The Rydal STM Chocolate Foot round was a bit of a fail race for me. A combination of a very bad night’s sleep, a crazy twitching eye, riding my 26er for the first time in six months, leaking shocks… the list continues but mainly I just felt absolutely dead. I think on my third lap I was overtaken by the last person on the course and then proceeded to get lapped by the fast boys. I pulled over and nearly burst into tears when I saw Gumby standing on the side of the track holding out a pretty little posy of flowers for me. I knew my race was finished so I rolled back to the start after three laps and called it a day.
But oh what a day it turned out to be! I came to the realisation yesterday that I have actually had very little involvement in the buzz of activity that happens back at the event center.
I thought I could put myself to good use helping out Sebria who were smashing out laps at the top of the mixed pairs category. Seb was back in form after a back injury put him out of action for the Welby round and the prettier half (Ria) was also relaxed and spritely as ever following a few easy weeks where the wedding had utmost priority! Being perfectly positioned next to the Muc-Off station and having super-support-crew Pete looking after them, Sebria were going great guns!
So, feeling rather superfluous I ventured out into the showground to get amongst the hype. I visited nearly all the event sponsors and this is definitely a not-so-subtle plug for them!
After a much needed cappuccino from Longpoint Coffee I grabbed a seat and watched the youngsters (and Al on his unicycle) battle it out in the kiddies race. It was still surprising chilly and within 30 mins I was back for a second coffee and a sausage from the Rydal Showground Committee BBQ. Cofffeeeeee!!!! By 11am my eyes were wide open and I was bouncing around in a happy place at last.
Casually talking to a friend Marty who had also semi pulled the pin, our ears pricked up when we heard the announcement that the wine tasting was officially now open. What the heck! We weren’t racing anymore and it was past midday! We headed over to meet the James Estate crew and taste some of their produce. After a good mouthful of all varieties I settled on the James Estate Petit Verdot which will go down a treat with some fine red meat next weekend. The brochure aerial shots of the vineyards revealed their proximity to Wollemi National Park, and apparently Jimmy Jack (AKA Graeme) has made an awesome network of mountain bike trails to suit a wide range of skill levels. We will definitely have to drop by on our next visit to the Hunter Valley!
Right next to the wine tasting was the Mountain Biking Australia tent where I grabbed myself a free magazine and went to read it the sunshine while watching Gumby get clobbered with tyres as part of Kenda quoits. Hehe.
Next, I headed over to the Body Mechanic where I met Blair. I explained the niggly shoulder issues and he soon had me on the table and massaging out the tight spots. He explained how the guys at the practice all participate in running, cycling and multi-sport events and are very familiar with typical cycling injuries. He even gave me some tips on how to help activate the shoulder before events like this one. Magic!
As the day was drawing to a close, the solo riders were coming through looking dustier and dustier. Fellow On the Rivet rider Ed was having a cracker of a race and seemed to have pulled a good gap on Andy Hall, riding off the front to take the win. Sebria were on fire and Ria was pulling out some amazing lap times – “riding like a demon” was the saying of the day. I was trying hard not to gloat to increasingly exhausted Seb about coffees, wine and feeling a million dollars (nearly) after a rub down. I popped his bike over to SRAM / Shimano neutral support and then sent him out for one of the last few laps. Unfortunately a very unlucky flat in the second last lap pushed them back to finish in second place after leading for nearly the whole day. It was still a brilliant result and it was great to be a part of supporting such a ripper team! Congrats!
While it was disappointing to have traveled such a long way to only race for two hours, I was super impressed with the non-racing side of the setup the Chocolate Foot crew put together. After a day of what felt like pure indulgence compared to racing for eight dusty hours, I have to say thanks to all for a great day of entertainment.
Plus, I have to admit that that will probably be the easiest fourth place I’ll ever get away with!