Sunday, November 13, 2016

Re-Igniting That Spark

For the last year or so I have found it pretty difficult to push myself hard on a bikecycle. I don't think I have entered more than a single race since this little race last June as the motivation simply has not been there. I guess if I am totally honest, I have been lounging on my laurels for a while and didn't feel a burning need to prove anything to myself.

This, however, is a bit of a self defeating outlook. People (well, me) need a challenge in life. This challenge recently presented itself as a MTB race down in Grafton, NSW. The G Bom 9 hour race is hosted by the Grafton Cycle Club and features a 6 hour race for the kids. The kids did this race last year and were extremely keen to have another go this year. This led to us Dads figuring that as we were taking the kids down to the race, we may as well have a pedal around to fill in our time. Highly motivated race desire right there!

My race prep started 4 days before the race when I retrieved my trusty, if neglected, single speed from it's hanging space in the roof of the shed. It needed a bleed of the brakes and a change in gearing before it was ready to race. I bled the brakes...........but the gearing wasn't too bad.......was it........?

One lap of Cornubia later and I pronounced the bike ready to race. I, on the other hand, was a wheezing ball of sweat.

 No problem I thought. Bom Bom forest is as flat as a shit carter's hat.

Training? Check!

Home off a red-eye flight, some sleep then throw the kids and bikes in the car. Drive 3.5 hours and set up tent in empty paddock. Pre-race prep? Check!

Luckily for us a large group of fellow RATS had made the trip down to race as well. These well organised souls were kind enough to make space under a RATS shelter for our motley crew. Much support equipment was lugged into said shelter then we were ready to rumble.

The forecast for the weekend was for a little rain but race morning started cool and a little overcast. Nothing too ominous though. The race start time was a very civilised 11am.

The kids were pumped.

11am came and went though with no sign of proceedings getting under way. Not to worry, as soon after we were marshalled down a fire road for the mass start. I was leading off for the Dads and young Angus was kicking it off for the kids.

Chatting to some other racers on the start line and I find I am chatting to a mate of Mick Eyb from Taree! (Mick was in the room next to me at "The Y" in Banff last year and raced the TD on a Single Speed) Soon enough we were off, powering up the fire road for a few kilometres to help spread the field. I was soon spun out on my 32-18 gearing and puffing like the wheezy fat kid with the half time oranges. But I was having fun! The lap went quite quickly with several riders being passed while the red mist had descended. A quick change over with Chris and I settled down with the kids for a 30 minute break.

 Gus soon handed over to Lucy for her first lap. It would prove to be the fastest of the day......out of all of us!

 All too soon I was out again for a fun, traffic free lap. Coming back in I spied William waiting for his turn. He was looking psyched!

A 9 Hour race sounds like a long time but the reality is that swapping laps with a team mate makes the time absolutely fly by. Before we knew it we were heading toward the 5 hour mark. Then the  gentlest of rain began to fall. Just enough to cool us down.

The rain continued to fall lightly. My next lap was interesting as the trail had altered completely. The grippy line was now the slippy line and the loose stuff was where the grip was. Interesting.

Around now the second of the 2 Race Track format was opened up, meaning we headed off on a completely unsighted track. The rain was starting to tip down now and the largely clay soil was beginning to really stick to the bike. I was glad I was running single speed because the people with gears were starting to have all sorts of problems.

After a lap that seemed it was never going to end I popped out onto the finish straight, heading to transition. People lining the track were telling me that the race was cancelled and this would be it. What? Yeah, sure it was shitty riding in this muck but isn't that what mountain bike racing is about? I don't like not finishing something I start so I was actually a bit pissed off to have the race stopped. Even when my chain came off about 50m from the line! Yeah, it was muddy!

Lucy was out on the night lap (2nd track) as well and I must admit I was a bit worried for her safety after all the dramas I had witnessed with other geared riders on that track. I need not have worried though as she came through about 15 minutes later to finish her team's race. I sensed she was a bit miffed that the race was called as well. Sometimes I fear she is too much like me!

Anyway, we all had a good weekend. The tracks in Bom Bom State Forest are flat and pedally, but they are still fun. To cap things off, the kids came in 2nd in the Under 15 Team of 4 category.

Unfortunately Lauren was still in the shower and missed the podium

The Dad's also fared well, placing 2nd in the Mens Team of 2 category. Not bad for two old blokes on single speeds!

The light soon faded and many pizzas were eaten, much chocolate milk drunk and 4 tired kids didn't take too much convincing to go to bed. Come to think of it, the dads weren't exactly night owls either.

Thanks to Bom Bom Racing for putting the event on and to our fellow Rats for letting us muscle in under the shelter and be a part of the Rat Pack.

That was fun. Maybe a spark of interest has finally been reignited?