For the 2015 edition of the Capital Punishment mountain bike marathon race, I thought long and hard about entering. The 2013 event was my first 100km race and was incredibly enjoyable for me. The 2014 event was a bittersweet event, the seeding system was, for lack of a better term – a shitfight – which saw me start at the back of the race in Wave 6; and concluded with me finishing at the tail end of Wave 2. I had resolved to not entering the race up until my Wife suggested I race the 50km instead of the 100km event.
Fast forward to the day before the race and I was committed to rolling out and just riding comfortably for 50km.
I had intended to ride out to the National Arboretum for the start of the race. The cold morning combined with the requirement to have lights meant I drove out and would use the long grinding climb up Dairy Farmers Hill as my warm up.
In the middle of Wave 3, the start saw the usual rush until the realisation that the first 10 minutes was, in fact a very steep climb, set in. I watched as Argo powered off into the distance in front of me, as I settled into a steady rhythm that got me up the hill.
The first section of the race was out of the Arboretum towards Mt Stromlo. Heaps of grinding fireroad that kept the heart rate up and the legs spinning. I glanced down at my GPS intermittently, watching the kilometres tick over, trying to work out how long I was going to be on the bike for. I did the numbers, thought about the singletrack ahead and worked out I should be able to finish in a little under 2 and a half hours.
The Mt Stromlo section took in a lot of fireroad that included what felt like a hell of a lot of climbing interlaced with sketchy descents and even sketchier corners. A few times I felt the rear wheel washout which lead to some impromptu dirt drifting.
By the time I re-entered the singletrack I knew I had around 30 minutes of riding time left; which would put me across the line in around 2 hours and 20 minutes. So I pushed on and increased my pace.
During the last section of the race I started to catch the tail end of Wave 1 and looked at my GPS. I was going to finish the 50km race in under 2 hours and 20 minutes. So with a cramping left calf I spent what was left in the tank. I finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes, 20th in my category and 56th overall for the 50km race. Not a bad result for a middle of the pack hack with roadie noodle arms!
The week after riding The Beast has been a quiet one. As with last year I didn’t actually start feeling any muscle soreness until 2 days after the race and to be honest I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to get back in the saddle.
I spent Monday at home cleaning up after a big weekend of riding. My bike was filthy and sounded extremely second hand and needed a thorough clean and mini-service. The bike wasn’t the only thing in need of a going over; I finally trimmed my hobo beard right down and had my first haircut in almost 3 months.
.:The dirty bike post Beast:.
My Crank Brothers wheel-set has taken a beating these past few months and the rubber on them barely survived the Namadgi trails. So the tyres came off and went in the bin, while I scoured Canberra’s bike stores for a set of tubeless rubber. Alas the four shops I visited didn’t have the tyres I wanted so I resorted to buying a set on-line and placed my spare wheels and tubed tyres back on Kate the XTC for the interim.
My first ride for the week was a short pedal up and down Mt Stromlo that ended with me riding straight into a tree on the second half of Luge. While there was no real damage to person or bike it highlighted how in tune I had become with my XTC with tubeless setup that when I put on the stock wheels I was inches off my normal lines.
Not to be deterred I headed back out on Saturday afternoon on Zooey the Anthem. She is a great bike especially going downhill where her dual suspension absorbs much of rough riding Western Wedgetail, Skyline, Luge and Duffy’s Descent throws at you.
.:Zooey On top of Mt Stromlo:.
At the end of the week I only rode twice for a measly 23.9km in total.
For the past few weeks I’ve been contemplating changing my incredibly good looking Crank Brothers 29er wheels to tubeless tyres. When I first bought them I made an attempt to put a set of Schwalbes (Nobby Nic front & Racing Ralph rear) on the wheels using the supplied CB tubeless valves.
I was busy Youtube’ing and trying to discover that ‘easy’ way to seat the bead on the rim and get the rubber to seal. I’ve heard horror stories from some people and tales of ease from others. Basically setting up a tubeless tyre depends on the person, the tools, the rubber and the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth. My first attempt resulted in bleeding knuckles, two snapped tyre levers and a pair of tyres that were completely flat in less than four hours. I decided my sexy wheels needed to be shown off so I gave up and went the way of the tube.
Fast forward to last night and I finally took the plunge and converted my rims to full tubeless using a combo of new tyres and new Stans valves. The plan was simple: old tyres and tubes off, clean rims, new tyres on, add sealant, inflate and celebrate!
I did the front first; a Maxxis Ikon for extra grip. The tyre took a bit of work to get on the rim. With the tyre finally on and two scoops of sealant in; after about 10 minutes on the air compressor the bead finally sealed and the tyre inflated; success!
The rear tyre was a Schwalbe Racing Ralph, my favourite rear tyre. This tyre was a dream. In 3 minutes I had the tyre on the rim, sealant added, bead seated and tyre inflated; great success!!
After the tyres passed the overnight test I packed the XTC in to the car with the intention of giving them a test run around Bruce Ridge. They worked a treat on the clean hardpack, gravel covered hardpack, rocky climbs, rocky downhills, loose switchbacks and even the muddy Pub Run. I really like the idea of now being able to run lower pressures for extra grip in order to corner faster.
After less than an hour on the new set-up I’m now looking at converting my stock rims to tubeless.