Race Report from the Cyborg
Zen and the Angry Doctor
If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s nobody there to hear it, does that mean the race is still on? Welcome to my race report without a race!
I must say, I was looking forward to entering a serious, classic mountain biking event of the stature of the Angry Doctor (yes, I’m going to keep calling it that, even though I was entered in the Irate Intern). So much so, that I was giving up my Sunday mornings to train on Mount Stromlo with Groucho. You would have found me on many a cold, wintry Sunday morning rolling down the frost-covered sides of Stromlo after being once more bucked off the mighty 29er. But I was improving. I was down from a high of about five falls to about two! And we were doing two laps, per session-and some intermediate tracks!
Nevertheless, as the weeks passed and the day approached, I found myself with that familiar nagging doubt. I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t trained enough. I would struggle through the course. This doubt was turned to panic when the Immoral Support Crew chose to send through the elevation profile of the course from the AROC site, with words to the effect of “Are you going to ride up all those hills?” But by then it was too late. I was committed. Not only to the race, but a weekend down the coast. We'd booked accommodation. We'd booked a dive on Saturday at Broulee. We had plans.
By Friday the fine, Spring weather began to turn; blue skies and blossoming flowers were replaced by grey skies and puddles. On Saturday we drove down to the coast in constant rain, which seemed to lighten, then stop the closer we got to the sea.
Upon arriving at Mogo we registered, and looked at the course map - which didn’t allay my fears of not being ready at all! The event HQ was set up nicely, the finish line in place, and sponsors tents pitched about the oval - including the Gu tent with an excellent offer (but not eftpos facilities).
We saw Tom roaming around, keeping an eye on the bold Archie who, in turn, was keeping an eye on the swing set. In what could possibly be the worst quote of the weekend, Tom said something like:
“I hope the wind blows this rain away.”
We headed from there to our accommodation, the Big 4 Caravan Park at Broulee, and thence out to Broulee headland. The Immoral Support Crew and I had planned to do a shore dive from this headland, but the weather forecasts were warning of strong winds and big swells, so we held off and contented ourselves with investigating the site instead. And we were rewarded instantly on arrival with a small pod of whales, perhaps a mother and two calves. The calves were in very shallow water, and hanging out so close to the headland I was awfully tempted to dive in!
Yes, you may well have noticed, there’s a lot of prelude to this race.
From our little whale watching expedition, we followed tradition and located the nearest bowling club, at Moruya for dinner, before taking an early night at the cabin. Good thing too. It meant we managed to get some sleep before the wind arrived, like a noisy teen party. From a little before midnight; the wind howled and screamed through the cabins, often sounding like a jet engine. Just as I’d drift off to sleep again, debris would hit the tin roof, waking me up once more. I just felt like I’d gotten to sleep when the alarm went off at 5:15 am.
We sent our brave scout, the Immoral Support Crew, outside to see a couple of collapsed tents - and far fewer tents (and bikes) in the park. Feeling rather doubtful that the event would continue (and even more dubious as to our enthusiasm) we had a coffee, and prepared to set off.
The whole caravan park, it would seem, was booked by entrants; cars next to every cabin carried at least one high-end mountain bike. We set off in a small convoy, and were informed by someone who had the foresight to call ahead, that the start had been postponed, and there would be more information around nine.
We went anyway. Not that we didn’t trust him. If there was going to be a wait, that would mean more coffees. In which case, we’d need more milk. Better yet, we may find somewhere making brekky.
So we set off to the start anyway. And getting there was an adventure in itself! The roads were covered in leaves, branches, and various tree debris. Some had trees across them entirely, we had to go off road to get around them. Sure enough, on arrival at the start Dave (wearing a nice pair of Ayups) confirmed there’d be an announcement by nine, and we headed back down Tomakin Road, which wasn’t as obstructed as others, until we reached the servo. The servo with no power (looking across the road, we could actually see the lines down!) Fortunately the milk was still coolish, so while we couldn’t have bacon and eggs anywhere, we could at least have a decent coffee. The race may or may not be on, and the weather was certainly wild, but we could maintain at least a vestige of civilisation through coffee...
It was a little after eight by the time we’d had our coffees and packed the gear, so we elected to head back to the event hub to find out what was going on, figuring that would give us enough time to gear up if the event was on (though being fairly sure it wouldn’t be!) There were already workers up on the power lines as we were heading back, and the news was full of damage and chaos on the south coast. We reached the hub in no time at all, and it looked more like an archaeological dig of the hub of yesteryear than a real event hub. The storm had torn away the sponsor tents, the AROC tents and the finish lines. All that remained were the naked frames, like old dinosaur bones, scattered about the field. The oval was littered with cars, bikes, and the people who had been planning to be out riding them.
After a little while spent checking out other people’s bikes and gear, the announcement came through that, unsurprisingly, the track was far too dangerous for people to ride, and the AROC team were going to try to come up with a shorter, safe course for the riders, with a ride starting around 12:30. Rather than wait another three and a half hours, we decided to leave. By leave, of course, I mean, head into Mogo to shops, where real tragedy was barely averted.
Did I mention that the storm had knocked out power up and down the coast? So the shops had now power. Very few were open. Very few. Fortunately, however, the scrap booking shop was open, so the Immoral Support Crew managed to do some shopping in Mogo while we were down there.
It may sound kind of silly writing up a whole race report on a race that didn’t happen. But, to continue the Zen theme, at what stage does the race happen? The AROC crew organised the race, sought permissions, arranged for volunteers and worked on the course. They sent people out for the Nasty Nurse Prologue on Saturday to raise money for Brendan Johnston, and organised the hub the next day. At the time of writing, they may well still be down there cleaning up. The only part of the race which didn’t happen was riders going out on the course - and some (very much at their own risk) went out and rode some of the course anyway.
As for the TriHards, we had a pleasant trip down the coast; we saw whales. We checked out a dive site which we’d really like to go to sometime soon, and know of some accommodation and places to eat around it. We’re familiar with Mogo, and I have learnt that when a tree gets caught under the truck, if I reverse it will generally dislodge. All in all, it was still a great weekend!
In case you were wondering, Groucho is so named after Groucho Marx, not because he is grouchy (though, he is grouchy, so the confusion is understandable). Upon being asked whether he’d like to join the TriHards, he replied with the line, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club which would have me as a member.”