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Cyborg Rides the Rollercoaster

7 March 2015

7 March 2015

Cyborg Rides the Rollercoaster

The best mountain bike races are like a rollercoaster ride; containing a series of climbs followed by twisting, turning drops to thrill and excite the rider. The Husky is unique amongst mountain bike races in that it delivers this effect in both the literal, and metaphorical sense.

The metaphorical rollercoaster started as it usually does for the Husky, with rain. But this rain fell in April, in Canberra. Just like the proverbial butterfly, this rain had far-reaching effects. These rains drowned out the ever-popular Mont-24hr event, forcing them to postpone their race until well after the cold of Canberra's winter to October. The same October weekend as the Husky. With a common participant base, there was no way the Husky could compete with an event people had already entered, so the team at iAdventure rescheduled to December.

Meanwhile, the Cyborg began his own rollercoaster ride. Following his failed attempt at the Fling after having his appendix removed, yet with a month in which to recover, the Cyborg wisely elected to drop down to the much more achievable 50km version of the Husky. That was on Monday.

Tuesday morning saw him back at the gym for his first training session in a few weeks. It was during this session that he rolled his ankle badly, resulting in a severe sprain. A week later, and after visiting the physio, it was determined that he wouldn't have any more titanium this year. But he would get a moon boot, and remain on crutches for another five weeks.

So, a little over a week after dropping down to the 50km version, the Cyborg sent another email to iAdventure, dropping out of the Husky altogether.

The warm days of December rolled around, with the Cyborg continuing his intensive upper-body workout, and Matt from iAdventure headed down to Callala Beach. And promptly flooded the joint. Not having a fleet of pedal boats, the race had to be postponed once more, with a new date being announced in the new year 28 February.

Trek Superfly at a race.
It looks shiny now!

But this new low for the iAdventure team was a high for the Cyborg - for it meant that he could actually do the Husky. And it was an even bigger boon for the TriHards as Engine had also entered, but the new date clashed with an overseas trip - so the Cyborg bought his ticket.

In another neat coincidence, the new date also coincided with the Cyborg’s local home of rollercoasters and rides - the Canberra Show. But the Cyborg could not be tempted by that sideshow, and headed down to Callala for the main event.

February’s last day started cool and clear, and the Cyborg made his way to the hub in time for a coffee while he watched the 100kers take off; after which he spent some time chatting to the Nitelights crew, and watching the shortest-ever event porta-loo line grow before heading off and preparing his bike. By the time he returned, that line had grown quite large!

Mountain bikers queuing for portalooes
The shortest queue ever!

Then it was time to roll up for the rollercoaster ride. Having no illusions about his ability, the Cyborg hopped in the second-last car and waited for the start. And waited. The scheduled time of 8:30 came and went, with volunteers roaming through the pack of riders throwing Shotz gels like centurions throwing bread at the Colloseum to quell the impatient crowds. As it turned out, the event suffered from some eco-terrorism in the form of greenies disrupting the race by confronting bikers and moving or removing bunting and direction signs, which was indeed an odd stance to take given many of the tracks through the forest bore signs of repeated motocross use...

Mountain bikers waiting at start
The Punters Pack

Before too long they were off, starting on fire roads to thin out the pack a bit. Down in the punters' section, where the Cyborg rode, it was all very leisurely and relaxed, with a few riders overtaking, and a few being overtaken. It was the calm, but excited mood of people getting comfortable and prepared during the rollercoaster's initial climb.

Once the field had spread the track split into rails winding through the forest. While these tracks weren't technical, or too tight, they required constant attention due to the soft, loamy soil and regular puddles, some of which were so large the ride seemed to change from a rollercoaster to a log ride!

It was a while before there was any “real” single track, which was quite a good thing as by this time the the field was quite spread. The single track, while very achievable, may have been a little more technical for some people, but Cyborg managed a clean run. In particular, the track on the other side of Forest Road (which had marshals stopping the traffic) had some nice, gnarly bits with off-camber downhill turns and some interesting drops. And, of course, logs. Those south coast track builders love their logs!

The Cyborg has ridden in every 50km Husky, with the exception of 2013 when he road the 100km version. And in every 50km version, he has had an off, normally in the most least-likely of places. This year was no exception. While riding through some soft, loamy - yet fairly straight track, the Cyborg managed to sink his front wheel into some softer soil and slid out around a slight corner. There was no damage to either boy or bike, save for that done to his mojo.

It wasn't affected so much as to stop him riding the fabled rut-road without a problem. There is one downhill section which is more rut than track, which has previously been the site of the Cyborg's offs, or walks. But on this occasion he rode right though - though that may have been more due to his fatigue and riding through it before he even realised he was into it than anything.

In the deepest, darkest part of this track, where the trees folded in all around, feeling more like a cave than a forest, the Cyborg came off once more, losing all momentum. But the next climb was particularly hard, and steep, in the steamy forest, and his mojo was still waning, so it was a good opportunity for a bit of a rest to pull himself together.

Before too long the Cyborg found himself back on Forest Rd - which is the road that the hub is on - with his watching reading about 43km. Then he made a newbie mistake. Thinking that this nice, smooth road section was the last few kilometres before the end, he cranked it up and started to really hammer the pedals. In no time at all the hub came into sight. Then the arrows pointed him back out; straight past the hub, and another feed station and onto single track once more. Which is kind of a nice way to finish the race, when you have gas left in the tank!

So the roller coaster turned into more of a pinball machine, with the Cyborg rolling around, bouncing off trees, until finally coming to rest at the end, where he was treated with ice-cream and two fruits! Who could ask for more?!

Once more, many thanks go to the iAdventure crew who put on another great event - it really is amazing they keep going; it seems as though the whole world is against them putting this race on every year, and yet they manage to put on a great event year in year out. I mean, sure, it gets postponed pretty much every year due to the deluge, here or there. But greenies? Really? At least the race lives up to the Adventure part of the organiser’s name! And it’s a great ride, a real roller-coaster race, which provides just enough challenge, in the form of both fitness and technical ability, for the average punter to feel proud of achieving, without quite killing them.

Of course, we’d also like to thank all the volunteers who help make the event happen!

Lessons Learnt:

Study the map.

I’ve never really thought to study the map for a mountain bike event. I mean, I have a rough look to get an idea of where it goes, but never really focus on it or commit it to memory. I guess it’s a mixture of laziness, and confidence in track markings. But things can go wrong. Greeny protesters can move markings; I could have a mechanical and need to devise a faster way back. It would also save me for doing stupid stuff like sprinting down a fire road before heading out for even more singletrack with nothing left in the tank.

Stay

That sounds like an interesting song title. All these years I’ve been driving down the night before, riding the Husky, and driving home straight away afterwards. Jervis Bay is a great area – especially for nauty people like me – with great kayaking, diving, snorkelling, or just beach bumming on offer. It’s well worth paying for an extra night’s accommodation (or even driving up in the morning instead) and hanging around afterwards to play, rather than doing the dirty drive home.

Race Stats

Date: 28 February 2015
Location: Callala Beach, Jervis Bay NSW
TriHards: Cyborg
Event website: iAdventure site
Results Time Overall Category Gender
Cyborg 3:54:16 158/303 52/101 139/261