Monday, September 8, 2014

"A Swift Kick In The Nuts"

That is probably the most accurate description of the Arizona Trail Race 750.

These guys and girls are as hard as nails. Aaron Johnson is even harder because he made the extra effort to film the experience from start to finish.

His film is thorough and breathtaking at times. Just when you thought "how hard is this race?", see how they take it up a notch from the 16m 40s mark!

Thanks to Bikepackers Magazine for the link.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Misty Mountains

Hello blogsphere!! 

I have been missing in action for the last few months with waay too much work and not enough play. That isn't to say that I haven't been able to squeeze a ride in here or there though. Just nothing that is worth mentioning.

Until last weekend that is.

Yep, several months ago I had mentioned to Lucy that she might like to do the Misty Mountains MTB race which is held in northern New South Wales in the shadow of Mt Warning. She was very keen right away, then we noticed that there was a "mixed teams" category with 60km, 40km and 20 km distances. She virtually begged me to do the 20km(12.5mi) race with her but I had to hold out until my roster came out so that I would know if we could attend or not. 
Finally the roster that covered the race date was published and I was lucky enough to have the day off! Entry was duly paid and we were set for a day of racing inside a volcano (so they say).

Deciding not to camp, we were up at 5am in the morning for the hour thirty drive down to the race site, just west of the little hamlet of Uki. The drive didn't take as long as planned and we were there, ready to rock at 6:30am, for an 8:30 start. It was bloody cold, about 5C(41F) and being warm blooded, sub-tropical Queenslanders we huddled in the car until it was time to start getting ready.

After registering we needed to warm up so we rolled around the race start area trying to get some temperature into ourselves. A few Brisbane regulars were racing and we chatted while we waited for the start.

All lined up things were pretty relaxed as all Summer Of Cycling events are. Numbers were down as heavy rain a few days prior to the race had scared more than a few potential starters off. Oh well, their loss.

A few start line selfies also helped pass the time.

Before long the start was on and we wound our way around the camping area and the car park just to help spread everyone out. I was trying to pick a pace that felt easy and could be sustained by Lucy. I just kept telling her to take it easy but by the time we were around the car park she was puffing pretty hard. I got her to back off a bit but getting a 12 year old to understand how to pace herself for a 20km race is difficult. Who am I kidding? It is difficult for a lot of adults as well!

Anyway, the first climb came along quite soon and we were grovelling up it with many others. I tried to take Lucy's mind off the hurt by chatting away and taking a few photos as the view across to Mt Warning was magic.

Not long after this climbing photo was taken, the road kicked up even more sharply and Lucy's sense of humour clearly fell out of her backpack and was left behind. I wasn't going to be voted father of the year any time soon as far as she was concerned so I left her be to compose herself down the first big downhill. I am not sure how walking backward up the hill was helping here but she wasn't the only one walking, just the only one walking backward! Looking for her sense of humour perhaps?

The first downhill was steep, dark and had three shallow creek crossings and I was pleased to see that Lucy made it through in one piece. In fact, with the rest on the downhill and some rare, flat ground she was back to her cheeky self.

We were reminded of the rain forest location as the trail passed through lush, cool sections of forest. Lucy blasted by and I scrambled to catch up.

After catching up I decided that the safest course of action on the hills was to meet her at the top, rather than trying to "encourage" her up them. Safer for my ears that is!

I decided to be chief nutritionist and feed snakes and jelly babies to her.

We still had a few more hills to go and I was hoping the sugar hit would work miracles. The hills were pretty big for a little girl though. This photo sort of sums up our insignificance, struggling up the steep, deeply leaf-littered trail.

Shortly after this, we passed 3 guys on dirt bikes who were out for a Saturday morning ride. Rather than talk down to us they chatted nicely, wishing us a good ride before tearing off in a shower of rooster tails. Maybe they were mountain bikers on their day off?

From this point the trail definitely started to head downwards, with just a few short kicks upward. We plunged into dark, overgrown fire trails that were virtually single track. Loamy, grippy and fun after the slog of climbing the hills.

It was proving difficult to take photos and I was being told off again for merely trying!

The finish line was soon in sight and Lucy sprinted for the finish leaving me in her wake. I think she was a little bit pleased to be done and a lot surprised that it was over already.

Chilling out at the finish line we cheered riders through who were taking on the 40km and 60km race. Our race number plate entitled us to a free pie for lunch and we handed over the plates for one Mexican and one Thai gourmet pie. Now this is a low key, minimal volunteer event but they found a wizard to heat the pies for them. He had somehow managed to get half the pie piping hot and crispy while the other half was cold and almost frozen. Pure genius! I will spare you the photo of the bin full of half eaten pies.....

Anyway, Anthony the organiser, held the presentations for the shorter distance race while the longer races were still under way which was great as there were quite a few kids in the 20km race and they wouldn't have to wait all day to see how they went.

Imagine my surprise when they called out our names for first place in the mixed team of two! We jumped up to receive our prizes with a bit of shock. In about 7 years of mountain biking this is the first time I have ever placed at the pointy end of the field! Lucy of course won 6 out of 6 rounds in the Sunshine Series this year so it was no big deal for her!

The fact that we were the only ones racing the 20km mixed team of two takes a great story and turns it into a err, not so great story but anyway, we won and we were all smiles again.

The drive home was a quiet one as Lucy slept and I tried not to.

Arriving home and decripting our GPS I noted that there was some 600m (2000ft) of climbing in it's 20km distance. No wonder Little Red was complaining!

Cheers and thanks for checking in.