Journey to the Croc

I mentioned in my last post that I would explain a little more about what the Crocodile Trophy is.  You could just go here and have a look at the website but I’ll offer a little more perspective on what it means to me.  The numbers alone give you some idea of the challenge; 8 stages over 8 days, 650 kilometers, 13000 meters of vertical climbing.

I know!  How do you fit 13000 meters of climbing into 650 kay?  I guess I’ll find out.  And all of that takes place well out of my climate-comfort-zone in the humidity of Far North Queensland.

When I first started mountain biking over ten years ago, the Croc was a legendary event for the pros and way out of my reach – I thought.  As I got fitter and stronger on a bike, my good mate Duncan Murray – who now lives in Cairns in the home of the Croc – encouraged me over a few years to enter in a team with him.  That never eventuated but for Duncan and I, the style of racing really suited us at the time.  It was hundreds of grinding kays over a couple of weeks on long corrugated dusty outback roads with a little single-track riding thrown in for good measure. Every year, the pros come from Europe to race this legendary race and Australian professional riders such as Adam Hansen used it to make them stronger in the European off-season – he won it twice.  Jess Douglas won the 2011 version and – for those who know the toughness of Jess – that alone illustrates how strong you need to be to compete in this race.

Bloody hell, I’m scaring the shit out of myself as a write this.

The last few years of the Croc have changed in style but not intensity or reputation.  It has become more of a mountain bikers race with a number of technical single-track stages.  There is a little less grinding the outback and a little more narrow rocky trail technique.  That now suits me too and it’s time to tick this one off the bucket-list.

So since last putting pen to paper in early May, I’ve raced three weekends in a row at Forrest 6 hour, the Duael 5 hour and the 2nd round of the Victorian Enduro Series at Lysterfield… another 6 hour. This photo (above by Pete Henkel) is me yesterday heading through the rock-garden on the Lysty course.  I like that I look focused… I am.

For the first time ever, I’ve engaged a coach to help me along the way.  I’m not confident in structuring my own program and am very happy to simply be told what I need to do.  So far, Adam Kelsall of #herodirtcyclecoaching is moving me along at an amazing pace.  I feel stronger and fitter than ever before and now I just need that to continue to a peak in September.

This week coming marks a significant milestone in my training and preparation.  On Thursday, my good mate Mick and I will compete in the Port to Port in Newcastle with a four day stage race covering 200 kilometers and a fair whack of vert.  The packing, the preparation, accommodation-other-than-home and backing it up four days in a row will all be great prep for the body and mind leading to the big one in September.

Wish me well… and I know – ‘keep the rubber side down’.

(I wouldn’t be doing it without Adz #herodirtcyclecoaching and the boys at Cycle Works Box Hill #cycleworks – the support is a real key.  So many things need to align.  And thanks to Peter Henkel for the pic above).

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