I wrote this article for Enduro Magazine after The Mont 24 Hour Teams Mountain Bike Race last March. It’s taken a while to publish but the best Australian MTB Mag is on the shelves now, so go and get yourself a copy. The 2016 Mont race is only a few weeks away now (April 2-3) and my desire to win this year is, at present, way WAY above my current physical ability. There’s plenty to motivate me though… so it’s head down chewing on the handlebars from now to April – wish me and the Guild plenty of luck.
2015 Race Report –
The years go by but the desire to win does not diminish. Hence the need to draw on any means of intimidation possible; a reminder to the young lads we race against that we are fast – very fast for a team with an average age of 50.5 years old – and likely to cause young fellas significant harm should they attempt to challenge us.
The name of this racing team is just one part of a calculated strategy to crush the opposition like the infamous pirate crushed his. Edward Teach, like most successful criminals, had more than one name; for what self-respecting, law-breaking fiend, would earn respect amongst his peers if he did not have an aka following his original title?
Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard), the owner of one of the mightiest pirate ships ever to set sail, has become the posthumous mentor of the Edward Teach Guild Mountain Bike Racing Team, the members of which draw strength and wisdom from the far reaches of the deep ocean, the location of the great man’s untimely death.
We came together as a team for this year’s Mont 24 Hour Teams Mountain Bike Race in the Kowan Forrest of Canberra on the last weekend in March. 274 teams met to race at high speed through the bush and through the night.
These dastardly characters were the 2015 members of the Mont Guild:
- Bruce Dickey (aka The Captain) 64yo: Always greeting you with a smile, but brutal if you fail. He’s also responsible for dragging the average age up.
- Cam Wells (aka The Silver Fox) 51yo: Riding angry laps and living (and recording) every moment of the experience… just in case we’re all in retirement villages next year.
- Brett Kellett (aka The Rabbit) 46yo: Don’t be fooled by the six inch suspension, baggy shorts and heavy shoes. Is the pope catholic? Is a rabbit quick? You get the picture.
- Anthony Caffrey (aka The Fugitive) 49yo: ‘Ride like you stole it’ – he does.
- Richard Read (aka Diesel) 48yo: Get out of the way if he’s coming around the corner like a Kenworth and you hear “Traaaaack”… you young whipper snappers.
- Evan Jeffrey (aka Brains) 45yo: – because he had a portion of his brains removed quite recently, which perhaps explains his desire to travel through the bush at night on a mountain bike at such explosive speed. I mean… would a fully-brained person do such a thing?
Each of us share one or two of Blackbeard’s traits; all the easier for us to channel his soul on our flat-out laps. I’ll get onto those similarities in a tick but there is one thing we do not have in common with Edward, he occasionally lost – we don’t. His ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was named thus because revenge was required, but in the ten year history of The Guild, revenge has not once been necessary because The Guild has not and does not lose.
As the rookie member of the 2015 team, that record placed a rather large amount of weight on my shoulders. I was humbled to be invited to take a place in such a prestigious team; to receive an invite from an Australian mountain biking legend (not overstated); the Gary Fischer of Australia (maybe a little overstated); the creator of Dickey’s Loop; the motivator of the Urban Loop. Who wouldn’t want to race with him? But bloody hell… I’d better get fit. They say Blackbeard learned from other pirates; clearly this was my perfect opportunity.
Blackbeard looked like a devil in battle… as did The Rabbit as he dashed off on the start lap on the stroke of midday on Saturday. The Rabbit is known for a quick start; small enough to weave in and out and over and under the mayhem of an endurance race start with 273 other riders. And he looks as fierce as a pirate, disguised in baggy shorts, heavy shoes and riding a super-bouncy bike with thick long forks, he emerges through the dust with a growl on his face ready to attack the single track from the front. And so he did.
Brett returned from his first lap clear of the majority and leaving the race ready for us, or more particularly Brains, to hit it out with the fastest 20% and maintain a solid position.
By the end of lap four, we were sitting in seventh overall and first place in our category of 40+ teams. We were happy with that but the next team of old fellas was less than two minutes behind us (the fact that most of the teams behind us were an average of 20 years younger only served to boost our already huge pirate egos). The battle raged on.
All six of us managed to squeeze well under the hour for our first laps. This was a good boost of confidence and became an excellent benchmark for the remainder of the race. By mid-night we had taken the lead out to 13 minutes and by early morning we had let it come back to 7.
Hang on… What? 7 minutes.
Well… The Rabbit had a side-wall rip on one lap stretching his time out by ten minutes and whereas Blackbeard didn’t leave behind any buried treasure, Brains decided to drop a kilo or two when, whilst sitting on the transition line waiting for Brett in the middle of the night, the desire to sit elsewhere to poop – that is, to relieve himself, not to break over the ship at the stern as you may have been thinking – overcame his desire to be ready to tap-and-go in time, thus dragging our lead back a little more (shhhhh…. Don’t tell The Captain).
Blackbeard has some famous friends and so does The Captain. Had we let that second team overcome us, I would not have enjoyed being on the end of The Captain’s contract with those famous friends if I was The Rabbit or Brains.
The years go by but the desire to win does not diminish. That desire is what motivated the six of us to ride so consistently throughout our 25 laps. Our ability as half a dozen crusty old blokes averaging 50.5 years old, to thread our bicycles through the well-worn single track at great speed assured our success – plus it was extreme fun.
Despite the couple of hiccups, we rode extremely similar times and we rode them every lap for 24 hours. Those experienced at taking part in these crazy but fun events, know that this is the key to success. Allowing the middle of the night to trap you in to relaxing the pace is guaranteed to cause your failure – and that was out of the question.
Just ask The Captain.