Kowalski Classic 2015 Race Wrap Up

The inaugural Kowalski Classic, held in September 2012, was my first ever mountain bike race.  Barely a month before, I had bought a Giant Anthem X 29er and the furthest I had ridden on a mountain bike was 36km of half fire-road/half singletrack.

Kowalski Classic AI 004
.:Making something simple look so hard:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

I remember my poor pre-race prep, not enough of some things and too much of other things.  I remember riding the Kowalski Brothers’ Kowen Forest trails for the first time and being in awe, I also remember the incredibly painful cramping; followed by the days of DOMS after the race.

Kowalski Classic 021
.:Quads of fire:.

This was my first taste of mountain bike racing, and I liked it.  Fast forward three years and it was time to once again line up for another 50km Kowalski Classic.

Like my first ever race, my prep was lacking in a lot of areas.  Not enough kilometres in the legs and months of illness wasn’t going to help me get through the race.  A quasi-course-recce the week before helped and didn’t help.  My time off the bike had dented my confidence on the bike and the more technical aspects of the course were a concern for me on race day.

But I had to get on with it and with riding buddy Andy, it was soon time to get those legs spinning and those wheels turning.

KC15 002
.:Me & Gerard Butler… err Andy:. (Photo: Jodie)

The start was fairly relaxed with both of us finding our pace and warming up slowly.  A few climbs in and some flowing singletrack later, we were weaving our way to the front of our wave.  The banter between the riders was friendly and even some of the pseudo-hitters racing up from the back waves were polite prior to their inevitable blowing up.

.:Sweet Rocktape/gloves combo!:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

The journey to the 36km feed zone took in some of my favourite Kowen Forest tracks and the always painful Elevator switchback climb.

.:Mouth breathing since 2012:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

The last 14km of the course would take us through the contentious Romper Room and Stairway To Heaven; two of the more technical tracks on the course.  As expected there was a fair bit of walking and rider dodging on Stairway, but certainly not as bad as I expected.

After a little bit of a drop in my blood sugar level, a small pause was needed at the top of Stairway to have a little snack before heading towards the finish line.

.:Totes in the air:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

The last few kilometres was fast, flowing and fun; a great way to end a great day on the bike!

Advertisements

The Mont 24 Hour 2014 (Part Deux) Race Wrap Up

After the aborted Mont 24 Hour from April this year, it was good to finally head out to Kowen Forest knowing the race was going to happen this time.

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of team racing.  Sure it is fun and you get to race against other teams as well as try to out-ride your team mates; but there’s just something about it that irks me.  I’m a solo person and enjoy riding by and for myself.  Yes I race, and yes I ride with groups often, but racing with a team is just not my cup of tea.

However, for the Mont 24 Hour 2014, I put aside my prejudices and put a team together that would ride and fund-raise for Soldier On.  Our MK 1 team had a rider change when our ethnic rider Gian was swapped out for Man Mountain and fan of hair removal products, Colin.  So after many months of waiting, our team of vagabond riders assembled at Kowen Forest for some mountain biking and flag waving for Soldier On.

The Mont 001
.:Race plate for 2014:.

Like all good plans, this one had a few hiccups.  Firstly, logistics meant John and I had to set up on the Friday while Chris and Colin travelled from Melbourne.  Secondly, Chris was struck by a severe bout of diarrhoea that would cause problems for him throughout the weekend.

The Mont 002
.:Chris rocking the XL jersey will trying not to poo:.

So the time came when our first rider had to line up with the other several hundred riders for the rolling start.  As it was John’s first race/event he got the honour to start the race for out team.

The Mont 004
.:John chilling during the rider briefing:.
The Mont 007
.:The Mont mass start madness:.

In a rush of bikes, people and dust, John took off into Kowen Forest and started the race for our team.  I had typed up a lap/timing spreadsheet and the next rider up was supposed to be Chris.  With his dodgy stomach I geared up and head up to transition to wait for John to return.  It was hot, stupidly hot and after John tagged me, I pedaled off for my first lap of the race.

Mont 24 2014
.:Lap 1 – “Oh there’s a camera, I better do a jump”:.

After me was big Col, followed by Chris who was on a one way trip to struggle town.  I mentioned before that it was hot.  Well it was really hot and then it rained and it got hotter.  This was during Chris’ lap in which he had to stop a few times for a cheeky spew track-side.  After he tagged John out for his second lap it was very obvious Chris was not going to be riding again until at least tomorrow morning.

My second lap started after 18:00 which was the mandatory time for lights to be fitted on the bikes.  I rolled out with my bar light and battery attached but they weren’t needed.  I made it back in time to watch the sunset over Kowen Forest; which meant Col got the first night lap of the team in.

Mont 24 2014
.:Less sun – still hot:.

I like riding at night, but my two day laps took a lot out of me.  I came into this race with maybe three or four short rides under my belt since the Scott 24 Hour 3 weeks earlier, and I was quick to fatigue.  My first lap saw my heart rate average 190bpm, which is not awesome even when I usually have a high heart rate as it is (80 resting/185 max).

We were all hurting, and with Chris out for the night we made the decision to take a break after Col’s night lap and start fresh in the morning.

Mont 24 2014

When morning broke I was woken up by John’s incessant coughing which signalled he’d be back on the track very soon.  By the time I got dressed and exited my tent, John was heading down to the transition to start us up again.

A little over an hour later I got back on track for my forth (and final) lap, and it was hot once again.  My mind wanted to ride fast, but my legs said “no” and my gooch said “get out of the bloody saddle!”.

Mont 24 2014
.:Last lap goodness:.
Mont 24 2014
.:Don’t eat it in front of the camera:.
Mont 24 2014
.:Jump!:.

After a fun ride in which we all started to feel the aches and pains of not enough training, we cut the race short by a lap and started the arduous task of packing up and heading home

Even with a few spanners thrown into the works, it was an enjoyable weekend on and off the bike.

A huge thank you to Soldier On for providing the entry for the team, Col, Chris and John for riding and everyone that donated to the team’s fundraiser.

The Mont 24 Hour 2014 – The Race That Didn’t Happen

While the decisions of the race organisers won’t satisfy all riders; Self Propelled Enterprises have announced what will happen now following the cancellation of The Mont 24 Hour for 2014.

.:Click here to read the announcement:.

Our team for this event was sponsored by and paid for by SOLDIER ON, in return for their generosity, we engaged in a campaign to raise funds and awareness for this great cause.

It was incredibly disappointing to hear that the race had been cancelled mere hours before our Melbourne racer, Chris, was due to arrive in Canberra.  Numerous supporters donated money to SOLDIER ON through our fundraising page and we all thank you for your kind support.

Unfortunately we never got the chance to put our tyres on the Kowen Forest trails.  For me this was going to be a very special race.  I was going to race under the SOLDIER ON banner with three great mates who I’ve shared a lot with over the years.  To be honest not being able to share a weekend of bikes, sleep deprivation and junk food with these guys is heartbreaking!

 

To Chris, John and Gian: I’m sorry we didn’t get to ride as a team; but hopefully we’ll get another chance next year.

To SOLDIER ON: Thank you for the opportunity to represent SOLDIER ON once again – Anna thank you for your never-ending (hopefully) patience with me!

To the race organisers: Thank you for your efforts and chin up guys!

To all our supporters: Thank you!

 

…Chad…

 

Capital Punishment 2014 Wrap Up

I made the decision to not race to my Garmin GPS at around the 25km mark.  Prior to the 2014 Capital Punishment I had been carefully monitoring my heart rate, average speed and split times during training rides and races.  Every time I got on a bicycle and started riding I would keep my eyes glued to that little LCD display that was telling me all the information I thought I needed to know while riding.  Sure, there is some data that is useful while riding, but the majority of what a GPS/cycling computer can offer is done in post ride analysis.

My preparation for this year’s 100km event was somewhat ideal; some long road rides leading up; but probably not enough mountain bike endurance riding in my legs at the same time.  Between December and February I had been training quite intensively for the Easter 24 Hour Solos.  Alas, the race was cancelled for a variety of reasons and my motivation to train came to an abrupt halt.  My 400km weeks dropped to 200-250km weeks; while not exactly a tiny amount of riding, it was a struggle to get the bike out of the garage some days.

Couple this with one of my more impressive (read painful) crashes at the AMB 100 and I had effectively misplaced my Flow.  I needed something to look forward to and that came in the form of a 100km marathon race taking in the best of Canberra’s single-track and a few killer climbs.  Plus this was my first race in the new Soldier On cycling kit so I was excited about that.  Last year’s Capital Punishment was my first 100km mountain bike race and I loved it.  I rode my own race and only felt fatigued in the last 10km when I had to stop for some explosive vomiting action before the final descent to the finish line.

This year I set a few goals:
1)  Finish the raceIn the past 4 months I had finished only three out of seven races due to crashes or mechanical issues
2)  Race my own raceIt sounds strange, but to race and ignore all the other riders is a sure fire way to understand what your body and bike are capable of on the track
3)  Beat last year’s timeWhat is the point of racing the same event again if you don’t want to improve?

So in the days leading up to the race I formulated my nutrition/hydration plan, prepped Kate the XTC and finally registered for the race the day before.  Alas my excitement was replaced by a sense of WTF?!  This year’s Capital Punishment was a little different to last years and indeed almost all other marathon races.  Usually you choose which starting wave you want to begin in, turn up and start riding.  The Cap organisers implemented a new seeding system that would allow you to nominate which starting wave you wanted to be in; but also required proof of a similar distance and time.

Not an unreasonable request by any means and to be honest a real step forward in trying to combat over seeding.  Last year I started in Wave 5 out of 9.  I finished in just over six hours and caught the tail end of Wave 3.  Not bad for my first ever 100km race, but during that race I had also stopped to help an injured rider for approximately 30 minutes.  In most timed races there is a “Good Samaritan Clause” in which time spent helping an injured rider is taken off your overall time.  No worries I thought, I sent an email off to the organisers and received a reply that this would be sorted in the coming weeks.

Fast forward to 2014’s online registration and I self seeded in Wave 4 based on last year’s time and some of the enduros I had done in between.  Eventually I was seeded in Wave 6, with 300+ other riders… WTF?! Indeed!

So I lined up in the first few rows of the grid within the stupidly large wave and rolled across the start line.  After a few kilometres of fast fire road the Speedy Gonzales’s of the group were huffing and puffing and dropping back; and then we entered the Kowen Forest single-track.  As always the Kowalski Brothers trails were in immaculate condition and daring every rider to push their limits.  Kowen quickly transitioned into Sparrow Hill and I was riding my favourite trails in reverse; an amazing experience.

CP14 006.:Start of the 2014 Capital Punishment 100km:.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Kowen Forest:.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Sparrow Hill:.

I had been riding for just under an hour by the time we went under the Kings Highway and back into Kowen Forest.  By this stage my wave had well and truly spread out and it was obvious that the majority of us in the front group had been under seeded as we were already passing Wave 5 riders.  As I rounded a corner just before Quadrophenia I misjudged my entry into a short bridge and watched as my XTC tumbled past me as I hit the dirt with my shoulder then my knee and finally my shoulder again.  From crash to back on track I doubt I spent more than 30 seconds off the bike, but it was enough to wake me up and raise the heart rate.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Kowen Forest:.

So with a sore shoulder, grazed forearm, grazed knee and a bruised ego; I set about reeling in the 5 or so riders that passed me after I crashed.  It was at this point I could clearly hear my heavy breathing and heart rate blasting in my ears.  My GPS was beeping at me as my heart rate had exceeded my ‘maximum’ of 180bpm and it was not dropping anytime soon.  As I approached the 25km marker sign I looked down at my sweat covered and dust encrusted GPS and pressed the ‘PAGE’ button.  Now all I could see was my elevation statistics, calories burned and the time.  I looked ahead and attacked the group that passed me just as a fire road climb appeared.

The next 20km’s was a blur of single-track, pine trees, fire road and climbs.  It was on the climbs that I found I was passing riders with different coloured race plates to mine; riders that had started one or two waves in front of me, some of who had started 20 minutes before me.  Clearly the seeding system was working fantastically!  My annoyance was soon replaced with surprise as I saw the 40km feed station appear after a hill and I realised I was well and truly ahead of my planned time at this point.  With the Sutton Forest section coming up with a few pinch climbs thrown in I knew I would be best served slowing to a comfortable pace and enjoying the race for the next several kilometres until I reached open fire road again.

And this is exactly what I did until I reached the Majura Military Training Area.  In hindsight I know I took it a little too easy on the Sutton Forest stretch but the fact I was able to walk without pain after the race tells me I made the right decision.  I pushed out a little on the fire roads and soon found myself crossing Majura Road and running a gauntlet of heavy construction vehicles to get over Mt Majura and into the untimed section for a refuel and slight rest.

By this stage last year I had walked two of the steeper pinch climbs in the Training Area and Mt Majura, this year I got out the saddle and pedalled my way up.  As I crossed the timing mat into the untimed section I was feeling pretty good but in dire need of a bottle change.  I rode briskly through the suburbs into Dickson and stopped at the second feed station.  Bermers Di, Ben and Maree were there with words of encouragement and after 15 minutes I turned around to see Bermer Alyssa pulling into the station behind me; wow, she was not mucking about!  I headed off to the start of the Black Mountain section and stopped to take advantage of some of what remained of the 55 minutes of un-timed section to have a bite to eat, nature stop and psych myself up for the next 30km that would be comprised of a lot more climbing.  Luckily I like climbing, I may not be the fastest climber but I have endurance and on long climbs I find I pass a lot of others that try to lead out early.

Black Mountain was fun; tough climbs up and loose sketchy descents down.  There was plenty of braking and skidding but by the time I was weaving through the cork plantation leading into the Arboretum I was still smiling.  Immediately after the cork trees disappeared the climb that almost made me swear last year came into view.  A long, loose and sometimes pinchy fire road that lead to a few shorter climbs.  I decided to attack this climb; I don’t know why, but something in my legs told me to do it.  I picked a gear and got out of the saddle and climbed.  Last year I walked most of this hill and this year I wanted to own it; albeit in my own slow and steady way.

The Arboretum was comprised of hot and dusty sections that lead into the Cotter Road tarmac section that took us into Mt Stromlo.  Last year this small stretch was difficult for me, I was running on near empty and it was a huge struggle to get my dual suspension Anthem, Zooey, to maintain any momentum.  The slow grinding climb this year was made slightly worse with a drive train that sounded like half of my bike was grinding against the bitumen.  As I entered Mt Stromlo’s first section of single track signalling I was nearing the last 12km of the race, my bottom bracket decided to start making life extremely difficult for me by partially seizing up.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:The National Arboretum:.

The free flowing tracks of Holden’s Creek and Fenceline were quick despite the horrible grinding noise coming from my bike; but it made the next 7km ascending the mountain terrible.  I had a choice of three gears in which my cranks would actually spin and allow me to continue moving forward.  I was out of the saddle most of the climb and by the time I reached the start of the Western Wedgetail and the welcome descent down the mountain my quads were burning.  I started the run home to the finish with a little tail whip (not my style but I figured why not) and hoped I wasn’t about to slow down any riders behind me.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Mt Stromlo:.

Skyline lead into Luge then Old Duffy’s Decent and finally the final stretch onto the crit track.  I had been passed by one rider on Luge and decided I wasn’t going to let this Wave 4’er beat me (despite the fact he started the race a good 15min before me) and pedalled as fast as my body would let me.  I bunny hopped the finish line and pulled up with a mean cramp in my left hamstring from the final sprint.  I was met by my wife and the few Bermers that had started and finished before me.  I was spent, but I was extremely happy; even more so when I found out I had finished under 5 hours.

CP14 008 CP14 011.:Finished!:.

A huge thank you to my wife, the volunteers, fellow Bermers and the other riders for an amazing event.

New Soldier On Kit In Action

After a couple of weeks riding in the new Soldier On jersey and knicks combo around Canberra it was good to finally get them out to masses during the 2014 Capital Punishment on 15 March.

image.:Starting the race:.

image image.:Crossing the finish line:.

Training Week In Review – Week 16

Week 16 was my week of training and preparation for the Scott 25 Hour.  The week started with a long weekend in Canberra thanks to Family & Community Day on the Monday.  So what better way to commemorate than to go for a spin around Kowen Forest/Sparrow Hill.

With fellow Bermers Roger, Tony, Alyssa and last years Battle of the Beasts riding buddy Argo; I enjoyed 34.7km of my favourite trails.

Wednesday was my first night ride at Bruce Ridge, partaking in the Regular Berm Loam’n’Lard ride.  A great ride followed by an awesome chicken schnitzel at Edgars Inn afterwards.

I stayed off the bike until Saturday morning when the Scott 25 Hour began at Mt Stromlo.  I rode a total of 111.5km during the Scott and a total of 167.3km for the week.  Not a bad second week on the bike after taking a month off.

If you want to read my wrap up of the Scott 25 Hour 2013 click here!!

Riding For Soldier On – Australian Army News

A short article about my fundraising for Soldier On for this year’s upcoming Battle Of The Beasts Mountain Bike Enduro has been published in the 18 July 2013 issue of the Australian Army News.

Army News Jpeg

Army News Article PDF Version

18 July 2013 Army News Edition 1309 PDF Version

Recovery Week In Review – Week 5

Recovery Week 5 started off with a 20.2km ride on Monday afternoon at Kowen Forest after a particularly ordinary day at work.  The ride itself was cut short after I got chased by a sheep and then had a low speed collision with a small kangaroo.  But I did have a lot of fun just riding on the Kowalski’s immaculate single track.

Aunty Flo GIF

Wednesday saw the arrival of my long awaited Soldier On jerseys and a quick 22.6km ride home on the roadie.

BOTB 13 004 BOTB 13 003

Thursday was the day I picked up my new Giant Composite 29er 1 Kate, which I spent the next two days drooling over and swapping out components before her maiden ride at Mt Stromlo on Saturday morning.

Kate 04

Round 2 of the CORC XC Series was held on Sunday and after a sluggish start I was very happy with my finish and even managed to have an off on Kate without letting the new carbon frame bike hit the ground.  How did I manage that you ask?  Well I just made sure my body hit the ground first and I lifted the bike into the air and made sure she didn’t make contact with the ground.

After a big week in cycling, mostly off the bike, I was happy with my 74.1km in the saddle and left with a huge smile about a new bike and my Soldier On jerseys.

CORC Rd 2 - Soldier On Jersey

 

TGIF

I haven’t been on the bike for ten long days.  I’ve been sick and nursing my injury; so getting better has been my priority.  In the interim I have been aggressively fundraising for Soldier On and acquiring new parts for N+1 (which is a few weeks away at best).

Bike Pics 020

Today didn’t start off too well; cycling-wise.  While driving to work I heard a rattle on my windscreen which I assumed to be the missing plastic tyre lever I most likely placed on my bonnet while fitting my tubeless tyres the night before.  Oh how I was wrong.  When I turned on my wipers I saw a black object fly across my windscreen and onto the car next to me on Northbourne Ave.

It did not dawn on me until I was at Sparrow Hill this afternoon that the black object was in fact the 15mm thru-axle that secures my front wheel to my forks; Rookie_Error indeed!  Three bike shops later and quite a few phone calls I tracked one down at Bike Culture at O’Conner.

Two hours after I left work, I finally arrived back at Sparrow Hill for my first ride in ten days.  I intended to ride a couple of laps of the course for this Sunday’s CORC XC Race; but after one lap I headed across the highway into Kowen Forest.  I was not disappointed.  The free-flowing trails spoke to me as daylight quickly faded and night-time set in.  I switched on my lights and had the entire forest to myself for a brief moment in time.  Just me, my bike and the trails.  All of my troubles disappeared into the pine trees.

Today I was reminded why I started riding mountain bikes…  Because it’s fun to ride.

BIKES 088