Steven Hanley's Race reportAttendees:
Some 1760 riders and many support people, once more there was a huge number of very nice bikes at the event to drool over.
Results and some statistics are available.
This year we had decided to enter a 4 person team again. Similar to last year in composition. Ray Giddins recently completed an 8 month cycle tour through South America, so although we asked him if he wanted to be on our team, he said he would enter solo, using the fitness base he had built up for something. So we talked David's partner Julie Quinn into joining our team.
The Team now stood at.
With David and Julie we have two extremely fast people, and Aaron has been training hard for the World Xterra Championships in Hawaii so is rather fast again, it seemed possible I would once again be the slowest person on the team.
We had been thinking for a while about a team name, throwing away many ideas. Every friday year round all the team members and some other people participate in a morning ride before work finishing at the Purple Pickle Cafe at ANU. We liked the sound of the team name "Purple Pickle Pedalers" or some variation of that, with that in mind we approached the cafe owner for sponsorship in order to get team clothing designed and pay for the setup fee. We succeeded in obtaining this sponsorship so went ahead with the team clothing and the team name, though changed slightly to play on the fact we were now selling or Peddling the Purple Pickle. The team "Purple Pickle Peddlers" was born.
I arrived on friday morning with Andrew Rowe and Sam Reinhardt to set up the marquee we had borrowed (thanks again to the ACT Rogaining Association) for our two four person teams (Sam's team consisted of Sam Reinhardt, Ben Crabb, Pete Bartholomew, and Andrew Rowe, competing in mixed 4 person category, we were keeping the competition (enemy?) close) and a few tents for sleeping. This year the OAF and Six Pack teams were cloistered away in the sponsors area, so we just picked a spot at random, this happened to be just behind the solo area and we found fellow mtb-oz listee's Heath Carney and Glenn Apps camped just in front of us. Setting up camp took a few hours, but I had taken the day off work so all was fine.
Race day arrived, I got to the campsite in time to dump my gear from the car before the need to walk in from the car park arose. Gradually everyone in our two teams rocked up. In my team I volunteered to do the start lap, I missed out on doing this last year. The fact that since the 12 hour race I have had a leg and back problem (the physio has diagnosed it as Sciatica (a pinched Sciatic Nerve)), so maybe I shouldnt be doing this, but who cares it will be fun even if it hurts.
Waiting around for the start of the run was fun, chatting with Jim, Paul, Andrew, Glenn, Heath, etc. Once the run started, we had to walk for a bit, then we got to sort of run, but not sprint (too crowded) to the bikes, I was happy to see I passed everyone I had been chatting to. Once I had my bike it was back to walking to the start line. On the bike I set off at a reasonable pace, I was soon passed by Andrew Rowe who had not seen me pass him in the run so was surprised he had to pass me here. Then Jim passed me, and I kept him in sight for the rest of the lap. It was most amusing on the gradual fireroad climb near the end of the lap, in a head wind watching some guy sprinting up the hill and Jim happy as larry sitting on his tail not being dropped, the guy who had tried to drop Jim obviously worked too hard as I passed him before the ST at the top of the climb, and I had been in no mans land for most of the climb (except when passing people).
I got back in 56 minutes something, which I thought was pretty reasonable as that included the time for the run, all the walking involved there, stopping and waiting in the traffic at the top of the switch backs and the general slowness being stuck behind people in single track. It did seem I was a bit slower than I would expect. Looking at the fact that Andrew Remely had beaten me by a minute and a half at the time trial two weeks earlier and that Jim beat me by 30 seconds today, both of whom I would expect to be able to get about 3 minutes in front of over a 17 KM course if my riding in July and August with both of them was any indication, but hey Jim had the 12 hour solo in between, and Andrew may have been putting in the KM, who knows.
I handed the baton to Dave, he also wrote a report of the race which you can read below, Dave would hand to Julie and Julie to Aaron, this means for me I have the same order of riders as last year, Aaron before me and Dave after me for most of the race. We kept this order until sunday when we switched Dave and I around for our last two laps to guarantee we would be able to get out for a 26th lap.
Like last year I do not remember much of what I did when not riding, or when riding for that matter. My next lap started a little bit before 3pm, the traffic was not bad so I got around in a 54 minute something time, this was my final daylight lap until sunday morning. My lap after that at around 8pm I had the only mechanical on our team with a flat back tyre (pinch flat) on the single track just after the blackberries, this took 8 minutes to change, thus I went over an hour coming in at 1h6m something.
When I went out at midnight, I remember passing Dave@ near the top of the climb to the firetower, I came up beside him noticing this rider on a Kikapu, on the off chance it was him I asked "Are you Dave?", I didnt talk to him more though as he did not catch up on the descent or later climbs, probably because he was doing double laps. This midnight lap I managed to almost break the hour with 1h0m35s. By 3am when I was out again the temperature had really dropped a lot, I finished that lap with a frozen camelback hose, feeling fortunate I am used to riding throughout the Canberra winter in this sort of temperature. I openly admit I was glad at this point my next lap would be in daylight sometime just before 7am.
On my 3am lap I had done 1h4m or so, then on the 7am lap I had some cramps and had to walk them out just on the pinch to the winding fireroad at 8.88KM or so, and again about 20 metres of walking and some stretching at the top of the long gradual fireroad climb near the end. With these slow downs I had another lap at 1h6m or so. We decided that if we managed to get Aaron to finish our 24th lap around 11am we would send Dave out rather than me in order to better ensure we could get 26 laps in the race. Dave, Julie and Aaron put in blindingly fast laps after my 8am or so finish, with 54, 57 and 52 respectively, this had Dave heading out for lap 25 before 11am so we had a good chance of making the 26 laps.
I headed out for our final lap, with no pressure, I simply had to finish and we had victory in the bag. I took it easy up hills to avoid cramping. Often during the lap people I knew were coming past, Alan Vogt flying past for team Six Pack yelling out Pickle Pickle Pickle as he passed, Jaymz Davies passing saying hi to the Pickle Rider. Just as I got out of the ST at 14.12KM I heard Gary Rolfe behind me saying he had food for me if I needed it, I responded I should be fine as I had three museli bars in my camelback. However this was Gary, I couldnt let him get past, fortunately for me the rest of the course was big ring single track, he wasnt going to pass me on single track. Of course this, he said, was part of his plan to get me moving, it worked. I upped the pace and hammered the big ring through the rest of the course. It was good to see even on this last lap the course was very good. All up I think the course improved during the event, true some braking ruts built up in places, but on the whole the bedding in helped.
Anyway I finished that lap in 1h4m or so, about 30 seconds ahead of Gary, though he had done a 58m lap, oh well. We finished 26 laps in less than 25 hours. Taking the victory in Mixed 4 person, we also did at least one more lap than every other mixed team in the event (including the 47 mixed 6 person teams and 12 10 person teams) of the 430 or so teams competing we came about 21st over all. So as it happened I was again the slowest rider on the team, but hey with such great team mates we still came through well. And we have all this cool purple clothing to wear now too.
David Baldwin's Race reportMy team was the "Purple Pickle Peddlers" - a name easily arrived at since we all meet on Friday mornings at the PP for a MTB ride and then breakfast afterwards - we even got a team jersey and nicks made up for the occasion. The team was Julie, me, Steve Hanley and Araron Broughton. After last year we'd decided that male team of 4 was a hiding to nowhere battling it out with pro riders, and Julie had worked hard in a 6 chicks team for third, but mixed 4s was soft as. Our 4th male rider wanted to ride solo so the entry was made the day they opened!
Our forward party was despatched on Friday morning to secure us a prime campsite, complete with marquee and adjoining sleeping tents. We were sharing digs with "The Mortal Fools" - Sam Reinhardt, Ben Crabb, Andrew Rowe and Pete Bartholomew.
Julie and I got out there about 8am, unpacked the car and got a chance to use the toilets. These became blocked a few hours later and were only working about 20% of the time. Great idea to have flush toilets, but a wonderful illustration of capacity planning gone wrong and/or total underestimation of flushing habits. It seemed there was not enough water to flush them, and then the tanks filled up (wonder where all that water went?). Trev could teach them a thing or two I'm sure.
Anyway, the rest of the team and the Fools drifited in over the next couple of hours. Checked out the switchbacks to see what vantage points there would be for the race start action. Steve was keen to ride the first lap, despite being the slowest runner in our team, but no one was arguing. Wandered down to the start assembly area and stood on a pile of thinnings to overlook a small sea of helmets going 50m back down the fire trail - almost like a fun run start! With over 400 teams/individuals the crowding was going to be an issue for the first lap or two.
Back to the transition area with enough time to see the leaders come sprinting past, see Steve amble by and grab his bike, them jog over to the switchbacks. Noted one guy in a silver body suit, a little bit back on the run, but clear first down the switchbacks. In no time a steady torrent of riders was pouring down the track. Apparently some guy came to grief somewhere on the first lap, smashing his collarbone, and there was a queue to get past him.
I was 2nd rider, so got ready for my start and joined the huge crowd waiting for changeover. We were expecting Steve to do nearly an hour, so there was no point being in the way at the front, although many people seemed convinced their first riders were superstars.
Steve appeared and I was off, immediately passing people on the first climb, a pattern which was to become very familiar. I can't remember a lot about individual laps, so I'll just give the highlights of the course. After the initial climb there is a fast section where you can spin along building up a good head of speed for the entry to the switchbacks. If I was lucky there would be no one in the way and I could scare myself heading into a mass of tree roots and easy corners bouncing like mad before the first part of the descent. The tight corners are all really well bermed so were pretty easy to get round at speed, but they got a bit chopped up with braking ruts anyway. The last drop gets the speed up again for a hard right turn into another bumpy twisty section - fairly typical of the singletrack sections of the course.
Exitting the singletrack onto a firetrail for another dose of speed through a dip, then a hard left and another dip through a creek. Every lap I'd end up with wet feet at this point - fortunately I'd taken enough clothes for a small army and was able to wear fresh socks and tops and generally dry knicks for every lap. Now the climbing starts in earnest. The next few kms are a steady climb with a few steep pinches - nothing you can't get up in the middle ring if you're fresh, but there were people walking long stretches. A couple of sections of singletrack where you can power through all the corners, then a firetrail climb of about 200m, usually with a fair procession of riders grinding their way up. A right turn onto the ridge continues the climb, but with plenty of spinning sections where time can be made up. Finally the tower comes in sight and the start of a singletrack descent. This descent got progressively more chopped up, but was mostly quite fast although fairly rough with bumps and dips. Not much space for passing though, so it was a lucky lap where you didn't get bottled up by halfway through. Onto another firetrail dip which a good burst of speed would get you out the other side nicely. One lap a couple of gumbies were braking going into it though and I nearly rear-ended them and had to go wide on the loose rocks to avoid a collision. The next descent had a few off camber corners and was a bit longer with a mean little climb halfway through it which had only just been added to the course a week or so ago. Finally exit to the fire trail at a water bar with enough hill left to really get some speed up along a straight track.
The next section of singletrack had been a total quagmire the previous weekend, and fortunately had been removed, replaced by a section of climbing firetrail and a little descent before rejoining the singletrack. More climbing but a fairly easy grade and plenty of passing spots. Each passing manouevre required a short burst of effort though which took it out on a long climb, and for the solo riders or others doing many laps meant a difficult choice of sitting in or flogging themselves - neither choice much good, but at least sitting in would have given them a break. On my first lap whil epassing my middle chain ring started to skip, giving me a bit of grief for the rest of the lap. Another singletrack descent with a couple of tight corners, a fast firetrail descent into another singletrack where you could test yourself as to how much fear/speed you were prepared to cope with as you bounced through tree roots and corners. You could have hit this section at 50kph+ if you really wanted to! Then a really slow soft section steadily climbing, exiting to the last brutal firetrail climb up a rutted track. A singletrack traverse and descent, then a nice section of gradually climbing firetrail which got a really nice worn in line and you could fly up if you weren't trashed after all the other climbs or laps you'd done already.
This marked the top of the course for me - everything after this was easy and fast. Another singletrack descent led to some fast firetrail with a couple of sharp corners, then a succession of sections of singletrack and firetrail where you could just hammer hard. A long straight section of firetrail at about 13km with a steady but easy climb tested the reserves, before more riding brought you back to the finish with a couple of sections of singletrack becoming quite soft and rutted if not actually wet by the end of the race. These were a particular hazard at night because you couldn't see them easily and they could grab a wheel and throw you off line. The last fire trail was a sprint so pass slower riders ahead while fumbling for the "baton" to hand over to Julie.
So I finished my first lap in a reasonable time of just over 50 mins, then had a warmdown and recovered with plenty of drink and food. Julie rode a fast 55 min lap and handed over to Aaron who rode low 50s and handed over to Steve. It was a pleasant afternoon and there were plenty of people to catch up with. I was a bit worried about my chain ring, and a trip into Mal's would take 2 hours or more, but fortunately the shop on site had the parts and tools I needed to replace my middle ring, and it didn't bother me much the rest of the race. Steve handed over to me and I cranked out another lap in almost exactly the same time, then Julie and Aaron proceeded to do much the same, then Steve picked up the first night riding on his lap. He got a flat too, so posted the first lap over 1 hour for our team. It was starting to get quite cold waiting at transition, and overnight got down to about -2 with frost on the tents.
Finally Steve appeared and I knocked out about a 57, not feeling so fresh on the hills and a bit more cautious on the singletrack in the dark. Julie cranked out a 61 - she is an awesome night rider, then Aaron did something around 57, riding very similar times to me from here on. Steve went out again, but was starting to feel the pressure and didn't break the hour again. The results were updated every couple of hours, and after an early glitch we realized we were leading our category comfortably. I posted another lap around 57, and then Julie did another 61, earning her the 2nd and 3rd fastest female night laps. I grabbed a bit of sleep while Julie rode then got up and ready to know when Steve started. With 10 mins or so before Aaron was due in Steve was still getting changed, so I gave him a hurry up and went up to wait for Aaron. Aaron finished, but Steve didn't arrive for a couple of minutes more.
We now started to seriously look at the numbers. We knew 25 laps was in the bag with our sub-hour lap average, but 26 was a possibility if we could get a few more quick ones in. It would also mean we would be the only mixed team in the race to get 26 laps! This meant putting Steve out only once more, although we all agreed he could have lap 26 if we'd done the hard yards. One more night lap and two more day laps for me, and the pressure on for everyone. As I finished my last night lap it was just light enough to see, so Julie didn't need her lights for her lap, getting round in 61 again, then Aaron cranked out a 55 or so. Steve was losing it a bit and managed a 63, then I got round in about 55, definitely feeling the climbs now and less able to push the flats. Julie pulled out all stops and put in a 57, then Aaron busted a gut coming over the line cramping for 54, leaving me a clear hour or more to get round. After the worst of the climbs I knew it was in the bag, and brought it home in 55 again, sending Steve out for his 7th lap. Steve just had to finish now, which fortunately he did without any dramas.
So that was it. Just the packing up and presentations to go, with plenty of dust and a few showers of rain to keep everyone on their toes. All over until next year!