I try not to get too grumpy when races don’t go well for me; a bit of bad luck in a mountain bike race is very much a first world problem.
It appears I succeeded today when on our way home, I apologised to Lucy for being a bit grumpy since I’d crossed the finish line; she looked at me as if I was an alien, replying, “I didn’t realise you were grumpy dad.” Ahh.. success. Maybe it was that vanilla slice I bought her at the Woodend Bakery?
But I was… grumpy that is. I must have just hidden it well.
I had high expectations of myself today. I felt I was in as good a form as I was in 2013 when I finished this race in 4 hours 46 minutes; sixth overall and second in category behind Ollie Klein (by 17 seconds!)… with not one element of energy left within me.
I spied some of my opposition on the start line. BJ (my good mate Brian John) – I managed to stay in front of him in 2013 but not today I thought, he’s flying at the moment. Jason Archer? Well, I really only ever wonder where I will come in after him, and I’m sure guys like Ollie and Tim Jamieson are here again. There’s Paul Randell right next to me. He’s bloody fast and he knows his home trails like the back of his hand; he helped lay out the course this week for God’s sake – good luck with that one!
I’ll give it my best shot anyway.
And off we go with a whistle and a cheer. I hadn’t even crossed the timing mat when my chain started slipping along the front chain-ring. Ironically, in order to ensure I had no issues, I had replaced chain and cassette yesterday. But the test ride in the most harsh (not) conditions of my suburban street had not revealed the problem which would result in my failure to be anywhere near my competition for the entire day.
Both front chain-rings were completely knackered. So the chain ran smoothly and strongly around the brand-new rear cassette… but as soon as any considerable power was applied between chain and chain-rings, it let go.
So that was it… fair dinkum… race over. And all I was doing was trying to climb the little hill out of Cammeray Waters (start line). Paul Randell was just behind me at this stage ensuring I was aware, “Geez Rich… that doesn’t sound good.”
What a stupid bloody ridiculous rudimentary rookie error. I did think, and Jack might say, “You’re living up to your name dad.” Meaning, “You Dick!”
Soon after this, in the slipperiness of the pines single track, I applied power without thinking in order to raise the front wheel over a slippery root. Slip – Bang – Crunch… off came the chain and off came Rich/Dick. Straight onto my right side again to ensure that I ripped the scabs off my existing injuries for the fourth time this week. Have you ever noticed how free and easy blood flows when you rip scabs off multiple times?! Hoh, it flows!
I accepted the futility of my position at this stage and sat up to relax and ride as best I could; applying only as much power as it took to carry my substantial mass across the dirt. I must say, some of that gorgeous Wombat single track is magnificent at a relaxed cruise… and I managed to have a nice chat to some friends; Belly in the 25 kilometre event and Sash and Dave Russell from Bright smacking out a hundred. Just think… apart from my isssssues, I would not have had such opportunities. Adam Kelsel, I would have chatted to you too mate but didn’t realise it was you until I’d passed. Thanks for the cheers!
I was prepared to grab Lucy at the 50 kay mark and head to home but she was having such a good time with my friends from Warrandyte that I felt I should grab my other bike and smash out another nice 50 anyway… with some good chain rings. Once I got sorted and going again I had a gorgeous ride for the rest of the route; relaxed and under no pressure, enjoying the trails of an absolutely wonderful place to ride.
Darren Davis, Paul Randell and all who contribute to those Wombat trails. Thankyou.
I had a despicable race but a wonderful ride.
(5 hours 50 minutes this year; 50 kay horrible, 50 kay solid)