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Numb Feet, Working Together, Playing Limbo, and Water Drops

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 08 August 2015

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2015
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
100km Male Senior
Position (Category): 

If you were to ask me how I thought I’d go in the Convict 100 at the end of April, I would have said this would be my strongest race yet. Training had been going well, I was well tuned into the reversed course and had had my mind set on it all year. After its unexpected postponement due to St Albans being flooded, things deteriorated, and circumstances meant that I found that it difficult to physically and mentally find the ability to spend much quality time on the bike, and my mediocre result in the 3 Ring Circus two weeks ago confirmed the effects of this.

Even if one has all the free time in the world in that time period, two weeks is hardly enough time to change my overall physical ability, and the fact that I’m now doing full time work (with part time uni and more part time work on top) and had the weekend in between booked made my prosects to put in much mileage even more skewed. Having originally planned to compete in the Elite wave, I seed in with the second start group, after having transferred to age categories knowing I’d just get dropped if I start with them and what’s the point of that? But having done several gruelling workouts on the stat bike, ridden the full course again several weeks back, as well as managing a very decent 90km ride on my day off gave me tiny hope. And sitting here tonight makes me realize that this hope was what got me the position I did.

The horn sounds and we’re off. Other than a couple of breaks which are quickly reeled back, I notice that no racing really begins in the mainly flat dirt road in the first 8km. Everyone knows this is the warm up for what’s to come, so I ensure I don’t get too bent up on being at the very front. I do have to say, though, the run through the creek is an effort, particularly knowing that it’ll make my shoes wet for the remaining 95km.

I hit Jack’s Track in around 6th, and now is the time to find out whether I’ll be able to stay there. I pick a manageable cadence, and surprisingly, I manage to hold it over the first 1.5km, where the steepest part of the hill occurs. I start the remaining 6km of uphill with a couple of other riders, where we hear a voice behind us: “Work together, the others aren’t far ahead.” Sounds familiar. No wonder, it’s Wayne Dickinson.

The group of four or five of us take turns at the front on the remainder of the hill, and collectively make it to the top having collectively been very energy efficient. The rest of the Womerah phase, mostly downward though with some very noticeable climbs, takes widely a similar form, with different riders working to their strengths as we traverse it. We catch Mike Faretta (Blades Utd) on a climb and drop one of the riders in our group, and reach the tarmac in good time.

Considering how I felt in the Circus at 30km, I am delighted at how good I am feeling, and knowing how much racing Dicko and Mike had done, I must be doing all right. At the advice of others, I take this 4km road section to drink and cram down some gels knowing what’s to come. Here I realize the lasting impact the freezing water had; my feet are now numb and I can hardly squeeze my toes as I routinely do to keep the blood pumping – ironically this is needed to restore sense to them!

But the 5 of us push on over the bridge, with nobody else in sight, and up towards Shepherd’s Gully, where Dicko quips that this “my section,” in reference to the numerous rides I’ve had here. I comment on the locked gate as we approach it, unknowingly foreshadowing Dicko toppling over as he attempts to ride around.

The ascent otherwise goes with minimal incident, at a very manageable, and we reach the main event of the GNR part 1. Being most familiar with the track, I weave myself to second, and we set a cracking clip along it, narrowing it down to only two of us. I mostly feel good, though my feet are still cold, and my inability to squeeze my toes has led to the tinges of cramps in my legs, though I am luckly able to stretch them on the descent. Dicko and Mike catch up at Clare’s “Bridge,” though, and we hit the second GNR section with me in the lead

One of the things that strikes me is that for whatever reason, MaxAdventure hadn’t cut up the several trees strewn over the track, forcing riders to carry their bikes over them. Since when was Convict meant to be a Cyclocross race?!. 5km in, I glance back to see only one rider behind – Dicko and Mike are gone; I must have dropped them (read Wayne’s blog for what really happened though…)!

Much of this section seems to be a game of limbo, where I am ducking and dodging the excessively large number of low branches that have also not been cut. This is truly a full body workout. In a way, I enjoy the challenge, though it is using energy I hadn’t anticipated. I look back again. The remaining guy is gone. I’m pedal on alone, and shortly see a Quantum Racing jersey – Ondrej Slezak. He beat me in the Wollombi Wild Ride and came 3rd in the Circus so I know I must be doing well to have caught him. I sit behind him and another rider, as the rider I’d left behind catches up. Seeing Ondrej obviously fatiguing, I hit on the pedals as soon as it turns back to fire trail, pulling the other two with me and leaving him behind. We reach the turnoff where it ascends moderately for 5km to the water station. The three of us work together to get up it very efficiently. I glance back to see Ondrej managing to hold his 100m gap all alone. Impressive!

As I’d taken 2 bottles with me, I know I’d need to refill at this station, so start working out how to do so in the quickest manner. The moment I see the station, I hold the top with my mouth and unscrew the remainder. But to my shock, the tap isn’t even on, so I waste 10 seconds fumbling with the switch before the marshals turn on the main tube. But then I realize that that’s not even the electrolyte, so I quickly flip to the Endura (or whatever) drum which is “conveniently” located an arm’s length from the edge of the table, in which process, my bike falls over. The two riders have now disappeared and Ondrej has now overtaken me.* DAMNATION!!!

Things had gone so well, so my hopes start to fade now, and as I finally ride off on the hard 17km stretch of very hilly Transmission Road, I see that Ondrej is too far ahead of me to reasonably sprint back up to without carking it. But I compose myself, and put myself to a manageable cadence and head off in time trial mode. At one of the several short, steep hills on the trac, I see Ondrej has caught up but one of the other two has been dropped. I catch up to him on the next climb as he comments he’s hit the wall. Finally we reach the descent, where he overtakes me again (as I can hardly see the terrain ahead of me with my glasses covered with grime), making too big a gap by the bottom for me to catch back up. So here I am, all alone for the final 12km.

In theory, it is not a hard stretch, with very mild climbing and all road, but doing it all alone with no places to rest is painful, so all I can do is stick my head down and count down the km to the end. I’m spent, and can’t hold the wheel for 20m of a rider who turns up out of nowhere and overtakes me. I hold down, and eventually rolling over the finish with my GPS saying 4:17.

Upon seeing the results, I realize that I have come 5th in my start wave and 2nd in my category, only 5 minutes behind him, so I’m more than satisfied considering my severe lack of training, leaving me curious as to what would have played out had I not had my unfortunate series of events at the water station. But there is no perfect marathon; things happen; I’ve definitely learned, and am excited at what my next races hold once I pull some more rides together!

I know there was a lot of flak about the course being reversed, but I personally found the change interesting. I personally think it’s slightly easier, having the main climbing out of the way 40km in, and Shepherd’s Gully is definitely much more manageable than Womerah. However, the Transmission Rd section is hard and not to be underestimated. The 68km edition with a GNR section is definitely an improvement to the 50km, which I think is both too short and too dull, though having a 44km still makes it accessible to novices. I’m keen to read other people’s feedback about it now that it’s actually run.

*People seem to inherently expect my race titles to involve wordplay. In this case, if you’ve missed it, the water “drop” refers to my being dropped here!

ahein's picture

Well done that is a fantastic result, I have to admit I was amazed that the gate before shepherds gully was closed for the day and you had that really tight section to go around the side

jp's picture

Excellent result on limited training Tristan. Well done!

craked's picture

great ride Tristan , and a good read also, well done mate.

doc's picture

Great racing Tristan, well done !

Getting flogged by all those sapplings on the upper part of the GNR had me letting out a few expletives, particularly when second wheel for a bit....maybe I should have been better at the limbo Smiling

Brian's picture

Well done Tristan. I don't think they ever do any track maintenance as it's up to National Parks.

Fatboy's picture

Well done Tristan!

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