Feel the flow

Last weekend Aido and I decided to traipse down the coast to Coff's Harbour, for the annual Refusenix Pleasure and Pain 100km enduro. The event isn't massive, it doesn't attract heaps of 'big hitters' (except for team 'Cyclinic Babywranglers' of course...) but no doubt in time the event will grow.

We headed to Lennox Heads on Friday, staying with my bro', who had entered the 50km event, and then we drove to Coffs on Saturday morning.

We arrived to registration and check out the course. Riding the 'Cows with Guns' and 'Rawhide' sections of the track without pace definitely had Josh (the bro') and I wondering how on earth we could mentally get through 50km of loamy, rooty singletrack.

Aiden and I had entered as the aforementioned Babywranglers team, meaning 50km smashfest for me followed by 50km smashfest for him, with baby Elva acting as the relay baton in the middle.

We had a terrible preparation, gee whiz, adding a baby in the mix makes things busy! She had managed to 'sleep through' the two nights prior, but as any parent knows 'sleeping through' can be punctuated by wakeful times comprised of baby's noisy farts, playing, making cooing noises and scratching the sides of the portacot. Every hour. Yes I am a light sleeper, but that morning I was feeling a bit worse for wear and glad to be doing the team thing. Plus, there was no way I had 100km in my legs. Not at race pace anyway.

We had eaten suboptimally, barely got our shit together to have enough water and food at the race, and not really done too much in the way of recovering. Maybe that's the secret?

It was a mad rush to get organised in the morning once at the race site. As usual it comprised of getting my bike ready, feeding little pea, getting myself ready and with only a couple of minutes to spare being on the start line. Warm-ups are a thing of the past.

The only thing I could really fault with the race organisation—and this would probably not be such an issue for others in the teams event—is that we started about 6th wave, after all the 100km'ers and 50km'ers in both open and recreational classes. This meant that the first lap was spent overtaking at any opportune moment that presented itself, which is really tricky on a 90% singletrack course!

That first lap several people randomly fell over in front of me, I had a stick/bush stuck in my brake caliper, then one in my rear derailleur and cassette, and it seemed the cycling gods didn't want me to be riding fast on that one.

I felt pretty awesome despite these setbacks, and probably only lost a couple of minutes all in all (and function of my rear brake, but who needs that anyway!?).

Despite my reservations of the tight and twisty, rooty, loamy singletrack the day prior, I was having a hoot between overtakings, whoop-whooping through the trees and around the shallow berms. I was feeling pretty strong—a nice change from the legs of late.

Popping through the start/finish for my second lap I stopped to grab a bottle but there were no gels! I had downed two in the first lap and was feeling awesome so just grabbed a coke bottle and relied on that to get me through.

The second lap was even better than the first, I lacked a little of the first lap's punch from lack of food but I managed to feel awesome throughout most of the lap until about 5km from the end where I noticed that lack of food was taking it's toll a bit. It was awesome having a pretty clear run of the track the second lap, only overtaking a few people and mostly at the start of the lap.

It's a very 'zen' track. If you're feeling good you can just be looking around the corners, railing berms and flipping it around switchbacks. If you're feeling awful it wouldn't be fun, no doubt soft pedalling through corners, choosing crappy lines and running into trees. There are whole sections of the track I just can't remember, occasionally I would think 'oh, how did I get here again?' and I was in the moment.

I think I smiled throughout most of the trail, a nice alternative to pain face. Well, the bit of pain face I had on was the last 5km running on empty. My body was craving a TORQ Banoffee gel like nothing else. And maybe a felafel roll, with hummus and hot chilli and all the salad bits. Mmm...

This is what I needed at about 40km...mmmm Banoffee!
I came through and Aido was off, we were in the lead for our teams race by the end of my second lap, so it was just up to Aido to cement it and have fun out there. Josh had finished just before me, I think we took about the same time as his wave started before ours, so we got to share stories about our riding experience on the track while the rest of the riders continued on course, and the 50km and 25km riders were finishing.

It was a hot day, but little pea was awesome throughout the whole race. We took out our category and due to my crummy first lap I even managed negative splits. I must make a note of this day—negative splits isn't usually in my repertoire. It was a good day, and good to feel strong in a slightly longer format race than XC. I finished feeling strong, if a little hungry, and it was nice to feel like going and smashing another lap of the course! Maybe I can get my endurance hat on one day after all.

Aido pinned it, of course, and now he's excited (maybe that's a bit of a strong word...) for his 87km jaunt at the Flight Centre Cycle Epic this weekend. Fun times ahead!

Wins for the weekend:

• Finishing the 50km event feeling pretty full of beans, raring for another lap. It's nice to have the knowledge to know you could go another...fast. Though I am sensible enough to know that I would have mushroom clouded should I have attempted four.
• At one point on the first lap after having lost a couple of minutes being off my bike a few times pulling pieces of forest from my bike, I rode up to some riders that I had previously passed in some tight singletrack. They proceeed to fall over. Both of them. On top of each other. In front of me. One said 'there you go, you can pass now' which is pretty difficult when you have a two-bike and rider version of a trifle jamming up the singletrack in front of you. But it was cause for a bit of a laugh!
• Sweet, flowy, fast singletrack. It wasn't at all a technical track, but adding a bit of speed and punch into the mix made it a course that you wanted to be 'on it' for the whole time. It was a race that really addressed my lack of cornering finesse, we're going to be pro at that shit soon.
• Despite all the calling of track and passing, I found that everyone was exceptional in trail racing etiquette. Perhaps I was just a bit too nice and patient calling track, but being a rude twat doesn't make you any friends on the trails so in the end when I had to wait a bit to pass I just had a bit of a chat and it was really nice and relaxed.
• Amazeballs TORQ gels and energy drink, making me feel awesome and keeping the smile on my dial all race long (even with the pain face when I had run out...)
• Meeting Coffs Harbour junior mountain bike whiz Em Parkes, now riding for TORQ after doing a year on the circuit in our sweet Cyclinic kit. I was lucky enough to ride upto her during the race—that kid is smooth on the bike! I think she was worried I was an open 50km women racer but i'm like 'Hey, it's Anna from Cyclinic' and then she stopped the momentary freakout I could see occuring in her head. I'm super happy to see juniors like Em and TORQ rider Billy Sewell at races. The future of the sport is pretty shiny if riders like these are the future of it.
• Poor Immo had a bit of a crap ride, through no fault of her own. I reckon she should probably stop listening to Pete—after all he gave her a dodgy broken bike and stuffed wheel to ride, then told her to ride singlespeed for 100km! Remarkably she made it to the end, complete with a flat and only one weeny gear, but by all observations out there it was a hard day out for her. A character building experience, no doubt.

Pics to come, if pics come out, that is!