30 August 2013
Part 6: All Aboard the Groove Train
Did you know there is a five in the morning? No, really, it’s there! There’s no sun, no warmth, and no hot coffee waiting next to the bed, but there is a five o’clock. And that’s the time 00D rose and departed the warm and welcoming wellspring of Engine for the Back Yamma State Forest - for his third adventure around their tracks.
The 45 minute drive was just long enough for 00D to wake up, eat a banana and listen to his hype-up song almost 11 times; then, when he left the warmth of the car to go register, the organisers started the PA system, and woke the campground up with the very same tune-making it an even dozen - that was bound to be a good sign for the event.
Just to ensure his hype, 00D grabbed a coffee before heading back to the car to assemble the XTC, plate up and put on his race gear. Yes, there would be lycra, but it would be carefully hidden beneath baggy shorts. All was going according to plan, well, apart from the hiss and leaking sealant from the front wheel, and the squealing, dragging brakes; but these were not insurmountable obstacles; merely minor details.
Engine arrived not too long before the start time, and they both headed down to where the friendly field was gathering. There was a good assortment of riders, including elite pros - not just the Beard and Mr Green but other notables from the Bakery Bunch. Further down the back, where the TriHards hang out, were the friendly punters - including one game guy on a cyclocross bike!
And the race started right on time at 7:45, with the field taking off at a cracking pace up the fireroad. 00D, who had been shivering in his jersey and shorts just a few moments before, had now donned a Back Yamma tan and was warming up nicely - though for the third year in a row, he made a mental note to himself: next year, wear a mask! Despite having some recent rain, the track was dusty as ever!
The first 10km or so was fairly smooth sailing, up a fireroad, then into some nice, flowy single track, followed by a few drops and climbs out of the gully - nothing too technical, but enough to stop some riders; but no stop was long, and nobody seemed at all perturbed, and it was back onto the pace again.
Unlike many other mountain bike events with a lot of singletrack, the Back Yamma doesn’t have conga lines. No, it has trains. So 00D cycled his caboose up to the back of one, and just held on; racing through the forest at a nice clip, though it did make spotting obstacles slightly more challenging!
The field frayed over the course of the fireroad breaks, which seemed to be fewer and further between than previous years. And this year there was a brand new obstacle on one of the tracks in the form of a dead kangaroo - or perhaps it had just fainted at the sight of oncoming trains of riders. Nobody was tempted to try to jump it though.
It was about this point, around the 25km mark, that 00D’s back began to twinge; he hadn’t ridden the Giant in a very long time; was it that perhaps he was now spoilt by the dual-suspension SuperFly? Or the fact that he’d had a bike fit done on his other bikes, and now his riding position was markedly different? At any rate, it was certainly starting to give him a lot more grief, and 00D halted at the 25km feed station to stretch his back and take on a gel.
And that seemed to do the trick! 00D took off like a shot, feeling much better. At least for about 5km; when he once more began to feel every lump and bump transmitted straight from the rear wheel up into his back! For some reason, climbing gave his back some relief, and there was a moderate amount of climbing in the second half. Unfortunately, there was also some track through a cow paddock - which was lumpier than 00D’s gravy - sending every shock into his spine. But, after another quick stop, he was fine again and found himself riding alone along the tracks.
The course wound back down to the gulley, and more single track, until it crossed in a truly muddy stretch! 00D laughed as he bashed through it, and managed, with wheels spinning, to climb out the other side, then it was a short run through to transition.
And what a well-stocked transition it was. 00D took the time to stretch his back, legs, and his stomach as he took in snakes and fruit cake before heading back out again!
Stay Tuned: 00D’s Adventures continue in Part 7: Ambush!