Thursday, November 4, 2010

Latest News - October

Aunty Jan & the girls at the finish
October started with our participation in the Rogue 8....a great adventure race put on by the Qld Rogaine Association.....Aunty Jan teamed up with Susie in the vintage female category...and our girls Hayley, Jodie & Ant had a crack at the event as well....what a great effort by the girls getting around for 8 hours in very testing conditions...Not everyone can say they have completed an 8hr adventure race!


Not sure what my motivation was for entering this event… must have started off last year as I was approaching 50 and I was trying to find some challenging things to do during my big 5-0 year…..Of course, we are lucky to have the gorgeous Andy Fellows (previous age-group winner of the event and 3rd place elite male last year) living in our midst here in Noosa….he was probably a starting point for my motivation…..I forget the other things….So it was a long path actually getting to the event – with qualifying last year in Victoria (you must all remember my story about the Kona – cold, rainy and muddy….and massive bruising an blistered rear-end after the event…) and doing some lead-up events where I felt pretty crap….I was a bit nervous about the whole ‘world champs’ thing….and wondering if I have bitten off more than I could chew here….. It’s happened before – but I must be a good chewer…it seems….

I had roped in Aunty Kim to be my Pit Crew Manager (very important job…) and also had organised her into a team of 6 for the event (just to save her from 24hrs of boredom – while I was having 24hrs of Adrenalin….) In Canberra we were invited to stay at the home of Jackie Fairweather (friend and former pro-triathlete, marathon runner and wife of Simon Fairweather – 2000 Olympic gold medallist in archery….) and she made us feel very welcome amongst the trophies and medals – but their amazing wine cellar was also very appealing…..Jackie cooked us some of her special pizza and gave us some extra special red wine – great pre-race nutrition…and we relaxed and enjoyed our time before the event.

Race day…..and I was feeling pretty nervous.  I was set up in my pit area amongst really serious looking athletes….and it was a bit daunting to say the least.  I didn’t have my own mechanic (although Aunty Kim can fix almost anything….) and didn’t seem to be quite as organised as some – my food was looking more like I was at a picnic than a race – albeit a World Championships…. So I was going to eat chips and chocolate frogs????  Of course I was – that’s my race secret…..put in the things that taste good….then they’ll actually go in and stay in……It’s works a treat every time!

Riding through the flowers!

Start line….it was a ‘Le Manns’ start….which means a short run to the bike – leap on and off you go.  Spreads out the field (sort of) and hypes everyone up a bit before the first pedal stroke….and makes a really great noise with 400 people running with bike cleats on bitumen…!!  So, found my bike, and I’m off and riding.  Being very conservative I let lots of huffy puffy boys go past at every occasion…..This was my first time on the course, so just having a look on the first lap, I think, was a good plan.  The track for the solo riders involved lots of climbing….(thank goodness I did some good training for this on Log, Wooroi, Noosa Trail etc over the last few months….)  So up the side of Mt Stromlo we went…..traversed nicely, and all rideable at this point.  Over the top we then got to some interesting stuff…..I took the ‘B’ line down some technical rocky section off the top….which was still very tricky…(can’t imagine what the ‘A’ line was like – maybe they just launched in the air over all those rocks) and then got to a rather nasty track called ‘Pork Barrel’.  This steep, rocky downhill section was the hardest part of the track, and of course on the first lap everyone was concertinaed up so we came to a stop and most of us walked down…..Hmmm… Then when it evened out again I was having trouble clipping my shoe in.  Did some amazing tricky sections with a free-ranging leg (spectacular to watch but terrifying for the rider doing it…) and then thought I’d better stop and have a look under my shoe.  Finding my cleat had disappeared completely was a bit upsetting at this point.  Hey, I’m in the world championships, on the first lap…..wouldn’t you have thought I’d got my equipment organised better than this…???  Made a mental note to self ‘this will never happen again, ok’….and got back on the bike for what was to be a rather difficult next ¾ of a lap (of 20kms) riding with one cleat in and the other one gone! The next section was a climb back up the other side of Mt Stromlo, quite steep… I managed to lock my shoe it at the heel and tried not to pedal in circles with one leg…..sort of like doing that ‘rub your tummy, tap your head’ thing....I was hanging in there, and trying not to get more upset with myself….because I was probably the only one in this world championships who has equipment failure on Lap 1…..oh dear!  Finally made it to the top – it was all rideable, even without a cleat, and then got onto the big downhill run to the finish….Tracks called ‘Skyline’ and ‘Luge’ should conjure up a great image of what it was like – and if only I could clip in my left shoe!!!!  Anyway, I still enjoyed the super-fun bits and made it down to the bottom trying to plan what to do next.  Riding into the pit area I came across Andy Fellows’ pit first and shouted at them (nicely) ‘has anyone got some spare cleats??’ They looked a bit amused but some guy from another pit said he had some – so we rode up quickly and he had it on in about 30 seconds flat…..This was great, I thanked him profusely and off I went - over to my pit where Aunty Kim was waiting.  I had seen her as I was finishing my lap – she was finishing her first ‘team’ lap…and told her of my problem.  She went straight to the mechanics and bought me some new cleats too, and was amazed that I already had one put on…So I sent her off to replace the one the other guy gave me after she organised me and sent me off on Lap 2.
Dusk at the Observatory
Lap 2 was much better now I could ride properly and I settled into a pattern of riding a lap, stopping for a few minutes then going out again all fuelled up on chips and chocolate frogs!  Later in the day I had some hot pizza and coffee waiting for me – Mmmmm, yum… and all of a sudden it was getting dark and we were into the night.  The track wasn’t too bad in the night – except for Pork Barrel, and I walked a few bits of this over the course of the night…..the safest way I think.  It wasn’t so bad when I was completely on my own, but if I could hear someone screaming up behind me I was very nervous about holding them up/crashing in front of them etc, so just decided getting off was the better option….
Kim had been keeping tabs on my progress and she could see I was a long way ahead of my nearest competitor… when I came in at 3am, we decided I should have a rest and ease my aching body (mostly hands and neck) for a while before daylight.  I had a lie down but didn’t sleep and it wasn’t very comfortable on the hard ground, but enough to revive me when dawn arrived.  After some coffee and other food I went out again – all rugged up as it was a bit cold now….Day 2, and I’m still ok.
I was quite fatigued during the next few hours and only managed another 2 laps before I was allowed to finish.  There was a compulsory clause to finish a lap after 23hrs if you wanted to claim a podium spot – so I padded out my last lap so I finished after this time.  It was really great, actually.  I stopped up on top of the mountain and chatted to the volunteers who had been up there all night, then walked a bit of the last climb (as it just used different muscles…) and took my time getting down the other side to take in the awesome views…..At the time, I wasn’t sure if I had to start or finish at the 23hr mark… I knew I could have completed at least one more but 2 more would have been stretching it – and I had committed to racing Hells Bells (24hr Adventure race) the next weekend as well…..I should be committed somewhere else, I know! Anyway, the officials said I was ok to finish – so I did!  10 laps completed – almost 200km on a very technically demanding course, I was satisfied I had done my best, and I had won a ‘world championship’ for my efforts!

As most of you know, getting off the bike doesn’t ever mean you are finished – the tedious job of packing up and trudging up to the car with loads of stuff always makes a hard race longer and harder.  My PCM did her very best to make it easier for me, but I still had to do the chores too!  We stuffed everything in the little hire-car.  Everything was covered in dust (better than mud, I guess…) and sped off towards our hotel.  The Crown Plaza was the ‘event’ hotel and we had booked in there for the night to relax after the race….and it was where they were holding the awards dinner as well.  However, at the last minute they changed the venue for this to the ANU, which was slightly inconvenient, as now we would have to catch a cab there – walking 2km’s was not an option….

Showered and clean we had a little sleep and watched some of the Commonwealth Games before heading out to the presentations dinner….It was a fun and relaxing night – and we enjoyed plenty of champagne as the night went on.  I was awarded 1st place in the 50-54 age-group category….and even made a little speech (they should never give me the microphone….) before getting up on stage with all the other ‘winners’ and enjoying our World Championship moment. 

Wow, I had done it and was glad it was finally over.   What had started off an amusing thought about a year earlier, had come to fruition with a chance to say I was a ‘world champion’……at the age of 50.  See, if you wait long enough, it’s not that hard!
 I probably had not done the training miles on the bike I should have done leading up to this event… most of you know our sport also involves paddling, running and swimming….but sometimes going into these things a little under-done is a good plan.  I have to thank everyone who helped me get there, especially for all the encouragement from elite riders during the actual event – they were most patient with my slow riding even though I found it hard to get off the track sometimes, so as not to hold them up!  Aunty Kim, my PCM, you were awesome…..I felt very special and you made it that way……thank-you J J  The attitude of most of the riders on course was fantastic – The really pointy end riders, especially, were polite and respectful – good to see they have learnt this lesson along the way… It makes the sport all the more appealing…… J J

Riding with Ay-ups blazing
Would I do it again……????  Well, I think I’ll try some other masochistic thing next time….. This one is well and truly ticked off now and I am satisfied and happy with my result…. J J J

Hells Bells was a very hard event for me personally…..especially after the goings on over the last few weekends!  The event attracted record numbers as the Fairy Bells option is appealing for newer adventure-racers (and older ones as the winners were our friends Gerbs & Kelly who have scaled down their activities after having baby Iggy…)

The Tri Adventure teams had some awesome results – especially our ‘Rainbow’s team (Hayley, Ant & Jane) who took out the female category in Fairy Bells – great job gals, you were amazing and we are very proud Aunties! 

Other great winners were team RUSH.  Tri Adventure group member Shaun, along with Ali (my younger, faster partner in Vanuatu..) teamed up with Russ Stringer to take out the Hells Bells premier mixed category…ie: the overall winners…..and even though they came in ahead of Aunty Kim in team MD’s, we are so excited for them – a great win and very well deserved!!!  Our other good mates SCAR took out 2nd place and MD’s (after encountering a lot of bad luck and having no local knowledge..) came in 3rd.  In the end they were really lucky to find their way out of that cow paddock…!!!  It sounds funny, but probably wasn’t at the time for Kim, Gary and Bryn….!!

Vintage riders!
Tri Adventure Vintage (Susie, Uncle Glen & Aunty Jan) had a fantastic time getting through the event.  We went out slowly and came home fast – in fact we were the 3rd fastest mixed team on the last MTB – not bad for a few old vintage adventure racers!  From start to finish we had a happy race – and quite a few very funny moments on the boogie boards trying to get flippers on an off.  Susie was a machine on the bike, Uncle Glen was the ever-present gentleman and also got the camera out at every opportunity and Aunty Jan took the map on the rogaine and we all worked together wonderfully.  We really wanted to test what the over 50’s can achieve and I think we showed everyone that it’s entirely possible to have a competitive race even though you are over the ½ century mark!  This was my 6th time at Hells Bells (only missed 2008 – the cold one!) and the event is always challenging and different…..Thanks to Craig and Louise, once again, for a very successful and enjoyable event!  

Lots more stuff in the pipeline for the next few months.....stay tuned.
See you out there!
Jan & Kim