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Mon, 01 Nov 2004

Fitz Epic 2004 - 15:51
As previously mentioned, yesterday I participated in the 2004 Fitz Epic (a Pedal Power event), longer and more difficult than the well established Annual Fitz Challenge.

With daylight saving changing between the 30th and 31st I was effectively waking up at body clock time of 3am (4am in new daylight saving adjusted time) in order to get to Tharwa by 5am for preparation and ride briefing and a 6am start. I gave Terry a lift out and we arrived by 5am, seemingly half an hour earlier than we really needed to as no one else was there yet and the ride officials were only just setting up.

We registered at about 5:50am, then while getting my bike out of the car I could not find my helmet and realised to my horror I had left it hanging on the handle bars of one of my mountain bikes in my shed at home. Every one else started the epic at 6am, at the time I was driving home to get my helmet. Finally back in Tharwa in time to start riding by 6:50am I got going. With a 50 minute deficit and likely to be riding alone (thus unable to draft others in the pack) I was pretty sure I would be unable to catch any of my friends.

I settled in to the ride with the goal of finishing before the 18:30 cut off time (which would be a little bit more difficult to do now, due to the late start and not riding in a pack). Mikey had mentioned the climb of Fitz was about 3.2 KM, this is longer than Black Mountain (2.8KM) and steeper (notably it is also consistently up hill with no places to rest, unlike the road climb of Black Mountain) so I decided to time myself on the climb, I tend to do Black Mountain at a comfortable sort of pace in around 12 minutes. By the summit of Fitz the climb had taken me 15 minutes, which I think was pretty reasonable.

I finally saw the front riders coming the other way just as I passed the turn off to Ororral valley, I was still heading to Rendevouz creek at the time and they were on the way back about to turn up to Ororral. As I passed the campsite near Glendale crossing Mikey, Terry, Allan, Neil and Chris passed in the other direction, this was the bunch I would have ridden with all day if I had started with them.

I reached the Rendevouz creek check point at around 08:15am which was pretty good time for the 30 KM out to that point (mostly up hill). I had some insulin, a muesli bar and a baked potato and headed back down toward Ororral. The lead riders on the Fitz Challenge appeared on their way to Rendevouz creek shortly after I started the descent to Glendale crossing. On the way to the Ororral turn off I saw a lot of people I knew who were riding in the Challenge (Sue Kleven, Cath Toet, Jim Trail, Kate Roper, Andrew Thomas, etc). Early on the climb up to Ororral Mikey and co passed in the other direction again, it appeared I had gained about 10 minutes and was only around 40 minutes behind now. This gap stayed pretty much constant for the rest of the day after this.

When I arrived at Ororral I caught up to another Epic rider and left before he did, I was most pleased to have passed someone finally. Then I passed a couple riding the Epic together just before turning back onto the main road from the Ororral road. Once on the road with the rest of the Fitz riders I was surrounded by many other riders for the first time that day, unfortunately they were a this point all a bit slower than me, the riders of similar speed to me would have already passed on their way back down to Tharwa at this point. So I chatted to people as I passed them, after the descent down Fitz hill there was the pleasantly fast section along to the Apollo road turn off to take me up to Honey Suckle Creek. I had predicted this would be the toughest climb of the day, largely due to the fact it is the toughest bitumen climb in the ACT. I was not dissapointed, I was able to ride all the way up, though I did stop for a minute or two an chat to two guys, one of whom was pulling the plug there and returning to Tharwa, the other who intended to finish this climb and pull out upon his return to Tharwa. Mikey and crew passed at speed descending just after I crossed the gate into Namadgi (the national park).

The marshals at the top of Honey Suckle asked me if I wanted sun cream, which was good as I had forgotten to apply any at the previous two checkpoints and didn't feel like stopping to put any of the cream I was carrying on. I had some more food and turned around for the incredibly long descent back down Apollo road. Once I got back on the road to Tharwa no one else was around, so all the Challenge riders had already passed by then, I battled the head wind back to Tharwa by myself. I stopped at Tharwa for a while for food, sports drink, toilet, dumping gear I wouldn't need from my backpack. As I rode out I saw Allan there, he had pulled out of the Epic with bad back pain. Ben Crabb was also there having finished the 90KM ride (Tharwa Challenge). I got moving again and headed on out towards Cotter. There was a headwind all the way through the Tidbinbilla valley and I slowly started to pass one or two Challenge riders, and waved at all the people I knew on the return leg of the Challenge. I saw the lead riders in the Epic turn Corin road as I passed there.

As I arrived at Cotter I spotted Mikey and crew at the food/water refill point at Cotter, so I stopped and chatted, I was now only the climb of Mt McDonald behind them, however due to my slow speed at this point that was still 40 minutes back. I rode up Mt McDonald, got to the checkpoint, grabbed food and water, turned around and finally found the joy of the tail wind. This wind assist made the ascent back to the top of Mt McDonald fast and easy. Refilled with sports drink at Cotter and headed up Pierces, this was bound to be a tough climb, 1KM all constant, steep uphill. Possibly harder (though much shorter) than the Corin climb was going to be later. I made it up all the way, standing up to climb it all, and headed on towards Corin.

When I got to Corin I thought to myself, sure I am in pain and I don't know if I am enjoying myself right now, but I have come this far so I may as well turn right and do the climb up to the summit of Corin. So I did. Neil passed me near the start of the climb, obviously he had tired of riding as slowly as the others and got a jump on them. In that final climb and ride to Tharwa he gained over half an hour on Mikey and crew, who passed me about 25 minutes later half way up the climb. On the final steep section of the climb I did something I have never done before, I walked up a hill with the road bike, The Corin climb is one I can usually do at around 14-16 Kmh all the way up, this time I was reduced to 7-8 Kmh while riding, stopping a few times to stretch and then walking the final section.

Upon reaching the checkpoint I was really suffering and thinking to myself I may pull out once I reach the bottom of the descent rather than riding the remaining distance to Tharwa. I had noticed a problem with clipping in and out of my right pedal for the previous hour or two so stopped at the checkpoint to look at the bottom of my shoe. I found the cleat loose and twisted sideways a bit, fortunately I had not lost either of the screws as had happened in the 24 Hour race three weeks previously. I fixed the cleat angle and tightened both screws, had some more food and got moving.

The final descent of Corin and the discovery that it was only 13 KM not 17 KM to Tharwa from the base of Corin had me feeling better so I decided to finish the ride, and I was still likely to make it in under the time limit. I got to Tharwa at 18:18, 12 minutes before cut off and pretty well under if you consider the 50 minute deficit. Anyway it was a tough day in the saddle, probably good for me in the end, and I admit I did enjoy a lot of the event. Ride time was around 9 hours 20 minutes with 207 KM ridden. This has however strengthened my resolve to get a triple chain ring on the road bike as I really do not like climbing standing up yet I persist in doing these silly long difficult road rides (this and the SLER (Silly Long Easter Ride, 333KM if you can finish it) being prime examples).

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Broken Bits and Bacon - 14:21
Friday sitting in my office I heard a loud noise from my bike, looking at it I found another spoke broken on the back wheel. Fortunately I could still ride the bike as I had the Bacon ride the next morning and was going to be too busy to fix the broken spoke, or the flat tyre on my hard tail before the ride.

Then during the Bacon ride on Saturday morning at on point I was suddenly able to bring the front brake lever all the way into the bars (hydraulic discs) accompanied by a metallic screeching sound. Stopping to look at it I discovered the pad material had come unstuck from the backing plate in one of the pads in the front brake. I had not heard of this happening before, however Peter Gunther (who builds Ethos bikes) was out there at the time and was not so surprised. When I took the bike to Mals this morning the distributor of EBC pads did not seem surprised either, the brakes work again with the warranty replacement pads.

After the Bacon ride Dave Sutton and myself were the only two to continue the grand Bacon tradition of eating Bacon and stuff at a cafe post ride with a visit to the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan. The Central Cafe serves mammoth portions and chips with everything you order (I suspect they serve chips with fruit salad, I have not been game to find out if this suspicion is true yet).

Fun was had.

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