Monday, August 9, 2010

Pleasure AND Pain

Saturday saw us into the family truckster for a road trip down the coast to beautiful Coffs Harbour for the now annual Pleasure and Pain marathon run by the Coffs Harbour Cycle Club.
I had heard many good stories about the quality of the MTB trails down at Coffs. Having ridden them on my moto several times I was confident that the tales were true.
A race strategy was planned over an ice cream on Coffs Harbour jetty with my support crew....
Don't let their sweet looks fool you, he broke that arm over "the enemy". And don't get on the wrong side of the red head! The support crew decided to go all out and bring in the big guns.....

and woe betide anyone that gets in the way.

Now my kids, bless their little cotton socks, seem to have delusions of grandeur when it comes to my abilities on a mountaineering type bicycle. I am apparently THE world champion. Don't you know? Someone best let Nino Schurter, Julian Absalon et al know about this little fact. And I can do it while holding down a day job no less!!
Anyway, once the sugar high had worn off reality settled in again."Dad, where is your hair going?" Dad, why can't you ride that fast?" Et cetera, et cetera.....

Sunday dawned crisp and clear. An absolute cracker of a winter's morning with about 8 degrees C the low. Trying to get the crew out of bed and out to the start by 7am proved quite a task, so I envoked race tactics early by neglecting the riders briefing and getting to the start line as the announcer was saying "30-39 years mens starting in 10,9,8,7" and enter me pushing through all the other categories to tack onto the rear of my group. But I wasn't stressed at all with 100km of almost constant single track to pick off those crafty racers who had left their kids at home!
I spied NeilE from the MTB Dirt Wednesday morning crew six or eight places ahead and sprinted up the side of the track, through the derailuer eating sticks to slot in behind and share the first lap, chatting away like it was a Wednesday morning Daisy Hill ride. At about the six km mark JustCruisin sped past on his fully rigid single speed, putting me firmly in my place. How do those guys go so fast? A little later Brisbane local, Jaman blew past Neil and I so fast that I only recognised him by his jersey.

Meanwhile, my support crew were casing the lie of the land further along the trail....

If only Jaman knew....

Upon arrival at this obstacle I remained firmly grounded, although the log ride over the creek was a blast and easier than it looked! Unfortunately my chief photographer wasn't venturing any further into the bush with the two little monsters, so no photos of the creek.

A lap and a half after this photograph and I was in the pain section of the race. My nutrition plan was working well though and I wasn't feeling like I might cramp anytime soon, so the support crew took a well earned break..

Shortly after this was taken they were apparently last seen running across an open paddock, swinging sticks around and looking remarkably well "camouflaged" to blend in with the dirt.
For lap four, it felt like I had the track to myself. I saw no other rider for the first six or seven km of trail. I was plodding along through "Cows with Guns" when another competitor caught up to me. I asked the usual "would you like to go past?" to which the reply was "no thanks, I just wanted to catch up to you so I will finish". It WAS getting lonely out there! I found this spurred me on to try to drop her off. So we played a game of cat and mouse with me being quicker through "Barking Spiders" and my friend being a faster climber on the open trail. I was hammering (as 90km legs do) to keep in touch on the climbs and pushing in the last section of single track to make a small break. I knew there were about five small hills until the finish line and I just kept the cadence up and pushed hard, expecting to hear the crunch of tyre on gravel at any moment. I was catching another competitor with about 1km to go and thought if I made an all out effort I might catch them too. The last pinch climb of fire road saw me pass with about 200m to the finish line. This was a nice flat, yet painful 200m! And I was DONE!!!

Words cannot describe the feeling of achievement (I was obviously trying to find some/a word here!) and fatigue. That last 10km was and absolute blast. Thank you to the unknown racer from Port Macquarie  for pushing me when I thought there was nothing left. Another great learning experience and without a doubt the best MTB race I have taken part in. The trails here really warrant a look if you haven't ridden this part of the world.


  1. Yss if only Jaman knew the recon being done ahead! Very cute!
    Seems you achieved your Pleasure and Pain. In. One.
    Well done. miff

  2. Thanks Miff. I might check out the Super V myself this weekend.


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