes. Maybe the old Trance X2 isn't the 'ideal' bike for the Womerah climb (which is 100% hardtail country) but who cares? My most 'fun' bike certainly isn't my 'fastest' bike. Given the choice, I pick the fun bike 9 times out of 10.

If get the real 'bug' and want to do another one, I would whole-heartedly recommend the Kowalski Classic in late Sept. Little climbing, but LOTS of singletrack and skills based riding.
Good luck and welcome on board!

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