Bendigo Golden Triangle Epic – 100km March 15th 2014

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Whenever I am contemplating what to write about in a race report, I always ponder over “What did you learn about life today Jess?”
Racing for me is not just about a podium or the glory, it is far deeper than that.
I made a decision four years ago, when I won the 2010 World Solo 24hr championship in Canberra and suffered from the typical depression afterwards that there was more to life than winning.

And so I continually seek new focus and purpose for racing.

Firstly – if it ain't fun then don't do it again. Sometimes a venue or the vibe or location is uninspiring, no matter how much energy I put in so nothing is lost, in fact I probably did get to chat to a few people I may not have met otherwise, I probably got to visit a region that was awesome and I may not come back again but hey, not all was lost.

Secondly – I have a bit of a rule, for example, travelling from Forrest to the You Yangs for a XC race is not so bad in travel time. 1Hr 15mins to get there, 1.5-2hrs racing, 1hr 15 mins home, and I can do the shopping, visit my parents or even do a private MTBSkills session with a client. Good time management and return for investment. However, I would be hesitant to travel to Albury for example for the same thing, unless I could tie something else in with it. I cannot put time in the bank, money can be re-earnt, time is lost forever.

Thirdly – Who can I meet, who can I say hello to, I always live in hope that I get to chat with new people and make a difference to their day. Its not just about me being a 3 x 24hrWC, however this platform gives some sort of kudos with people, children, men and loads of women. I totally love chatting with them and finding out what makes them tick or just even saying a kind welcoming hello on the trails. The more I can meet and chat to the better my day, regardless of my race result.

And finally and fourthly – What lesson can I learn today? No matter what my competition, the event format, the end result or the reward...what can I focus on and grow from?

At the Bendigo Golden Triangle 100km Epic, my focus was on facing fears and conquering them.
Sometimes fears are not just big tangible things like doing a bungee jump or public speaking.
Often every day fears of smaller things are what paralyse people into inaction.

Last weekend at the Bike Buller MTB Festival, I saw a couple of examples of just that.
On the final day I knew of someone deciding not to race.
The reasons were:
I just know I will hurt myself if I go out today
I want to race but I know that I will go hard and not preserve myself and I just think its better if I dont ride today. 
How I read that is I am scared to face myself, I am unable to take my ego out of this and just ride and finish the event. I am worried that it will take me a little longer than I would like in my current fitness level and that will disappoint me and maybe embarrass me a little. I sooo want to ride, but I am just letting these minor worries work my into inaction.
And the more I talk myself into NOT riding, the more I believe my reasons.

1234136 10151969462886003 1927197129 nSo what was yesterdays fears?
Hard Work, Hurting through an early morning, a long drive, tough competition and riding 100kms, and finally facing my true inner self for when I am hurting the voices do start to talk. This final point is always my greatest fear and greatest accomplishment.
Putting in the full quota with NO REGRETS is always tough, especially when you are faced with strong competition. Its easy when you are winning you have that extra motivation, but when its all about you doing your best for yourself thats tough and rewarding. It certainly teaches me that in ANY situation I can achieve anything I want to work hard at and never give up, anything...!

Yesterday despite all the steps I had to take to get there I knew that if I just did what needed to be done, regardless of my emotions or “what I wanted”, I would turn up, race & finish and go home.
The day would pass, the race would finish, and today, Monday would be here before I knew it.

So my self talk, is “to do and not think”, just DO. If you know what to do and plan a little ahead, then you just act out those steps and turn it into a non thinking process and more of a DOING process. The less you need to think and analyse the better you can execute these tough days, do your thinking in your planning.

Driving from Forrest to Bendigo was just over a 3 hour drive. So I had to get up at 3:40am to make sure I had the car packed and a coffee and was on the road by 4am to get to Bendigo just after 7am as the race started at 8am.
Packing bags, the stuff I would need pre race, race, and post race included food, drink, clothes, towel, bike, spares etc...
Now all that gear listed needs prior preparation and planning to ensure it is all there, it works, the food is kept cold, the drinks are made up etc...
Then the day before I was in the shop for most of the day, on my feet, but not riding. Sort of good rest, and allowed me to focus on others instead of me.
Saturday night, I set the alarm for 3:40am and went to be just before 9pm. It hurts knowing you are getting up that early to drive somewhere to put yourself in the box and doing it solo too.
Norm stayed in Forrest and worked all day.
So I stuck to my plan, and I was off at 4:05am.
I got to Bendigo just after 7am and raced at 8am.
My next fear was meeting my competition, Rebecca Locke and Naomi Williams were good little hill climbers and Bec I had been across many times in longer races knowing she had more accleration in those legs and 10kg's less in body weight too. What can I do? I could not control these girls or the other 2 who were in our category, but I could do my best and find just a little more beyond this.

100km of constant tweaking and checking to see if I could possibly go harder, pedal faster, let off the brakes earlier, climb that hill quicker, and of course drink and eat along the way before bonking.
Once I am in the “zone”, this is the part I enjoy about racing, regardless of if I am winning or otherwise. Its remarkablely easy to lose focus and settle into comfortable and I did find myself doing it maybe 2 times for about 30 seconds.
Eventually all the tick boxes are checked and the race magically finishes, regardless of whether I stuck to my plan or not. This is what I am so acutely aware of, the what ifs, the could of would of should ofs. It is my goal to never ponder over this and instead reflect on my lessons learnt and how will I put this into practice NOW so I can do better tomorrow.

Just how did the race pan out?

The 100km race was started in waves, with Elite Women and all other non Elite Men categories starting with a short break before the next category.
Elite women were off first with a 150mt long dirt road climb into single track and then onto some very new trails. The singletrack was punctuated by some long, some short sections of 4wd style tracks and one very fun roller coaster ride along a powerline clearing road. The toughest section was maybe 3km long that followed an aquaduct, flattish double track that was fast and thankfully both times I had wheels to follow. A lap was around 52km long x 2.
Tactfully done, Bec and Naomi left me up the front of the first climb and it seems I got my shoe into pedal beautifully so when I took my first pedal stroke I was already 2 mts up on the girls.

The first 10 mins of the single track it was me, Bec, Naomi & Jacki in a bunch and eventually it was just the 3 of us. On each tiny climb, I would go 105% more than I thought I could, knowing I had 2 tiny whippets on my tail who could climb in their sleep. The legs were burning and resisting the cadence, yet I just kept pedalling at the same tempo and told me body to comply with my wishes. I finally told Bec to take the lead on the next fireroad climb and she did. Great to follow someone else, I found myself doing the MTBSkills lesson with her again, reminding Bec to look up and find the lines down a rutted piece of trail. It might have been around the 18km mark that we had a vets guy pass us and Bec took his wheel and I could not go. She stayed in sight for around the next 5-6km and then gone. It was now just the two of us. I so wanted Ren (Naomi) to finish as she said she did not feel up to doing 100km. We discussed tactics and I had it in my head she would do the 100km. I think I may have even convinced her too!

A couple of guys from behind caught us, and we stayed together for around 10-15km and thankfully we had their wheels to sit on when we got to the aquaduct. Ren had a crash which she was ok and laughing about not far after this and this is where the boys got a lead on us.
So it was just Ren and I again and about 10km from the finish of the first lap, Ren had a fast and hard crash whilst following me. She went over the bars and I think may have sommersaulted and hurt her neck. I stopped and tried to gee her up into forgetting the fall and riding. She was not keen to get riding pronto and told me she was ok, but to go. And so I went.

Lap one was done in around 2hrs 43 mins, or close to and now I was out for lap 2 after a bunch of young 12 year old boys on the side lines cheered me on and said, “go Jess, the leader is just up the road!” Nice work boys, I was sure Bec was flying and well in front yet I did never give up hope.

The next lap my legs were truly burning and I did experience multiple double whammy cramps that I just rode through. After the race, I had chats with a few people about cramping, and do I get them and what do I do? I said that I just keep riding, I try to go to an easier gear, keep drinking and continue pedaling. Their comments were “oh my legs just cease up and I can't pedal” and my response was, “your legs may FEEL like they are ceasing up, yet the amazing thing is, the mind knows how to turn the legs over so the pedals move and keep the bike moving, yes it hurts, yes it FEELS like you cant move, but in fact you can and the cramps go quicker this way than stopping and dismounting the bike!” I still dont think they believe that my cramping episodes are as bad as theirs!

Being truly on my own now, I could do all the things I had listed in my head without compromising on personal promises to self. This lap I reverted to longer fireroad climbs being out of the saddle big chain ring efforts. It gave the legs and back a good stretch and a different challenge. I promised myself to get lower, to brake later and to look earlier on descents to give myself a faster and flowier experience descending.

All these little goals added up and I did negative split the 2nd lap by a couple of minutes even though I was hurting more.
I finished the race in 2nd place and felt really happy that I had turned up.

1966704 10152356497079954 1429861666 nPersonally, the podium finish was a nice touch for the effort, however I really enjoyed catching up with loads of people, chatting with new faces and a lot of older faces that I met when I first started racing. I got to talk to the Bendigo club crew about new projects and how excited they are about this new trail network and a proper hub that will be in place very soon. The locals like John Harvey who invested time and effort years ago putting up land to be used for racing, and now whats going on in the area, amazing that a few people with passion can lead to a ground swell. So that was great to listen to as well.

Loved the chin wag with Jackie Ren and Naomi afterwards in the afternoon sun and then the good last minute long chat with old friend Peter McWaters who did the 50km in the Super masters having just turned 60 this January.
You could say I was on a high, and a bonus to win some cash and be on the podium with Bec and Jackie.

...and what was my lesson/s from this race?

Never be afraid of hard work & absorb yourself in others and their glory for the warmth that glows from them glows on you!