You are hereBlogs / Tristania's blog / Not a bad execution!

Not a bad execution!

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 08 March 2015

Re: This ride meeting: 
2015 Capital Punishment
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
100km male Elite
Position (Category): 

(Before the death of Capital Punishment!)

After the AMB "100" a month ago that only had age categories, this is the first race I'd actually signed up for as "officially" an elite rider, so I felt the internal pressure that I needed to also race like an elite rider! Since the first wave included both elites and age categories, it practically made no difference to last year, but I was there with the intent with keeping up with them to mirror the experiences I will have in future races where I actually will get a separate start. As these are still my fledgling days as an elite MTB racer, this year I intend to have the same attitude as the Abbott government and be extremely conservative with racing strategies in my main marathon events so that I am able to observe more about what goes on at the front of the field. I made many mistakes in terms of racing strategy at the AMB, so above all things I just wanted to do a race which I feel that I executed well and learned something from.

Which brings me to the start line. The horn hits and we're off. After my starting experience at the AMB, I had made sure that I was near the front line, so I don't need to worry about weaving myself through a zillion other riders before we hit the singletrack 2km in as seems to have been so commonplace in previous events. Although I'm far from the front as we reach the singletrack, it is in my sights so that's reassuring. We get back on the fire trail shortly after, and I'm in for a shock. After coming out at the back of the lead group of about 15, we approach a semi-steep 300m ascent. Now climbing has always been one of my strengths, but for whatever reason, I pound on the pedals to try to stay with them but I don't have the leg strength! Argh!

I'm overtaken by several riders in the group, and continue to struggle keeping up as the hill continues at a slightly gentler gradient, but I collect myself, grit my teeth, and catch back up, just before the fabled Kowalski's Sideshow, where I sit in the long procession of cyclists and enjoy the long winding descent before the race continues at the bottom and riders make breaks and groups are formed.

Now about 7km and in the lead up to Sparrow Hill, I am about 4th in a group of about 7, and we weave in and out for the coming 10km. Here is where I realize that my Abbott-style conservative agenda has cost me, for I realize that the first three riders have broken away and I am moving mcuh slower than my capabilities due to the pace of the rider in front of me. So I and the guys behind me overtake him and I pick up the pace, hoping to close the back of the front riders, whom I still can see in the distance, before finally conceding it's to no avail, and soon after the guy behind me in a Trek outfit asks to get by.

I'm able to tail him for the coming kilometres before we get back to a long section of fire trail, 35km in, where about six other riders catch up to us. I hold the front for awhile before letting others take over. Here we catch up to Anthony, who had decided to just have an easy day. He latches onto us and suddenly decides to drive our pace along for a bit, in fact dropping several of the slower members as we scale up some steep hills in the lead-up to the 40km feed station.

Although I'd managed these steep sections, when we reach the (gently ascending 400m) gravel road to the stand, the pace suddenly picks up and I once again can't hold on! I pound down, but the front three riders have opened a gap that I can't close. Shoot, drat, blast!

As the track descends rapidly, I'm now alone with the Trek guy mentioned before with the guys in front of me now out of sight. We both know that the best thing now is to work together to share the load until there is too big a speed difference between us to make it worthwhile. The next 10km are uneventful, with the two of us taking turns in the lead up to the fast section of firetrail through the ADF land. A strong, lone rider catches up, so now our trio mildly picks up the pace as we churn through the paths, tracks and VERY steep uphill section until... finally... the untimed section.

For those who don't understand how the race worked (ignore this if you do!), at 63km, your timing stops and over the next 9km the course follows Canberra's roads and paths across Northbourne Ave and starts again once you reach the other side, at the base of Black Mountain, and you have 55 minutes to get between these points. As a casual pace would get you there in about 30, you have about 25 minutes buffer. At the pointy end of the field, it adds a new element of strategy and uncertainty, seeing as the person with the fastest time may not be first over the line. Choosing when to get back into the timed section is an art, as it is obviously beneficial not to be alone, so the best strategy is to get into a group of riders who are similarly paced and churn it until the finish. (Last year, I tried to do this, but it turned out I was faster than my group so spent the last 28km solo). But in essence, it's a time trial, as you ride it almost completely blind and just go "all out" and try to reduce your time as much as possible before finding out how it compares to the other finishers.

I refuel, shove down some watermelon and lollies at the feed zone, but get a move on with a group of other riders, including Mike Israel, Brian Tracey and Garry James (Super Masters champion) pretty quickly. That way, I'll be able to wait at the base of Black Mtn and take advantage of anyone whom I feel well paced with.

Many big decisions one makes in life are spur of the moment. As is my decision to jump with the first group back into the timing zone. Seeing how quickly others were rolling back into it, and knowing that in principle, future riders would become slower, I latch onto a group of about five. I quickly get to second place in the group, and here I stay as we get to the cycleway and continue towards Stromlo. Despite my earlier troubles, I'm able to hit the hills with strength and this drives the pace along. Alternating between front and second in the group for the next 10km until the base of Stromlo, at which I've broken off into a group of three which includes the women's champion, Jenny Fay.

Now, I know the Stromlo climb and descent like the back of my hand, having practiced all the A-lines the previous evening, and realize that I need to hit it as hard as I can to minimize my time. It's an all-out assault on the 6km ascent, and upon reaching the top, I smash down the Skyline/Luge descent as hard out as I possibly can, onto the tarmac and sprint it out to the finish line. No fanfare, no celebration. Just time to wait to see how I rated.

Finally I find out my result. It's 26th overall and 20th in the Elites (out of 43). Far from the very front, but considering the experience of some of these guys, it's really not bad at all. My all-out assault on Stromlo paid off - looking at the placings there was someone only 15 seconds behind. Interestingly, my time was 4 minutes greater than last year (which is indicative only seeing as it was a slightly different course), though my overall placing a little better. The thing that really strikes me is just how close I am in terms of time to those in front of me, with only six minutes between me and the 12 riders in front of me, and the final stretch is completely blind. As important as fitness is for any endurance racer (obviously), it's more than that. To do well, and ultimately win, you have to ride intelligently and be prepared to take risks and wind up the pace where necessary. Knowing the course of course helps a lot, and trails of the likes of Kowen are just not something that one will find around Sydney, which gives local riders a massive advantage in, but of course, this will all be reversed when Convict 100 rolls around on my home turf!

Time to find some more races to gain experience in its lead-up, get faster and become more race savvy!

Brian's picture

Great race Tristan. Racing with the elites will make you such a strong rider as you'll learn to ride in a whole new world of pain Eye-wink

ahein's picture

Well done Tristan and a great effort as you start racing with the elites, you will learn so much and be keeping them on their toes soon

Pete B's picture

Well done Tristan, keep it up for The Convict

Fatboy's picture

Told you that you belong with the Elites! Smiling

hawkeye's picture

. Interesting to read as always. Smiling

jp's picture

Excellent ride and write up Tristan, well done!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Best Mountain Bike