I wake to the sound of a 4:30 alarm and I really don’t want to move. Off to pick up my partner for the day (Eliza), drive to Mt Annan and enjoy some warmth and a 7 hour race. The morning drive is made more interesting with thick fog and visibility down to 50 metres. We arrive in sunny Campbelltown just before nine, set up a table, eat some food, lube chains, I say hello to Pothole which is met with the standard one word reply and I chat to a few others that I used to ride with many years ago. Off for a reconnaissance lap.
This is only the second race I have done this year and ironically both have been mountain bike events. So it comes as no surprise that the three technical parts of the course have me rather concerned, a sharp right hander with a rocky descent followed by a sharp lefty, a rollover and two log crossings, and also a blind drop off. Suffice to a say I feel rather challenged but Eliza’s youthful abandonment shines through with the comment. “Just relax and you will be OK”.
So I do the honourable thing and let Eliza go first. Her first lap is quick and Lize comes in just behind Brooke and the lead guys and tags me for my first lap. As the laps are under ½ hour there is no chance of a slow start and the first pinch causes my heart to beat like a hummingbird. The course is quite taxing and to my surprise the first technical part disappears without a hitch, then Brooke is in my sights and shrieks encouragement as I tackle the climbing with ease. Then comes the last of the technical bits and with abandon I sail through unscathed. Now for a bit of fire trail which for a roadie is ideal. But what lurks ahead requires some calculated riding with lots of first gear corners twisting and threading through the trees. Lap one down at 26:30 and an av. HR of 188. If only I could ride a MTB and not use brute force and ignorance. James, when are you giving me lessons?
We discover later that we already have a reasonable lead but Lize and I keep on trading blows with Eliza setting the fastest women’s lap time. One lap on, one lap off makes for fast racing with time spent between each lap maintaining the bike, eating and hydrating and catching up with people. In fact I nearly miss Eliza for the lap 4 transition which is a cardinal sin in this format as you don’t leave anything in the tank at the end of a lap.
At around 1:15 I go out for lap 5. The track is now devoid of the 4 hour riders with Brooke sitting at the sideline giving us lots of encouragement with a beer in hand celebrating her win. I think this was my worst lap as I made one detour that is visible on that cycling app. Then comes lap 6 and then at a 3:15 I head out on lap 7 to be back in time so that Eliza can do one more lap…With a finish time of 4:00pm I want to ensure we get an extra lap in so I throw caution to the wind with a willing mind and munted legs and do another fast lap. Across the finish line and no partner in sight so out for a double. Around I go again, albeit at a much slower pace. The lap is rather tranquil, time to slow down and look around. I get to the finish line and a cold beer is waiting with apologies from my team mate but there are smiles all round. I should do more of this!!
I am rather elated at our win. Eliza gets a night for two at the Hyatt Campbelltown for her fastest time (awesome), we both get some tyres and more beer to consume. The drive home requires a burger stop at the Coolabah and all we have to do now is stay awake and dodge kangaroos….
Pairs racing in this format is fun. 64 k’s of the hardest racing I have ever done. Well done Lize and Brook!