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Cyborg gets a century at Callala

1 November 2013

1 November 2013

Cyborg gets a century at Callala

The Husky is one of my favourite races. I have completed all of the Huskies to date, albeit in the 50km format, and I have loved them. I had always found the course to be fun, yet still challenging (as can be evidenced by the fact that I haven’t made it through any without coming off at least once!) So, this year, given I’ve moved on to doing the 100km version of everything else, I apprehensively stepped up to the 100km Husky. I say apprehensive, because just as I rave about the 50km version, everyone I have spoken to who have done the 100km have sworn off it. Both of them. And, while that did make me nervous, it also put a fire in my belly, so I decided to actually train for the ride.

And my training program - such as it was - went out the window with my cracked rib at the Back Yamma. I didn’t ride a mountain bike for two months leading up to the Husky; I didn’t even get back on the road bike until a week or so before the Husky. Fortunately, I had Mr Motivation’s BikeFit classes to keep me in some form of condition; and I had the LifeCycle the week before to provide some last-minute base-building.

In no time at all, the rescheduled Husky rolled around and I found myself in a car with Groucho, heading towards the coast. Groucho hadn’t done a lot of riding of late so was taking on the 50km version of the Husky, and had offered to support me during the race, while seemingly to be constantly amazed at the fact that I was taking on the 100km course. That didn’t alleviate my nerves whatsoever. However, he did promise to meet me at the end with a steak sandwich, which sounded pretty good to me.

We stayed at the Culburra Beach Motel - where we’d also stayed two years ago; it’s a nice little place maybe 15 minutes from the event hub; and it looked as though every room was booked out by people doing the Husky. We quickly checked in, then headed to the event hub to register and check out the vendors and sponsors.

It was at the first Husky that I was introduced to Shotz; so I had held off ordering any more in the hope that they’d have the van there again. And I was not disappointed. I got my standard Shotz order of tabs and protein bars for $10 off - and didn’t have to pay for postage (or wait!) I left the hub a happy man (yes, I am easily pleased).

Then, after dinner, and a bit of relaxing tv, I tried to settle my nerves and sleep. But sleep didn’t come easily to me in a strange bed, with a strange pillow, and a strange voice in the darkness repeating, “100K! 100K!” over, and over, and over. Ultimately, however I must have slept, because I still managed to be frustrated by an alarm at an unGodly hour of the morning! And there was no coffee in the motel!

So we drove as fast as we could to the event hub, where the first order of business was the getting of coffee. Then I put the plate on my bike, and had a quick test ride of it. The SuperFly had been in for some pretty major work in the weeks before the Back Yamma-the rear shock had been rebuilt, the front shock serviced, and a brand new chain and cassette had been put on. So, this would be the maiden voyage of the new parts - as well as the first time I’d ridden a bike in about two months! It was right about that time that Groucho asked, “Are you sure the set up is okay? 100km is a long way...” Fortunately, by now I had learnt to ignore my support crew, and headed over to the start corral.

Mountain bikers at the start of a race
There were a lot of nice bikes.

And then we were off - I was heading out in the group that expected to be complete in around 6-6.5 hours, which I thought was quite ambitious. What’s more, I had a race plan. And one I actually I actually planned to stick to. I was going to take it fairly easy at the start, just cruise along. For some reason these days it takes me about 30 minutes to warm up on the bike. I was just going to see how I go, and hope that I finish.

So, I tagged on to the back of the conga line around the golf course, then moved into some track shrouded by trees which managed to rub off all the sunscreen I had applied prior to the race. Fortunately (and surprisingly, for the Husky) no rain had fallen in quite some time, and riding towards the back of a pack on dry sand provided me with a nice dust-coating which was sure to protect me from the sun.

The first few kilometres of course were primarily fire trail and double track, and a bit of climbing, which enabled everyone to sort themselves out. There were also a few puddles to skirt - as is the Husky way - but nothing too threatening. Well, so long as you don’t call a lot of climbing threatening.

Now, I’m wouldn’t really consider myself a serious cyclist, and certainly not into the roady culture, so I found it very odd that at around the 20km mark I was channelling Jens Voigt and calling “Shut up legs!” full-well knowing that my legs don’t have ears, so couldn’t possibly hear me! And they didn’t seem to be in the mood for listening anyway, so I just pushed on.

Dirty mountain bike
Only 25km and my bike is in serious need of a wash!

A quarter of the way in, and I had reached the first checkpoint where I decided to take a break to pull myself together. I always stress in the first part of a ride, it takes me a while to get comfortable. So, I figured I could stop, see if this Motion-X thing was working so that Groucho would know when I’m getting close and order my steak sandwich (it wasn’t - locking my phone in a storm case probably didn’t help!), and just kind of stretch out my sore bits. Then it was back on the bike for - more climbing!

Fortunately, four water stations meant I could think of the Husky as four 25km rides; so instead of having another 75km to go, I just had another 25. And I’d just done 25, so how hard would it be to do what I’d already done? And this 25km held a lot of single track! The first part was fun, fast and quite flowy, though it did take me some time to get a handle on throwing the bike around again - it had been a while! But it did eventually come to me, and I only fell off once!

After much single track climbing, the course moved onto some fire road climbing. Then a bit more fire road climbing. But then it was onto some downhill single track; this was slightly more technical with many more drops, roots, gullies, and even a little bridge over a dry creek bed. But everything that goes down must come up, so there was a tad more climbing required to get back up to the well-stocked 50km station.

Negotiating a little drop
It looked much deeper at the time.

It had always been my plan to have a good break at the 50km mark; I had to stop there anyway to refill my drinking bladder (which I’d emptied within a few hundred metres of the station!) So, while I was stopped, I was going to stretch, and eat some real food as well. Unfortunately, without a bbq on site, a muesli bar was the closest I could get to real food. While chewing on the bar, I sat down to update my status on Facebook, because I’m sure Max BC would be worried that I may do myself another injury on that terrible two-wheeled contraption and not be able to walk him for a week.

Volunteer cutting bananas
They had lollies! Free lollies!

Suitably rested, I left the 50km feed station, grabbing a handful of lollies on the way. They had lollies! A sugar rush ensued, and I managed to look pretty fresh as I rode past some people doing the 15km version of the event. I was still looking (and feeling) fresh when I arrived at a road crossing at the 60km mark, where I found the M & Ms: Matt (event director) and Mic (Mr Motivation); just as I was settling in for a chat, Mr Motivation reminded me that I was actually in a race and should get going, so back down the two-way track I went.

And I was back on familiar ground, with this part of the track being used in the 50km version of the Husky in previous years; so I was riding much more comfortably through the smooth, flowing single track. I even started overtaking other riders; until I caught Mr TBSM going up a hill; he asked if I wanted to pass, but I just didn’t have it in me after the climb - it turned out to be a good thing too, as he was quicker on the single track than I. So, we rode together, chatting away, which made for a much more enjoyable race, until the 75km drink station.

I had a quick rest at the 75km drink station which was, in previous years, the halfway drink station for the 50km race; so I knew I didn’t have long to go! And I knew this part of the course quite well - it was quite fast; consisting mainly of firetrails and some double-track. And there even seemed to have been some work done to them since last year, with the road much smoother and firmer; making for a fast final leg!

Last year, I lost R2 about the half way mark of the race (close to where I was now). That was due to a fall. This year, I lost R2 because I was too slow. At around five and a half hours into the race which for mere mortals such as myself, was around the 80km mark (the winner James Downing was probably fed, showered and heading home by then) R2 gave up on me. It seems that’s as long as his battery will last, so if I want to continue with his support, I’ll have to start riding faster. Or maybe drop down to 50km events. Or I could pick up C3P0 and switch during the race...

Fortunately, having done the 50km event three times, I was quite familiar with this last section of the course, so didn’t really need his help as much. From that point there were some long fire-road stretches, where I began to feel my legs come back to life. Then it was onto Calalla Canyon: a section of fireroad - possibly dual track, which was hemmed in by trees with a huge rut in the middle. I’d managed to come off here just about every race - with my fall in 2011 pretty impressive. This year though, I had no problem! I even fell into the rut, and just kept pedalling (with a few pedal strikes here and there).

That rut is followed by what in previous years has been a big, boggy section. However with the dryer weather, this section was revealed as a nice little creek crossing, with a rock base. In this form, it was actually quite picturesque! Then it was a much dryer, easier climb up some more track with another large rut down the middle, again without much hassle!

Shortly thereafter, however it was onto some more single track - but this was a rocky, climbing single track. With a good 85-or-so-km behind me, lifting the front wheel over the rocks wasn’t going well! Fortunately the clown wheels rolled over many of the smaller rocks without any intervention from me.

The two-way track signs marked the beginning of the end, and I knew the day was nearly done! I wasn’t game to push too hard through this section, as that may well mean that I’d just crash into another rider even faster (safety being my primary concern, it really wasn’t that I had nothing left!) But, as this came back out to wider fire trail, I began to get my second wind - or pick up the scent of bbq - and ride faster.

Happy riding a bike
That smile was photoshopped in.

And I began overtaking people. Quite a few people, some 15km riders, some 100km riders. I even passed Mr TBSM who was now engrossed in conversation with another rider. Back down the dusty trails I went, popping out onto the back of the golf course where I overtook another rider. Then it was around the corner, and another corner where I passed a game single-speeder. On the final corner, with the hub in sight, I began to put the power down and sprint!

Now, I should point out: I say sprint - and that’s really what it felt like to me - I was putting in all I had left. To someone watching on, it probably seemed as though I was going for a casual Sunday ride. What’s more, I started this effort far too early for, just before turning the corner and coming into full sight of the hub, I really began to run out of juice! Somehow I managed to keep up appearances though, and came through the finish line still pedalling.

After turning down the very generous offer of fruit salad and ice-cream I ran into Dave Medlock, from CycleEducation, who congratulated me on finishing - whereas he was much more deserving of congratulations- having some second in his category! Then I ran into Mr Motivaton, who’s team of juniors had once more blitzed the field. He was quite impressed I’d made it through without any major accident. We all have our goals...

In the end it was lucky I put on a hard push in the last leg, otherwise I may have missed out on my coveted top of the bottom-third ranking!

Thanks:

iAdventure: - For putting on another great event, of course; and for an excellent selection of lollies on course - and having pizza at the end. Yes, that is more important than course design. But it was a great course too.

Mr Motivation - For ensuring I retained some level of fitness throughout my injury (and telling me to keep going when I was happy to stop and chat!)

SCUM - That would be the South Coast United Mountain bikers, the people who care for all the great single track we rode.

Culburra Beach Motel - I’ve stayed there for a previous Husky. It’s not too far from the event, affordable, and really just what you want: a room with a comfortable bed before the race.

On the Rivett Cycles, Phillip - They did some fairly extensive work to my bike back in August, and I hadn’t had a chance to take it for a test ride, yet it worked flawlessly.

Race Stats

Date: 27 October 2013
Location: Callala Beach, Jervis Bay NSW
TriHards: Groucho and Cyborg
Event website: iAdventure site
Results Time Overall Category Gender
Cyborg 6:28:03 183/245 65/88 170/226
Groucho 3:22:21 225/407 66/105 193/319