Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reflections of the previous 3 months

It has been a very busy last few months with moving, university, training, and the odd race dashed on the side. There has been a period since my last update as I’ve struggled to find the time to sit down.  Though yesterday I picked up a nasty cold, and spent most of last night awake with fever. Today I took the day off university and was lying in bed feeling sorry for myself, when it struck me this was finally the opportunity to update my blog. So here we go….

Cateye Moonride 2011

The Moonride is a well establish mountain bike race, consisting of solo riders and teams from elite through to your average Joes. Previous years I have competed in 12 or 24 hour team categories, but I continuously seemed to develop an annual flu around the race, so this year I decided not to compete. However, a few weeks out, Stephen Hough offered to enter us in a 6 hour team consisting of Stephen, Ash and I. How could I say no. 

Photos by Stephen Hough

It was great being back on the mountain bike again (it’s been a bit neglected as of late) especially experiencing the very sole of mountain biking…the mud. I love riding in the mud, it’s challenging technically and physically testing for the body. Ash started us off and set a hot pace right from the gun. From lap one, we were winning the 6 hour team division and our lead continued to extend throughout the race. Our team “Rusty, Lusty and Crusty” Won 6hr Mixed, and was the fastest team overall with 12 laps. I am quite happy with this result, although it was nicer just to be on the bike racing again, the perfect break from study.  
Crusty, Rusty and Lusty

Hardin-Up 12 Hour Single Speed Race

On April the 9th, Ash and I headed down to Ngaruwahia for the inaugural “Hard n up single speed 12hr relay” on the infamous, gruelling black stump mountain bike track. We were entered as part of the GEON sprocket rockets team which consisted of Ash Hough, Shaun See, Janine Kavanagh, and me. It was a 7.5km course with over 270 vertical meters of climbing per lap. The race started with a long farm track downhill to the bottom of the course which had us hitting speeds of up to 60kph. Then a long grovel back up the hill to the event village.
Ash started us off and was the guinea pig for gear selection. He soon found that we all need a much lower ratio to get us through the next 12 hours due to the amount of climbing. It was a fantastic race, very well run, and although there were not the large numbers the event organisers were hoping for it still had a great atmosphere, our entire team loved it. Additionally, the event had a few Quirky parts to it including undie laps. There were bonus laps for completing two laps in your underwear, Janine and I step up for our team. We were also provided with an amazing free dinner – fresh lamb and wild boar roasts on the spit with salad and fresh potatoes, it was amazing defiantly something you don’t get at any ordinary race!!
We ended up in 2nd place overall and winning the mixed teams grade, receiving medals and a few spot prizes as well. Huge thanks to Shaun for organising us, GEON for the team sponsorship, and Andy who supplied the team with go fast

National Championships, Dunedin

After having a good race in Nelson I was feeling ready for the National Championships in Dunedin. I "participated" in the hill climb race on Thursday, just because I could. It was the most uncompetitive I've ever been in my life, as I did not want to detriment the big race on Saturday. So I took my time up the hill, spinning, saving the legs and practicing my wheelies where I could. I predictably came 2nd out of 2 women, nice easy unearned medal :)

The Cross Country race was my serious race and the one I was hoping to do well in. The course overall suited me very well, but heavy rain a week leading up to the race completely changed the track, making several sections dangerous to ride. The organisers excluded the middle section from the morning race, leaving only the elites to ride it, many of the whom opted to run it instead of ride. I was fortunate enough to do my pre-ride with Ash Hough, where I learnt the technique of “top tubing”, which lowers your centre of mass, and gives you a wider base of support therefore more balance and control. This technique was one of the few good things that I got out of the race.

On the day I felt awesome, I was so calm and ready, I knew the course, had my race plan, and I felt fast. The start of the race it was all going well, conserving my energy where I could. The steep, muddy section went smooth with the top-tubing skill, I got down to the bottom fast and safe. Though everything unfolded from there onwards. I had chosen a VERY high volume, aggressive tires, the problem with this is it did not clear mud. On later examination I had less than a 0.5cm gap between frame and tire. The thick and clayey mud bulk plugged the gap, stopping the wheel from turning and preventing me from going forwards. I struggled on the side of the track in a panic, grabbing handfuls of this nasty mud, desperately trying the clear it. Within two minutes three riders passed me, I gave up and just jumped on my bike. The wheels were barely turning and it felt like I was pedalling with the brakes on, the amount of resistance the mud gave was surprising.
I carried on, but it took a good 12 minutes for the mud to fully clear, as a consequence I was going very slow, losing places, and wasting too much energy. When it happened again on the second lap my pace further reduced, and to top it off, the gears refused to change down. I grovelled up the next hill with the wheels full of mud and a gear far too hard for me to push. I completely hit the wall.  
By the end of that lap, I pulled out of the race. I had blown my energy pushing through the mechanical, and was extremely disappointed and stressed which lead to a little asthma attack. Bummer!
So although it was the not ideal end to the season, I did learn “top-tubing” and I will now know that those tires clog my bike in muddy clay. The end of one season, and now the beginning of the build up to the next season. For the first time I will be able to train through winter, there is no glandular fever or wrist operations stopping me know. Weirdly enough I'm looking forward to the cold, stormy rides, something new to experience and push through.