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Cyborg Hardens Up for the Husky!

20 June 2010

20 June 2010

Cyborg Hardens Up for the Husky!

I’ve heard tell that the average cost of repairs to bikes following the Capital Punishment was $500. My bike cost less than that new, so I decided it would be cheaper to buy a new bike. But not just any new bike. A shiny new Giant XTC 29er.

I should probably point out here that the 29 in the name is actually a bit of a misnomer. Most people think it’s used to describe the size of the wheels, but in truth, it is the number of times the word "Giant" appears on the bike. If you don’t believe me, feel free to slow down and count them the next time you pass me.

Now, a new bike needs a run-in. A good, long ride, just to see how she goes. And what better way to break a new bike in, than in a brand new race. A race which was postponed until such a time as I had a bike. The Husky 100. Except, of course, instead of taking the long-distance, single-discipline event, I took the short course, double-discipline event. That would be the 50k version, with the twin disciplines of riding and tap dancing on the pedals and down the track in my clipless shoes.

Single track in a green forest.

“Husky 100” is another misnomer (yes, I do like that word), as the race is actually held in Callalla Beach, rather than Huskisson. I discovered this when looking up accommodation for the area and found, to my surprise, that there was room in the Huskisson Caravan park, only to look at the map and discover Huskisson and Calllalla Beach were separated by a river! We’d have to drive all the way out to the highway, then back in again to get there. I, unlike many others, had entered the event late. I bought a secondhand ticket from a bloke whose bike was too trashed after the Capital Punishment to make use of his entry. Unfortunately, this meant I was incredibly late in looking for accommodation.

So, seeing the distance I’d have to drive on race morning, I thought I might as well just stay in Ulladulla.

Starting in the friendly part of the pack.

June 20 was a bright, sunny day, with nary a drop of rain falling in the region for a week. The start of the event was a totally different scene to that of the Capital Punishment just a few weeks ago, and to the originally planned date of the Husky back in January - which was cancelled due to rain. With the sun already shining on the dusty ground, I knew I was in for a different race.

And just to highlight the differences, I started my race with a few warm up laps of the carpark, before being foolish enough to make a quick adjustment to the seat, and joining the back of the pack-the friendly part of the field where the ride is more social than competitive-for the start. Before long I was amongst the tailrunners heading off into some single-firetrail which wound through the national park, at a nice, easy pace.

Riders negotiate a speed hump.

A bit too easy. So, I called “track” and headed out to the right, overtaking a number of riders before tacking onto another pack riding along dusty tracks which led to the first climb of the ride, up a wider fire trail. To my surprise, I heard myself once more call out “track” before leaping out to the right, and climbing faster than many people in the pack. Perhaps it was my new steed trying to break free of the pack. The 29er was an avid climber!

Just when I’d had enough climbing, the course turned onto some nice single track. The new bike rolled easily over the various logs and obstacles in the way - though I did nearly lose her as the crank, which seems quite low, slammed into a rock. Nevertheless, I managed to stay in the seat and guide her around the path. Those big wheels still managed to turn the bike okay!

Firetrail in forest.

Then it was more firetrail, and more climbing-and overtaking! Once more atop a hill, the trail turned to single track and my tired legs could get a break again. I heard someone call “track”, the grey rider that I had just overtaken on the hill. He flew past me like a silver streak, I was losing ground to him with every metre on the single track. We came out again onto fire trail, and another climb, and once more I overtook him near the top; only to be passed once again on the single track! This went on a few times, until we reached a longer hill giving me a larger lead for the next bit of single track. Which I immediately lost when my multitool ejected from my kit going over a larger drop off!

The course undulated like this for quite some time, climbing hills, then roaring down single track, and occasionally some fire trail. The fire trail drops were made more interesting through the inclusion of large puddles at the bottom! After riding through the second puddle as my flash new bike began to complain about the dirt stuck to her, making me wish I had brought along my iPod so I couldn’t hear her groan...

Despite promising myself I would stop and stretch at the 25km mark, I continued on, leaving the Silver Streak behind. Now I tagged onto the female flyer. From the 25km rest stop, the course wound down a deeply-rutted road, which she took with aplomb, managing to find the smallest bridges between ruts; so I set to following her path. At least until the first hill, when I overtook her. Though, she caught me again as I attempted to ride through the next puddle, which grabbed the wheels of my not so shiny new bike and stopped me in my tracks, to fall into the cold water.

It was shortly after my dip that the first of the 100kers passed me. There is a very remarkable difference between the 100k leaders and riders of lesser ability, such as myself. Earlier in the ride, as I was enjoying overtaking riders going up hill, I barely had the breath to call out “Track” before slipping out to overtake them. The leaders of the 100km would get to about 20m behind me and call out with clear, crisp voice, “Excuse me mate, would you mind letting me pass you on the right”, at which stage I would duck into the left at my nearest opportunity and - at the 35-odd km mark barely have the ability to wave them through, they would fly pass with, “Thanks very much mate. Have a great ride!” Freaks. Nice people, but freaks nonetheless!

The course was undulating once more, though the surrounding scrub seemed somehow thicker. Whenever the climbing felt as though it was getting to be a bit much, the course changed to singletrack, resting my tired legs for a little while, and certainly providing relief! By the 40km mark I was still feeling surprisingly fresh (as in, not collapsing on the ground wishing for it all to be over!) though my lower back was getting quite sore due to the last minute saddle adjustments I had made.

We swung onto a downhill single track marked by huge ruts, and the female flyer took off with her hair on fire, no fear of the ruts before her. Not having any hair to burn, I attempted to follow with a smile and devil-may-care attitude, when the bottom of my crank hit the side, sending me sprawling on the ground for the third time that day. The ground was much harder than that of the rain-soaked Capital Punishment!

Sandy singletrack.

Then it was more firetrail, up another climb, and a final singletrack - I was sure it had to be the final bit of singletrack as by now we were into the last 5kms of the course. I was a bit excited - it looked as though I was on target to finish in under three hours! I had no goal for the ride, but three hours sounded fairly reasonable! So I picked up the pace and rode on. On the sandy, singletrack course. Sandy, singletrack strewn with rocks and logs. Sandy, twisty, singletrack strewn with rocks and logs.

Flying through the singletrack, and dreaming of finishing in under three hours (and the bbqs awaiting), I failed to concentrate on the track, and didn’t see a turn until too late; the bike slid out from under me, sending me sliding through the dirt and rocks for my worst fall of the day; and so close to the end. Fortunately there was nobody to see it, and the riders who followed through only saw me standing beside my bike and may have considered me resting. So, apart from me and the three readers of this, nobody knows my shame!

The last leg of the single track ended soon after, and it was back onto fire trail next to a golf course. It seems every long distance event I do involves a golf course. We passed two on the Wild Endurance, one in the Capital Punishment. I’m sure if I did a long-distance paddle, there’d be a golf course in it somewhere! But such things do mean civilisation, and soon the track turned to road. And the road turned to carpark. And, in the ultimate tease of the day, the bbqs were located 100m before the finish line! I had to ride past the aromas of bbq to reach the finish line. I must say, that was probably the hardest part of the ride! Nevertheless, I managed to push on and through the finishing arch where helpers were on hand to remove my timing chip for me! Now, that’s service!

Then I went and got a hamburger with the lot. The lot. That includes beetroot. Because a hamburger without beetroot just isn’t a hamburger; it’s a meat sandwich...

Giant XTC 29er at the end of the race.

All in all, it was a fantastic event! I completed the 50km course in under three hours (2:55 is under three hours!), an achievement of which I am quite proud for my second outing in such an event. Though, I believe a lot of the credit should go to a smooth, fast-flowing course and, of course, my new bike. The course itself was fantastic - at least the 50km of it that I saw. Enough uphill stretches to split the field and push you, but they ended with single track which gave me something to look forward to every time. The puddles made for an interesting twist, and ensured that we all got at least a little bit muddy - after all, if you cross the finish line clean in a mountain bike event, there has to be something wrong!

So, many thanks go out to the Blackhearts crew for an excellent race; one which has made me move from "Hmm, I might give those a try" to "When’s the next race?" Next year, I’m doing the 100km, just to make sure I get a year’s worth!


The TriHards have some pics on their Facebook page.

Race Stats

Date: 20 June, 2010
Location: Callalla Beach, NSW (Jervis Bay)
Rating: (2) Reasonable Adventure
TriHards: Cyborg
Event website: Blackheart Events site