|Photo - Tarren Sohier|
From the gun the pace was on. What I found surprising was the amount of riders who were able to handle the attacks and surges in speed. Each fireroad allowed a chance for a breather as the group slowed down as no-one was keen to work on the front. As soon as one rider got a sniff of approaching single track it was game on with everyone trying to get a slightly better position. It seemed a silly approach to take considering there were 10 riders entering a single track and the group didn't really split during these sections. As there was no serious climbing the group of 10 stayed together for the first 50kms.
It wasn't until Dylan put the power down heading into Majura Pines that the 10 riders got strung out and there were 5 of us left. I was starting to feel good riding here as most of the trails were used in the Solo Nationals only 4 weeks earlier. I had ridden a particular technical section over 40 times with no problem so I was surprised to lose all the air from my back tyre through it. It was the exact same tyre that had treated me so faithfully only weeks earlier. I assumed there was around 5-6km until the untimed section of the race so I decided to put a new tube in. It actually ended up being around 1km from the untimed section meaning I could have just topped up the rear tyre with some CO2 and put a tube in during my free time. Hopefully the track will be the same next year so I will know what's coming up. I must have got some Stans sealant on my brake rotor during the change as the next corner I pulled the brake lever to the bar and went down faster than my tyre...
Rolling into the untimed section it seemed like I had almost lost 7 minutes, a gap that couldn't be made up even if I went nuts in the last 30km. I refueled at the 'On The Go' feed station and almost took too much time as I really cruised this section. When I finally made it to the timing gate to restart racing I had used up most of my 45mins. I treated the final 30km as a training ride anyway and tried to use up anything I had left in the tank. I was surprised how good I felt as I started to overtake a serious amount of 50km riders that start half way through the 100km course. I could only imagine how fast the Elite boys would be racing this section as I rode solo against the breeze.
I'm not sure why my legs still felt ok heading into Stromlo so I continued the pace as I rode the familiar switchbacks up to the top of the mountain before dodging riders left, right and centre down Skyline and The Luge. This is such a fun way to finish a race.
At this stage the results haven't been released. I'm keen to see how much time I lost with my flat and how much more time the boys put into me on the last section.
Either way, I'm looking forward to coming back to race this course with the boys right to the end!
A big thanks to AROC for putting this event together and letting me be a part of it.
Jason and Kylie McAvoy for driving, feeding and housing me.
Darcey from GSC for making sure my bike was in perfect condition.
Flight Centre / Merida for helping me out with flights.