9 February 2015
Balance is Restored
The DuoClassic is a fun, friendly event with riders pairing up with a mate to ride a very achievable (yet challenging enough to provide a sense of accomplishment) course. And, while this is true for the TriHards, it is also something more: a lesson in duality; in likes and opposites and the ultimate nature of duality: balance.
This year the TriHards team consisted of the Cyborg, riding a dual suspension, 29er mountain bike and Engine on the opposite – a 26” hard tail. In fact, for a change, even when Engine came to stay in Canberra, he stayed on the opposite side of town to the Cyborg. This was the same team who took did not finish the 2013 DuoClassic, due to the Cyborg not being fully recovered from a muscle tear in his left leg. In eerie, yet opposite, coincidence, this year the concern was that the Cyborg’s right leg would fail as he was still recovering from a bad sprain and had barely ridden 50km in total since not finishing the Highland Fling.
The day started sunny and mild as the TriHards drove their own cars from opposite sides of Canberra out to the Sparrow Carpark. It’s well worthwhile arriving early to this event, as it’s popular and there aren’t a lot of good parking spots. In the case of the Cyborg, tardiness resulted in a longer warm up ride, which provided some assistance to getting his ankle moving before the race. From the carpark the boys headed up to the hub and dropped off a cooler bag with refills, then set about spotting some of Australia’s best mountain bikers whilst waiting for the briefing.
The DuoClassic was started as a fundraiser for Bec Henderson’s 2012 Olympic bid, with the money now going towards juniors development. Bec still runs the race, and as such many stars of Australian mountain biking attend, what other race can boast two Australian Olympians, a national champion and an Irish National Champion? Even better is that this is a lap race, with sections of the course coming quite close to each other, so you can see the elites in action.
The race started on time at 8:30, with a relatively dusty firetrail climb, before heading into a short loop around Kowen taking in some of the standard trails, like Restless Natives, Two Bridges then riding along Love Child and up Two Tracks. There was very little congestion on the track as everyone sorted themselves into their own pace groups – and the TriHards started on a cruisy ride. Kowalski’s beergarden had a showing, as did SideShow and the WEB track, providing for some nice, flowy downhill action. After 10km, the pair were back at the hub, and ready to head out to the Sparrow section.
The race passes through the hub twice on every lap, which means you can rely on a single bottle for each section if you want to stop. There are plenty of places at the hub to stash an esky for a changeover.
On the opposite side of the highway the Sparrow tracks chosen were just as fast and flowy as those in Kowen, with some work still involved to get around. But the boys seemed to chew them up quite quickly and found themselves back on the link trails in no time to deal with tracks like Meatballs, Autobahn and the dreaded (by the Cyborg) Enchanted Forest. The only good thing about Enchanted Forest is that it leads into Quadrophenia, which is a nice, flowy track in unlogged forest – on a warm day, you can cruise in and pump through it, resulting in an effect much like walking into an air-conditioned room. It’s a nice chance to cool down.
This led to a quick dash up firetrail to the hub for the halfway hangout; where Engine took on some food and more water, and the Cyborg swapped out his bladders. Then it was onto lap two, which varied from the first in that it started with Cherry Lane (not to be confused with Penny Lane). In another opposite for the day, Engine began to flag (or, perhaps he was just trying to remain out of ear shot) while the Cyborg kept trying to remember the words to the Beatle’s Penny Lane.
By this time, the TriHards had settled into a pace with another team, playing tag up until a short rest stop at Rolling Thunder where Engine took on a bit more fuel to take on the last half of the third-quarter.
Now, it should be noted that the TriHards had failed to complete the last two DuoClassics and their goal today was just to finish. So, with no particular time – apart from the cutoff – in mind the TriHards conserved themselves through the last of the Kowen trails, and passed right through the hub again on their way back to Sparrow – which, despite having ridden for hours and the day getting warmer, still flew by in no time at all. Then it was just one more run through the disenchanting Enchanted Forest, where the TriHards once more caught up to their tag-team (who let them pass going into Quadrophenia) and it was back to the hub to finish just in time for the presentations.
More importantly: in time for sausage sandwiches! It’s always a sign of a good race when there’s food left for the tail-enders! The TriHards ate their fill, while watching the forest grow as bikers with tree-trunk size thighs took to the podium in a procession of presentations. (Another great sign of this race was that they were giving away beer as prizes! Though, not for the juniors, of course! Though they did wonder if maybe the junior’s parents should be given some beer for all their support...)
So it was that balance was returned to the TriHards: for now they had finished just as many DuoClassics as they had failed to finish. Perhaps even more boastful is the thought that they finished at the pointy end of the field. Sure, the opposite pointy end of what you’re thinking right now, but a pointy end nonetheless!