Garmin 24hr, Ouch – 26/11/2011

The recommended retail price of my Garmin 24hr mountain bike race this year:

  • Chain (X9) – $100
  • Front chain rings (X9) – $180
  • Rear cassette (X9) – $150
  • Tyre (Nobby Nick) – $110
  • Sealant (Stan’s) – $75
  • Rear rim – $120
  • Free wheel hub – $100 plus
  • Brake pads – $90
  • Total – $925

The bike shop owners must rub their hands with glee when they see this kind of weather forecast for a mountain bike event. Thank God I have the benefit of Cycleworks in Box Hill to save me at least some of this grief.

But whichever way you look at it, races such as this take a huge toll on equipment and lots of people will be spending lots of money on their bikes after this weekend.

A reference to the short-cut offered in most single speed races to collect a beer per lap

Even as we collected our race numbers on Saturday morning, we all knew we were going to be in for it. After a solid night of rain in Redesdale, there was only a brief moment of relief before it began to pour down again for over an hour before race start.

We had a moment of relief from the rain to get us off and running, knowing all along it would not make much difference to the carnage. Still – I know enough about mountain bike racing to appreciate the importance of a quick start so I displayed all my arrogance and lined up on the front line next to all the guns – including my young mate from Bright, Cal Britten.

Despite my chest infection of the last week, I got off to a reasonable start considering the early climbing sections and my fast confrères. I found myself in a pretty good position in the company of riders of similar ability, the whole idea of getting away quickly.

Half-way through the lap we hit the rocky sections of the course. Sharp edges and slippery surfaces. It wasn’t long before my sealant was spurting out the side-wall of my rear tyre and a feeling of dread hit my heart. I stopped and grabbed the hole with my thumb – swished the sealant – turned my bike sideways – desperately trying to fill the hole with Stan’s (sealant). It would seal temporarily but as soon as I got moving again the spurting would recommence. I tried this about three times and then started a series of CO2 top-ups for the remainder of the lap.

Not a happy MTB rider

I know this is very much a first-world problem but it really did piss me off. I wasted many minutes trying to fix it and many more riding as best I could with super-low pressure in my tyre. Not good for a heffer like me and disappointing when I’m trying to get the team off to a good start. I rolled in to tap James on the shoulder at least ten minutes later than I should have.

This was me

After quickly fitting a new tyre (not as thoroughly as I normally would – ahhaah, karma! I should have questioned myself more thoroughly) I asked the guys if they’d mind if I followed up with another lap straight after James. I was pretty determined to do an angry lap (thanks Rod) and make up for time lost.

So off I went. About half-way through the lap when I hit the rocky sections of the course (do you feel like you’ve read this line before?) my rear tyre burped in a bend and lost half it’s air whilst at the same time sucking in a ship-load of mud. For the remainder of the lap I spent long frequent stops topping up my tyre with a mini-pump just so I could continue to roll along. At one stage I hit a hard bump and completely deflated the tyre, damaging my rim and forcing me to pull the wheel and the tyre off to get it fixed just to finish.

As you can imagine, I rolled in even less happy – having wasted more time and taken even longer than the first lap. At least Tim was there ready to go with a smile on his face as I rolled into transition.

Tim at the end of his lap - I wish I

Our plan to do our team lap after Tim’s quickly came to an end as we perused the carnage of riders returning to transition. Mick headed out for his lap after Tim and returned looking like this…

More and more of a quagmire as the day went on

Dave and Antony, having seen what the conditions were doing to bikes, decided to save their steads and not ride at all. James, Tim and Mick considered second laps but decided against it for the same reasons.

I love mountain biking because it’s basically a shit-load of fun and I’ll do it for as long as it is. But this race was not… and as much as I admire those who continued, some of whom rode through the night and into Sunday, I have no intentions of riding just to be a tough-nut. Slipping around in muddy, horrible and disagreeable conditions is not my thing – not to mention the cost of it.

Who would have thought that the next day I’d be at a party with my kids having water-fights in the sunshine? Go figure…

Kate and Lucy - Sunday after the carnage

Garmin transition - a very good setup - pitty they couldn

Mick - Hooking into the final turn

The result of Geordie coming across a 'roadie on a MTB'

Mick and I with a beer, contemplating life and mountain biking after all our team-mates had left

Now after all that, I’m thinking about trying it solo. With the right support behind me it would be a possibility – and good weather would be good!

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