The Hills Hurt (SEQMTB #4)

Sunday saw the final round of the SEQMTB/Sunshine Series/whatever you want to call it State Racing Series for 2012. It's been a patchy series for me, with Race #1, hosted by Kenmore Cycles, being postponed, then I had a mechanical and no tools on lap two—race over.

Race #2 was at Karingal, hosted by BSMC, and it was my first full-length XC race back, and god did it hurt!

Race #3 was at the awesome Adare track, however for one time in my life I took my own advice and listened to my body, which told me 'you're sick, don't race'. Which sucked, but it meant I could get back to the business of riding my bike sooner rather than later.

So that left me with Race #4, hosted by DRCC at their relatively new Samford track.

First thing's first—I love a local track and Samford is as local as they come. It's about 7km from our place on the road, a wee bit shorter via dirt. It's the best thing ever being able to go "we should get to the race for 9am. We'll leave at 8.50am".

So we did, dragging along our little pea to her 5th or 6th race since she popped out.

The awesome thing about MTB racing is how friendly everyone is. I headed out on a practice lap and passed a few people really hurting themselves racing their respective categories in the earlier racing, and I would say 'awesome work, keep it up' and they would always say 'hi, thanks' or something to a similar tune, which speaks multitudes of the types of people that race the dirt.

The 4.4km track was in primo conditions despite the weather being decidedly un-primo of late in our ill-named 'sunshine' state. Minimal mud, really well constructed descents and featuring multiple short and incredibly nasty climbs that tested my spinning legs which, being a singlespeeder, don't generally get used that much on climbs.

We're advised we're to do six laps of the brutal course, which seems too much for me, but hey, it's about getting some semblance of fitness back now, right?!

A reasonable turnout in elite women, and the gun goes off! A really conservative start with Jodie heading out in the lead, Kylie and myself hot on the heels. It was by lap three or four when I realised that the conservative start was the thing that saw me finish the race—the relentless course left little room for recovery. It certainely didn't feel like I was conserving by the end!

I rode a few laps with Kylie, who told me to ride in front. I said 'no Kylie, you're smashing it'. And eventually about lap four she had a decent lead. I knew I could have gone around her the first few laps, but I also knew that with the longer race on that course, with my current fitness it would be a recipe for disaster and that I would probably blow up, so I ended up riding my own race, not seeing anyone behind me for the rest of the race.

I slowed down considerably the last few laps. Obviously there's a big gap in my endurance, which is to be expected. The elite boys lapped the entire women's field on their 7 laps, a disadvantage of a short course for sure, and I had a few people tell me there was oodles of daylight between me and the rider behind. The greasy mud had me riding more cautiously than usual, though probably tackling the conditions better than I have in the past, at least in attitude.

I made it, 6 laps and just shy of 30km of soul sapping mini-bergs, without any misadventure, really feeling awesome down some of the descents, and then cocking up other parts and riding like a complete numpty.

Crossing the line in third, I was pretty satisfied. Prior to the gun going off I was secretly dreading the race: it's a hard job to put yourself out there when you're not at the standard you want to be at, but at the same time I know it's the only way to move towards where I want to be.

Confidence is a fluid thing, it goes up and down and regardless how hard you try for it not to be, it is intrinsically linked to performance. The best athletes are ones that can muster it and believe in their ability, despite changes in fitness at different times. This is not something I am renowned for but we're getting there. I focussed throughout the race on banishing pessimism and getting through it. I know where I need to make up time, a bit on the descents of course (that's a continual progression!) and a lot on the hills. I am a work in progress.

Aiden's race was pretty exciting. Aido has been commuting to work a bit, except for the past two weeks he's been sick and ridden about 4hrs/week. He knew he had to go out hard early to keep young Ben Forbes from annihilating him, so he did. Lap 6 Aido had 40 seconds on Ben. In the few metres before the line on the 7th laps he heard someone clicking up the gears—surprise! Aido had two seconds at the finish.

This kid is an absolute GUN! We are privileged to be working with him.

Baby pea and I on the left. Photo courtesy of Donna Dall.
Post race, the little pea is screaming in dad's arms as he finished just before me. I give her a big hug and it's quiet. It's nice to be loved as I feed the little pea while covered in mud. I forfeit my warm down but it's much better this way.

Endurance nutter Jo, who raced with us in elite, asked us to ride Camp Mountain with her post race. I said 'no way, Jose', but did do a bit of a trail ride through ironbark and to the end of the rail trail with her then rode home. It was probably only 45km including warm up, race and ride home but boy did I know about it!

Ahh, miles in the bank.

Huge thanks to the Kenmore juniors for holding out bottles (they did admirably) and the Forbes' for entertaining the little pea. Thankyou thankyou thankyou!