The Dirt Works 100k is a marathon mountain bike race run through the trails of the Wombat State Forest near Woodend. The single track is sweet and the country side is beautiful Australian bush. A fantastic place to ride.
I had prepared well and managed a good night’s sleep. I was hoping for top ten.
As I stood on the start line with Stormy (Rod Stormonth), Angles (Craig Van der Valk) and Gus Gollings I was hoping it would all go well for us. The weather was perfect for racing and the atmosphere was restless and exciting all at the same time.
100k mountain bike races require more than just good prep and lots of training. You need a little bit of luck as well and I must say it went great for me. The bike prep by Cycleworks was outstanding. It was my first race on the virtually new Giant Anthem which had just been fitted with a SRAM X9 2×10 groupset and the fully optioned Rock Shox rear shock. I won’t bother with the detail but the bike ran like an absolute dream. It was a pleasure to ride right to the 115k mark.
Yes… it was a 115k 100k race. Go figure! Due to the rain efffected trails, a lot of the single track had to be protected which extended the route. It would have been great to know of the change before the race but nobody cared to tell us. People were very confused when they saw the 51k drink stop was at 62k and the finish line at 115. I was glad not to have a computer because I had absolutely no idea until it was all over.
When speaking of luck, it’s worth mentioning my mates.
After smashing down single track for much of the first 62 ks, screaming around berms, squeezing between trees at 40 kph, tackling puddles and ruts at full speed downhill – Gus stepped off his bike at the second feed station and rolled his ankle in a tiny little hole whilst walking across to get a drink. Good one! He tried to keep going but 10k later was overcome with sensibilities (and pain) so limped home.
Stormy crashed heavily part way through the race. He fell and hurt his neck quite severly but managed to get back on and finish the race. Sensible? Hmm… not sure. He’s having MRIs today to see if there’s any significant damage.
Angles‘ XX problems continued when his gears stopped working after 10k preventing him from accessing the small ring at the front. He finished the rest of the race in the big ring and Gus and I were lucky to hold him up after he crossed the finish line (he still managed to collect his beer though!).
My Bright mates had a ball, although Kel Boers says he has never heard as much grovelling as he did over the last 30 ks… NEVER EVER. Dave, Chris, Andy and Mark (and Kel) stuck together after some earlier mechanical issues. They finished in the middle of a massive hail storm which resulted in bruised arms for Chris and two written-off vehicles which were parked amongst many others out in the open (we waited in the sunshine guys but sorry… when the rain came I left a message with Paul, “See you in Bright! Nice work getting through it.”).
With just a little luck, my race went perfectly to plan. MTB race starts usually stress me. Unlike road racing, the starts are nearly always frantic with riders burying themselves to get as clear a track as possible. This one was a little less hectic. The 33 elite riders started in a wave 5 minutes before the main group and the open trail continued for a few ks before we hit the single. Plenty of time to sort it all out.
I stayed with a group of 20 or so at the front for about 10k before consciously deciding to back off and let them go. I picked off most of these guys and many of the elites one-by-one over the next 105k (11 of 26 elite men beat me). I’ve learnt through many such races that this is how I roll. I have to be satisfied that I will catch many of those who head off ahead of me in the early stages. I’m the tortoise, they’re the hares.
I rode a lot of the last 40 ks with two other riders, we helped each other through much of the open stuff then I managed to drop one within the last 10 k and the other within the last 2.
I rolled across the line in 3rd place in masters (of 99) and 20th place overall (of 330). Very happy considering 33 elites were competing and rapt to be so competitive in masters.
Check out the results here.