damn this was friggin hard. at certain stages i was debating whether it was harder than a half ironman and i am still not sure. if you train for it then i guess it will always seem 'easier'. this event really highlighted my inexperience at single track. it was 25k of single track and the other 25k offered no respite either. my three mtb rides this year were nowhere near enough training for this event but being relatively fit was a massive assist.
the first clue to the day was the crowd that rocked up at 8 am at jorgensen park - kalamunda for the event. there were 332 people of which only 35 were female. the rest were hard core mountain biking freaks. the course was a secret but i knew that i would probably come across some sections that i have ridden. we started as one large group and i made sure i was at the back of the middle of the pack but not at the back. once you hit single track it is very difficult to make up ground and to overtake. over the 50k i think there would have only been about 5k that was relatively flat and fast - a couple of road sections - some uphill and two short sections that were a very fast downhill ride. the first was at the start of the race before we headed straight up a nasty gravel hill climb. the race director had told us we would be cursing him for the first 10k. i think i cursed him for the whole 50k.
i hung with a group of people for most of the day and we exchanged positions. i had to take my time with the single track and so people would move past. then on the uphill climbs and any relatively open sections i would catch up and move past. i took advantage and really pushed it in these sections as i knew i could fall too far back otherwise.
the single track was a brilliant nightmare. it was constant and hard work. i get why people love it and when you have the right skills it would be so much fun. but towards the end i was cursing it. so many twist and turns, trees to avoid, mud holes and those fucking endless rocks. i curse you rocks. i came off twice. the first time it hurt a bit but i didnt scratch the bike so all was good. sprained the wrist a bit, took some skin off and wacked my leg a treat on those fucking pedals. the second time was a soft landing. i did scuff the bottom of the pedal shaft things on said fucking rocks. you had to be so careful to ALWAYS have your pedals level and even then some rocks were just too high. the good news is that i did keep riding when approaching logs and took the leap of faith. i rode through all the mud and water. no holding back and there was only one hill that i didnt ride up so i really earned a polka dot jersey.
the volunteers were amazing and the course was very well marked. i stopped a few times for carb loading and to lend my pump to a guy with a flat. of the 332 who started only 301 finished and i stopped to chat to one girl who was injured and waiting for a lift out. around the 35 - 40k mark i was in familiar territory around the dell and on the munda biddi trail. as a comparison to dwellingup this was much harder. dwellingup had some nice easy sections where you could recover. if you were not on single track then you were you either climbing a friggin hill or going down one. the garmin map is a bit deceptive. i do not recall that straight section and straight sections imply flatness. this was not flat and the elevation tells the true story.
i never thought about quitting but it did cross my mind a few times that i might not make it. when i got to the 45k mark i was a happy camper. then at 47.5k i came across this massive downhill that headed straight into a valley. it was a gorgeous spot and i did ride down for the first part but then it became very steep, very rocky and incredibly wet and muddy. i decided that i was too close to the finish to be a hero so i walked the bike down. at the bottom was a beautiful stream and a creek running through. i then came across a guy wearing a tuxedo and carrying a violin. he said he plays in the hills every weekend and that i didnt have far to go. he was saying this as i started to climb up this very steep section that while it was difficult it looked like it was short. i came to a stop as the rocks became bigger and it was steeper and then just crazy steep. the tuxedo dude said no one had made the climb. so i start pushing the bike and thinking i had a short way to go. everytime i thought i had made the crest another one appeared. i started getting really fucking mad. who the hell puts a massive climb that is impossible to ride up at the end of a 50k freakish ride. i then realise i am at the 'elevator'. i had heard this spoken of at the start by other riders. i finally make it to the top (check the garmin elevation at the end of the course !!) and come across a guy taking a nature break. i bitch at him about the craziness of the fucking hill and he said he doesnt care as he can no longer even ride on flat terrain. i head off for another kilometre and finally come out of the scrub to cross the finish line. amazingly there were people left to give a cheer and yay - you made it.
today there is not much that doesnt ache. my wrists and hands got really sore from the constant death grip getting through the single track and my shoulders and arms ache. strangely enough my legs feel great. the fastest time on the day was 2.17.04 (wow). the slowest 5.25.01. 35 females started and 29 finished. i was 26. in my age group category i was 7/10. the winning time was 3.53.53 so i wasnt too far off the age group pace. i averaged 10.5km per hour. they say that one km on a mountain bike is equal to two on a road bike but today it felt like three.
this was a bigger challenge than i had anticipated and a huge learning curve. dwellingup is going to be a walk in the park this year. so all i have left to say is beware the single track !!