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Ya shoulda been here last year....

Lach's picture

By Lach - Posted on 01 May 2016

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2016
Position (Overall): 
Position (Category): 

I think I must have been born a year too late…..

I missed last year’s initial reverse Convict due to a prior travel commitment. I had given up doing the 50km version a few years before due to it feeling a bit boring so I knew I had to give the new 68km version a go this year. I would have been a few months too young for the “Grand” masters last year, but after looking at last year’s results in the 68km version, I thought that if I could get in under 5 hrs I’d be reasonably competitive in my new age category. But that was last year’s results….

This year, I got all serious and made a couple of trips up to the area to suss out the Jack’s Track climb and the Sheppard’s Gully climb and the techy section, which I hadn’t ridden for a few years. I also did a bit of training, especially on hills, which are my weakest point.

I did a reasonable warm up, so much so that I was stuck at the back of the start chute for the off. This wasn’t too much of a problem given the timing system, and I was able to get up into the front 20 or so of the last bunch without too much trouble and keep a good pace on the dirt road, until the river crossing. This was the first of many sand encounters for the day. Despite a slow crossing, I still hit the bottom of Jack’s Track with an average speed well into the 20’s and, although I had a few walkies on the way up, I crested the summit and turned onto the Womerah Range Track with an average speed still above 15kmph. I started to think that if I could keep the average up over 15 I could get well under the 5 hr target, so I stopped for a quick gel and then pressed on pretty hard. There were a few hairy little downhill sections, but mostly this section is pretty quick and generally trending downhill.

After my walk of shame through the water at the Canoe Bridge in my last Convict 100 km version (in 2010 – the rule that year was ride the narrow bridge or walk the water), it was great to hit that wider bridge with enough margin for error to enable a confident crossing. There were still a few interesting bits towards the end, where the planks weren’t well joined, but I cleared it OK and headed off on the washboard corrugations towards Sheppard’s Gully. That climb was just a slow steady spin for the most part, with a bit of a levelling off in the top third. Stopped again briefly for a gel before hitting the last pinch and the white gravel climb along to the best bits of the OGNR.

I was reasonably happy with how I went on the techy sections. The slightly damp weather meant that sand had been tracked over many of the rocky bits, but the reduced traction in a few areas was more than offset by being able to see a much clearer line that when I’d been up there the previous week. Still ended up walking a couple of uphill sections where my tech skills (and / or strength / fitness) weren’t up to the level required to negotiate the ledges and gaps. Managed to pass a few people on some of tech-ier downhill bits, at least partly due to scoping some lines on the previous week’s recce.

Stopped at the 8-mile turn off feed station as I was feeling a bit hungry and was not liking the idea of another gel. Wolfed down a couple of bits of banana and took off again. There were quite a few frustrating little uphill pinches on this section (with plenty of speed sapping sand at the foot of each), but soon enough the track pointed seriously down and the brakes on the Niner got a real good workout. In a few places it was a bit like skiing in powder snow with random loose rocks. Once we hit the bottom, it was frustrating to be heading upstream for quite a while before crossing a bridge and linking up with the 100km track again for the run back downstream to Settler’s Rd and then back into St Albans. A bit like the City to Surf finish that is being changed this year!

Was able to keep a pretty good pace on the road sections and hit the finish only a few minutes over 4 hrs. I was pretty stoked with that time, but of course things had moved on since last year. Despite smashing last year’s Grand Masters winning time by about 40 minutes, I still only managed 6th in this year’s edition. Only just over 6 mins out of 3rd place mind you, but well behind the legend that took out the category.

Time for a rest before thinking about some more races…..

jp's picture

Well done Lach, it's a pretty tough course. Nice report too.

Tristania's picture

The 68 is big jump above the old 50km - longer, two major climbs + the 9km technical section, so well done on a great time (if the placing wasn't quite up to your aspiration)!

Tristania's picture

The 68 is big jump above the old 50km - longer, two major climbs + the 9km technical section, so well done on a great time (if the placing wasn't quite up to your aspiration)!

ps's picture

Well done on the race, 4 hours is a solid time for that category.

I know Kevin from work and was chatting to him before the race. I ended up catching him on Jacks Track and he was struggling on the climbs so I rode with him for a while and then eventually pulled away. I caught Gazza Harwood just before the descent and we had a chat along the flat bit when Kevin came past sitting on the back of a train of 4. So I jumped on the back and followed Kevin again. There was one guy on the front who was mainly driving the pace and he had a fair bit of grey in his hair so at one stage Kevin pulled up beside him to see what category he was in. I think it was a relief to Kevin that he was super masters and not your category.

Anyway we stopped for water, went across the bridge and I rode with Kevin up Shepherd's Gully where he struggled again. He was quite fast along the GNR, eight mile etc. and down the descent. We ended up passing the same guy who had been driving the pace into the canoe bridge just before the end of the last descent so when we hit the valley the three of us swapped turns to the finish. There is still a lot of the racer in him, it was my turn on the front when we got to one of the camera location's so he sprinted me to be in front for the photo. I probably wouldn't have gone any faster if I had of pushed on by myself so it was great to ride the second half with a mate.

Just thought you would like to know that even the legends are hurting out there.

Lach's picture

... and interesting to read your comments on Kevin. His palmares is pretty impressive and, more recently, he was more than a lap ahead of me at the Rocky Trail Shimano GP Round at Glenrock. When I saw his name on the start list for the Convict 68km I knew that, barring serious misfortune on his part, 2nd was the absolute best I could hope for in the over 60's.

Because I got away in the last group, I had no idea what was going on ahead of me, but knew he would be well away. Sort of glad to hear he was suffering a bit on the hills, but I assume that would apply to about 95% of riders!

It would help a bit if there were category tags to hang off the backs of our saddles, as I also got a bit excited every time I saw a bit of grey hair in front. Often too hard to read the category details, even if you can pull alongside for a while. It would help to know when you are being passed by a category competitor as well.

Fatboy's picture

Good solid race Lach. See you out at another Rocky Trail!

Lach's picture

... won't be a round until Ourimbah and will be very underdone for it, but will probably give it a go. The Stromlo course looks pretty good, but I'm away again.

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