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3 Ring 2015: 10 Lessons Learnt

Antsonline's picture

By Antsonline - Posted on 26 July 2015

Re: This ride meeting: 
3 Ring Circus 2015
Race Category: 
Veteran Male 30-39

So - a very different experience for me - today I rode with my wife and her best mate, in their 'dare' to ride the 3 Ring.

Wifeys friend is pretty well known cycling journo and previous World Champ on the track, so she has seen some races in her life. My wife has been to so many supporting me, that she also knows how it all works. The first thing I noticed about them both - was how nervous they were.
We started pretty much at the very back. Lesson #1 for me: when the gun goes, you dont go! It took another 30secs to a minute before we slowly rolled off behind everyone, and up the fireroad.
Lesson #2: people dont let you know when they will change lane, speed, clothes or even their decision to race. It was madness (all compared to the civilised conditions at the front) - people chopping everywhere, fast, then slow, then fast, then someone on the left, on the right, and then someone stops - in the middle and just stands there, removing arm warmers!
Eventually, everything seems to settle down, and we are rolling along with a group of people. A couple of intros to fellow 'Nobmobbers' was nice - thanks for saying "Hi".
We hit the red lap and the first of the hills.
Lesson #3: generally, downhill ability is far greater than uphill ability towards the back. We were overtaken by about 10 people on the first descent, but probably took 20 on the first climb (which counts - in my world - as being "in the black"). Next descent, a similar 10 or so went past, and some more were collected on the next, grassy climb. No wonder everyone has such great friendships - you keep meeting each other! Its like a game of tag. Such fun.

First ST, all fine, we are holding our own. We let a few riders through, mindful of us holdiong people up. I was really worried people would get pissed off. However, more than a couple of other guys caught up, but seemed happy enough to ride along on the 'tush' of my wife or Kate. Very close in fact. Cheeky buggers. I was laughing.

Everything was going swimmingly, until my wife had a little 'lay down' in some dirt. No harm done. I waited, and Kate rode on.
We caught up to Kate and found her on the steep descent ST section. Sat on the side of the trail, holding her knee. Unfortunately, she had taken a lay down too - and landed on a sharp rock - opening herself up pretty badly.
I never ride or race with a first aid kit, other than in Wild Horizons races (its mandated) and also keep one in my Camelback.
I felt very responsible to be able to get out the steristrips, the dressing, the bandage and tidy it all up! She was in a bad way though, so I told Wifey to press on, taking appropriate risks only, and I would get Kate back to a marshall / ambo before then chasing Wife down.
Lesson #4: a first aid kit isn't heavy enough not to pack one everytime.

Getting out of the steep, bermed ST with an injured rider, and two bikes, is a total nightmare. Thanks and apologies to those I may have held up in my attempts to wrestle it all up the hill.
I dropped Kate off with a medico, and was confirmed she would be fine, and then realised I was in LAST PLACE in the whole race - such was the time it had taken.
The bonus was that I had free trail, a lovely downhill section, and I was on my trail bike, not my usual XC race bike. I could chase the wife at full speed! I really enjoyed hooking in and out of the trail for a bit, but then caught up with the back of the race.
Lesson #5: This is the biggest lesson - its a warzone back there. People were falling off everywhere! I saw three or four nasty face plants, tantrums, and bits of bikes laying on trails. It was mad!! I stopped each time, and checked everything was ok. I Repaired a wonky H-bar, gave out 2 gels, and also confirmed a lovely lady had, indeed, split her lip.

I caught Wifey at the end of the Red loop ST, and I was surprised and delighted to see that she wasnt too bashed up! She had taken a fall, and one helpful chap (probably glued to her rear wheel for some reason......) had dragged her bike out of a bush. Whoever you are - thanks bud. I wasnt there, you stepped up.
My wife quoted him as he pulled her bike out: "jesus, how light is your bike? Can we swap?"
Haha. My hand-me-downs found a good home.

Lesson #6: everyone is so happy to help and just look out for each other. Its a great sport because of it. I dont see it so much normally, but it was really evident in a different perspective.

We hit the yellow loop together, and I confirmed my "no walking will be allowed" rule. She agreed, having never seen any of the hills Eye-wink

Long story short (lesson #7) there are a lot of people really working hard at the back end. Its a different physical engagement altogether. I was so impressed with people sitting down, steeling themselves for another attempt, stretching for cramp. So motivated.

We rode every hill. To my immense pride. She nailed the lot of them - including 'halfway hill' - passing all sorts of people, of all shapes and sizes. Everyone was super friendly and encouraging - it was SO awesome. They were walking, but they willed her up the climbs to ride it all. She did, and we started the windy ride home on the open firetrail. Lesson #8: You can teach someone to ride ST quite well, but dont overlook teaching how to ride in a crosswind. I watched (in some delight actually) as my wife got literally blown off the road and into the ditch! So funny.
We had a 'chat' about why it wasnt actually funny.
Off we rode - and basically, got it done. Rolling over the line, together.
Lesson #9: Sense of achievement is different in everyone. I was more stoked (possibly relieved!) than she was initially. By the time we got home - I was over it, and she was glowing.

And thats was the last thing I took from the day, Lesson #10 that I learnt (and you may all well know already): doing something you have done before, but in a very different way, brings entirely new perspective, and refreshes your enthusiasm and delight in a way you couldn't foresee.

brakeburner's picture


ahein's picture

It's Interesting to see your views of the race towards the back. It's awesome that your wife enjoyed herself and that people helped her when she had her off. Sounds like you both had a good day to finish off the list ever 3 ring

hawkeye's picture

And I'm impressed by your humility.

You're very blessed to have a wife who is prepared to step so far outside her comfort zone and have a crack.

I hope your other friend is fine and isn't put off by the oops she had, and heals up OK.

twotommos's picture

Great teamwork in the face of a serious head and side wind!!!!Well done to you both!

andyfev's picture

Great read and welcome to where all the action really takes place Eye-wink enormous self-discipline not to ditch the race objective and smoke everyone that passed you... Temptation must have been huge!

Hope all injuries recover quickly... Who knows, wifey might get the MTB bug and be an elite female in no time at all Eye-wink.

Black Flash's picture


Fatboy's picture

What you missed is something that happens every event back at our end of the field. There is always this guy who looks a little unfit, is carrying a backpack with pump sticking out and does Kamikaze moves in single track to get past. He gets out in the sticks and pedals at high cadence and pushes in like its his chance in the next 100m to win on the Champs Élysées. And then you pass him later all blown up....

Can't recall an event without such a dude!

doc's picture

Great report once again......thanks for the read

all74's picture

Ditto was a great read and a great day out in the red ring (less said about the yellow the better). Did notice you come politely past in the red ring muttering about chasing you wife. Would have been funny if I hadn't worked out who you were.

Pete B's picture

Good race report, glad you enjoyed the 'back end' experience.

Was there any tactics you could employ at the front of the pack? Laughing out loud

Daisy's picture


Antsonline's picture

Really glad you all enjoyed the report, it was certainly a memorable day out.
As to whether there is anything I could employ 'at the front' - maybe, but not in a way that would influence the result.

Its what makes the sport so good - that you don't have to be the fastest of the fast to enjoy it, and actually it can be more fun if you are not right up there - with your lungs half out on your stem!
Sometimes its easy to lose sight of exactly why we ride our bikes and pay money to ride trails that are open for free the rest of the year round. Thats what I will take from the weekend to front I might find myself at, and also the fact that there is a huge sport to enjoy, regardless of where you may finish.

Quick update - as some were concerned - Kate (wifes friend) actually did hurt herself! I understand that she might need a little operation as she may have ruptured some tendons which need repairing! Not ideal - but she is dealing with it in the way you would expect from a champion "I'll get this fixed and get back out there - I'm furious at myself!!"

Captain Chunder's picture

Awsome write up Amthony.

I was studying your wife's rear tyre when she opted to have her first lie down - it was an abrupt decision of hers to lie down so to get up and push on was an also an awesome effort.

As to how you got Kate out of where she was is also a good effort - I was only sati gong to my wife that it had to be the worst spot to need assistance.

As for riding ettuquitte - I was amazed as to how bad it was too (first enduro) - wouldn't be a bad idea for organisers to publish a simple set of guidelines perhaps?


twotommos's picture

Great blog entry mate. Loved your tip about the tin foil even though it wasn't necessary. Well done

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