31 January 2013
Duo draws the dreaded DNF.
The DuoClassic is an interesting race held just outside of Canberra in the early parts of the new year, making it one of the first mountain bike races of the year. The inaugural DuoClassic was held as a fundraiser for Bec Henderson’s Olympic bid (she qualified, raced, and came 25th!), now money goes to Bec’s world cup aspirations, and the CORC juniors development team.
So, upon hearing of such a great, relatively low key local race being held again, the Dynamic Duo of the TriHards, Junior and the Cyborg signed up as soon as entries opened. They would race amongst local giants such as Dylan Cooper (last year’s winner, who was out for a ride the year before, and just popped in to join the race; he was spotted resuming his ride back towards Canberra afterwards) and half man-half bike Ed McDonald (would that make him a CenTrek?)
Unfortunately, in their own inimitable style, the TriHards also entered a slew of other events, including the Cycle Ed Trivia Ride at the start of December, which saw dread fate finally catch up with Junior. A cunning navigator, pace setter and strategist, Junior had thus far managed to out ride fate; but not on that day. On that day the cold hand of fate reached out and shoved Junior from his bike, resulting in a badly broken ankle and some shiny new titanium.
Fortunately the TriHards are more than the sum of their parts, and the Sydneysider, Engine, stepped in to fill the breach, enabling the TriHards to field a team. The Engine was in the TriHards Mont team of 2012, had some familiarity with the Kowen tracks, but the freshly-opened Sparrow Hill tracks (not to mention the link) would be new to him
Things were on track; plans were made. Both the Engine and Cyborg were training well; with the Engine heading off for an intense week of orienteering while the Cyborg tested himself on the Sparrow and Kowen trails. Everything was going great.
Then, fate’s fickle hand stepped in once more. On Saturday January 12, while the perhaps too competitive Cyborg was doing some sprints on a local oval, two distinct “pings” could be felt in his left calf. Pings with that associated feeling, that knowing, that something had gone wrong. Then he couldn’t walk. Two days later, after making a downpayment on a physio’s BMW*, he was informed that he had two tears in his calf, a grade one tear (which was almost healed already) and a more serious grade two. No running. Shouldn’t really ride. Not really.
Naturally, the Cyborg studiously set about at his rehab - stretching, massaging and gently exercising his calf (which was still in compression) every waking hour of every day all week long. Then, on Thursday night, he put the roady on a trainer (yes, he has a trainer and - even more shamefully - a roady) and had a gentle, 10-minute ride, to test his progress. Fortunately, there was very little pain. So, the day before the race, he was back at the physio, who - while not giving him an all clear - did say he could try it, so long as he took it easy, and stop immediately should there be any further tearing pain. Failure to do so could result in a very bad tear (and a brand new yacht for the physio*).
With the all-clear, Engine headed to Canberra on Friday firstly to experience the joys of viewing the Bamily’s extensions (that’s right, now they have a team of three!), followed by the lows of spending a Friday night in the Cyborg’s lair - for an entirely different fate awaited him there. The Cyborg had received even more enhancement over the Christmas break, in the form of a brand new electronic eye - a shiny Silver GoPro3. Naturally, the first thing the Cyborg did was to attach it to himself and go riding! So poor Engine had to sit through hours of HD footage of the front wheel of the Cyborg’s bike...
But life is impermanent, fate is fickle, and the Engine’s suffering was short-lived as everyone agreed on an early night before the race.
Race day came around soon enough, and the TriHards found the Sparrow carpark full. The Cyborg, heeding the advice of the physio, actually warmed up for a change, riding up and down the highway to get the blood flowing through his legs, and ascertain just how much pain he was in for. The calf was holding up very well and giving no signs of pain at all. Satisfied, both riders rode the short firetrail to the briefing, to find themselves surrounded by some pretty high-calibre riders.
All the usual racing rules applied with the one new addition: stay with your partner! This was a self-seeded race and the TriHards, well aware of their limitations (and the strong possibility of an early retirement) headed to the rear of the pack to await the festivities.
And the wait was short. The start gate opened onto a slight rise, providing the TriHards (and the rear of the pack) a great view of all the elite riders taking off apace; then they watched as a giant funnel formed, squeezing the riders into firetrail. Finally, it was time to mount up and the rear portion jumped on their bikes and began to ride along the fire trail.
The first few hundred metres consisted primarily of firetrail, enabling riders to jockey for position before entering the single track. The TriHards didn’t go for such tomfoolery, electing to maintain their steady pace from the outset and just ride at a good pace.
The firetrail wound around a corner and up a hill. Not a big hill. Not a hard hill. Nevertheless the riding stopped; because about two-thirds of the way up the hill was the turn into single track, and here another, thinner funnel formed, with the going so slow the TriHards had to dismount and push their bikes up the hill - which actually caused the Cyborg’s calf more grief than riding! But the walk didn’t last long and in a few moments they were back on their bikes and flying through the forest on the flowing singletrack.
And the pack held a fairly good pace; a few stops generated a bit of a conga line, as is to be expected riding in the rear of the pack, however by the last section of Sparrow, with maybe 18km to go on the first lap, the TriHards set about overtaking riders along the relatively clear single track (and downhill sections). In no time at all they found themselves out and in the clear, then riding through transition and along more firetrail where they overhauled a few more riders before diving into the link trails.
And then they were in Kowen - which finally included some familiar ground for the Engine, riding along some trails which were used in the Mont. The TriHards rode, and climbed, and rode, and climbed, and twisted and turned through the fast flowing tracks. Then they climbed some more. The Cyborg was a bit stunned; perhaps it was the injury taking it’s toll, or perhaps Kowen had somehow grown taller, but he didn’t remember this much climbing out there!
As a wise man once said, “What goes up must come down”; and so the TriHards did. The last few kilometres of track consisted of some nice downhill runs, swooping switchbacks, and fast flat trail. However, this section proved the most arduous for the Cyborg - for while his calf was fine pedalling, even standing pedalling, the constant shocking and shaking whilst trying to maintain a static position was starting to put him in a world of hurt; so much so that towards the end he could be seen riding with his leg tucked up behind him.
Of course, he probably could’ve just ridden with his left foot forward instead of back, but that would just be wrong.
He unwound his leg and let it drop back to the pedal as they rode back up to transition to mark the end of their first lap, but the damage was done; he could take no more pain; so the TriHards made a strategic withdrawal from the race and set about eating some sausage sandwiches while perving on bikes. After all, it’s not every day you meet a bike that’s gone to the Olympics.
The TriHards were rewarded with being able to watch the winning pair of Dylan Cooper and Lewy Cressy cross the finish line - two laps in just a little more time than it took the TriHards to do one. Hot on their heels were Ed McDonald and Scott Chancellor - and none of them looked the least bit tired or worse for wear from their efforts!
With more than an hour to go under a growing sun for the presentations (and Engine already thinking of his next event, a little orienteering “Sprint” in Sydney that afternoon) the TriHards beat the traffic out and headed home for cold, cleansing showers and, of course, coffee.
* Just kidding, the physio’ fees weren’t exorbitant; and they did get the Cyborg back in the saddle. Many thanks go to Southside Physiotherapy!