After doing the Armidale 12hr in 2011 I was keen to come back in 2012. The problem was I was racing at the Mountains to Beach stage race which was 13hrs away from Armidale via Port Macquarie. When one of the students I was racing with needed to be home Friday night after the race I started planning on how it would all line up. I didn't plan on getting to sleep at 2:30am Saturday morning just 2 hrs before my alarm was set.
Arriving in Armidale at 9:00am gave me an hour to try and get sorted for the race and hope I had packed everything in a sleep deprived state. I had planned to self feed but I was very thankful that Duncan and Lloyd from Gordon Street Cycles were around to help pass bottles and fix bikes as I destroyed them!
Racing against Andy Hall was always going to be a challenge. With 5 days of stage racing in my legs I didn't think I would be able to keep with him. I let Andy set the pace and after 2hrs I was ready to drop the tempo and take it easier. One of my cleats came loose about this stage anyway so he gained a small gap as I had this fixed. Once I was back riding again it almost took a full lap at a good pace to catch him. The faster pace actually felt better and I was getting bumped less over the roots and I maintained this pace as I rode past him.
I started on the hardtail and planned to only stay on it for 3-4 hours mostly to gain an advantage on the climbs. I actually enjoyed the hardtail after riding it all week and so stayed on it for almost 9 hours. I do always forget how much I enjoy riding the 96 dually. It felt like I was cheating when I got on it as I could now sit down over roots etc without getting punished. By the 10 hour mark lights were on. I'm sure this is the first race that I have had my helmet light in the right spot and I was having fun with the increased comfort and visibility! By 11hrs my arms were in so much pain from getting punished on the hardtail that riding downhill was no longer fun. I somehow twisted my chain around this time and after making a poor attempt to realign the kink managed to creep home to swap bikes again. I got one more lap in on the 96 after this before being able to retire a few minutes before the 12hr mark as Andy didn't make it back in time for the final lap.
I really enjoyed the track, it was great to see all the A and B lines. There were sections to challenge all levels of rider and plenty of trail that had me smiling each lap. I'm keen to head back next year to see if the Armidale trail fairies can improve on an already awesome trail!
Big thanks to Duncan for driving and passing foods etc, Tanya for the baked goods, Lloyd for his support during the race and the Armidale Mtb Club for the invitation to race!