Wednesday, November 2, 2011

cape to cape mtb western australia 2011

i survived, i conquered and i loved every painful minute.  and this report is a bit overdue !  it was four days of amazing trails, beautiful scenery and great people.  the margaret river region is in lonely planets top ten regions and i was reminded why.  my parents had a house on molloy island and we spent most of our holidays down there.  i had forgotten how lucky we were - didnt realise it at the time though - teenagers.

spring and the wildflowers were amazing !
this isnt going to be a race report because it wasnt a race.  it can be if you want it to be.  the elites race it for money and the yellow jersey.  but for most people it is just the personal challenge and i like that.  i decided that the first three days would be for the experience and with the final stage more suited to my road skills and endurance i would try and give that a serious effort - hoping i still had the legs !    

the event was  well organised.  the volunteers were brilliant (i am going to run out of descriptive words so sorry about that).  the supporters who came along - cheered and encouraged everybody - and drove to the various vantage points were awesome.  the trails were so well marked there was no chance of getting lost.  on the trail everyone watched out for each other and people did not hesitate to stop and give assistance.  there were some cowboys but if you positioned yourself at the start then they would be chasing the elites and not near you. 

the timing was basic.  everyone had the same start time but you got logged in at the finish.  since i always started at the front of the back of the pack i gave up five minutes everyday.  on stage four i pushed forward and had a better start.  so my time versus my garmin always has a difference.  i also never stopped my garmin.  so when i took time out to get food, take photos or when i crashed (this is not an official crash since it wasnt my fault) it is the variance between actual time and moving time.

my bike went great.  the chain came off on the third day and i started having trouble with it being slightly out of sync when in the lowest granny gears.  i dropt it in to the avanti guys after the ride and for $30 they were meant to fix it.  started off the next day great but then went back to how it was.  at least the chain stayed on and no break.  i had my tyres quite spongy the first three days.  with hard surfaces on the last day i pumped up both tyres - the back quite hard and the front a bit softer.  it worked a treat.  each day they had washing facilities that you could use and the line moved pretty quick.  i would have preferred to use my gear and wondered if the squirt lube they gave you was the issue with my chain.

my accommodation was okay.  next time i am going to get something a little more up market.  but margaret river was perfectly central and the main boxes were ticked.  i had a washing machine for filthy bike gear, a kitchenette for food prep and a very comfortable bed.  a spa bath would be awesome.

one thing with mountain biking is the hunger.  you need good solid food - especially after or you can turn FERAL.  i ate huge.  i think i trimmed down a bit but only dropt a kilo.  my butt attracted some attention so maybe there was more going on ?  details later.  pizza, burgers, chicken, sausage sizzles, red bull (it did give me wings) and banana sustagen shakes got me through.  this was the only area that i had a problem event wise - details later.  another thing is the dirt.  i have never been quite that dirty.  everyone would finish the days ride with a unibrow of dirt and grubby legs.  i looked like i had really thick mascara as well and crap all over my face. 

everyday i caught the bus back to the start.  i was thinking that the event would be easier if you had a support crew to drive you around but then you would not get to meet all the fantastic people i got to meet while waiting for the bus to leave or during the trip.  it was slow in the double decker bus but it was fun and part of the whole experience.  you never had to wait too long and i dont think any of us were in a rush to be anywhere else - unless it involved food !

for the four days there were 541 riders - somedays there were more and some less but 541 completed the full four days.  i came in at 479.  last year i rode maybe half a dozen times before dwellingup.  this year i probably had ten training rides along with the kalamunda race from hell and dwellingup again.  based on this level of experience and it being an event and not a race i am stoked.  as a female you can enter in the open category or masters.  i was in masters and 26 girls finished the four days.  the most in one day was 39.  the open category had 31 girls.  so from 541 riders only 57 were female. 

my camera is a very cheap one so the photos are average.  if i get some spare cash i really, really want a gopro camera.  i have included some youtube clips and my garmin links.

stage one - cape leeuwin to hamelin bay 39.86km

cape leeuwin lighthouse - the start
at the start the race director gave us a serious warning about the number of snakes that had been seen on the course and advised no petting.  i hate snakes but figured there would be alot of people riding in front of me scaring them off.  after a traditional aboriginal welcome the cape to cape for 2011 was underway.  

i knew we had a couple of big hills in the first 10k and they did not disappoint and i always forget what goes up must come down and there were some pretty scary downhills.  as expected the countryside was just beautiful and we rode through a variety of forest trails, salt bush tracks, beach and limestone outcroppings.

as expected i was crap on the technical stuff but rode past people on the uphill and flats.  some guys gave me some pointers and i really started to try and put them to practice.  deepdene beach was a 1.5k walk pushing your bike.  it was unrideable.  a couple of guys stripped down to their shorts and went for a swim.  it was tempting.  near the salt bushes the track narrowed and you really didnt know what what was coming and it was downhill.  a guy hit a rock and came off.  damaged his hip and the paramedics had to climb in and carry him out. 
cape leeuwin

this felt like a compact course that had everything.  similar to the dwellingup course.  by the time i got to the finish at hamelin bay i was still coming to terms with the ride.  i really had not expected the first day to be so tough.  it was a hot day and starting late i did not hang around at hamelin bay afterwards but got on the bus as soon as i had washed the bike and eaten.

nutrition -
3 gels, 1 powerbar ride bar, 1 shotz chocmint bar and 2 litres water with 2 nunns.

stats - 532 riders.  official time 3.26.11 garmin time 3.22.21.  masters 17/33.

sun was in the wrong position but you can still see the trail of people

stage two - hamelin bay to xanadu winery 62.42km

another warm day and a long ride ahead.  both day 2 and day 3 were a bit bunched at the start but it didnt take long for everyone to spread out.  we headed straight into boranup forest and this was truly beautiful.  it was single track but the most fun and enjoyable single track i have ever ridden.  it was a  very narrow trail surrounded by trees - almost encased as you rode through it.  after this i started thinking better thoughts about single track.  the massive karri trees  are just amazing.    

after boranup forest it was fantastic back trails that were hard but fun to ride.  hills to climb, soft trails to really get some speed up and race through.  sometimes you really felt like a kid just out tearing up the tracks.  some sections were really exposed and the sun was hot.  this was probably the hardest day - being  long and having  every type of track.  as we worked our way through the back trails we came across four water crossings.  three you could ride across but one you had to carry your bike and walk through.  the cool water actually felt great on your feet.

as we got closer to the finish the track became easier and very open.  the sun was shining and the wind had picked up.  i knew i was getting close as i rode through the leeuwin estate winery.  this is probably one of the most famous and most beautiful.  just about every well known musical artist has played at this venue.  i started passing quite a few people and we were not done with the hills either.  the approach to xanadu made it feel like you were never going to get there.  the ride from the entrance must be 2k at least but i was zooming along and finished hard.

my future bottles of wine at leeuwin estate

finishing at xanadu was friggin brilliant.  they had the BEST food.  margaret river burgers and spanish paella.  it was a good price and easy to get.  i will never forget that burger.  it was a different story at the night function but i was back at my base eating a large pizza and in bed by 8.30 pm.  great day but felt a bit dehydrated.  i dont think i was putting in enough electrolytes with my water so had a bit of a sun headache.

nutrition - 4 gels, 1 powerbar ride bar and 2 litres water with 2 nunns.

stats - 536 riders. official time 4.42.41 garmin time 4.39.56  masters 21/34.

stage three - xanadu winery to colonial brewery 51.34k

i honestly expected day three to be the hardest but
it  probably had the best trails and the most fun. 
we were a bit bunched at the start but the tracks
started off amazing and only got better.  the scenery was just stunning.  narrow trails, soft forest floors, winding descents, tough hill climbs.  my legs and butt were feeling okay and i was really getting confident on the bike and having some awesome fun.  that was until i came off my bike.  i was climbing a hill when i felt a push from behind and a guy had put his hand on my butt and gave me a push as they do in tour de france or any road race.  and that is fine when you are aware of it and are on a predictable track. 
we had a bit of a laugh and the guy moved on.  i was a bit annoyed because i dont need help climbing but never thought anything else.  i stopped to take this pic and sneak off for a pee break.  then i was again climbing a hill - not really difficult but in a section that had a changing surface.  sand, gravel etc.  i was really enjoying myself and thinking how well i was doing when from nowhere this guy is behind me again and grabbing my butt to give me a push but instead manages to tangle our bikes and pull me over onto his bike.  so i landed quite hard and had flashes of broken bones and triathlon season ending injuries come into my brain.
my leg hurt bad.  especially my left knee.  quite a few people stopped and everyone was great.  i paid out on the guy.  i think a few people who saw it paid out on him.  i felt bad for him afterwards but it was a really stupid thing to do and he knew it.  the pain eased off and after checking the bike for scratches i was ready to get going again.  it wasnt until later i realised i had two sizeable bruises on my left leg, my left knee was quite swollen, my right shin was bruised, my wrist and neck hurt and i had pulled my right arm.  i did manage to get some ice on the knee and shin later.  ouch.  this is what happens when you have a great butt.
i did have some nurofen plus and maybe that helped but i felt okay and once i settled back down i had the best day ever.  the weather was cooler and the course just friggin brilliant.  the pines track was the best single track, the most fun and i just LOVED it.  it was beautiful.  so peaceful and quiet and the lillies were stunning.  i get why everyone raves about this place.  the rest of the tracks leading into the colonial  brewery were winding and mostly soft.  i was even jumping logs and stuff and  really hooning along.  there were a couple of big hills towards the end and i was do my thing and coming home strong and passing people along the way.  i had a red bull and it gave me friggin wings.

the only complaint i have from the whole four days was the lack of readily available food at the colonial brewery.  i have to mention they did get rave reviews for the evening function but the support to riders at the end of the race sucked.  i have mentioned just how hungry you get and i was on the verge of turning feral and rugby tackling someone for their pizza.  the venue is beautiful but they did not have any extra food vans and you could only order from the menu - gourmet menu.  $20 for a medium pizza or $26 for a steak burger.  so vilma and i line up with our unibrow dirty faces, grubby legs, no shoes and camel baks still in place.  in front and behind us in the line are some very well dressed ladies who couldnt make up their friggin minds and  i was not happy.  after 20 mins we then find out that it would take at least an hour before the food was going to be ready to eat.  fuck that.  i ate a sportsbar and all my emergency snake supply and luckily had a pack of puresport recovery drink mix.  i had finally got signed up for a massage.  due to the amount of people you are only allowed 15 minutes.  10 minutes in and the last bus decides to leave. as it turns out i wouldnt have got my pizza anyway.

nutrition - 4 gels, 1 powerbar ride bar, 2.5 litres water with 4 nunns and a red bull.

stats - 585 riders. official time 4.19.47 garmin time 4.18.34  masters 23/38.

stage four - colonial brewery to dunsborough 68.83k

yesterday i increased my water and electrolyte intake and it worked.  i did not feel dehydrated at all and i also bought along another red bull for another set of wings.  today was long and i was going to really push it and no photos unless it was extraordinary.  the tracks were hard and open and we travelled through private properties and back trails.  i passed quite a few people and i knew i was further up the pack than in previous days.  by the time we got close to dunsborough my legs were rooted and my butt aching.  i was really starting to feel it.  my hands as well.  four days with a death grip was starting to hurt my left hand especially.  i need to learn to relax my grip.  then came the last 5k through meelup park.  this was extremely technical and on gravel.  it would have been very easy to have a major spill - especially considering just how tired i was.  but i took my time and made it over jumps and around logs that i never imagined doing before.  i was exhausted, hot and i really wanted to get to the finish line.  you finally come out of the park and down through a grassed oval to the end of four days of fantastic riding and awesome surroundings.  and the best sausage sizzle supplied by the ladies and gents of the dunsborough country club.  i ate two and they hardly touched the sides going down.

nutrition - 5 gels, 1 powerbar ride bar, 2.5 litres water with 4 nunns and a red bull.

stats - 501 riders. official time 3.57.31 garmin time 3.56.17 masters 17/39. total official time 16.26.10.  4.24.07 behind the leader of female masters.  8.02.58 behind overall leader.

this is an extremely long blog and was just as much an endurance effort as the race itself.  but i loved every minute of it all and really hope that i am able to go back next year and do it all over again.  it did take me awhile to recover - not just from the four days riding but the crash was harder on me than i first thought and i struggled with intense pain in my left hand for two nights.  my hand would go numb with no feeling in my fingertips and terrible pain.  the only thing that helped was getting up and walking around.   since then i have been back on the road bike for a couple of  long rides, in the pool doing my thing and back up and running.  now to focus on triathlon.  i have my first race in 2 weeks !!


Anonymous said...

WOW!! Beautiful pictures and what a great 4 days. I could actually "feel" some of the things you were experiencing, like wanting to go for a swim and I always feel exhausted reading what you did. WELL DONE! GO TEAM JENI!! So glad you were not seriously hurt. What a Doche-Lord that dude was. I am so glad you had fun. That area truy is gorgeous and I actually have good memories of Malloy Island espceially after we got the house. I hated going before that when we had NO SHOWERS and had to swim in the water. I still have the pic of myself on my bike they publised in a tourism mag. Did you see any snakes? They are my #1 fear.....yup they beat out Sharks even.

jenez_world said...

thanks dude ! no snakes but heard some rustling in the bushes. it was an exceptional adventure.