I had put the Tathra 100km on my calender almost 6 months ago when John Blankenstein started to talk up how good his home trails were. I was all set to go but I was also keen to see if I could squeeze the Terra in the week before. It ended up being too hard to do both so I flew down to Tathra on the Saturday afternoon just in time for the 10km prologue. I lined up a few minutes behind Blankenstein which meant there were 5-6 people between us as the event was an individual time trial with a rider heading out every 30 seconds. When I started I didn't hold anything back. I was keen to catch John and every person I went past meant I was getting closer. I kept checking my heart rate monitor and it was going through the roof. I felt like I was riding fast but I still couldn't see John anywhere. I came across the line and I possibly one of the reasons I didn't catch him was he'd headed home mid race! My legs were busted after that effort.
I have always looked at the dash for cash before the Highland Fling but have never entered it as I have thought I wouldn't pull well the next day. I was interested to see how I would pull up after the Tathra 10km prologue and was surprised how smashed my legs were. My quads were hammered from sprinting off the seat out of tight corners.
It was great to catch up with the Canberra crew on Saturday night as we hit up the local restaurant to carb load for the main event.
The race started with a run to spread the field out a little as the track headed straight into some very cool single track. In the first 17km loop were plenty of switch backs, some steep descents onto bridges and lots of close trees to negotiate. During this section I could feel my front tyre starting to head down. I gave it a shot of CO2 hoping that the Stans Fluid would do its job. Thirty minutes later and I needed to give it another go. About 1hr and 15mins into the race I decided to put in a spare tube. It was obvious why the tyre was loosing pressure, it was completely dry with no sealant at all left. As I had almost finished fixing the tyre I could see Brett Bellchambers in 5th position start to catch me. In a desperate panic I threw on my camelbak and put my gloves in my mouth as I couldn't handle being overtaken by a single speed rider!
Back on the bike and I really started to feel how busted my legs were from the prologue. I had to spend heaps of time sitting down and spinning as my quads were feeling very heavy. Twenty minutes after fixing my flat I managed to catch up to 3rd place. Mark Tupalski claimed he hadn't been able to train for the past 2 months but was setting a great pace. I then rode for another 45mins by myself thinking I still had 3 hours of race time to catch the boys in front. I was really enjoying this section around the 50km mark. The fire trails had been raked! Most 100km events would have you dodging sticks and sliding on debris but here it was all smooth sailing. At this stage of the race I couldn't tell if my legs were busted from the day before or if there was just a serious amount of climbing!
I caught up to Ben Henderson again around 2.5hrs into the race and asked him if he knew how far ahead the next guy was. Ben gave me a funny look and exclaimed that he was first and there was no one else up the road. I talked to him for a bit and decided that the other person who was in front of me must have got lost as I hadn't seen him as I caught Ben. I rode with Ben for maybe 5km before he slowed up on a climb and I thought I would keep racing. Another 45mins down the road and I started catching 50km riders. One of them took me ages to catch, until I worked out he was in the 100km race and was somehow in front. He was under the impression that Ben was still out the front and he we rode together for a few kilometers around the 75km mark. I was still feeling pretty good and after my second Shotz Wild Bean gel I felt quite strong. I really enjoyed this section of track as it was quite undulating fire roads that weren't really long climbs. Most of the climbs you could attack with speed from a previous downhill so the 70-85km section went past pretty quick. There were a few kms to get back to the race start/finish where we were sent out for a final 10km loop of the sweet poo pond single tracks. Half way along this section and I was really unimpressed with the marshal that pointed me right to the top of the hill again. It wasn't a really steep climb but with 2700m of climbing already on the clock I was looking forward to a downhill to the finish. Even after the hill this section seemed to go on for ages. I was stoked when the terrain became familiar and I knew it was all downhill to the finish line!
I thought this course was fantastic as it had a bit of everything...creek crossings, steep pinches, bridges, off camber, techy rocky descents, fire roads, single track and a good mix of fire roads and 4WD tracks.
It was great to talk to the guys who have done a fair bit of the track work and I'll be impressed if they can improve their already superb course for next year. I'm amazed by what can be achieved with those excavators. I think we need one for our club!
I need to thank locals Stacey George for helping me get to Tathra and Jake Iskov from Tathra Beach and Bike for sorting my accommodation. Thanks for the invite guys I had a fantastic weekend.
Does anyone have some pics?