damn these guys and girls fly along.
is it my older eyes? or are most of the girls on 29ers?
I did make it to crits tonight. it was very touch and go with the weather but for the first time i kept to the original plan. i drove to penrith, took the girl with me on the train to work, returned with her to penrith and drove to the race. the weather was sketchy at best but it luckily wasn’t raining until the final lap.
i rolled up and expected to have a bit more warm up time but it wasn’t to be. pretty much one run along the front and returned to the pack as B-Grade was sent off, only just making it. i didn’t even start the gramin till after the first lap. with no warm up and no strategy i was a bit nutty and went out really hard on the first lap… and then the second as well. i was following another guy and i ended up dropping off the back of him. if i had 100% commitment we probably could have broken away but my heart really wasn’t into it tonight.
after that i just settled in and rolled around. nothing special but i was really happy to be back on the girl again. on the 2nd last lap two got away from us and that was pretty much the race done. coming around the front straight for the final time the rain started to get heavier and it was also slowly getting colder. i jumped about halfway down the straight but just didn’t have the legs even when another guy came with me.
the pack passed me as we went came off the bridge and i realised them my race was done. onto the straight and i still stood up and sprinted just to get some crap out from my legs. i was never going to catch the pack so i finished mid field and just happy to have been out on the bike and at the crits again. the result was to be expected considering the last couple of weekends of racing followed by full weeks of nothing.Read More
its been a big week and trying to find time to post about stromlo has been a challenge. looking back, i’m pretty taken back by it all. it feels as though almost an entire years worth of effort was a lead into that one single race even though that was never the plan.
chris and i left sydney a bit later than expected but made good time to canberra. we only paused to pick up some supplies and his final pieces to ride from his place. Arriving at mount stromlo pretty late, around 10.30ish, we set up camp ate a little bit of pasta then slept. i had a very average sleep because i was pretty cold from the stupidity of leaving my sleeping bag at home. chris said he didn’t sleep well either and put it down to nerves.
i rose reasonably early and i started preparing for the race. chris tried to sleep more but couldn’t due to the noise of everyone arriving etc. once up we started to put into place the final preparations for the steeds as well as our game plan. chris had a minor issue with his headset so we rode up the the bike fixer-up-er-ers annex and sorted it pretty easily. then we made our way to the rego window, signed on and rolled back to camp. just before we went to register Trieu had also turned up and set up with us. he was doing the 4hr race solo which a good choice as it was getting hotter and hotter as the day went on.
stromlo had put on a picture perfect day. no clouds, a light breeze but still the temperatures quickly rose to around 30º. we had discussed our game plan, send chris out first that way he would acquire some course knowledge and get the feel for his bike etc then settle into the next 8 hours of racing. from then onwards it was just a matter of finding a pace and sticking to it. we rolled down to the start line, chris and trieu found a middle of the pack spot – and then it was on. race start.
whilst chris was on his first lap i attempted to attach the goPro to carbo but realised it just wasn’t going to work. it was slipping around so there was no way i was going to spend a full lap stressing about it. i continued to eat, mild hydration and about 25min after start i rolled down to transition in anticipation of the first riders in. at about the 32min mark exactly that happened – shit… that was fast considering the course was just under 12km long! i kept rolling around then at almost the 42min mark chris came through transition. i was pretty amazed at his time for the first lap. i wasn’t expecting that good a time with so much traffic out on course.
my plan was to just be consistent on the day. not to crash, not to go and smash myself in the first half just hold a steady speed for as many laps as i could. i tagged chris and i took off for my first. as per usual i was a little bit too aggressively and must have hit the red zone for the first 15min for sure. i was in a fair bit of pain until i started to descend after the top of the course.
ahhh stromlo. its difficult to describe how good the courses are. this place is just amazing. you will climb over some technical sections but once you reach the highest point you can then return down with a series of cut back that allow you to hold super fast speed whilst pinning it through tight corners, over technical smaller rock gardens and also through some muddy patches. the pine section hadn’t allowed all the water to dry up so there were some sketchy/exciting patches with mud that would change behavior each lap. in heaven and just loving every minute of it i didn’t want the lap to end.
i crossed the line in a respectable time of 39:48 – on the day anything sub 40 was sitting with the fast guys and i worked that out pretty quickly. so that became my benchmark to sit under all day … 40′s.
chris went out again & returned so close to a sub 40min lap time. it was then that i realised we were seriously mixing it up with the pointy end of the field. this second lap i had completely settled into my rhythm and just sat up, focused on my climbing, keeping on the gas as much as possible on the descents and rolling through any tight sections with full pace and not touching the brakes. this lap was amazing smashing out a 38:46 time enjoying the moment.
chris went back out again and bought it home in a 42min lap. realising he was seriously keeping me honest there was no choice i was going to have to keep this pace up all afternoon. before this third lap i had fitted the goPro knowing full well it was going to be a video of a top tube for [hopingly] under 40min. i had also checked our current position and we were sitting in 6th place and not too far behind the guys in front, where-as the guys behind us were quite a distance.
this is the teaser of lap three – top tube extravaganza:
we continued on for the next few laps both of us putting in very respectable times for the heat of the day. it was this part of the day that all the cols rides started to pay off. i felt good, really good and had no issues with the climbing – i was comfortable possibly too comfortable? i did end up going over the 40min mark on my fourth which was pretty disappointing. the next lap i hit under 40min again bring back a confidence i was concerned i may have lost. this was probably the best part of my entire race. i was still circulating in the correct place unlike most of my other races where i had always blow out my times on the last few laps.
before the 6th lap i had begun to understand the pairs format a lot more. i was consulting the timing machine – working out the rider no.s that were in front of us, then sizing/watching them in transition to see how far ahead they began there lap. the final lap was going to be more than i could chew to catch the 5th position so i just went out with the same attitude – make it home but keep a good pace.
as i crossed the upper most part of the climb i saw the rider from 5th place fixing a puncture way off to the side. he seemed busy so i continued on. looking back now i feel a fair bit of unsportsmanship like conduct because of it. i did see he was busy doing stuff so i thought he was ok. everyone whom i had passed during the day with any form of mechanical had said they were fine. bahh. i feel bad because as it turned out i did overtake them on that lap and took 5th place in the process.
my final lap was my slowest but still only just outside the 41min mark. the race now done and some how we had placed 5th. what is outstanding about that result is chris hadn’t only really ridden his MTB bikes about 5-10 times [max] over the last couple of years. on top of that he hadn’t ridden a XC specific bike in 13 years and the santa cruz he rode had only been around the block after its final build with new wheels and cranks. very very impressive indeed.
needless to say our bikes were faultless. mine still needs some work, it skips gears under heavy load which could be a rear jockey wheel issue but i rode around that issue comfortably.
carbo is the biz. i still love him. he does the job everytime without so much as a complaint. he needs some TLC which i plan on doing so in the next few months. ready for the next season.
chris seems hooked and we have agreed to smash the full season next your all four rounds. i am so excited to be in a position that we can ride in a team and expect to have descent results each round. next year is going to be awesome.
sleeping bags are a must – in all weather
don’t leave the garmin at home. [so sad about it]
but… maybe i was faster as i could just focus on the ride not the data? food for thought
chris and i are really competitive as a team.
a shade cloth/gazebo is a must [shipping as of 2hrs ago a 3m x 3m]
its best to ride a little during the week before a race. no pedal turning isn’t great
im still in the process of editing the goPro lap three footage. its a big job but i hope to have it completed sooner rather than later. i’m also going back the the spreadsheets to keep a program active. i think i need to focus on that again. it seriously helped Q2 last year.
unfortunately trieu had an off on his last lap. it was a pretty big one and he had completely destroyed his helmet with cracks through it everywhere but thankfully it wasn’t his head. he’s pretty cool, and kept a smile on his face the whole time.
no garmin means only these results for me/us
out of the mens pairs [hardest category on the day] we placed 5th
out of every combo [solo, pairs, mixed, threes, etc] we placed 14th out of 159 in total
12 – 41:05 18.40 Matthew Willis
11 – 47:17 15.99 Chris Gillespie
10 – 39:57 18.92 Matthew Willis
9 – 46:57 16.10 Chris Gillespie
8 – 40:22 18.73 Matthew Willis
7 – 46:53 16.13 Chris Gillespie
6 – 39:36 19.09 Matthew Willis
5 – 42:10 17.93 Chris Gillespie
4 – 38:46 19.50 Matthew Willis
3 – 40:33 18.64 Chris Gillespie
2 – 39:48 18.99 Matthew Willis
1 – 41:48 18.09 Chris Gillespie
done and dusted. not too dusty just hot. very hot. that’s pretty much the fling for this year.
the week leading in i was sick. the scariest weirdest sick i have been. basically my left lung, when i breathed in or out full extension, gave me a pain very much like someone was stabbing me from the inside with a knife. it was fucked up to be honest. it slowly got worse and by the time friday came around i traveled to work – rang the doctor and returned home. i had an x-ray that afternoon but it was too late in the day to get the result back. the radiographer did have to take two x-rays of my chest because – as he put it – “you lungs are really long” which does explain a lot.
i spoke to the doctor and she advise me that i could race but if i did feel any major pain to just pull the plug. traveling home i had pretty much come to the conclusion that i wasn’t going to race. i was in way to much pain so i ended up deciding to at least drive down to capture the day with the goPro etc. and if i felt ok – i would line up and race. today i rang the doctor to checked the results and everything came back clear from the x-ray. weird!
ruben micro packed
i drove to churchy’s early and grabbed some lunch. the lungs were still in a state but not quite as bad. we departed pretty much on time and headed to the shops for some supplies then off to bundanoon. the day was hot but i had been good with hydration the days leading in and also continued eating shit loads even though i didn’t think i was going to race.
on the hume things fell apart just past the picton road on ramp. churchy threw on the hazards then all of a sudden rolled off the road and pulled up. he said the nissan had just stopped running and had no idea why. we looked in the engine bay but didn’t really understand what was going on. after a bit of non mechanics trying to be mechanical fixing it he restarted the car only to have it start smoking. the nissan was deaded.
michael is always smiling
the decision was then made that terrance and i would drive to the fling, i would stay and set up camp and he would return to pick up churchy who was waiting for nrma to come and tow the nissan back to home.
i set up base camp with trieu, matt meed, victoria and christian. we all rode into town and met up with churchy and terrance on their way back to the campsite. that night was pizza in town, good laughs, more food back at camp and into bed around 10:00ish which was perfect.
christian with his pizza face
i slept really well and was up feeling really good. weirdest thing was my lungs were fine as well thank god! i was going to be ok to race – we rose ate, shat, ate some more then i fitted the goPro HD on the seat post. i rolled up to the loos [video above] only to find my legs rubbed on the mounts. there was no way i was going to spend the next 5-6 hours with that rubbing so i pulled the plug on it after i did the one lap of the pony club camping area…. and yes… this is really a video of me riding up to the shitter – then back to base camp.
my ugly mug as the goPro sees it
it had rained over night and it was super humid but thankfully didn’t look like the weather was going to be bad at all, just hot and humid. we rolled up to the start finish – lined up with the game plan of me, churchy and terrance sticking together for the majority of the race. i was going to drag them along the flats as much as possible and they would pace me on the climbs as well as the sniggle sections.
7:30 came too quick and we were off. the start this year was 300% better. it allowed everyone to spread out before any single track so there wasn’t any of the horrible bottle necks that had occurred the previous year. i did slow up a fair bit to keep in touch with churchy and terrance but still felt that this was the best plan for the day. the pre-race target was to avg 20.5 for the entire race which would give us a sub 5:30 finish time.
target times. first one no problems – not even close for the next two
the first split was great. we smashed it in 22.4km average. no issues apart from me over-riding the left into the first transition. we were on good wide gravel road and i was smashing out about 40+km/hr without realising there was a 90º left. a fully locked up rear fixed that and i had to u-turn back only to see i had about 6-7 riders in tow along the road.
in and out of transition fine and the three of us set out on the second leg. again i had to slow it up a bit so i didn’t drop the SS crew but i still felt much better riding paced with them. at least i wasn’t going out to hard. then we descended down a pretty fast firetrail only to hit the bottom where there was a really nasty right turn when your at full pace. churchy was out front and when i saw him lock the rear, not something he does, i echoed the motion and pulled up as quick as possible.
we all pulled over and realised spoon boy, who had done the cols ride with us a couple of rides ago, had over shot the bend and slammed in to a tree. he wasn’t in a good way at all. very winded and in lots of pain. someone had already started to climb the hill to contact the medic that was at the top of the fire trail. we hung around waiting for the medic, then helped move him out of harms way and into shade. we waited until the car came to pick him up. there was no way in the world he was going to be able to ride again.
by the time we left he was much better and he didn’t fell he had broken anything. he had hit the tree at what must have been a pretty hefty speed straight onto his rib cage. luckily we now know hes not too bad. i learnt tonight he hit the tree back first. the medic took down our race. no.’s etc and said he will let the timing people know we were owed 15 minutes.
we pressed on and rode reasonably well to the next food stop. it was a brief stop to fill bottles and eat a couple of banana’s. on the next section i remember churchy complaining about people braking – he was right, due to the helping out with spoon boy we had fallen back behind riders who weren’t as fast as us – they were definitely holding us up on the single track as well as any speed descents. even still, for me it was really good to be in tow of churchy. he descends super fast and it gave me a great pace to keep up with. he is also good to have out in front when it comes to over taking other riders. i have much to learn there, i’m just too nice and get held up a lot waiting around for a long time till we hit wider firetrails.
during this second section on a fire trail i was over taking a guy when i heard him yell out “FAARKKK” he slowed up and it was then that i looked up to see a huge brown snake crossing the firetrail in front of us both. me being a bit thicker than most people decided to ride in front of it to pass it. so stupid. the other guy almost came to a full halt as it crossed. churchy was a little way behind and saw it too as it re-entered the other side of the fire trail.
riding on this is where the real hills began and the first of which i walked up with churchy, then when it kicked up again i jumped on the bike and started to ride it. it was then that i dropped michael and went on with the rest of the race solo. i was still feeling pretty good but knew i had a while to go. i hit third transition – filled bottles and took off for the final run looking back as i left to see if i could see anyone but they weren’t around.
the last sections were brutal. your body’s done for the day and there were some serious climbs. this was when all the cols rides really started to kick in. i rode almost all the hills of the roller coster with only one i missed because i didn’t get it into the little ring smoothly enough.
the final technical section – which is where the majority of the profession pics were taken – zapped the life out of me. exhausted by this point it was a real struggle to get through the technical sections smoothly. i did so and managed to keep it upright but had reached that point where you know its almost over and you really want it to be that. over. i also kept on have vision that churchy was about to come up behind me and over take me!
i crossed the line happy to have finished without any real incidents. carbo performed really well again and i was lucky enough to not have crashed.
terrance ended up pipping churchy on the line which was kinda funny – his comments in the morning were “i just want to beat him” and that he did but sadly on time though churchward got him back with a 6:25 finish and terrance with 6:26 [both times before the 15min deficit ]. terrance took longer in one of the transition areas and paid for it. victoria finished in under 8 hours which is a super effort considering she doesn’t really ride MTB’s that much. Matt Mead finished in 8:40 and he was really happy as well. Trieu had cramping issues but still managed a 3:23 for the half fling. great results by everyone.
with the 15min deficit still to be taken of my time i crossed the line in 6:09:44 which placed me in 41st in cat and 137th overall.
so by my calculations with the corrected time should be 5:54:44 29th in category and about 104th overall.
not bad i guess. now rest up for stromlo this weekend.
can’t wait. super pumped and am going to give the go pro a serious work out!
ruben stacked – 3 bike frames – 2 sets of wheels. tent, esky table, cooker, three bags… just nuts!