25 May 2008

Bendigo 12 Hour

Done & done.

Assembled a team of 'The Usual Suspects' - myself, Tim, Kate and Lisa - for a mixed four team to see what we could do. Training - nil. Organisation - nil. Ticker - questionable.

Bendigo Mountain Bike Club were putting on their first (I think) 12 hour race at Sedgewick Forest, about 20km south of Bendigo. The course was split between private property & State forest, approx 12.3km. What was billed as a fairly cruisy course (what was I thinking!) was actually fairly challenging - with some rocky climbs, a couple of nasty pinch sections, and pretty much no relief in the second half of the course.

What was sweet however was the 4 1/2 km downhill section in the first half, and the bermed section in the last 1 1/2km. It took a couple of goes to get the berms dialled in, but once we'd built up the confidence, and the track had bedded down a little, it was like riding on rails.

I think I was expecting a bigger event. We rolled up Friday evening to camp, there was a grand total of about 3 people on course. Bewdy - set up where we want, settle in, feed up, do some 'prehydrating' and 'carbo loading', and settle in for a (very crap) nights sleep on the thermarest, in sub-zero temps.

100 riders total arrived on Sat, with about 35 on course at any one time. Some big names turned out - the word was that it was a fairly serious hitout for the 24 hour World Championships - about 8 weeks away. So we had the likes of John Claxton, Andrew Bell, Craig Peacock (currently World Champion 40+), Troy Bailey, and Tim Ferres (won Kona 24hr last year). FELT Racing sent along a full contingent, with Jaci Low riding solo & Jo Wall riding in a mixed 4.

Race wise, well we were under the pump from the get go. With only 3 teams in our category, one being FELT Racing, the other being a team of local whippets, there was no way we were going to be any serious challenge.

Note to self - pre ride, pre ride, pre ride. I do it to myself every bloody time at a new track - head out and flog myself silly on the first lap, hit the wall, and destroy myself for the rest of the day. Not knowing what to expect really plays havoc with me - once I've got a lap dialled in, I can at least relax a bit and enjoy the riding.

Track wise was quite interesting. Being a former gold mining area, the soil is really rocky and shale-y. Some steep pinch sections, made more interesting with trees to weave between, and loose off-camber corners. Some wicked downhill, a 4 1/2 km section weaving down through and across an old creek bed, a few open firetrail sections, and a heartbreaking 3km finish, where you could see the event centre, but kept weaving away (and uphill) from it. Some hours old track included, which was pretty loose, but this bedded down over the course of the day. And some huuuge berms coming down to the transition, which I hit tentatively at first, but more and more confidently as the day rolled on.

Overall result for us? Second in category, 13 laps. Could have done a 14th, but we were all too cosy around the campfire with beers, when our last rider rolled in with 10 minutes to spare. Second a bit of a fluke, FELT pulled the pin after 8 hours with 12 laps.

Winning solo was John Claxton on 17 laps, Andrew Bell 1/2 hour down on him, then Craig Peacock & Troy Bailey in on 16 laps. How these guys can keep dialling out 40 minute laps day and night is beyond me. My best (of 3 laps) was 54 minutes, and the quickest on our team was 41. These guys are insanely fit.

One memorable moment was watching Andrew Bell pull a mono down the transition strait, on his 15th lap. How is that possible? I had a short yak to him this morning as well, said he pulled up fine. Freak.

Anyway, great weekend had.

Nothing on the radar now until Round The Bay (October). Need to fill that gap somehow.

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