(The Wombat is a 100 k mountain bike race run in the Wombat State Forrest north of Melbourne. Unlike endurance events, which are run on a lap course over a number of hours, the Wombat is a point-to-point race where none of the same trail is covered throughout the distance. It’s 50/50 single trail and fire trail and contains about 1700 meters of vertical climbing.)
They say beer and mountain biking go well together (photo to right – Matt’s left hand – please ignore the lack of helmet). In the past at this race, they’ve handed you a stubby as you cross the finish line. The waste they experienced must have led them to a voucher system this year but I can tell you… the four I had over the subsequent few hours went down super-well… much like a Stillnox or a Valium I guess, when you throw it down after a hard hundred.
I’ve always said a beer after racing is like a big sleeping pill… but gee it tasted good… and I’m still awake.
That’s not to take away from the seriousness of this event. It’s one of the most popular races going around and pulls a large and serious crowd. For example; Ollie, who beat me in the vets category (by 17 seconds!) drove all the way from Adelaide to be there… bugger. And all sorts of people hit the trails with all sorts of individual goals. Gotta love mountain biking.
My arrogance at taking front and centre position on the start line (really I did it for you Cycleworks… really!) was validated by my second place in the Veterans Category (40-49) and 6th place overall (which I love even more!). I did everything I could to cross that 17 second gap – knowing Ollie and I were in a battle from about the 55k mark – but it was simply never going to happen. He was just too strong and when he realised I was close to his tail again at the 85 kilometer mark, he put the hammer down just that extra 1% and it was enough for him to rip my legs off and shove them down my throat.
A few other mates were there to share the experience; Mick Ritchie took out 4th in the Super-Vets (50-59) Horny and Brave Dave smashed out their first century MTB races, and Adele competed in her first MTB race ever in the 50k event, supported by husband Matt who was on-hand to pick her up off the ground a few times… or out of trees! Grouse effort. That’s how lessons are learned.
There’s one thing we all agreed on; the middle section of the race which included the flowing single track through the native bush was absolutely divine. For me, it was one of the best riding experiences of my life where I was completely in the zone. So good!
I’m going back.
(This race topped off a brilliant week of racing. First place in the Emergency Services Games Road Race on Tuesday and a great father/son race in the MTB race on Friday. Lucky me.)