Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013 Camelbak Highland Fling

The weather forecast leading up to the Fling looked terrible. With a 8 month pregnant wife I had started looking for accommodation however, a late change in forecast kept us in a tent with most of the other competitors.
On arrival in Bundanoon I went straight to rego to meet the Camelbak crew who easily talked me into a 1.5L racing hydration pack. It has been a while since I raced in a Camelbak but with a 50km self supported middle stage the Camelbak was going to be a great asset.
10 minutes before race start I was still hiding in my warm car. On the line I was wearing arm warmers under my rain jacket and, with an apparent temperature of 3.3 degrees, I was far from comfortable. The race started at a pace I wasn't ready for. As I hid towards the back of a large main group I wasn't around to go with a small group of 5 riders who rode off the front. Looking at who was left in the chase group I was pretty confident we had the muscle to chase down the riders who had charged up the road. The chase group did include our top xc rider, a Garmin Team rider along with experienced elite marathon riders.

With some silly tactics and only a few riders pulling turns on the front, at the first transition I was close to 3 minutes down on the leaders. My poor transition cost more time then I had anticipated as I played with seat height and rectified my tyre pressure. This left me in a position where I was riding solo into the second stage with a good gap to bridge just to the chase group. I really enjoyed the Camelbak in this stage and, with no fear of an escaping bottle from my cage, I could really let the brakes go.
I eventually caught up to and rode past the chase group around 40km into this stage. I took Shuan Lewis and Michael Crosby with me. We rode well together and started to swap turns at a good pace. Arriving at the last checkpoint with 30km to go we were around 5 mins down on the leaders. I was surprised we caught Kyle Ward with 20km to go. At the 90km mark, Michael decided to ride by himself leaving Shaun and I to keep pushing until the end. With 3-4km to go we rode easy in anticipation for a sprint finish that ended up a little punishing for my slow old 24hr muscle fibres!
A big thanks to JetBlack and Camelbak for getting me an entry to this race. I have only missed one year of flinging it, due to a broken collar bone and I am planning on coming back to do many more in the future.
Thanks also to Jen's parents who looked after Archie so Jen could travel with me and pass bottles.
Hopefully next year I'll be back with better weather!

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