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Courage And Conviction

Tristania's picture

By Tristania - Posted on 01 May 2016

Re: This ride meeting: 
Convict 100 2016
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
100km Male Elite
Position (Category): 
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”
- Lance Armstrong... um... er... Anonymous

Traditionally, racing is seen as being as a battle between one competitor and their fellow participants – trying capitalize on their weaknesses to get over the line ahead of them. But some of my MTB races have much more been an internal battle where inside myself between intense pain and the level of determination to get over the line at all. My Convict 100 2016 was the latter. But, like the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race.”

If there is one day that I look forward to for weeks in advance, it is the Convict 100. Having done it as my first race 4 years ago, it has been the one constant in the past 5 years of many uncertainties. I just love the event, the course, the scenery and being able to see many MTB friends and acquaintances. Having only gotten my new Trek Top Fuel a matter of weeks ago, I was all the more excited to properly try it out. Although I hadn't raced since the Willo two months ago, I had been riding strongly and felt quite confident.

Of recent months, I’ve felt in the sort of “no man’s land” of ability. I know I'm a tiny bit too slow to really knock out a really competitive race within the elite field, yet too fast for a real challenge with the main age categories. Knowing that being with the top guys will invariably give me better experiences, I line myself up with them, where I have the honour of being interviewed before the race gets underway, where I am sure to mention that it’s the first time my bike and I have ventured out together publicly!

The first 10km really is a warm up. Nobody is hugely serious until we get to the real race start – Jack’s Track climb. There’s few real attacks here, other than survival. I’m feeling all right here, until the worst bit is over and I find, for whatever reason, I just don’t have it in me to keep up. Now with nobody in sight, I grind my way to the top of Jack’s Track and along Womerah. Here I’m finally feeling okay, but assume the rest are way ahead so really don’t know whether it’s worth digging a little deeper to catch up. To my surprise, as I approach the bridge 35km in, I see a whole bunch of riders about 300m ahead – considering descending isn’t my strength and how much faster the road is in a group, I really hadn’t been going that slowly!

But the chance of tacking myself back on is low. Shepherd’s Gully is painful and all I can do it get in an easy gear at peck away at it. At the top, I plough along the first GNR section, finally catching up to a couple of stragglers, overtaking one and following closely behind another. But at the WCT junction, only 46km in, I’m already feeling the onset of cramps. Not good. Despite this, I shove down some gels and keep going. I’m hurting – really hurting – along the GNR section north of Clare’s “Bridge”, but nonetheless manage to hold a decent pace. I’m overtaken by a Veteran here, but capitalize on this and hold on to him until the junction.

Here is where the real fight begins, one which needs courage and conviction to win within myself. I’m feeling absolutely wrecked – the tinges of cramps are getting more noticeable and I have to be exceedingly gentle to stop them seizing up. Even my fingers are losing their strength and I need my whole hand to change gears, and my stomach feels like a blender. I am not in a good place and long to just be over, asking myself why I spend all this money, time and effort to do this exceedingly painful event.

As much as it hurts to keep pushing on, alone, I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t put in 100% until I’m over the line. Having a 2x11 here is a godsend as I go into the lowest gears for the continual pinch climbs along transmission road. However, there is a sense of peace I feel at this point – as though pain has enveloped every other source of worry in my life and I think about nothing but getting over the line.

After giving my legs (but not my arms, nor my brain!) a break on Blue Hill, I know the 11km left will be a fight. At least I churn over kilometres quickly, but the constant grind with no chances to rest is far from easy, particularly with the numerous obnoxious inclines. I just hold on, counting them down until – thankfully – I see the village and civilization, rolling over the line in 4:17 and 9th in the Elites.

Although it was exactly the same time as last year, my circumstances of being alone, the cramps and just feeling off meant that I’m convinced it was a much stronger effort. I many not have been close to winning the race outright, but using my courage and conviction, I won my internal battle, and in my view, that’s far more important. I have no doubt that this race made my psychologically a stronger person – much more than had I had it in me to

Thank you to everyone else who made the day what it was and to everyone who finished. It’s a bloody hard course my any stretch of the imagination. Now the bike will take a back seat for a few months as I prepare for the World Rogaining Championships in July, but I look forward to battling out more races against others in the back half of the year!

A LOOK BACK ON MY CONVICTS – Pre race photos 2012-16

Lach's picture

... for a young bloke hitting it up amongst the elites. That first hill is a brutal way to work out who has got the beans and who hasn't, but if you can work out what you need to do to be able to stick with the pace on an early test like that, your courage and conviction should give you a great chance of being there at the finish.

Brian's picture

Well done Tristan for having a go with the elites.

Japhnet's picture

I was the Vet in the yellow Cancer Council jersey.

It's a brutal course if you're having an off day, so to manage the same time as last year when seemingly nothing went to plan, is an awesome result.

doc's picture

Congrats on a strong result Tristan ! Look forward to seeing more of it

Fatboy's picture

Awesome result Tristan. Forget your Regaining and focus on winning these events! Smiling

Fatboy's picture

Awesome result Tristan. Forget your Regaining and focus on winning these events! Smiling

Fatboy's picture

Awesome result Tristan. Forget your Regaining and focus on winning these events! Smiling

the pedaling donkey's picture

that old chestnut... mind over matter
Serious congrats on the huge ride ( to any and all hundred kayers i shake my head in amazement & respect ) then you cap it off with great speed. well done

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