2017 In Review – Cycling

2017 was the year of little motivation, a lack of fitness and a shift towards not wanting to get on a bike… There was no game to have my head in.

My goal for 2017 was to ride my bike at least four times a week and complete a Gran Fondo once a month… neither thing eventuated.

As with last year, here is 2017 by the numbers.

BIKES 00533.jpg

2017 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:2:.
Number of events I raced in during 2017

.:53.4..
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2017

.:103:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2017

144:.
The number of days I rode in 2017

.:212:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2017

.:340:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2017 – This includes multi-rides in one day such as my daily commute which is 3 individual rides

.:5,395:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2017

VeloViewer2017.png

Wishing everyone a safe 2018!
.:Chad:.

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2016 In Review – Cycling

2016 was the gap year I didn’t want, but needed to, in order to see the bigger picture.

My goal for 2016 was to find my mojo in a new city… I found it, it just took 11 months.

As with last year, here is 2016 by the numbers.

2016 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:1:.
Number of events I raced in during 2016.

c7d_6468
Wildside 2016 Photo: Matthew Connors Photography https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography/

.:50.5..
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2016

.:75.3:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2016

148:.
The number of days I rode in 2016

.:180:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2016

.:340:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2016 – This includes multi-rides in one day such as my daily commute which is 4 individual rides

.:4’439:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2016

img_2442

Wishing everyone a safe 2017!
.:Chad:.

bikes-0515

2015 In Review – Cycling

2015 was the year that I learnt no matter how much time, effort and care you put into training, racing and social cycling; injuries, illness and life will always derail the best laid plans.

My goal for 2015 was to enjoy cycling.  I lost a little bit of my love for the bike towards the end of 2014.  My failure to finish the Scott 24 Hour Solo in October was a huge hit to my confidence and the toll it took on my body would follow me late into 2015.

As with last year, here is 2015 by the numbers.

2015 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:1:.
One major crash during the year
During a relaxed ride on the XTC during wet weather I lost traction and hit the ground hard.  A hairline fracture in my collarbone followed and a few weeks off the bike was required.

.:2:.
Number of notable injuries in 2015
Injuries: Collarbone, torn glute

Number of new bikes in 2015

.:Anna:.
.:Anna:.
BIKES 373
.:Emily:.

.:4:.
Number of events I raced in during 2015

KC15 002
.:Andy & I at The Kowalski Classic :.
.:Suns out/guns out:. Photo: David B https://www.flickr.com/photos/45916358@N05/
.:Suns out/guns out:.
Photo: David B https://www.flickr.com/photos/45916358@N05/
cropped-image3.jpg
.:Capital Punishment 2015:.
.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.
.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.

.:54..
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2015

.:151:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2015

.:193:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2015

.:213:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2015

.:4’861:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2015

Wishing everyone a safe 2016!
.:Chad:.

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Return To Racing – RTE Shimano GP Rd 4 Race Wrap Up

Round 4 of the Rocky Trail Shimano MTB GP was my return to riding and racing.

I had a plan, and that plan was to ride my bike and finish the damn race.  I was under no illusions that I was going to be competitive nor was I going to be setting any new Strava PR’s out at Mt Stromlo (for the record I set two).  This was my return to mountain biking after what has been a pretty tough three months for me physically and mentally.

I’ll address the big issue first, my rapid decline into poor health over the past three months.  I was hit by a bout of influenza, a chest infection, enlarged kidney, kidney stones, feeling constantly fatigued and generally dealing with a huge case of the #CBF’s!  Forget about riding, just getting out of bed and going to work was an effort that more often than not ended with me calling in sick and spending the day in bed or laying on the couch playing my XBOX.  There were even entire days where I would sleep, experience raging fevers, chills and have no energy to even sit up in bed.

Finally after much prodding, prompting and nagging I saw a Doctor, had an abnormally large amount of blood taken, pee’d into a heap of containers and BAM!; Seemingly out of nowhere, I’d gone from a very fit, (usually) healthy 33 year old to a diabetic, high cholesterol having, unfit, unhealthy 33 year old.

Oh and those days where I would sleep and it was sort of like my body was shutting down, yeah well, they were hypoglycemic episodes; the sort of thing that can kill people.

<Language Warning!>
Well shit!  That’s fucked!
<Language Warning!>

My next step was to grip this up…  I wasn’t Type 1, so no insulin injections which is good, but I was going to have to look at my diet, so a dietician was consulted.  As with the various Doctors I’d spoken with, it came as a fairly big surprise to her that I was in fact healthy, fit and a vegetarian.  So time to look at exactly what I was eating and unsurprisingly it was time to cut out a heap of the unhealthier things I was eating such as cakes, slices, soft drinks and other high sugar foods.

What would this mean for me for day to day living? 
Put simply, I have to eat healthier, eat more, eat more often and monitor my blood sugar levels

What does this mean for me for riding and racing my bike?
Put simply, I have to eat healthier, eat a hell of a lot more, a hell of a lot more often and bloody well make sure my blood sugar levels don’t drop.

But this raised more questions than it answered.  As most cyclists know, energy gels and bars are the go to for nutrition when riding.  Now I can’t just go and smash a heap of high sugar/high glucose syrup into my body when I feel like it now; but I can still use them.  In fact they are very important if my blood sugar level drops too much.  The key is moderation and eating proper food while riding/racing.  Everyone’s favourite fruit banana is out of the question thanks to an allergy to the yellow bastards so I stuck with my old friends’; Vegemite sandwiches and liquid food drink.

So with a somewhat redefined nutrition plan in mind I started riding what was my first race since deciding to get on with life now I finally knew what was making me sick and holding me back.

So back to my plan, which was to ride and finish the 4 hour race.  Fitness was going to be an issue, a lingering injury was going to be an issue and the ever present Black Dog biting at my heels was going to be an issue.  One lap at a time I said to myself; 4 hours give or take on the bike should get me 5 laps, but I’d be happy with 4 as I didn’t know how my body would handle the riding and how much time I’d be spending in transition during laps.

The start of the first lap was the always grinding fireroad of pain leading up the start of Bobby Pin Climb.  It was during this grinding, heavy breathing prologue that I realised I should have warmed up before the start of the race.  With my heart-rate monitor feeling like a boa constrictor across my chest I could see my heart rate rapidly climbing on my GPS… 181, 182, 183BPM… 2 more BPM’s and my GPS would start beeping at me.  But suprisingly it dropped, it steadied and I was climbing Bobby Pin quite easily, albeit, slower than usual.  Only another a few more kilometres of climbing before the descent back into transition.  Wash, rinse, repeat!

Lap 1 turned into Lap 2 and my thoughts changed from “I wish I warmed up” to “I wish I wasn’t wearing a long sleeve jersey!”  My body was feeling good, my bike was feeling good and the tracks were immaculate.  I was in a rhythm and more importantly I was enjoying myself.  Surely my Flow would be around the next corner or on the next descent.  Of all places I found it on Rollercoaster; a track that in its previous lifetime was a rocky, rutted, churned up track of death and despair.  But Rollercoaster MKII was a fast flowing, tight cornered track that kept the line between fast, fun and faaark! a very fine line indeed.  It was on one of the tight corners that I keep my fingers off the brakes and let my bike do what it was designed to do.  I let it decide how to best take the corner with a little extra speed behind it.  Sweet!!!

.:Long sleeve goodness:. Photo: www.outerimage.com.au
.:Long sleeve goodness:.
Photo: http://www.outerimage.com.au

After a change into the short sleeve jersey; Laps 3 and 4 followed without fuss.  More of the same with some cramping starting to set it thanks to my recent time off the bike.

.:Suns out/guns out:. Photo: David B https://www.flickr.com/photos/45916358@N05/
.:Suns out/guns out:.
Photo: David B https://www.flickr.com/photos/45916358@N05/
.:Climbing: Wash, Rinse, Repeat:. Photo: www.outerimage.com.au
.:Climbing: Wash, Rinse, Repeat:.
Photo: http://www.outerimage.com.au

Lap 5 culminated with an extended break to say hello to my Wife, Mother and Daughter who had arrived to see the end of the race.  And of course the little incident of Jamie I falling off his bike and onto mine during his rapid fire transition.  A quick straighten of the bars and it was time to head off again.

.:My pit crew:. Photo: My Wife
.:My pit crew:.
Photo: My Wife

The final climb took a little longer than the previous laps as more cramping set in but with no more time left on the clock it was just a matter of finishing my final lap.  As I crested the final section of Echidna Gap I stopped and enjoyed a brief moment looking out to the surrounding Brindabella Mountains.  With a great view and a big day almost over it was time to say my goodbye to a mate who had recently lost his battle with PTSD.

.:Stand Easy Brother:.
.:Stand Easy Brother:.
.:One final climb:. Photo: www.outerimage.com.au
.:One final climb:.
Photo: http://www.outerimage.com.au

After a quick descent including a little race to the finish line against Adam ‘Rocket’ Rolls my race was over.

.:Hello Flow:. Photo: www.outerimage.com.au
.:Hello Flow:.
Photo: http://www.outerimage.com.au

It was a great event and day to start rebuilding and racing again.  A huge thanks to Carly, Mum and Celeste for coming out, the Rocky Trail crew for another great race and to The Berm, Pedal For Pierce, Onya Bike and Spin Cycle Clothing crew for being awesome and supportive as always.

Capital Punishment 2015 Race Wrap Up

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.

.:Anna ready to roll:.
.:Anna ready to roll:.

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.

.:Sunrise at the National Arboretum:.
.:Sunrise at the National Arboretum:.
.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.
.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.

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.

.:Bobby Pin Climb:.
.:Bobby Pin Climb:.

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.

.:Pain train:.
.:Pain train:.

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!

image
.:2015 Capital Punishment 50km finished:.

2014 In Review – Cycling

2014 was the year that I learnt that no matter how much time and effort you put into training and racing; life always has other plans.

The year started off with a single goal in mind.  I was going to race in the Easter National Mountain Bike 24 Hour Solo Championships.  I trained hard for this event and all looked good until the event was cancelled.  I kept up my training, albeit, with less intensity; and continued to ride more each week than in 2013.

2014 was the year I travelled to France with Soldier On to race in the Trois Etapes Pro-Am and was the year my beautiful daughter Celeste was born.

My riding year was littered with a number of injuries, incredible highs, depressing lows and amazing opportunities.

BIKES 234

As with last year, here is 2014 by the numbers.


2014 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:1:.
One major crash during the year
During my first race of the year, the AMB 100, I crashed out thanks to a little shit who decided that cutting the course and getting in the way of other riders was a good idea.
image

.:3:.
Number of notable injuries in 2014
Injuries: Snake bite, stitches to my left elbow and strained glute!
My Pics 045imageGlute Needling

.:6:.
The number of major events that I raced in during 2014
Every race was a challenge but I’ll never forget the 2014 Trois Etapes in France with Team Solider On!

.:Team Soldier On and our Pro-Rider Jo Hogan:. https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
.:Team Soldier On and our Pro-Rider Jo Hogan:.
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography

.:98:.
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2014

.:132:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2014

.:287:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2014

.:349:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2014

.:8,395:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2014

Wishing everyone a safe 2015!
.:Chad:.

MCP 080 BIKES 204

 

 

Scott 24 Hour Mountain Bike Solo Challenge

Over the weekend of 27-28 September 2014, I will be racing in the Scott Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships.  While I have raced in dozens of other mountain bike events this will be the first time I have ridden for 24 hours solo!  That’s right!  This year my big fundraising challenge is to race on my mountain bike for 24 hours straight!

Why would I ride my bike for 24 hours?
Because I can!  One of the most critical aspects to my ongoing recovery with PTSD and depression is cycling.  Being physically fit helps me to stay mentally fit and riding with a purpose is especially beneficial.

For me the last 4 years has been an ongoing struggle to stay positive and set attainable goals.  It has been very easy to set the bar somewhat low for a lot of my goals in order for me to achieve them.  This year I wanted to do something that would set the bar incredibly higher and challenge me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This race will be the most challenging thing I have done since hanging up my Australian Army uniform.

Why do I ride for Soldier On?
During my time in the Australian Army I served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 2009 after returning from 9 1/2 months in Afghanistan I knew something wasn’t right.  I was aggressive to most people, wary of crowds, couldn’t sleep, had sleeping issues and started drinking heavily.  Like most Soldiers, I didn’t want to talk about my issues in case I was seen as being weak and God knows there were others that were worse off than me.  So I kept quiet and not surprisingly, things got worse.  I didn’t want to spend time with other people and I started thinking this world would be better off without me.

After several days of no sleep, heavy drinking and almost wrapping my car around a pole on purpose, I approached and asked the Senior Soldier at my unit for assistance.  Instead of the words of encouragement and avenues of support I expected from a person of that rank, I was met with “harden the f*** up and get over it”.  In that one moment I felt defeated, I was dismissed by the one person who is solely responsible for the welfare of the Soldiers subordinate to them.  If this person wouldn’t help me and I could no longer help myself then what was next?

Luckily for me I posted into a new unit and found the support I so desperately needed from my new workmates.  After a while I finally found the courage to tell my family I needed help.  Road blocks were set up by another Senior Soldier and my desperation grew greater until I hit rock bottom; I attempted to end my own life.  It was only when my life was at its darkest did professional help eventually appear; it was provided by a civilian agency and organised by a very kind Navy doctor.

With only the bare-minimum of support coming from within the ADF I relied heavily on my family and friends for the ongoing support I needed.  After having all support services cut off after I left the Army and the near-impossibility to secure an appointment to see a DVA accredited councillor; I started talking about my issues with others and realised that many other Soldiers had been experiencing the same obstacles; especially those that had separated from the ADF.

This is the reason I am so passionate about the provision of mental health care for returned veterans.  The system is not yet good enough and so we rely on each other to be open and honest for ongoing support.


Soldier On helps by providing something other support services do not. They provide hope, confidence and a hand up – not a hand out.


CLICK HERE TO GO TO MY
FUNDRAISING PAGE FOR SOLDIER ON


 

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:.

AMB 100 Marathon 2014 Wrap Up

There comes a time in every cyclist’s life where a crash will abruptly end ones race. The AMB 100 was the race that ended with me separated from Kate, beloved Giant XTC, laying in a heap on the jagged rocks of Mt Stromlo’s Slick Rock trail.

To fully explain what this race meant to me I have to write about some events via a short linear narrative.

In the weeks leading up to this race I was undecided which distance I wanted to ride. On offer were 33km, 66km, 100km and 100miles (160km). I knew I wasn’t going to settle at 33km as that distance and most of the race track was my favourite training loop of Mt Stromlo, put simply; why pay to race a loop I already ride quite comfortably? There was simply no challenge in riding it, combine this with 200+ other riders and I would be slower than when I ride solo at a controlled pace.

Ultimately I chose to race in the 66km category. My decision was based on my training program for the upcoming National MTB Easter 24 Hour Solo. It just wasn’t conducive for my end goal to smash a 100km or 160km ride out in the early stages of a program that was designed to build my endurance for a ride that would see me clock up anywhere between 350-400km in a 24 hour period. Combine this with the difficulty of Mt Stromlo’s trails and the usual February heatwave that hits Canberra; racing the longer distances would require a 3-4 day recovery period that would impede my training.

Luckily for me a few issues arose prior to this race including a bite from a Red Belly Black Snake and a persistent knee injury flare-up that cemented my choice of racing 66km was the best option. So in the days leading up to the race I monitored the weather with keen interest. Temperatures were expected in the high 30’s and a severe fire danger was expected to be announced on the Saturday. (Un)luckily for us riders, Mt Stromlo, doesn’t close when the fire danger reaches severe, it has to tick over to extreme; which is what riding in these projected temperatures was going to be – EXTREME!

I have a lot of faith in the race organisers Martin and Juliane Wistana from Rocky Trail Entertainment. While they are running a business, they have shown before that competitor safety and wellbeing is the most important concern for them on race days. So on Saturday evening an email was sent out telling us the next days race was going ahead as planned; albeit with an earlier start time and slightly shorter distance.

I prepared my bike and packed my car the night before as usual, went to bed early and headed out to Mt Stromlo before the sun had risen. I made it out there just as the first 100 mile riders were transitioning for their second lap of the course. Ed McDonald was the first rider to come down the mountain in the early morning light and regaled his story of cleaning up a kangaroo before heading off to ride up the mountain again. Bermers Jamie Ingram and Adam ‘Rocket’ Rolls soon followed and quickly ditched their lights, loaded up on food and fresh bidons and promptly left to tackle their second laps.

Soon after I registered for my race and changed into my riding kit. I was fairly confident before this race as I intended to just go out and enjoy the first lap and once the field spread out attack my first lap split time on the second. For me there was no other rider I was racing against; my only competitor was first lap Chad who I wanted to beat by at least 10 minutes.

image.:Ready to roll:.

We lined up for the mass start at 08:00 and headed down the tarmac and onto Fenceline for the first bit of singletrack. As expected the 200+ strong field bottlenecked almost instantly and a snails pace followed for the next 2-3km. A lesson learned for the organisers before next years race maybe? I hope so because riders promptly started having very low speed wash-outs and cleaning each other up. I witnessed two such crashes in front of me caused by an impatient younger rider who felt he needed to pass the conga line at the worst possible moment.

As I crested the top of the mountain and headed towards the start of Western Wedgetail I glanced down at my Garmin GPS and saw that my racing time was almost 12 minutes slower than my usual training loop on the same tracks; that is how congested the rider traffic had become. I sped down Wedgetail narrowly missing another rider running up the wrong directing looking for a pair of glasses and onto the Pork Barrel. In the first few metres of one of Mt Stomlo’s more technical trails I was dodging unbalanced riders who were unprepared for the rock gardens and drop offs that they were about to tackle.

Pork Barrel felt good under my tyres, I wasn’t fighting my bike and more often than not, I was taking the more technical A-line to pass the slower riders. For the first time in the race I was starting to feel my Flow. As I turned into Slick Rock a few riders had lost their nerve at the drop offs and sharp rocks that followed and were quickly pulling off to the side of the track to let a few of us pass unobstructed.

As I dropped of the back of my saddle and positioned myself for a rather large rock ledge to ride off I caught movement out of the corner of my right eye. The junior rider who had been so overconfident on the climbs had appeared from off the regular trail and was attempting to cut me off in what was to become and incredibly dangerous moment of stupidity.

He baulked at the drop and washed out onto the flat rocks below. Not wanting to crash into a barely 13 year old kid, I locked up my brakes and attempted to avoid him by hopping my bike to the right and off the track into the bushes. This did not work as I was still behind my saddle and hit a tree at full speed with my hip at the same time my front end lurched over the drop off and sent my bike tumbling forward. The sudden change of direction sent me over my bars and onto the rocks in front of the kid.

My elbow met the rocks with my entire body weight behind it. I rolled a small distance before the track levelled out and I was able to scramble onto my feet and recover my bike from the middle of the track. I crawled over to a piece of real estate that wasn’t an A, B or impromptu C-line and tried to work out if the immense pain shooting up my arm was due to a fracture in one of the bones. The kid got to his feet and continued riding while I gave his Father some advice on course etiquette and made him aware of his legal obligations as the guardian of a junior rider regarding any costs involved in repairing my body and/or bike.

It was at this point with a gaping hole in my elbow, a painful yet somehow numb arm that my race was over. I limped across to race director Martin and Bermer Andy S and made my way to the medic station a few hundred metres away. A quick review, patch up and arm sling later I was driven back to the event centre and called my wife on her birthday to come and take me to the hospital.

image.:Post crash:.

Before she arrived I packed my car with the help of Ben ‘Hollywood’ Hudson, handed over my car keys and soon departed for the Calvary Hospital Emergency Department; the second time in a month. It took a little over two hours to get seen by the medical staff and a fracture was quickly ruled out. With the aid of some local anaesthetic my elbow hole was scrubbed free of debris stitched up and I was sent home. A bruised bone, six stitches, a numb arm and a left hand unable to grasp properly is what I am left with 24 hours later. A reminder that even when my riding feels spot on someone else’s inattention/stupidity can quickly turn a good day into a very bad day.

image.:Waiting to get sewn up:.

To the little fella that caused me to crash I sincerely hope you have learnt a lesson, if not I hope that the only injuries you inflict in the future are to yourself you selfish little turd!

Thank you to the Rocky Trail team, especially Juliane and Martin for a great event and for helping me post-crash. Di and Ben for helping me out and driving my car home. Jason, Bel, Sarah and Kirsty for supporting me after the race and my Wife Carly – I’m sorry for ruining your birthday by riding, crashing and spending a few hours back in the ED!