Category Archives: Racing

Tathra fun and …

A few of us, James & Stacie and family, Harri & Libby, Sue & Denys and myself (Bleeksie) went to compete in the re-scheduled Tathra Enduro on the weekend of the 28th August, which also happened to be Stacie’s 40th (uhum) birthday…. WOOHOO, party!

The weather was super kind to us with temperatures of 6 to 20 degrees… awesome.
Stacie rode her first ever MTB race on the Saturday, 20 km (respect!), having a little off by clipping a tree (looser!) when James & family diverted her concentration with some hackling from the side-lines.

Also Kids races galore with lots of future athletes and the longer distance events on the Sunday.
James & I rode part of the course early Saturday morning and were amazed at how well the coastal tracks had held up to the preceding weeks of rain, couldn’t find more than 2 puddles but could find plenty of scary narrow tree pass-throughs.. YIKES!
Later that morning the sleepy-heads did their recon ride, quite casual for all of us with the hardest thing being to avoid a sunburn and that extra glass of wine on Saturday evening… huh, what race tomorrow??

There was plenty of shuffling of race distance entries and by the end of Saturday it appeared all shuffles were downgrades and I was the only one of the house left riding the full 75km event!
Don’t they realise that in the 75km you can relax a little, it just means longer in the saddle… or was it!?

The 75km start time meant I was the first of the household to roll out, nice of others to wake and send me off with the other 75km’ers. It felt fairly good for the first 2km sticking with the lead 9 riders, then when they actually started racing the speed went up and I though…ouch, still 73km to go let’s slow it down a little. Many riders passing me the next 5 km then settling into a steady rhythm and no more being passed.

After the pass through the HQ around 45km mark, I still felt good and put a little more pressure on the pedals, this saw me collect and pass riders every few km.
I did meet plenty of those narrow tree pass-through again, clipping 4 of them with a little YELP! and a PHEW! each time.

Not realising I passed the leader in my category at around 4km to go, I just kept riding my own pace, just keeping the cramps at bay… maybe 1 large water bottle and 3 gels isn’t quite enough for 75km! Anyway, every was going well until I met the last narrow tree pass-through just in front of a log roll-over… Clipped the tree, front wheel stopped by the log, meanwhile my body goes up into the air and, as I was still hanging on to the bars, I summersaulted hitting the ground with head, hip, knee twist….. SHIT, what just happened? Where am I? What are those bike tools, phone, gel wrappers doing on the track?

Another rider came up to me making sure I was ok, I told him I would be fine and to go and that I was just going to rest for a bit then continue. Gathering my personal belongings and stuffing them back into my jersey pockets, grab my bike and OOOPS! Something wrong with the front wheel, looks like it hit the log sideways and potato chipped it, blowing the tyre off in the process and cracking the carbon rim…. damn, un-rideable. I look on my Garmin and it says 69km, F#$K! that’s another 6 kms to go.

I rack my bike on the shoulder and start running, ouch, everything is sore, I hobble, pause, walk, shuffle my way to the finish, many of the riders I passed passing me again, plus a few extras. Ah well, just want to finish. Luckily the Garmin had missed a few KMs due to the tight single-tracks and the finish was at 71km… phew, made it!

Not only made it, but still hung onto 2nd in category.

Libby and James also managed 2nd in their categories, and Sue managed a 1st.
Harri a respectable 5th and Denys … what can I say, well done for coming along! 🙂

Now we were ready to PARTY! Bring on the celebratory champagne and awesome food and all important cake.

Final stage (#3) of Vietnam Victory Challenge

5am wake time again…. uugh! Thankfully the early starts mean slightly more bearable temperatures for a while.
Todays stage was the 3rd and final stage of Vietnam Victory Challenge, an annual race running for it’s 2nd time, and the stage consisted of 3 laps of a loop, part of which we had ridden on both stage 1 & 2 in one direction or the other.

The brand new Cube bike I was kindly sponsored with for the day by “ASAMA Bicycle”, was tuned with the seat-post 5mm past it’s safety limit and my own seat, which has some high rails, to gain as much height as possible. Matt made sure his rear tyre was in top condition and investigated his rattling rear hub, making sure he would avoid a hub blow-up like mine.

Matt was placed in 3rd and had the task of clawing back 8 minutes, most of which he had lost due to double flats on Stage 2 when Dan Isaacs managed to roll past on his single-speed. For me there was a less daunting gap of 3 minutes to make up to regain the yellow again.

There was no time to rest or even test the bike, I just had to push it as hard as I could on the Cube, having to pedal standing each time the road went up due to the super low saddle and as the bike’s bottle cage bolts (without cage) couldn’t be undone I carried a small water bottle in my jersey pocket and was very happy it lasted the whole 34km without the need of a refill.

For something different to the other 2 stages, they made us start in age groups, youngest first, this meant my group (50+) started behind the whole field including many sloooow riders, luckily it was a climbing start that did sort out the slow riders but it was tricky passing them as they wobbled up & all over the tracks.
The 11km loop had a few short climbs and a large hill I just walked up each time, no great loss in time and saved my legs.

It took a while to get towards the pointy end of the field, passing 90 or so riders in the first lap. Matt was riding in the 40+ group was gunning it and was still in front of me while he was chasing his “8 minutes to 2nd place” until he had a small crash that bent his rear derailleur and gave him a bit of gravel rash. Passing him on a small incline I told him I wasn’t going to stop as I needed to regain every minute I could on my own rivals.

Part way through the 2nd lap I ended up riding with the Pro women and knew they were always going at a good speed so kept with them until the end, apologising to the lead girl because they had to do another lap while our category didn’t. Now it was all about those 3 minutes I needed to win overall. Matt rolled in 5 minutes after me and my rival was 10 minutes behind me, then it ended up that todays course wasn’t single-speed friendly and Dan rolled in just outside the time Matt needed, so Matt made it to 2nd place and I made it to 1st place.

Party all around, with many of the Hanoi friends taking podium spots.




Stage 2 Vietnam Victory Challenge

Back wheel taped up to help keep the cracks under control and we are set to ride another super bumpy 48km stage.
It all started ok until the 14km mark when my rear derailleur hanger snapped. Converted my bike into a single-speed, which of course is virtually impossible when you run a oval chainring, anyway, managed to get it going sort-off with the 32×14 gearing… super hard up the hill until the free-hub gave up the ghost. Tried to zip tie the cassette but that didn’t last more than 200 meters.
Ended up having to run/walk/coast the last 15km… reminded me of the BC-race.
I had 20 minutes spare but lost lots and ended up 3 minutes behind in 2nd.

Matt Larkin had a flat on his tubeless early on and struggled getting it up and running again a couple of times then finally deciding to use a tube. He lost 20 minutes and relegated him into 3rd overall. He’s got 8 minutes to make up to Dan Isaacs for 2nd spot, which is a hard call on a 33km loop.

I managed to get hold of a sponsor bike from a local manufacturer “Asama Bicycle”, super stoked, even though it is slightly small and a bit heavier than mine, it is a brand new CUBE aluminium with XT components and ride nicely. Got the saddle up as high as possible and dropped the bars a little, now it’s show time to get the 3 minutes back and hopefully ride into yellow for the sponsors 🙂



Stage 1 of Vietnam Victory Challenge success

It was a hard 48km track, super bumpy and a sweat fest.
I rode it in 2:49 with 58mins in VO2 heartrate zone… ouch!

Managed to get a win in the 50+ and 9th overall and Matt Larkin just got pipped to 2nd in the 40+ category, also Dan Isaacs (ex Bike Culture) managed a 3rd on his single-speed (kudos!!).

Nearly the same course tomorrow in reverse. My rear wheel has three massive cracks in the rim, so hoping to keep it alive and make it through without loosing too much of my 21 mins lead.



DUO-Classic 2016

Libby and I rode the Duo Classic on January 30th.
This is a great event, as the vibe is way more relaxed and friendly then most other XC races.
You could tell at the start line, it was super noisy with everybody chatting with each other, unlike many XC races I have done where we all stand around eyeing off the competition and looking at our stems.
This event was at Kowen and Sparrow, and the loop was 25km which we rode twice.
It had been raining the days before and, although the start was dry, it was forecast to start to rain again later during the event, we were just hoping it would hold off long enough to get around.
Then not only didn’t it rain until well after the presentations, it actually became super sunny and the damp track got better as it dried, helped by a strong wind.

We said to each other that we’d just ride to complete the course and that Libby would set the pace… ok, I rode a little ahead so that I definitely would not slow Libby down, but as usual she started chasing me a little which upped our speed and her pain levels at the end.
To our surprise we ended in 2nd place, beaten by the only 50+ team who were combined into our 40+ category 🙂

Keep an eye out for this event next year, it is worth the pain to enjoy the atmosphere.