Tathra Enduro 2015
Despite trying to encourage many 3fidi’s to come down and race this ideal event, due to circumstances beyond their control, namely injuries, being overseas or riding fat bikes elsewhere, I made the trip with my family in tow with Brooke and Callum making an eleventh hour appearance.
This had been one of my goals this year after missing out last year and it also helped me to maintain my fitness after Alwyn had led us to victory in the Mont 24. I’d been racing consistently well at the local CORC XC races so knew I was in decent form leading into the race.
The Hall clan made it a family vacation as we got away casually on Friday making it down to warmth and an awesome afternoon tea on the jetty. We picked up the keys to our house for the next 3 nights and were overwhelmed by what could be the next 3fidi clubhouse at Tathra. The views of the beach, whales passing by, sunsets and sunrises really made for an enjoyable weekend away – sorry I always forget to take photos but the memories are imprinted.
On Saturday morning the plan was to go out for an early ride to check the new gear ratio but as it was 1 degree still and I had left my “warm clothes” back home Benny and I had our usual eggs and bacon feast instead. Stacie went for a run as the kids and I ventured down to the beach where the water was a balmy 19 degrees. Despite going a bluish colour the kids had a ball but were wondering why we were the only ones in the water without a wetsuit – I explained to them that sharks only went for those in wetsuits.
Saturday afternoon we rode to the race HQ where I went off and did a climb up “Evil Tom” to check gearing whilst the kids and Stacie did a lap of the “School Track”. I felt that the gear ratio made the climb much easier and was sold on it until I ran into a mate Andy who had raced BC with me last year and told me about the road start and so after thinking about it I changed back to my usual 2:1 ratio as I knew it allowed me to pull away from other Single Speeders back home.
Brooke and Callum made a last minute decision to come and race before Brooke was off to QLD for the week so they called in late on Saturday before we sat down to a feast of home-made pizza’s – I offered alcohol to go with their meals but was told politely by Brooke that it made her slower up hills.
The morning was cool and Callum was off racing the King Nelba 100 at 8.30am – so Brooke and I accompanied him to the drink bottle drop off and then down to the chilly race start. There were 50 competitors but the cream of ACT and Australia were there with Callum coming in a very credible 4th behind Brendan “Treky” Johnston, Shawn Lewis and Mark “2Pac” Tupalski. Eliza Kwan (who has raced with Bleeksie before) won the female title as well.
Brookie and I came back for a second serve of breakfast before the very respectable start time of 10am where close to 250 competitors lined up for the 50km event. I thought I’d be smart and line up on the start line whilst the briefing was going on but then was swamped by the usual upstarts and found myself about 30 bikes back. Then after the start and entering the “Forde Farm” climb I was forced back to about 80th place feeling chilled out but knowing I’d pass them back on the climb. We came across Ben Henderson who had apparently hit a wallaby and killed it but had to fix up his brake rotor – he came riding past soon after and went on to win the event overall.
I managed to pass many on the climb including a mate who has beaten me in the past back home (Roger ended up coming 4th – 5 minutes behind), and of course Brooke who should of taken up the offer of alcohol the night before. Luckily I was being paced by unbeknownst to me at the time, an ex-school student (now 36) and I was able to spin like mad at 40kph before the Smiling Assassin came by sitting on some train. We finally hit single track with me in around 40th place but I knew the hill climb would sort some of the road warriors out.
True to form Brook was complaining of eating too much pizza as I came up behind her on “Evil Tom” but at least she had the 3fidi decency to let me pass straight away but block everyone else behind me. I just stuck behind my pace setter Tom and even though I knew I could go faster I had Alwyns’ voice in my head telling me “to take it easy as you win the race in the last 3kms”. At the halfway point we crossed the road and feeling good I just gave it a bit to pull away from the others and continued to pick up those who had gone out a little too hard.
Paul Brodie who I had just passed due to a dropped chain came back and casually said “now don’t cramp James”, knowing of my past efforts but despite just having half a bottle of electrolyte and 3 snakes I finished strongly coming in at 17th overall and 1st in the Single Speed Category.
The Smiling Assassin came in a further 8 minutes down but 1st in her Masters Category and 2nd female overall – imagine if she had of drank alcohol the night before.
So finally after sticking to a race plan it was really pleasing not to be passed by anyone and continuing to get stronger as the race progressed. 50km is my race length after several failed attempts at 100km so I’m looking forward to my next goal – the Half Kowalski 50 – especially after we finish the new trails in East Kowen. Let’s see if we can get a few more 3fidi’s racing this time.