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.

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.: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.

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.: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.

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.: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!

Training Week In Review – Week 1

Almost two and half months ago I crashed during Round 10 of the 2012/2013 CORC XC Series at Mt Stromlo.  Leading up to that race I was probably the most cycle fit and confident I had ever been.  This (over) confidence lead me to attempt a tail whip ride at the end of the race; a decision that ultimately ended in face full of gravel, blood and a grade-2 tear in my left pectoralis major (a torn muscle in my chest along with some ligaments).


Over the past two and a bit months I have been riding with recovery in mind and doing my best not to aggravate a very touchy injury.  There were days I could barely get out of bed let alone ride a bicycle.  A poor sleeping position would mean I couldn’t move my neck and shoulder.  I still I have pain after waking up but surprisingly I’m very comfortable on a bike when wearing my chest brace.

The hardest part for me being off the bike was the disappointment at being injured and the boredom I was experiencing.  I was at a point in my riding where I was ready to step it up a notch; thus the CORC XC Races.

So after six weeks of recovery rides, including a couple of XC races, I decided to formulate and implement a gradual Training Program.  And this week was the first of many to come.

I aimed for 150km of good solid medium intensity riding for Week One.  I completed 120.6km with 58km of that being some quick singletrack at Kowen Forest/Sparrow Hill and Mt Stromlo.  Although I didn’t reach my target goal for the week I was very happy with the average speeds over the distances I rode and the Mt Stromlo climbs I completed with relative ease.

Plus the one and only David Blucher got a photo of me riding Kate in my Soldier On jersey on Duffy’s Decent on Mt Stromlo on Saturday afternoon.