Battle Of The Beasts – Update #4

It’s been a fairly hectic month since my last Battle Of The Beasts update.  I have spent plenty of time in the saddle training, managed a short trip to the snow at Perisher and managed to squeeze in a few cross-country races in and out of Canberra.

CORC XC Rd 4 02
.:CORC XC Round 4 at Mt Stromlo (if you look closely you can see my mullet):.

The highlight for this past month has been the opportunity to travel to Dargle Farm for the JetBlack WSMTB 12 Hour with some of The Berm riders and Pedal4Pierce co-founder Nigel Jeffreys.

Dargle Farm 2013 012.:Soldier On at the JetBlack WSMTB Dargle Farm 12 Hour:.

Even though I DNF’d during my first 12 hour mountain bike race due to illness, I had the honour of representing Soldier On at a huge mountain biking event.  There were a lot of questions from other riders, the event organisers and the Flow Magazine guys about Soldier On and why I ride for and fund-raise for them.

I’m also very excited to announce that the guys from Beast-Worx, the organisers of the Battle Of The Beasts; have invited me to compete in their next venture: The Call Of The Beast.  The Call Of The Beast is Canberra’s/ACT’s first adventure obstacle race.  I’m very excited to be a part of this and incredibly grateful that they are willing to support me in my fundraising for Soldier On.  The Beast-Worx crew are staunch supporters of all Australian Veterans and Soldier On.

My training for the Battle Of The Beasts has been going well despite a bout of illness and a week of nil motivation to train.  In the lead up to my Wedding I’ve decreased the amount of riding I have been doing but will increase the tempo dramatically in the weeks after and leading up to The Beast.

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.:MY DONATION PAGE:.

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JetBlack WSMTB 12 Hour Wrap Up

As I rounded transition for my eighth lap of the Dargle Farm course I knew my first venture into 12 hour mountain bike racing was soon to be over.

Initially my lead up for the JetBlack WSMTB 12 Hour went according to plan.  The week preceding saw me ride more than 350km including some long stints on the mountain bike and some solid racing during Round 4 of the CORC XC series at Mt Stromlo.  I felt fit and confident leading into the week before my first 12 hour race.

I started feeling the signs of an oncoming head cold on Monday morning when I woke up and got ready for work.  I started taking cold and flu tablets and increasing my fluid intake to try and limit the duration of what starting to build in my sinuses.  I decided if I was going to beat this thing I would need to stay off the bike and out of the Canberra cold.  By Wednesday I was feeling the effects of a full blown head cold complete with sore throat, headaches and blocked sinuses.  I still hoped I would be able to get some, albeit short, time in the saddle.

On Thursday I picked up a Soldier On banner to set up at the event centre, I then packed my race bag, camping gear and prepared Kate the XTC for the drive up to Dargle Farm the next day.  Health-wise things got a little bit worse for me.  A case of gastro set in and I was riding the porcelain bus for the next several hours.  My ideal lead up had well and truly sailed off into the distance.

Friday morning I packed the car and headed up the Hume Highway / M7 / M5/ back-roads / random car ferry and arrived at Dargle Farm to set up my camp site.  Fellow Bermers; Ben, Adam and Nigel were already there and almost set up.  My minimalist approach saw my site up and running in a few minutes.  Without much coaxing I was lycra’d up and soon Ben, Adam and myself were off for a recce lap of the 9.9km course.

I didn’t know what to expect from this course; I had been told it had some technical singletrack, open fire-roads and a tricky climb near the end complete with a rocky pinch to overcome before the rewarding downhill back into transition.  The first part of the course was a short stretch of fire-road leading into some impressive singletrack.

The thing that immediately struck me was the construction of the trails.  More often than not; trail-fairies will manipulate the landscape to suit a more fluid track.  Dargle Farm was the opposite; the trails had been built to accommodate the natural features and embrace the various obstacles.  After overcoming a few tricky corners and drops complete with some tree hugging from Adam; we were off onto the next part of the course.  Some short fire-road linking into some fast and free flowing singletrack.

About seven kilometres into my introductory lap of Dargle Farm I rode over a small branch and tore open my rear tyre.  I had been contemplating changing my Crank Brothers wheel-set to tubeless during the week but opted out due to the valves not sealing properly last time.  As I pulled a three inch long stick out of my tyre and tube I knew even a tubeless set up wouldn’t have kept me pedalling.

I wasn’t too keen on flipping the XTC and changing my tube in the thick mud so I limped back to the staging area and did my repairs and finalised my prep for the next day’s race.

Dargle Farm 2013 002.:The Berm Banner on display:.

Dargle Farm 2013 001.:The first bonfire of the weekend:.

I woke up with a fairly stuffy head from the cold night before and tucked into a breaky roll and coffee before getting changed and ready for the rolling start at 9am.

Dargle Farm 2013 004.:The Berm / Pedal4Pierce / Soldier On Race Headquarters:.

Dargle Farm 2013 010.:Just a few thousand dollars worth of carbon and aluminium:.

Dargle Farm 2013 005.:Dargle Farm getting busy:.

Dargle Farm 2013 008.:Race HQ:.

Dargle Farm 2013 012.:Ready to tackle the Dargle Farm course:.

The race began slowly with a rolling start with a couple of hundred riders heading down the fire-road and into the singletrack.  As was expected it was slow going and plenty of walking the bike until the field spread out and passes were able to be made.  I started with a steady pace averaging 16.9km an hour over my first lap.  Already I was starting the feel the heat and was sweating profusely.  I was very happy to have shed the knee warmers and opted not to wear my usual long sleeve shirt under my jersey prior to the race start.

I was sticking to my hydration plan of one bottle per hour so after finding my flow for the second lap I rounded transition and pushed onto my third.  I had found a pocket of similar paced solo riders and followed them through the singletrack and pushed past them on the fire-roads.  I had to slow down a little to avoid blowing up too early and was soon being over taken by the team riders.

At the end of my third lap I was averaging 16km an hour when I pulled into race HQ for a bottle change and quick feed.  Already the temperature had risen to 22’C and I was feeling the vast difference between here and the relatively freezing temperatures of back home in Canberra.  I started off on Lap 4 and saw a bunch of slower riders heading into the singletrack.  Not wanting to get bogged down and lose momentum I pushed past them and powered through the first singletrack section and down the rocky drops into the first section of extended fire-road.  Coming out of the cool trees into the full sunlight was a shock.  I could feel the sun starting to burn my skin and see the sweat dripping across my glasses and onto my bike.

JetBlack12hr 009.:Digging Deep and trying to avoid hitting other riders:.

Halfway through Lap 4 I felt the familiar rumblings in my stomach.  My digestive system wanted to purge itself of the morning’s breakfast and coffee… and now!  I rolled through transition and onto Lap 5 and then made a detour towards the toilet block.  I’ll spare you the details but I wasn’t feeling the best.  I pushed onto Lap 5 and found I was starting to get a headache.  I had been sticking to my nutrition/hydration plan and felt reasonably comfortable in that regard.

Lap 6 was more of the same.  I had slipped into a routine of casually riding the first section of singletrack, pushing out on the fire-roads, dealing with the technical singletrack and then attacking into the climb.  I was enjoying myself and relishing the times I was in the trees and out of the sun.  Although the climb was tough and easier to walk most times, I pushed up as best I could and looked forward to the downhill section leading into transition.

JetBlack12hr 023.:Dargle Farm – Down the Hill:.

I took an extended 20 minute break before I pushed onto Lap 7.  Even though I was feeling quite sick already, I made the effort to have a bite to eat and swap out my bottles.  I pedalled off onto the seventh lap and instantly felt my energy levels drop and dizziness start to set in.  Lap 7 was the beginning of the end for my 12 Hour venture.  I found the final climb incredibly difficult this time around and walked the pinch with a lot of other riders.

I decided to push on with my eighth lap even though I knew I would soon be stopping.  My legs were feeling good but the rest of me had started to give up.  I had a blistering headache and was starting to feel nauseous.  Halfway through the lap I began to vomit and any attempt to take on fluids was met with immediate evacuation from my body.  I was experiencing a form of ground rush and dizziness was starting to affect my balance.

JetBlack12hr 015.:Rider 29 – The new Mayor of Struggletown!:.

As I rolled past the timing area at the end of my eighth lap I headed straight back to our Race HQ.  My race was now over and I found a nice shady spot to lay down and try to cool down and stop the world from spinning.

While my first 12 Hour had been a failure in many regards I put this aside and started focusing on helping out the Pedal4Pierce team and solo rider Rocket Rolls.  Preparing the bikes for night riding was on the agenda and so was sorting out new bottles and food.  Adam was keen for pizza and I made sure it was waiting for him in between laps.  The P4P team were smashing out the laps and amazingly Ben was riding his fastest laps in the dark even after riding throughout the day.  While the boys were tearing up the course, P4P co-founder Nigel was busy in the DJ tent busting out some phat beats.

Dargle Farm 2013 017.:DJ Nigel:.

As the night drew to a close, both Adam and Ben smashed out their final laps minutes before cut off time.  At the end of the night the course was closed and the presentations completed, there were smiling faces everywhere; and even a unicorn.

Dargle Farm 2013 022.:Unicorn:.

On the Sunday morning I packed up and headed for home feeling tired, sick and dejected.  After all my gear was cleaned and packed away I contemplated if I would ever attempt another 12 Hour race again.

It wasn’t until a few days later when some words of wisdom were imparted on me from fellow Bermer Kris:
“It’s good to have a failure race.  You need to know how it feels to DNF, to bonk, for little things to not work so when the time comes when it has to work you know how to fix it and deal with it.”

Soldier On Jersey At Dargle Farm

On Saturday 10 August 2013 I competed in the JetBlack WSMTB 12 Hour at Dargle Farm.  While a week of being sick carried on into the race and I had to pull out after 8 laps; I was able to wear the Soldier On jersey and raise some money and awareness for a great cause.

Dargle Farm 2013 012JetBlack12hr 001 JetBlack12hr 009 JetBlack12hr 016 JetBlack12hr 019 JetBlack12hr 023

Training Week In Review – Week 8

After a big 352.5km the week before, I was fairly pumped to get back on the bike to put some serious kilometres under the tyres for another week.

However my body had other ideas.  A head cold and later some gastro meant I didn’t get any time in the saddle before I headed up to Dargle Farm for the Jet Black 12 Hour.  Initially I was very excited to do this race as it meant some solid hours on the trails and a chance to take my fundraising for Soldier On on the road.  But as the week progressed I knew I wasn’t going to shake the head cold no matter how many cold & flu tablets and paracetamol I smashed down.

Alas my ride didn’t go too well as I only managed to ride 80km in the 5 hours I spent on the bike before I pulled out.  I spent my last lap walking most of the climbs and vomiting in between trying to catch my breath.  All in all Week 8 leading up to the Battle Of The Beasts was a big let down.