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.

Advertisements

JetBlack 12 Hour 2015 Race Wrap Up

I’ll cut straight to the chase.  This year’s JetBlack 12 Hour race was a DNF.

I could list a heap of excuses as to why I didn’t finish but I’ll use just two:
1) In the 4 weeks leading up to the race I had ridden a total of 56km
2) In the 4 weeks leading up to the race I had a bout of bronchitis, laryngitis, mystery deathbed illness and had formed a habit of urinating blood quite often.

So anyway, I travelled six and a half hours through rain and hail to arrive at the beautiful James Estate Winery in Baerami NSW.  After a quick setup of my camping spot I settled in for a cold night and a hot meal with the Spin Cycle Clothing MTB Team and the Pedal 4 Pierce crew.

The rain cleared and we were in for a warm and sunny start for the race.  I donned the Soldier On Cycling kit for the final time in a race and made sure my bike was ready to roll.

JE12HR 2015 001
.:Legs Eleven:.
JE12HR 2015 002
.:Follow The Rainbow:.

After some deliberation over starting the race in a long sleeve or a short sleeve jersey I started the race with the guns on display. I headed off onto the grinding fire-road before entering the pristine James Estate singletrack.  The field spread itself out with the whippets at the front and the slow grinders at the back.  I found myself somewhere in the upper middle of the pack and set an easy pace for myself.

My easy pace idea was flawed from the start as I found my heart-rate sitting between 170-180bpm for my first two laps.  I pitted for a few minutes to have a quick feed and swap out my bidon before heading out again.  I was already feeling fatigued and I had been riding for a little over one hour.  My plan of taking it easy with plenty of stops, looked like it would need a few extended stops thrown in for good measure.  I headed out again a nice easy pace once again and watched as my heart-rate edged ever closer to my 185bpm maximum.

On my third lap leg cramps started to creep up on me.  It was very obvious that my lack of training and conditioning was going to rear its ugly head sooner rather than later.

.:Out on the trails:. Outer Image Collective
.:Out on the trails:.
Outer Image Collective

I was about three-quarters into my third lap when I came off my bike immediately after a fairly innocuous drop off thanks to my front wheel going one way and the rest of my bike wanting to have a nap on the dirt.  Despite what I thought after brushing myself off, my fall didn’t help my ongoing cramping issues.

.:Not the offending drop:. Outer Image Collective
.:Not the offending drop:.
Outer Image Collective

I pitted after my forth lap and headed out for a cramp/pain filled fifth lap.  Every little pinch climb and every time I stood out of the saddle caused my quads to seize up.  Getting to the end of this lap was difficult so I decided I would definitely have an extended rest/most likely retire from the race just shy of 4 hours on the bike.

.:Pushing, pushing:. Outer Image Collective
.:Pushing, pushing:.
Outer Image Collective

After hanging up my helmet, having a feed and getting changed; I spent the remainder of the 12 hour race taking photos of the event and helping Mrs Rocket Rolls pit crew for Rocket Rolls.

While my race didn’t go well it was great to see some great results from my friends in the Spin Cycle Clothing MTB Team and the Pedal 4 Pierce Crew!

.:Goodbye James Estate for 2015:.
.:Goodbye James Estate for 2015:.

JetBlack 12 Hour 2014 Race Wrap Up

The JetBlack 12 Hour at James Estate Winery was the first road trip/short holiday that included our new addition, Celeste, tagging along.

I signed up for this race a number of months ago and before I knew I was heading to France with Team Soldier On to race in the Trois Etapes in August.

I’ve enjoyed the past few Rocky Trail events and this was guaranteed to be one of their best.  Martin and Juliane are amazing people that put on mountain bike events that are second to none.  So to say I was looking forward to riding around the James Estate Winery was an understatement.

But before I was able to ride the grinding fire-roads and flowing singletrack I had to move the family 550km north of Canberra; not an easy feat with a 5 week old.  Many pit stops followed with some roadside feeds; but finally we arrived at our cottage B&B near Denman.

JE12HR 2014 001
.:Kate got her own room:.

We spent Friday morning admiring the Hunter Valley before heading to James Estate Winery to register for the next days race.

JE12HR 2014 002
.:Not a bad view at James Estate:.
JE12HR 2014 005
.:The climb through the vineyard – suprisingly difficult:.
JE12HR 2014 006
.:Rider number 31:.

As we weren’t camping at the winery with the other Bermers; the offer to have dinner with the Hills down the road was too good to refuse.

JE12HR 2014 007
.:Better than camping food that’s for sure:.

The next day I prepared my bike, bottles and food and drove out to the event centre with family in tow.

JE12HR 2014 008
.:Mum & bub – errr polar bear:.
JE12HR 2014 009
.:Soldier On & The Berm together at another race:. (SPOILER: Two would finish, two would not)
JE12HR 2014 010
.:Last minute snuggles:.

The race started as planned, Chad in the front of the middle pack and a slow but steady start to warm up; and warm up I did.  Despite the single digit temperatures I was soon shedding my arm warmers and wishing I wasn’t wearing my knee warmers.

The initial fire-road was a grinding battle against sand, rolling resistance and a gradual incline into the singletrack.  The singletrack was a mix of sweeping tracks and flowing corners with so many drop-offs I lost count.  My normal aversion to A-Lines in races was soon overcome by the fact I missed the B-Lines each time and still managed to keep my bike rubber side down.

JE12HR 2014 019
.:Dusty and getting dustier:.

As I rounded my second lap of the 11.5km course I was suitably warmed up and feeling quite good.

JE12HR 2014 017
.:Transition:.

By my fourth lap I was feeling a great deal of discomfort in my left hip and upper glutes.  The same feeling I got during the Soldier On Training Camp at Tweed Heads.

JE12HR 2014 018
.:My pit crew:.

I headed out on my fifth lap knowing full well that it would be my last, my hip was starting to hurt and my lower back was well and truly seized up.  Every-time I left the saddle the pain grew more intense.  So I put my final effort into the final climb and descent into transition before calling it quits for another year.

JE12HR 2014 020
.:Long flowing golden locks in the breeze:.

At the end of the day I wasn’t disappointed with my effort, I knew full well I wasn’t going to give 100% due to what was at stake in the coming weeks with the Trois Etapes.  Instead I went on a holiday with my family and went for a little ride in between.


A huge congratulations to Bermers Alyssa (3rd place in Women’s Elites) and the Pedal 4 Pierce team (1st place in Mixed 4’s)