Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 JetBlack 12hr

With a choice between contesting the XCM National Marathon Series over an action packed few weeks or the chance to represent Jetback, I chose to represent my most long term supporter at one of their main events. Jet Black Products have been looking after me for close to 10 years. The sponsorship started with NiteRider Lights and has progressed through pedals, Stans Wheels, Jet Black Products and Pivot Bikes.
This year I look back with appreciation and attribute my past success to the support and help from Steph and Daryl from Shotz Nutrition and through the use of Continental Tyres. Starting through this year I have when possible made a switch to use products distributed through Jet Black Products. As a result I'm now using using their nutrition (GU) and tyres (WTB). To celebrate GU releasing a new product, I thought I would give it a go. And not just a little go, an exclusive go for the complete 12 hours. This was going to be a challenge as the Stroopwaffel is designed more as a food product to quench hunger as opposed to a high GI liquid product deigned to rapidly absorb into the bloodstream to accommodate racing at a high intensity.

On the start line I had my pockets stuffed with individually wrapped Stoopwaffels. I wasn't sure how many of them I needed during the event. If I aimed to eat 60-70 grams per hour of carbohydrate I would need to be consuming around 3 per hour.
From the start I tried to hang around the top 10 places as I worked fairly hard to get into a good position. During this time the track conditions were quite ordinary, there was lots of slip and slide and people over-cooking corners. I was impressed with Rocky Trail and how well they managed to maintain a good track for the whole 12 hours. As the race progressed there were different lines taped off to ensure all of the track was rideable and safe. During the first few laps I was swapping off glasses each lap due to the volume of mud spray, however, by my last few laps my Adidas photo chromatic glasses stayed clean! I was impressed with how well the WTB Nano tyres worked in the mud. They are light but also have a fairly open tread pattern to help clear the mud.
After a couple of laps I seemed to be lapping around the same pace as the leading two man team consisting of Mike Israel and Gary James. These guys provided some great pacing for me and encouraged me to stay fairly consistent with lap times. While I had to stop a few times to re-lube the chain and fill up drink bottles I was usually able to catch back up again. Around the 5 hour mark I managed to lap second place Sam Moffitt and as tempting as it was to back off the pace and ride with him I still tried to maintain my pace with the two man team.
Lights were due on after 5pm. This stop for me was a casual stop to put lights on, lube the chain and restock Stroopwaffels. Giving the boys a two minute lead I thought I would have a little go at trying to catch back up. Around 7pm I decided to just play it safe and take a more casual approach to the rest of my race with the aim of trying to improve recovery time in order to start training again for India!

I would have to say I was quite impressed with the Stroopwaffel. The tally was only 18 for the 12 hours, so less than I thought. Normally I wouldn't be able to look at a food product that I consume exclusively for such a time however, I must confess I have had more than 1 Stroopwaffel this week when training!

I have thanked a few people through the report but a special thanks needs to go to:
Jamie Vogele for driving me down from Newcastle to Sydney and back.
Jason Moxham for letting us crash at his house and for passing bottles.
Dave Groupe for passing bottles and organising the Stroopwafels at short notice (as per my usual).
Rocky Trail Entertainment for putting on such a well run event.
Jet Black Products for supporting me and this event.
Thanks Outer Image for being out on the track taking awesome pictures!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2016 Wagga 6hr - Evocities Rd 4

Pic - Dan's Facebook!
With the ability to drop 2 rounds out of the Evocities 7, the Wagga 6hr became the most logical. With crazy logistics required to get to the race and back in time for work I had decided to instead focus on the closer rounds. That is until I made the commitment to race the MTB Himalaya ( which meant I couldn't do the Dubbo round.

Once the "we are on" announcement was made by the Wagga club I looked at booking flights. With a return trip costing over $800 I went for a cheaper option. A flight to Sydney (which was delayed 1.5hrs) followed by a 5hr drive. The return trip was never going to be an easy option!

Tucking into a warm room with a few other FIZO supported riders the sound of rain was obvious outside. I was glad I packed the wet weather gear. The standard being 2 sets of Adidas photochromatic glasses, a windproof / waterproof vest, open tyres (WCS Nano) and Weldtite all weather lube.

From the briefing it was obvious that bikes are riders were going to get punished. The track had been closed the last few days to ensure it had its best chance of holding up and detours were apparently already in place to avoid some of the really nasty sections.

From the start I wanted to stay with Ed Mcdonald who had managed to win the race for the past 4 years. He charged off the front with a team rider and started to build a little gap. It wasn't until the end of the second lap that I managed to catch him. It was then that he pointed out how poorly I was riding downhill. I tried to blame my lack of ability on my lack of vision through my mud caked glasses. I had planned on allowing him to lead me down the final decent on the next lap. That didn't happen as during the 3rd lap Ed managed to hit his pedal on a rock and dropped the chain. I didn't increase the pace any further however, Ed started to slow as his bike started to have some suspension issues.

Heading out onto the 4th lap I was just aiming to build my lead. I was trying to stop every few laps as the mud was getting ridiculous. Its really hard to describe the track. Initially there was a series of switchbacks up the first half of the main climb. These sections where sometimes rocky and dry while other sections were teeming with water that just sprayed everywhere. The second part of the climb was bone dry fireroad. The first downhill was mostly ok,

Pic: MarathonMTB
but all I remember from there is muddy dips, flowing water down both single and double tracks and an assortment of mud. It was quite ride-able if enough speed was carried however, the constant water spray was always going to play havoc on brake pads and drive trains. I cant blame the race organisors for running the event, after advertising it was going to be on, I guess they had to run it! But I think they also made a good call to cut the event short. There were plenty of things being done to stretch out the longevity of the course by re-routing sections however, some of the holes were becoming quite unpredictable and we were destroying the track.

A shorter race also gave me the chance to have a freezing cold shower before starting the long journey home. The return trip was the challenge and started with the 5hr drive to Campbelltown. From here it was a 1hr 15min train to central, a 6hr bus trip north that dropped me on the highway an easy 30min ride home. I finally crawled into bed at 4.30am Monday morning following a much warmer shower!

I really need to thank Pure Edge for supporting to attend the Evocities and Jason Moxham for being my driver from Sydney and fully tweaking my bike before this event. The new XTR chainring and correctly directed chain seem to have made the difference... Thanks Jason you really put yourself out for this one!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

2016 Stans Notubes 5hr Tamworth Evocities Rd 3

Being only a 3.5hr drive from home, it was great to not camp at Tamworth before the race. The trip started with Pure Edge and rice bubbles breakfast before the 3.5hr trip. With the temp still sitting around 5 deg Celsius when we arrived Sunday morning I was glad to see the temp hit double digits before the race started at 9.30am.

Looking at the start list I knew it was going to be a tough race. With Ed Mcdonald up from Canberra, Cam Ivory, Trenton Day and Andrew Lloyd up from Newcastle and local NRS rider Sam Spoke it was hard to make a prediction as to how the race would go. With Cam still training as if racing at the Olympic games, he was always going to be the favourite.

I managed to have a good start this race sliding into the first single track in 5th place. During the 1st lap Cam and Sam got a little lead and it wasn't until part way through the second lap that I managed to catch them again. At the end of this lap Cam put in a little attack and by the time I got past Sam, he had a pretty good lead. I was sitting around 30 second behind Cam for the next couple of laps.

On the 5th lap I caught back up to Cam. In the last 3 kms of this same lap my chain dropped 3 times even with a chain guide. I recalled hearing this meant the front chain ring was worn and after five 24hr races it is no real surprise. My new bike for 2016 had made it way to the event courtesy of Jason Moxham and Fizo Cycling however I hadn't planned on taking it for its first ride at this event. Starting my 6th lap on this brand new bike, the seat started to slip down. I managed to borrow Allen keys through the lap but it just wouldn't stay up. I swapped the seat post from my old bike and took some air out of the front forks as Ed caught back up.
The new 2016 BOOSTED Mach 429SL

Now being 4.5 mins down on first place it was really just a matter of keeping hold of the second position. Now without a Garmin or watch in view I continued the race. It took a few laps before I felt like I was racing as I learnt to ride the new bike. The new bike had riser bars and the stem was quite high compared to what I was used to. This meant learning to corner all over again!

I got laps splits for the next few laps and my gap went from 4.5mins to 3.5 to 2.5 to 2.0mins however I was pretty stoked to get within a minute of such a highly talented and in-form rider considering my lack of training and run related injuries!

Thanks to Jason for bringing my new bike. I look forward to getting to know it better. For a bike straight out of the box it rode great. The Boosted front end and new Stans Notubes wheels were great. I'm not sure if it was just psychological but the new Pivot Mach 429SL seemed to roll a lot faster :)

Thanks to Ian for also passing bottles and helping me change my race plate and bike mid event.

Thanks to Jet Black Products and Stand Notubes for supporting me and this event. The new bike was great and Notubes have really come up with something special with their new Valour wheelset.

Thanks to the other Jet Black Products that keep my bikes and body going, the WTB Nine Line and Nano both worked well on this course, I felt confident railing the corners. I can't actually pick the tyre I preferred. Jet Black are now also doing GU and their Roctane Gels helped me feel just as strong at the finish of the race as start.

A big thanks goes out to the Tamworth Mountain Bike Club. I really had a great day out. This type of course suits me, no really sustained climbs, lots of pinchy technical sections and heaps of fun whippy burms. I'm keen to come back again next year.

Pure Edge are helping me attend the Evocities series and their pre-race food has been a great way to load up without feeling bloated.