Monday, May 4, 2015

2014 Flight Centre Epic

This is one of my key events for the year. It is sponsored by Advanced Traders who look after me and it attracts a huge number of riders. It's a great time of year to be racing just out of Brisbane and the weather was fantastic for the event on the day. It became apparent that the area had been given a fair serve of rain in the days leading up which made for an interesting race.

The race started off at a fairly comfortable pace until we hit the first few climbs and gaps started to form. I stayed fairly close to the front, but the muddy hills just made it a running race. It seemed even the rocky parts of the course that looked solid became too slippery to climb.

At the 20km mark a few mechanicals had already spread the field and decided who was going home without finishing the course. Jame Downing and I had a good gap at the first drink station which signals the start of a 5km flat road that we swapped turns.

At the 30km mark where the biggest climb starts we could see Geoff Rubach catching and he had rode across to us by the top. For the next 5-10km the three of us stayed together until I started to get a gap down some of the crazy slippery triple down arrow sections.

With a slight gap around the 40km mark I pushed hard through the single track and came back through the 50km start/finish transition with a few minute lead. I am grateful for the crew that oiled my chain as I headed out for the final 40km feeling comfortable and enjoyed the now quietly running drivetrain.
I was carefully pacing out the last part of the race, ensuring I was consuming enough Shotz electrolyte to prevent cramps as I carried more fluid as I though I would need.

At around the 60km mark my chain started to fall off my lower jockey wheel on the rear derailleur and it was trying to track between the jockey wheel and the cage. I kept stopping to put the chain back on the jockey wheel and after the 4th time of stopping I found a gear I could stay in that kept the chain from falling off. I thought I was good to keep racing in the same gear however 5-6km later my chain dropped off the side again and this time jammed, stopping the jockey wheel which caused the force on the chain to wrap the derailleur snapping both sides of the cage. With a significant lead, I broke the chain and bypassed the derailleur to single speed the bike. It feels silly to admit, but I took too much off the chain and it couldn't join back up. I joined another part of the chain back on and was set to go. I started pedaling and after 50m the chain tightened up so much I couldn't pedal, forwards or backwards. I broke the chain again, this time it was under pressure and began putting more links back into the chain to make it long enough to go around the top jockey wheel. By now the top 5 places had gone past me and I started to struggle with getting enough leverage to break the chain with a lightweight multitool / chain breaker. Either way, by the time I got going I was out of the top 10 and I was just looking at the clock to see if I could get back in time for my flight later on in the afternoon. As I took off this time, I found a gear that worked with the chain length I had left and I started to wind the pace up a little. It wasn't long until my chain snapped where I mustn't have joined the chain neatly. I was grateful for the joining link I was passed and finally got on my way again. As my race was purely a race to get back to the airport, I stopped to make the most of the final feed zone, handing in a phone I found on the side of the track and spun my single speed legs back to the finish.

It was a very disappointing race considering I felt I had the win wrapped up however, at least I have learnt a little about Macgyvering a rear mech and doing the SS conversion. There has to be an easier way!

A big thanks to Epic Events Management for putting on such a great event
Shimano for getting my rear mech sorted in time for the Kowalski
And my brother Mat for lending me his car so I could do the event. Thanks!

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