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Log Ride in Jervis Bay!

22 August 2011

22 August 2011

Log Ride in Jervis Bay!

The Husky is a friendly and fun mountain bike race set in the beautiful locale of Jervis Bay, New South Wales. The smooth, sandy tracks, with some technical sections, combined with fire trail provide a fast, flowing race through undulating forest. You’re almost guaranteed to have a great ride. Thus far, it’s also guaranteed to be rescheduled. Both times they have run the event, it has had to be postponed due to train. I reckon that next year they should schedule the Husky for April 1; then if it has to be rescheduled they always have the April Fool’s prank to fall back on!

Fortunately for the TriHards, that gave everyone time to train and prepare for the race (and come to their senses, and drop 100km marathon entries down to the more realistic 50km!) Yes, the TriHards actually trained! Canberra-based Groucho and the Cyborg headed out to various tracks around Canberra to undertake training over weekends, we even got in some night riding at Stromlo. During these night rides, the Cyborg would often hear Groucho call back, as he rode down Slant Six, “Make sure you stick to the right at the gulley!” The Cyborg, focussed on surviving the rocks, would barely hear him, and wonder what he was talking about. Then, Wednesday night a week and a half before the Husky, he finally realised what he was talking about: At the first big right-hand turn down through a gulley, the Cyborg looked to the right and saw a huge rut, and thought “Wow, that’s what he’s talking about” just as the front wheel of the mighty 29er dropped into it; sending the Cyborg flying over the handlebars. Fortuntely, he away with a few bruises, and a broken Ayup mounting rubber on the handlebar lights, replacements for which were ordered that week.

Unfortunately for McFly, the postponement gave him more time to train, which resulted in a terrible mountain biking accident in which he skinned a knee, forcing him out of the race. But, one man’s loss is another’s gain, and Father Brendan, who was keen to enter, but unable to find a ticket, snapped up his ticket to ensure the Tri in TriHards.

Groucho, the Immoral Support Crew and the Cyborg left the dreary Canberra weather on a Saturday afternoon in search of sunny Callala Beach, home of the Husky! They drove for hours, to arrive in pouring rain at the registration. Fortunately, the Immoral Support Crew, always prepared, brought along a couple of umbrellas. By the time the Groucho and the Cyborg were signing up, she’d grown a couple of odd-looking barnacles in the form of bike riders huddling beneath her shelter! Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough to cover the whole course!

Regardless, the advanced party reconnoitred to the RSL, to find a favourable pub meal of chicken schnitzels, chips and gravy while they awaited the arrival of Father Brendan. Once he’d arrived and registered, they headed back to the motel in Culburra to prepare for the next day. Foolishly, the Cyborg tempted fate by joking that all the rain would certainly make the ground softer.

Muddy ground near registration
At least it looks soft!

The next morning proved to be relatively clear, with the moisture around making the area slightly cool - an excellent riding day. The registration and start area was a quagmire, which boded ill for the course. Groucho-who had just finished applying tyre-black to his Crossmarks-decided to drop out of the race, and save his shiny new Anthem from the mud that would undoubtedly sneak into every nook and cranny.

Father Brendan and the Cyborg, ready to race.
Don’t they look clean and fresh?

The Cyborg wasn’t put off by the wet track - in fact, upon recollection, just about every race he’d entered had either rained before or during: the inaugural Capital Punishment, the first Husky; Dirtworks Victoria, the second Capital Punishment and now the second Husky. Not to mention the 2010 Angry Doctor - cancelled due to winds... Perhaps it is not the organisers who have the curse, but the Cyborg!

Father Brendan, who seemed to have forgotten the difficulties he’d had in the inaugural Capital Punishment when mud clogged his rear derailleur, was also eager to race.

Rutted grass paddock
A sign of things to come - even the grass is rutted!

The TriHards set out in the fourth wave; the friendly part of the field. There was no jockeying for position at the head of the pack, everybody rode gingerly, tentatively testing their bikes on the sodden ground. They rode along double-track, in surprisingly good condition, until the forest closed around them to form a wider single trail. Still, everyone rode comfortably, not pushing themselves too hard, and they started the climb.

Father Brendan on the trail
The Cyborg’s view for most of the race...

The Husky doesn’t contain any huge, killer climbs; it’s not like riding the Capital Punishment, or the Scott, where you’d find yourself climbing up Mt Stromlo. This course undulates; just as a hill start to burn out your legs, it drops into some nice, flowing single track. Some of that track is a bit technical, and those south-coasters seem to really like their logs - but it’s nothing a beginner couldn’t handle (or have enough time to see, stop and walk over!)

As they dropped from firetrail to singletrack, the Cyborg lost sight of Father “No Fear” Brendan, as he sat up, tucked in, and flew down the track. The Cyborg, feeling rather cocky himself, let go and rode down; leaning the bike around corners until the wheels barely held on in the mud; pedalling once more into the straights to pick up speed; ducking his head at branches as he rode too close to the forest; then he came across a pothole.

Whenever you talk to any sort of coach, or even experienced mountain biker, they will say, “Don’t look at the rock/obstacle. If you look at it, you’ll just hit it.” But this pothole looked remarkably similar to the ditch the Cyborg had recently found on Slant Six; a small rut, then a bigger pothole at the bottom, which promptly sucked his front wheel in, sending him sprawling over the handlebars. Unfortunately, in what would become a bit of a sign of the whole ride, his feet seemed to be glued into the pedals by mud, so the bike flew over with him!

Undeterred (the ground was, after all, very soft) the Cyborg jumped back on his bike, chalked it down to the stack he had to have, and set off in pursuit of Father Brendan, who was waiting for him at the next junction. They both set off once more, back up a hill, and down fire trail, over logs, around fast, flowing corners; and generally having a great time.

Around the 10 kilometre mark, Father Brendan’s bike was starting to feel the effects of the mud, with his derailleurs refusing to obey him! So, the TriHards stopped atop the next hill, to clean them up, and have a bit of a break. Here’s a tip for new riders: if you bite, then blow into your bladder backpack, you effectively pressurise it. The water sits at the bottom, so if you hold your mouthpiece near a muddied-up derailleur, and squeeze the bite valve, pressurised water shoots out to wash it off; it worked a treat on Father Brendan’s bike and soon saw the TriHards back on track.

Father Brendan on the trail
Father Brendan opening up on the fire trail.

By this time it was a bit after 10, and the day was heating up, which was hardly noticeable on the firetrails where Father Brendan, with a lot of road kms under his belt, flew along at a steady clip, shadowed by the Cyborg. They jumped many logs while riding on the occasional piece of single track; one of which bested the Cyborg, who managed to slam his shin with a pedal as he fell. Again.

This track then began to wind its way up the hill; it wasn’t technical, nor too muddy, but for some reason it felt like hard work. Then they reached a grate which led to a huge tree truck; the Cyborg, not trusting his skills after a couple of falls (by now he was up to four) elected to walk his bike up the grate - even then he managed to slip a few times! Over he was, and before long he was back up to some more firetrail where Father Brendan was waiting.

Cyborg taking the obligatory self-portrait
Not looking so fresh.

Then the dips came. There are a few section of the course where it follows firetrail into little valleys, then climbs out again. Last year they were flooded at the bottom, and the rain from the previous evening ensured this year would be no different. Down they flew, skirting the outside of the puddle, then once more pedalled up. The hard, sticky clay grabbed hold of their wheels, and made the going very hard, yet they pedalled on. At the rear, the Cyborg’s back wheel flicked out, he responded by darting his left leg out at full extension, to push back up, which sent his back wheel flying across to the right; this little show went on for a few moments until he regained control, and was congratulated by the rider behind. Unfortunately, just moments later, the Cyborg ignominiously fell over when clay sucked his rear wheel in, and he couldn’t unclip from his pedals in time...

So, instead of the hard, sticky clay grabbing hold of their wheels, it grabbed their shoes! When they remounted their bikes at the top of the hill, the Cyborg found he couldn’t clip in any more for the amount of mud on his shoes and pedals. Fortunately, they arrived at the 25km mark shortly thereafter, and took a well-deserved break to scrape mud from shoes and pedals and taking on some food, before heading off once more.

The second half of the race is much faster than the first; there are a few more dips, but the course is largely firetrail, and the TriHards were making relatively short work of it. Until they arrived at the ruts, where the Cyborg (yet again) said something foolish.

“Just around the corner here is where I had a relatively big prang last year,” he announced to Father Brendan, as they tore through the track. Sure enough, around the corner a huge rut lay waiting, though this time the Cyborg was travelling much faster. In his wheel went, flicking him off the bike and skidding along the ground. Fortunately there was a tree there to stop him. It stopped him so hard, in fact, that it broke the Ayup mount on his helmet resulting in his second order to Ayup for parts in two weeks!

Muddy legs at end
Mud man Cyborg

Undeterred, the Cyborg picked himself up and rode on - perhaps a little too early after the fall - to catch Father Brendan. Within moments he was lying down on the job again; well, bathing in a deepish pool of mud and sludge. But it did add a nice hue of brown to one side of him. This time, he took a bit more of a break and began to walk up the hill.

Back at the top, he remounted his bike and rode to find Father Brendan waiting for him at the next intersection. Then it was a little more fireroad, then single track, more fire road, more single track, and plenty of mud. On the bright side, while the Cyborg had fallen down quite a few times (around eight) - he was getting much, much better at riding through mud. So, while some people may have called the Husky a race, the Cyborg (who came around about 20th last!) would like to call it an intensive mud-riding training experience.


The TriHards have some pics on their Facebook page.

Race Stats

Date: 7 August 2011
Location: Callalla Beach, NSW (Jervis Bay)
Rating: (4) Tub Thumper!
TriHards: Cyborg, Father Brendan
Event website: Blackheart Events site