All posts by James

Wagga 6hr MTB – Alwyn’s wisdom doesn’t lead 3fidi to another win

In the same mold of the Tathra Enduro, the Wagga MTB club put on a fantastic 6hr event in which you can race solo, in pairs or if built like Alwyn, threesomes. At only $40 and 2 1/2 hrs down the HWY it’s a great little race over a very interesting mix of terrain.

My aim with this race was to ride solid enough to finish having completed at least 8 laps (13kms/lap) in the time limit. You have to finish your lap within the 6 hrs – so the course is closed after 5 1/2hrs and unfortunately one dude just finished 10 seconds outside the time limit. (The last km snakes down the hillside whereby if ridden straight it would be 100m long :))

So after an early start I picked up two other single speeders I ride with on Thursday nights, Dan Marges and Brett Bellchambers and we got there just after 7.30am, unpacked, socialised and decided to do a little warmup. We were told about a bit of a “dropoff” to check out so we found their little downhill section and blindly went over it and found it quite easy though many still chose the B line during the race. The course layout basically went up and down the same hill about 5 times but there seemed to be around 4 different types of terrain which made for a really fun course. A mix between Bruce, Jerrabomberra,  Stromlo and Majura.

I’d moved our last CORC XC race forward a week so that I could race this event and there were quite a few other Canberran’s down for the weekend as this race was part of the Evo Cities series. Dan and I self seeded ourselves about 40 back from the start line as we were trying to pace ourselves to finish under the time limit and grab a little trophy for being part of the centurions club. Of course we got swamped in the first 500 metres but slowly reeled them in up the climb before reaching the first bit of single track. Then the usual congo lines occurred but we had plenty of time to ride and we didn’t want to push the heart rate up too much.

We continued to pass into the second lap when things settled down a little and we backed off the pace to ensure we’d last the distance. At this point Ed McDonald was way out the front as usual with Brett holding a steady pace leading out the Single Speeders. Eliza Kwan and Milly Brent were also racing but both were coming back after layoffs so weren’t on their usual pace. Dan and I continued to race together until halfway through lap 4 I started to pull away on the hills a little.

I was really enjoying the race and my nutrition plan was on track for once. The hill had a lot of water seeping out in places but when you ride a single speed you don’t seem to care as much with your running gear. After lap 6  (78km) I asked a friend what place was I in the SS category to which she replied 4th so that sort of deflated me so I switched off a bit and went into survival mode. After lap 7 I stopped for a bit, took my time with some food, lube the chain and then was told that if fact I was in 3rd still.

So with a spring back in my step I managed to put in a comfortable lap and finished with a good time of 5.36, averaging around 18.5 km/h and climbing just under 1700 m – (strangely I rode the Kowalski 100 on Tuesday which had the same distance – 104 kms, same climbing, 1700 m but was 30 minutes slower?)

Brett of course took out the SS category with 9 laps (didn’t catch me though) and Ed finished with 10 laps – freak – beat Jason English by 4 minutes. The guy (Jamie) who came 2nd in SS is from Albury and has been training madly for the solo 24 hr, so I was happy to be only 10 minutes behind him.

So if any of you oldies get that urge in your heart again to race this would be another one to maybe put in the calendar for Fathers Day next year.

Alwyn’s Wisdom leads 3fidi to another Victory – be it the Tathra Enduro

James using every advantage to look tall (1st Single Speed Tathra 50 Enduro)
James using every advantage to look tall  (1st, Single Speed, Tathra 50 Enduro 2015)

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.

CORC XC 2014 Season Wrap up

This year not many regularly raced as Bleeksie of course was too busy winning heaps of bling in Europe before being made into Frankensie after his last race, Brooke seemed to have something else on the same weekend and Alwyn, well was being Alwyn.

I think from memory Rusty raced a few with me in the Single Speed category and had he raced the last race he would have picked up 3rd overall. As I consistently raced or helped out at the races I picked up Series winner in the Single Speed category and I really began to enjoy riding the SS more and more – hence the D til D

The 3hr races were supposed to finish this weekend but the rain put hold to that – the first race back in February had many of us racing with me always looking over my shoulder for that smile of Brooke to come up but it never eventuated 🙂 – Ash, Dayn, Rusty and Matt also raced that twilight race with Ash picking up third in the SS category

The second race was just before I went to BC Canada, so it was good to test the form and Brooke after a mechanical rode with me for a few laps (though a lap down). Rusty also raced well with the surprising heat taking its toll on the riders.

The third race was the night before the Kowalski Classic so none of us raced but I think Brooke will slip in for a podium spot for Open Females after taking out the first race and finishing 5th in the second race. I finished 1st in both of my races as well.

So with the possibility of Majura holding the Solo 24hr race next April there is a slight carrot to tick another box – time will tell.

2014 Mont Wrap up – a bit late

Master Bleeksie has reminded us that we hadn’t put up a race report for this event so even though what happens on the race course stays on the race course could apply here, as its raining and I can’t get out here is a little report.

Before the race started Bleeksie asked Matt and I the form of the teams so he could get an idea –

Matt replied:

Big j – super fit/strong
Brooke – you know!
Craig – riding a fair bit. Working a lot (of course) – Will be consistent
Me – not riding a lot but willing.

3Fidi Coached
James – riding faster than ever before – BC training camp and Stacie’s training programme. Should be fastest rider
Coach – puzzer plus not a heap of riding. Will be mentally tough
Alwyn – about the same as me
Dayn – been away for three weeks. Form unknown.

I replied:

Yes I’d say that’s a fair assumption though I reckon Matt will kick Alwyns’ butt as long as he stays upright this year 🙂
Looking at last year’s teams Matt’s team have a good chance taking out the Open Mixed 4’s and as usual I’m talking down our teams chances as we get older (and slower) as I know there are a few hot teams this year in our division.
My pre-race predictions
Matts team to finish on the Podium and ours in the top five with Matts team beating us by about 10-20 minutes.
Should be interesting and the weather looks okay 🙂

Well I must say we weren’t too far off our predictions!

3Lefty were in contention all race and even though Craig had a horrible time with a flat on one night lap and crashing on his last lap they were consistently fast all through the race with Brooke being the most consistent and fastest rider from both teams. Blunnie returned to his form of his golden years – managed to finish the race in one piece. Big Jeff also managed to put in the fastest lap time as well.

They finished a very respectable 2nd place in the Foursomes – Open Mixed, 12mins behind 1st but more importantly 1min ahead of our arch nemeses, Newcastle Cog Heads out of 38 teams. They we 13th team overall as well!

3Fidi Coached began well after a quick first lap had me coming in 9th overall with Dayn riding his usual consistent pace and Coach impressing well early on. We tried to manage the fatigue of both Alwyn and Coach through the night by giving them a rest which was working well as their lap times suggested, but unfortunately I had two costly mechanicals, a double flat and then I worked loose a pivot bolt in the rear triangle.

Law of averages I suppose but it did put us back from 3rd to 4th so we missed out on a podium spot. We finished 4/49 teams and 21st overall this year but are looking forward to making amends next year.

So as you can see we were spot on with our predictions – we are waiting for some lost souls to return before we set up teams for next year – do we race hard in four’s or sixes?

From Dusk till Dawn II – Produced by Robert “Staples” Bleeker

photo (9)


Mal Leslie as Chet Pussy

James Hall as Jacob Fuller

Seb Dunne as Richard Gecko

Adam Hunter as Frost

Marty Worth as Sex Machine

Joel MacFarlane-Roberts as Pete Bottoms

Aaron Coles as Seth Gecko

On a balmy November evening 7 brave souls set out on another Dawn till Dusk Epic, 3 of which rode the original epic, Aaron, Seb and James. The plan was to ride from 6pm till 6am covering all of the single track riding venues in the area whilst riding through the night.

The proposed route was Black Mountain, a loop around Bruce Ridge then across to Majura Pines, over Ainslie and then out to Kowen Forest, East Kowen, Sparrow Hill into Queanbeyan and onto Jerrabomberra, then Red Hill and finally Mount Stromlo.

7 began this epic but only 5 made the complete route – somebody has to take a shot for the crew. First incident was when crossing Ellenborough St – somehow a policeman in a divvie van was able to get onto his mega phone and say something? to us as we crossed the road – impressive!

All was going well until I took them up the Mt Majura walking track into Majura Pines when Joel’s back gave out on him and he decided wisely to bail before the point of no return. Being on my single speed along with Aaron I tried to look after us by not going to the highest points and we were able to commute along quite nicely.

First food stop was at the airport and to his credit Coach was keen to carry on past the point of no return – copious amounts of coke was consumed something poor Adam was later to regret with an upset stomach. I was still eating solid food which helped lighten the load of my 10kilo pack (brought way too much) and spirits were high still.

We hit the climb into Kowen Forest with Seb and Adam trying to hurt Aaron with their gears, whilst I rode up along in the dark on my “Moonie Run”, well actually a half moon run, but the road was easy to follow in the moonlight. Marty kept Coach encouraged up the 200m ascent and we regathered at the top and made our way across to ascend the highest point of the ride.

We hit the 20° slopes and then into “Escalator”-(with 19 switchbacks) before reaching our highest point just below 900m. At this stage of the night around 11pm it was probably the hardest mentally as we were approaching our usual sleep time. Coach, at this stage, being the furthest point away from home decided that he needed to recuperate and that after our loop in East Kowen he was to head back to Queanbeyan before deciding whether to rest or push on back home. We were all feeling his tiredness but having been at this point last time knew that we could push through again with the fun single track helping our cause.

So we were down to 5 as we entered Sparrow Hill and our spirits immediately picked up riding the smooth trails particularly down “Lickety Splits” – my favourite track since “Bobsled”. Out onto the road and with a tailwind hooned back into Queanbeyan despite the geared riders trying to drop Aaron and me.

We stopped at the servo there for another fuel up and to our downfall were talked into those bloody 2 for one deal whereby we got ourselves two 750ml Expresso milks – about 150ml too much. Adam gorged himself on coke again and then we rather quickly rode through town after being abused by every person we rode past though the best comment was “hey, have you guys got insurance!” – Not a bad jibe from someone from struggle town.

Suddenly we all were complaining about stomach cramps from drinking too much milk or coke and as we turned into the hardest piece of single track at Jerrabomberra tiredness was starting to set in. Adam was feeling the effects of an upset stomach but when Aaron washed out and injured the ‘smaller’ of his two balls we didn’t feel so bad in comparison. We finished off our ride through the magic “creek run”, came across the obligatory wombat and allowed Aaron to have one more check to make sure everything was in order.

We were making good time heading into Manuka to where I had pre-arranged with the store manager to do a stop at MacDonald’s – though the night manager wasn’t so convinced and tried to send us off into Civic. Marty ordered his happy meal, I a coke but without ice which I was craving for (machine turned off) though poor old Adam was still suffering the effects of bad food choice and looked quite ill – rule #5.

We did a quick loop around Red Hill trying to nurse Adam back to health and then onto Stromlo with an approaching thunderstorm seeding doubt into our minds for how long we could stay. We were well ahead of schedule and knowing the likelihood of somewhere being open at 6am in Civic was remote. We still managed a decent loop though Adam and the storm convinced us to head back into town after seeing the Dawn rise at 5.15am.

We managed to crack a good pace back into town and Marty and Seb still had enough to drag each other up slot car hill whilst Adam cheekily used his commuter bell to pass them on the decent. Back into town and sure enough nothing open and with fatigue starting to hit we decided to head home.

So thanks to all the lads for a great night out – we managed around 170kms+ and 2500m in elevation. Well done to Coach for hanging on for so long and making the very lonely journey home.

Next year when Bleeksie is back I’m thinking of a similar trip but maybe this time we’ll aim to hit the high points as well – we’ll see