My Blog

Wildside - Tasmania Jan 2012

27 February 2012

cradlemountainAfter spending a couple of weekends at Mt Buller over January for MTBSkills Womens camps and then the MTBA National series I was starting to find some form.

This was the best I had felt in the month of January in a long time.

It took me a while to work out why...no 24hr race in my legs from the October before.

But instead a massive 10 day race, the Crocodile Trophy. Tour legs feel sooo much better than post 24hr legs.

So I was home for 3.5 days and then off for Wildside in Tasmania.

I must admit I was really feeling like pulling out and instead enjoying some quiet time at home. 

But I had planned to do this back in May 2011, thanks to Todd & Charmaine Stanton who offered to whisk me around Tassie with them for the event. Flights were booked, entry paid for...all I had to do was turn up and enjoy. Oh and try my hardest in each and every race. There was some big competition to be had. 

I arrived in Hobart on Australia Day just on early evening. I instantly fell in love with the layout of Hobart and made a deal to come back again soon!

The next day we made our way to Cradle Mountain and travelled via some food stops including Cherry farms, rasperberry farms and we could have gone to a cheese place and a chocolate place, but we were running out of time. More deals with self to return to Tasmania with Norm via the ferry and do a big tour.

Eventually we arrived at Cradle Mountain and oh my goodness the trip to get there was amazing with some pretty crazy mountainous roads. Still gobsmacked, I was totally unaware how incredible Cradle Mountain would be. When we got to the end of the road with Dove Lake as our vista, I instantly wanted to pull out of the race and spend 5 days exploring this part of Tasmania. How mean to get people to race their bikes through this area!

After registering and realising that every 2nd Victorian Mountain biker and his dog was there, we travelled back to Tullah Chalet which is not really what I call a chalet but none the less the lake vista was also beautiful. So now it was time to stop looking at gorgeous views and do some race prep and get a good nights sleep. 

Day 1. Cradle Mountain – 18km

I started the day off in group J, the groups went from A through to M or N I think, with a bunch of girls that I ended up knowing most of.

The start was on a downhill rough lumpy grassy descent with a sharp right hander. As soon as I took my position on the start line I had worked out what line I would ride and hopefully that would give me the clear run. It sure did and for the rest of the race I did not see the other girls. I really enjoyed this course and came in only 2 seconds slower than Jenni King. Jenni was in another group, so its hard to tell how we would have raced had we been in the same group.

Now we have finished, we ride the "cruise stage" of 14km to lunch. Poor Sally Fenner has a pedal issue so Eliza & I hung out with her to ensure she got back to the Lunch spot safely.

Day 1. Comp stage 2. Que River.

I forgot to mention that it was a hot day, and for some reason in this part of Tasmania, it felt hotter than about 32 degrees. Lunch time was spent standing up and not really resting, it was hot and I really took too long to get there in the cruise stage.

I also was so silly in the start of this race, being regrouped into Group C after stage 1, I had Jenni in my race now. I got a bad position and within 30 seconds I was testing out my ratcheting and track standing skills and seeing people crash within the first 2 minutes of the race. Argh...vow never to give myself a crap start on the grid! None the less I started to find my own groove and get past those that were in my way. The first half of the race I really enjoyed...and then the heat and hills got to me. Exposed gravel, rocky climbs up a powerline ridge really did my head in, and those that I passed started to pass me.

I lost a lot of time on this race and I think Jenni beat me by 10 mins.

I learnt some valuable lessons and decided it was time to turn my race head on.

I now had Amity McSwan breathing down my neck. I had to keep fighting with 3 days to go.

Day 2. Sterling Valley – 14km

After yesterdays Stage 2 bad start I made sure I hussled for a good position and worked hard for it.

The road was a double track with massive fist sized rocks scattered everywhere, I just stayed light and imagined I was floating not fighting over them. It paid off and I got a good start into the single track that grinded its way uphill for ages. Slippery rock and mud surface, it was hard to tell when you could trust the surface or not. A slog none the less but beautiful surrounds all the same. What came next was a part of the trail I would have loved to have pre ridden. I mean there were roots, and drops and sort of "waterfall" sections that just kept dropping away. Sometimes it was obviously rideable, sometimes not so obvious. Speed or momentum was crucial to keep the front wheel moving through these sections and I did not ride them all. I wish I had of as I lost more time today – again! Ouch. Ok, next stage I have to put it out there.

Lunch at Rosebery I ensured that I sat down and did not speak much, it was hot again. I needed to rest and prepare for the next stage.

Day 2. Competition stage 4. Montezuma Falls – 38km

Thank goodness a longer stage! By now it felt like 40 degrees and we had a start line on a black bitumen road, with a 6km road climb before we hit the rain forest and tram line to the Montenzuma falls swing bridge. I had been told to take the time to look at the falls, so many people forgot to last time they raced.

I was excited for 2 reasons, I love a 6km road climb and I love a longer 38km race!

I decided to make it my business to sit nice and close to Jenni the entire climb even if I went in the red for too long, I knew I could handle this as the gradient was perfectly suited to me. I got to the bridge 5th in line and had about a 30 second wait until I could hop on it.

Yep, I was so focused on balancing on this swing bridge whilst trying to wheel my bike that I have no idea what the falls looked like. Next time...

After the bridge, I really started to find my mojo on the trail. It was a wide 4 wd drive track but scattered with puddles that took up half the road. So it required you to weave from left to right to the centre and back again and sometimes the puddles were dry and sometimes they were full. It was a lot of fun. This section was a slight 1-2% gradient and then the same trend of trail started with a 2-3% gradient down. I cant remember how long the trail lasted like this, but I was having fun and passing people all over the shop. I got a slight niggle of cramps first in my right adducter then in my left, but I kept spinning, kept drinking and came good again.

I totally loved today, caught up with Mike Back and had some fun riding with him.

I came in today just over a minute behind Jenni King. A much better day at the office! 

Tonight we stayed in Zeehan. The cool change was about to come.

Day 3. Zeehan Spray Tunnel Time Trial. 6 km

 

After a great sleep and a bit of a sleep in too, we were off to do the time trial in the rain today. It was not too cold yet, but it was wet and had rained most of the morning so far.

I opted to wear a rain jacket and that was by far my dumbest decision for the entire race. Instant hotness! I tried to find some speedy legs, tried and kept trying and never gave up. Not a fast time, infact the 4th fastest time in the girls today. But did not lose much time either in such a short race.

 

The cruise stage to Trial Harbour was great fun, thankfully Todd and I had packed spare clothese to change into when we got there. Thanks Charmaine for getting there early.

 

Day 3. comp Stage 6. Granville Harbour.

 

After a big lunch stop and suffering a bit of cold, I think it was hard to start this race for everyone, but the hill climb out of Trial Harbour did not feel like a good one for me.
It was hard to see as well, so sunnies came off.
Once we were off the main dirt road and onto this amazing 4wd track I tried to find my mojo but it just wasnt surfacing. I was braking and not trusting my lines or my bike.
It wasnt until Jody Bush and then Amity McSwan started to pass me that I decided that I best get my act together. I decided to take some risks on the climbs and on the descents. Suffer a bit more on the technical sections up and let go of the brakes on the downs.
I was realising I was better on the climbs so this is where I had to really put it all on the line, then back it up with a full throtle descent. I eventually pulled away and came in 5 mins after Jenni.

 

Now the big drive to Strahan, lots of washing to do, bikes to wash, grit to clean out of everything and a final day of racing.

 

Day 4. Strahan – Hells Gates.

The day greeted us with some howling winds and cold weather. The race organisers decided to reverse the course to allow us to finish in a normal time rather than perhaps add 20 mins or up to 30+ for the slower riders.

On the final day we were regrouped. I was still in C, Jenni went to B and Jody and Amity came up to C with me. I had to make sure I got a jump on them, I had heard of the imfamous beach section that required you to work in a bunch for approx 10km. I wanted to be in a bunch ahead of them so as soon as we hit a dirt road in the first 2-3km of the race, I pushed forward to 3rd wheel just to be there for anything and to get a head start once we hit the sandy 4wd tracks. It worked and coming out the other end on the sand I was able to be in bunch. It was my greatest fear having to do a solo Time trial being caught in no mans land.

As it was it was just me and another guy entering the beach by ourselves, but I could see this massive group rolling up at a great speed. I jumped on and totally hurt, thought I was going to pop, but it turns out the guy at the front on a 29'er was just trying to get rid of the hanger onners – which he did. It ended up a core group of 5 riders doing smooth track turns, we would catch a bunch, gain some – lose some. I think we caught 4 seperate groups along the way.

Now once we got off the beach, we sat up for a about 1 min regrouping and getting into our turns again. If it wasnt for this, I wonder what I could have done. Turns out I came in 2 seconds slower than Jenni today...I will never know!

 

Coming 2nd overall in the event was pretty fun, very happy with the tough competition at either end.

 

I truly loved visiting and racing all the areas of SW Tassie.

 

The next day Todd showed me the North South track from Mount Wellington – wow!!! now that was fun too.

So I will be back, I had a ball in Tasmania.

 

Over Wildside I rode my Giant Anthem X Advanced SL (2011 model)
My bike is full XTR including wheels - bomb proof and fast.  
I used Torq Energy, Recovery & Gels to get through each day.
I used Schwalbe 2.1 Rocket Rons the entire time and had what felt the perfect tread for all the terrain I encountered 

 

start of_day_1TullahEliza Todd_Jess

 Number platehells gates_finish