The Tortoise and the Hares

The Tortoise and the Hares

I'd committed to races plenty of times this year, but every time I did, something would go wrong; I'd end up injured, sick or with a broken bike. It felt like the universe was trying to tell me to stop racing! Never being one to believe imaginary forces were controlling my life, it was time to get back up and dust myself off and have another go, so I entered the Shimano MTB Grand Prix 7hr at Stromlo, nervous, but keen...

The first lap of the race was an hilarious blast around the road crit track at Stromlo. Watching mountain bikers trying to ride in a fast road bunch was both funny and scary as hell at the same time; riders touching wheels and jamming on brakes all over the place. The safest place to be was at the front, so I used some creative over taking line choices on the grass to make sure I got to the single track safe and without any bottle necking drama.

So far so good...

From my category (Masters Solo) I'd only seen Ian on the start line, so I figured he was the man to beat today and followed him up the climb and kept my eye on him, out of sight I thought, until he jokingly yelled out to me that he could see me shadowing him in the switch backs, damn, my cover was blown! :) I decided to just roll up to him have a chat; if I couldn’t spy I may as well be sociable (while continuing to spy ;)). We rode around together for a couple of laps and this is where I found out there were two other guys up the road and we were in 3rd and 4th, not 1st and 2nd as I had been assuming, bugger! Jamie Vogele had made the trip from Port Macquarie and had put in an awesome effort to make an early break away and already pulled a few minutes lead on us.

Time to put in some effort and see what happens...

Kylie had made a huge effort to come out and help me in transition between running our kids to their end of season soccer presentations, and having her there proved vital to this race working out. She let me know that 2nd placed Darren was only a minute up the road and his lap times were blowing out in a big way. Her intel kept me focused on where I was in the field and how much effort was needed to catch him, allowing me to carefully pace myself, like the tortoise, slowly catching back up to the hare that had shot off the front earlier in the day.

Darren must have over cooked the start because I caught him on that same lap and he didn't give chase when I went past him, which was a bit of a relief to be honest ;)

Two down and one to go...

I wasn't sure where Jamie was, but had been told he was "minutes" ahead, which is often an impossible gap, but if you stay consistent and plug away, you can chip away at the other guys lead sometimes, and if they fade in the slightest way at the end, you can pounce. Luckily for me today, that is exactly how it panned out. Jamie was getting tired and I was just trying to hit the climb in the same gear every lap and flow down the mountain with the same style (think Mr Plough from the Simpsons ;)), and stay consistent. Classic tortoise :)

Kylie had to leave to take the kids to soccer, but the heavenly Anne came to fill in for her and keep me hydrated and fuelled while she was gone. This meant I didn't have to unclip from my bike all day and it was on lap 9 that Anne delievered the race winning intel I needed... the gap to Jamie had come down to 60 seconds and he was finally in reach!

Time to bridge...

I put in some extra effort for a couple of laps and finally saw Jamie in the distance. There is something so motivating about seeing your opposition and I sprinted up to him, on a rush of adrenaline. Ever the gentleman, he moved over and let me by.

Time to (pretend to ;)) look strong and get out of sight...

Out of the saddle and riding away I knew that getting out of sight was key, the climb up the mountain hurt like hell this lap, but I knew it was worth the effort when I looked back and there was no sign of Jamie.

I could see he was too tired for a miraculous come back or counter attack so the last couple of laps were all about spinning it home amd not making any mistakes. Thankfully none were made, the bike held together and I rolled across the finish line in one piece :)

Kylie had come back from soccer and it was a real buzz to have her and the kids there to share this moment. It had been a tough year of not really getting a clean shot at a race, so it was pretty elating to finally take a win this year.

Thanx to Anne for taking time out of her weekend, what a legend, and to Kylie for juggling the kids with her fourth kid (me). It was also good to see Mick Spencer come out and hand me up a bottle and cheer me on mid race, what a legend, your awesome green OnTheGo kits were flying around the course today. Schwalbe racing ralphs and Cannondale bikes kept me rolling all day without so much a hiccup and Hammer Nutrition kept me fuelled up and hydrated. I've been using the Hammer Sustained Energy lately and it's keeping me full of energy all day long.

Shimano MTB Grand Prix 7hr at Stromlo
Canberra, Australia

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