Time to get racing Jess! 2014 a new year.

1459827 10203233942036186 359884342 nTwo weekends ago I raced one of the MTBA National rounds in the discipline of XCO.
Short 5km course at Mt Buller. I love Mt Buller, the tracks are always fun yet to race them its a tough hit out.
The XCO course included leaving the village area up a road climb, and into single track with a lot of descending for about 5 minutes. Then the rest of the course was up, up and some very steep up.

Whist the ratio or up to down did not suit my curent fitness level, I faced up to the event with the knowledge this was going to hurt and it was going to at an intensity I would not visit on my own training right now.

I am sure my husband Norm thinks I am totally amazing and can pull a good race out of nowhere as in the lead up, I am not nervous just eager to get started, however I can feel Norm is nervous for me, but why? I can only figure he wants me to do well and maybe is hoping for a good result.

The truth is, I barely “train” anymore and havent done so since the WEMBO 24hr solo champs in October 2013. For nearly 16 weeks I have ridden because I love riding, gone hard because I felt good that day, rode long because I could, climbed hills because they were there, raced for the personal challenge and if I was not in the mood to ride...well I went for a walk instead!
I do have some goals for 2014 that involve winning races however I do not think I will start proper training for a little while yet, I have just got too much on to fit the expectations of a scheduled training regime in.

1604761 10151913899801003 231221776 nIts not only because I needed a break from regimented training, I have also been pre occupied with running our many businesses.
MTBSkills.com.au, The Corner Store Forrest, The Corner Store Buller, The Forrest Festival and keeping all the staff involved as happy as I can too.
Most days if I allow myself, I find myself enjoying working in and on the businesses more rewarding than riding my bike however if I don't ride my bike I get cranky and resentful towards my work. Its a fine balance and sometimes it goes out of whack at either end of the scale.

So of course the hit out at the nationals was always going to hurt and I was totally cool about that.
I know what its like to push hard, see what I can find even when its not there.

A few weeks ago I turned 41. At pretty much the same time I realised I was sore and inflexible and could never remembering feeling so bad. Tired, overworked, not looking after myself, not getting massages, not stretching, not sleeping well and really feeling unwell. I am not one to dwell on this so am using the next few weeks to get back in touch with life, my purpose and my goals. Stretching daily, eating and drinking to provide all the good stuff, going to bed early, doing what I call “soul rides” to improve my mood and outlook on life and its worries, remembering to be greatful for every single thing in my life and to give my time and energy into relationships with others.

I never did get to finish my race at the National XCO at Buller, I was pulled out with many other girls on the 80% rule on 5 laps. Oh well, Bec Henderson, Jenni King and Tory Thomas put the pressure on big time and smashed out 1st 2nd and 3rd. I enjoyed my visit to the house of pain...just wished for much much more descending time per lap!
It was great to hang out with Rebecca Locke, Naomi Williams, Sarah Riley and Katie Chancellor for a bit too, great team mates of Liv/giant.

1920613 10151915655571003 1610126878 nAfter a week of working at the Corner Store Buller, riding and training at Mt Buller and many sleepless nights due to the heat on the mountain, my next event loomed straight before me.
Certainly more my style with a 12hr solo effort at the Gravity 12hr in Bright.
I was also really looking forward to spending a weekend with my best friend, support person and husband dearest, Norm.
He met me there on a beautifully sunny Friday and off we went for a practice lap of the course with Siobhan as well. On Friday the trails were dry and dusty but a heap of fun. I noticed pretty early on how pedally the course was and already could foresee the lack of flow and free speed that would missing on race day – ouch!

Saturday – race day, I woke up tired and really keen for about 3hrs more sleep.
I cannot recall the last time I started a race at 8am and was not ready, thank goodness for the can of caffeinated beverage in the fridge I was about to consume!
The day presented mild constant drizzle with cloud cover set in throughout the hills of Bright.
The forecast promised a wet day and the dry dusty conditions of yesterday were quickly turned into slippery mud and much of the trails turned to a red slick clay as well.
I started the day with a short sleeve jersey and never got cold, infact I preferred the wet conditions and managed to stay cramp free with no feelings of nausea or hunger either.

I can recall the first mild climb, and I mean mild change in gradient and I had barely any zip in my legs. I felt tired, felt lethargic but happy to be at this race. There was nothing I could do to whip up more speed at this point and as an endurance racer often knows, your energy levels change often throughout a race, so I was hopeful I would find some speed later.
Intitally the lap took around 45 mins and reaching a goal of 14 laps looked possible.

By lap 2 the track had gotten wetter, the rooty uphills and downhills in the pines where just a bit more slippery and vision was tough on the fast fireroad sections.
The laps were starting to push out to 50 mins and things were getting slippery but all the same fun.

1912413 10152176935738350 27265522 nAround 4hrs 50 min into the race I remember thinking I would be nearly half way through by the time I got back into transition without much emotion or consideration for anything.
Then suddenly I was doddling along not quite hating it, not quite loving it and female rider passed me like I was suffering bad. She was happy chripy and pretty clean. It was at this point I started to second guess myself.

  • Do I suck this bad?
  • How slow am I going?
  • Is she solo?
  • Should I just give up?
  • Surely I am not that shit?

I had to do everything in my control to regain composure and pull myself back in the game.

This kind of thing happens often whilst racing these events, sometimes its a constant struggle, sometimes its a rarity. I was totally aware that I was lying to myself, telling myself such negative reinforcements.
It was at this point I started to get back into the race. Focusing on time splits through boring sections of trail, looking forward to challenges rather than resenting them. Getting my drink bottles finished by the time I got back to transition etc...
I then started to pass people and realised I had lost the plot for a lap or two prior.

The mud increased, the drizzle did not let off. One part of the trail started to get a bit dangerous and people were sliding down this steep piece of trail and the other side that was steep as well was near impossible to walk up. At this point I told Norm to let Iain know I thought it needed looking at and I wasnt the only one who was saying this. Thankfully on the next lap the section was cut out and shaved a good 5 minutes off my time!

As I started to feel good and could see the other side of 6hrs I caught up to young Hayden, who was 16 and racing solo. Had a great chat to him, offered some advice and rode with him for about 6km of the course. It was a nice touch to be able to ride with a young up and coming athlete and chat about his future.

By now the rain was clearning and the ground was drying up, but the clay was becoming sticky and the tyres were often getting caked in clay. People were still having silly crashes with too much speed and then too much braking.

I remember coming in with about 2hrs 40 mins to go saying to Norm, “ok I will do 2 more laps” and in my mind thinking that in fact it would be 3 laps I would do but I would trick myself into doing 2 more and on the last time I come in, just quickly go again and be done with it.
I came in at 7:15pm and therefore did not need lights for my last lap.
I was off and this lap went so quick...what a pleasure it is to finish these races.

1913234 642295799167929 1743561889 oI was caked in mud.
My bike had been washed of some of the mud but was still a red clay and mud mess.
My XTR gears were never ever an issue with every gear change in my 2 x 10 happening as smooth as though there was no mud.
XTR brakes were faultless too. The Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25 tyres were perfect and I never lost it out there on the slippery trails.
Most of all my Liv/giant Lust Advanced 27.5 0 was amazing through the conditions. Pain free position, no back issues, everything perfect for the entire 12hrs.

Norm the crazy cat, was MC for the 12hr event and also looked after me!
Thanks for a great event at the Gravity 12hr in Bright, my 2nd race of the year, some great base building and a WIN!
Thank you to all the other women who turned up and raced solo, it is always a great honor to be pushed and pushed to the final hour and have solid competition. Wendy and Jackie – thanks heaps!

Video of the race thanks to Hand cut productions