After a sweaty practice lap and some spicy Yummy Thai in Morisset , things were hotting up for the Chocolate Foot SRAM Singletrack Mind series finale at Awaba Mountain Bike Park. Most categories in the series promised some nail biting action to produce the over series winners, while others such as the women’s open solo category were decided even before the race began! For me, with a free entry to the event from Hammer Nutrition and a guaranteed series second place, Awaba was more about enjoying the trails and enjoying the weekend away!
Somehow amidst the fluster of trying to leave Canberra before lunch on Saturday, I managed to only pack one riding kit. Usually that would be fine, how sweaty could you get after one 40min practice lap? Very sweaty is the answer! And especially after nearly crapping my dacks riding down that oh-so-steep concrete ramp section, the clothes situation for Sunday was looking to be less than desirable! Nevertheless, clad in my clammy racing outfit I headed out with the pack on Sunday morning, following Gumby to the start line for what would be our final eight hour for 2012.
Awaba: Steep hills, lush gullies and freakishly steep concrete ramps…
The race started out well with myself finding good positioning mid-pack and, thanks to the nice sharp pinches of the opening fire trail, the first lap congestion was not too bad this time. There were a few obstacles that I had flagged as ‘iffy’ in my mind on the practice lap rather than actually practicing them, (oops) so I paid careful attention to watch riders in front and I rode everything comfortably which is a nice change for me.
Nutrition wise, after a terrible experience recently in the 100 mile Highland Fling, I was very focussed on eating enough and not bonking this race. I seem to struggle a lot with eating in the heat, so this race I turned back to the good old Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem. My nutrition plan for this race was a lap with a perpetuem bottle followed by a lap on an electrolyte bottle plus a gel and it seemed to work really well.
There were three Canberra ladies in the solo open women’s category this race, with our buddy Eliza Kwan attending her first STM race and Libby making the change from masters to mix it up with us in open. Janet was along to make it six from six races but no Liz this time, so it was fun to ride with Eliza and Libby for at least one lap! I really enjoyed the course and loved how varied it was. One second you were thinking how much this hill was hurting, only to be careering downhill the next second and riding through lush cool gullies the second after that. Awaba would be a great place to camp on a weekend and mountain bike with some buddies. Heck, it was a great place to hold a round of the STM series, it was just this heat that was killing us.
After 5.5 hours of laps, it was clear the temperature was taking its toll. My feet were incredibly painful; loosening my shoes and pouring water on the each lap wasn’t helping. My core temperature was skyrocketing and it felt like I was on fire from the inside out. This white, pasty and fragile Canberran was wilting in the 30 degree heat and humidity that Awaba had turned on for us and it all started going downhill from here, literally…
I was taking it very slow and steady up the Camelback climb for the seventh time when I started to cramp a little in my left hammy. I went to shake it out at the very top but it was a bit rocky, I completely overbalanced and rolled ass over face down the very steep embankment. Lying there with trees poking into my back and then carrying my bike above my head back up the side of the hill, I decided this was not fun anymore. Joe confirmed for me at the end of that lap that I was now 22 mins off third place, so I rolled around to our transition area and plonked myself down in a comfy seat. So comfy it would seem, that I stayed there for the rest of the race, cheering others on and eating copious amounts of ice and salty chippies. It was the right choice for me, as I wouldn’t have gained anything from continuing other than more cramps, pain and the inability to drive The Seb home to Canberra!
I take my hat off to those other solo riders that managed to make the full eight hours. Ed just looked happier and happier each time he rode past and Libby seemed to be as consistent and nonchalant as ever. And to the screaming guy wearing just his bib knicks who was yelping in pain from his cramps but still riding somehow, big kudos!
We hung around for presentations and series awards where Seb Johansen *aahrghgh* I mean Seb Dunne, even managed to score himself a new set of SRAM wheels! The Canberra contingent we traveled with went very well with Sebria taking third for the day and third overall in the series; Ed winning the Awaba event and the men open solo for the series; and Libby storming through the women’s open solo field to win the Awaba race and get third for master’s women’s series. I managed to hold onto second for the series, proving that consistency is key but really I know that Janet and Liz flogged my every time we all raced! Big congrats to you Janet, I don’t know how you kept backing up after all those races in between including Backyamma and the 24hr!
Thanks for an awesome series of racing Chocolate Foot. Joe and Fi you put a lot of effort into making the events accessible to all types of riders and somehow you manage to take an event where we grind ourselves into the ground for eight hours, and you just make it really FUN! I’ll definitely be back next year and hopefully with some sharper singletrack skills to hit out laps with more speed and confidence.
For now though, it is time to go get started on my food training for Christmas.
The racing season is over, so let the Christmas feasts begin… are YOU ready?