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"Fling Like nobody's listening!"

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 09 November 2015

Re: This ride meeting: 
Highland Fling 2015
Turramurra Cyclery
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Full - Men
Position (Category): 

Another year of racing gone by! Where does time go? Well, I suppose "All Good Flings" come to an end...

This was my third effort at the Camelbak Highland Fling, and after having had 3 major exams/assessments the week following the event both previous years (including a 9:30am Monday exam), I was happy to finally being able to go to the event with a much cleaner run. Particularly after last year's infamous episode with the buckled wheel, above all, I just wanted to hit out a race with a solid time/result. And what a day it was! With a mild drizzle at the finish, I personally found the cool weather and low humidity almost ideal, a stark contrast to the November norm in the high 20s and much better than the gale/freezing/wet conditions of 2 years back!

As some of you are aware, I presently feel like I'm sort of in the "dead zone" of abilities - knowing that much of the time if I start in the main field of riders I would be too fast for many of them, yet too slow to put up a real fight in the Elite wave. So I make a decision to fit with the "big guns" (still much bigger than I am), at least to get the experience even if my result is a relative embarrassment in comparison.

I remember Anthony's line about how the elite wave works: "The race starts when someone decides that it starts" and it's so true. As we ascend the first section of dirt road, the pace is very casual until the descent begins. I've become much stronger over the year with increased intensity and volume of weekend riding, however I don't feel as though this is "my day" today and concede I won't be keeping up for much longer. At the "Free Bike Wash," I settle in with another guy, Ben Green, with whom I work until Wingello, keeping a brisk but moderate pace and even get into a bit of a conversation with as I explain the course to him. Only memorable events of this stage were having to dodge a pack of kangaroos jumping across the track I was descending at 40km/h and almost having to stop for a herd of cattle to cross the track (just read JP's blog to know that there's worse!).

I use the time at transition to refill and cram down some lollies, though in the process I see Ben has disappeared (not sure whether he's ahead or behind), so relent to the timing mat solo. Despite being alone, I feel really good here as I work my way through the main body of Full Flingers, who no doubt appreciate the opportunity to briefly tail me.

The singletrack sections go through well. Having done a recon ride two weeks back, I know what to expect, so continue to feel good here (except on The Wall - but by digging deep and gritting my teeth, I make it up with out figuratively hitting it). Highlight sections include "Love Love Love" and "Send in the Clowns," each very good quality additions over the past two years. Pulling out of the ST, I'm mostly alone as I enjoy giving my legs a brief break on the descent and cram down some lollies and gels, knowing I'll need them.

In both previous flings, as well as at the circus, Halfway Hill was where I hit the wall, so I'm determined this would not be the case this time. I hold a low gear and grind up. The first bit really isn't too bad; "The Kick" is the real kick in the guts. But I hold on, as I do on the shocker of a pinch climb on "The Outer Limits," where I'm really just about at my limits. But I keep my head up, and pull up onto the dirt road back to Transition. Here is the place that it would be beyond helpful to have a group to work with, though I have never been in one in the past three years. But thanks to my regular solo training, I keep the legs turning hard as I work my way back to the timing mat.

No time to rest, but I'm able to refill, eat and have a good sip of water before it's time for the final 28km slog back to Bundanoon, a section I know is not to be underestimated. I start the stage with the joy of believing I've missed the turn-off on the dirt road having not seen a single arrow for a kilometre. In a panic, I turn around to see if I see anything, but another rider comes up assuring me it's okay (though bye bye three minutes), and we finally reach the turn-off down to the valley (Worth a note to the organizer here though - considering there's arrows on every few hundred metres on the rest of the course, one would expect them more regularly).

The final 25km become a bit of a blur to me. Mostly I'm alone, and although pretty tired, I'm feeling satisfactory and manage to push on, overtaking several others who have hit the wall and the tail end of the half fling, as well as poor Doc, who was limping home after snapping a dérailleur in essentially the same place he overtook me when I buckled my wheel last year. Broke back Mtn wasn't as bad as I remembered it, though the singletrack in the lead-up did feel longer. In keeping with my tradition, I took the long Your Call knowing that it would help preserve energy for the final 5km, which I gritted my teeth on, limped through the obnoxious paddock and over the line, having clocked up 112km (who said it was 106?).

Upon seeing my result was 24th overall, being pushed back from some very strong non-elite contenders, I concede that it's definitely not one of my more spectacular efforts, but despite that, I feel happy. It was essentially a time trail effort, which I managed to pace myself, and really just enjoyed the day out. And I was ultimately reminded that that's what matters. One can spend all their time thinking about how to place slightly better, how to collect a few more seconds here and there, but if they do not enjoy it, it's just a waste of energy. For me, the moment that I stop enjoying racing is the moment that I'll quit. But that day is yet to arrive, so in the meantime, I'm looking forward to stepping things up to build my strength at the gym, do some good rides and find some more races to tear myself/others apart on!

Well done to others who completed/competed in the race, there were some good results all around - great to have Anthony knock out a 7th (maybe no MTB for a month, registering at the last minute, seafood and waking up 30 minutes before the start the secret to doing well!), and looking forward to more rides (social, training, competitive) with nobmobbers soon, once my exam is done in a couple of weeks!

(The image hardly does it justice, but after umpteen water crossings, bog patches and puddles, mixed with a good does of sweat, that it one REALLY dirty young man!)

jp's picture

That's a very solid result Tristan, especially riding mostly solo. Well done, I know you're going to keep getting stronger.

Fatboy's picture

I too find the halfway hill ok as it's a big steep climb and you going away but straight after it is the never ending climb where you grind away feeling like you should be pedalling a bigger gear and it messes with your head. Well done on another great result.

Antsonline's picture

Thats good ride - and learning the 'rhythm' of the racing is key. You cant train for it, and thats where the categories are different.
Its also really important that you don't compare your time in the Elite wave to the other times. Your position was 11th, you were in a completely different event to the other categories. They are two different races in different circumstances with very different aims.
It isn't really just about how fast you cover the distance in the Elite wave, its how you *race* the distance. Its really different. Sometimes I wonder how much fun it would be to get a race and set people off on their own - to time trail it. That too would bring a different result.

So - time to rest and regroup, racing with the surge, rest, surge, rest in the Elite side of things is different. A steadier effort in the age-groups may suit you better, but will it be more fun? Who knows. I can tell you that if you stick at it, and get used to the off/on nature of things you will enjoy the tactics and racing a bit more.

Dont be too hard on yourself - do a bit of road riding and racing - and you'll keep improving.

Brian's picture

Well done Tristan. An awesome result

the pedaling donkey's picture

well done Tristan, to do that distance in that time is seriously, seriously good
( in fact anyone who does a 100 kay or more has my full respect )
time to get drunk and enjoy then knuckle down and train hard as you do for the next adventure

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