The Edward Teach Guild MTB Racing Team – success of 2015

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.

11070533_10153284406328619_7071244677150451576_nThe 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.

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The Captain

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?
Pre-race, one of these WILL be ours.

Pre-race, one of these WILL be ours.

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.

The Rabbit in the dust - first lap.

The Rabbit in the dust – first lap.

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.

11116274_10153311703628619_201682657837363591_oWell… 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.

11096562_10153311703923619_5297203259384456071_oBut not to worry; by 8 a.m. we were eleven minutes in front and by 11 a.m. it was 40 minutes.  Breathe easy my friends.

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.

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Flat Hill Urban Epic – the blog, the video

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Link to video in this photo or watch it below.

My mate BJ made a very significant point on this ride on Sunday saying,  “I”m still trying to grapple with the fact that I’ve come from Smiths Gully (MTB Meca in the bush) to Collingwood (Melbourne inner suburb) for an epic distance mountain bike ride!”

My mate Brett, when responding to Bruce’s statement that, “We’d better not do that other little loop or we’ll be out here forever”, summed it up when he said, “Well that wouldn’t be that bad would it?”

See; that’s the thing!  You can ride mountain bikes in Melbourne suburbs and have a ball… within 5km of the CBD infact!  And you could pretty much do it forever… still having a ball.

How good is Melbourne?  How lucky are we?

The Flat Hill Urban Epic led by Bruce Dickie last Sunday was amazing.  I’m not over-stating it.  The mountain bike community in Melbourne is a bit hard to explain fully until you’re involved.  The people are great to be with and I’ve never been on a ride that contained any angst… just company and comfort.  Sunday was one such ride and despite the fact that I ride nearly all these trails at least weekly, I had a ball on them just because of the company.  Hard to explain.

I’ve ridden Hans’s loop over 100 times but Sunday, chasing Bruce and Brett, was one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve ever had on it.  Totally in the zone.  And my discovery of some new single and a great climb continues to mix it up and keep it interesting.

Anyway… my newly acquired hobby of rigging up the GoPro and editing the subsequent footage resulted in this.  I hope you enjoy and I hope it conveys some of what I’m talking of above.

Wednesday to Wednesday; Christmas riding reflections – 28/12/11

A breather at Rob Roy Road on Christmas Eve (6am-ers MTB ride)

Wednesday 28 December – My ride up Mt. Buffalo this morning gave me good opportunity to reflect upon my Christmas week.  Yet again, I find I need to pinch myself to ensure I am within the realm of reality.  The good times and great company are beyond what I would say is normal.  I put my hand on my heart, thank God for my life and promise myself I will never take this for granted.

Gus and Neil - Wed night Fattie's ride - Yarra Trail

Wednesday 21 December – It had been far too long since I’d taken part in the Wednesday night Fattie’s smash through the Yarra Trails.  A horrible winter this year meant nobody was super keen to get out, and many of the trails have been unrideable in any case.  But Gus, Neil, Brett and I had a ball shredding through those inner trails and all of us are keen to make it regular – at least until winter.   (67 ks – geared MTB)

Dave and Ryan - catching up in Middle Park where all the Beautiful People hang out.

Thursday 22 December – A chance encounter with Dave Evans after Fatties had me committed to the morning North Road Ride (NRR).  So I met Dave in Malvern at 5.30am and we flew down to North Road thinking we were running late.  No need to fear; 100 of our closest friends were sitting there waiting for us and off we went to smash out another 50 before work.  Oh, how I miss that ride.  (70 ks – geared road)

Friday 23 December – After backing up Fatties with NRR (what I have dubbed my ‘B-Double’ – I was a bit twired.

We had a fantastic evening doing the Chrissy lights with the family, checking out the full-on light show at Oxley College in Chirnside Park and a couple of houses which were so lit up and extensively decorated that I wonder at the sanity of those who own them.  Yeah… it looks good but seriously – what possesses you people?

Which part of, "Roll away at 6" don't you understand Gus!

Saturday 24 December – After reinvigorating the washed out 6am-ers MTB ride of a few weeks ago, six of us (Diesel, Gus, Boris, Foggy, Mick and Matt ) met at Smiths Gully at 6.  Actually, 5 of us met at 6 and then Gus turned up.  4 hours of gorgeous country and challenging trails and we were done (this is what we did if you have access).

You know how I said I haven't crashed for a while? This is what I got up to on this ride.

A very tired Gus (on the ground having a snooze)

Brad in his pre-ride comfort position

Idiot!

I won’t mention the bit about me riding off the edge of the trail whilst taking a photo.  Unfortunately Mick was videoing and I’m just waiting for vid to go viral.

What a ball we had this day.  The photo at the top of this page says it all.      (Here are the rest of the photos)

46 ks and 3 hours on the Anthem.

Sunday 25 December – This post is getting too long and this day deserves it’s own.  So standby.

Monday 26 December – I love Boxing Day.  It’s always a day to get over the rushing and contemplate all your presents!  We caught up with my gorgeous cousin Jacinta and her family for morning tea. Nobody reminds me of my lovely grandparents more than Cint.

Flat as a tack; both me and the tyre - on Warrandyte Road, Warrandyte

A quick lone ride in the arvo saw me sitting on the side of the road in Warrandyte having exhausted all my spare tubes, patches and CO2 cartidges.  Grouse… 10 k in the bank!  Thanks God for great blokes and a bit of Christmas spirit.

Dave Patterson (I think?… first time I ever met him) came by in his car and offered to help.  He made a quick trip home, came back with a tube and a pump for me and had me back on the road in a jiffy. Mind you, I’d been there for an hour before he turned up to save me.

Henley Road, Kangaroo Ground after Christmas Day storms

Henley Road was trashed from the storms the night before and many low locations on roads were covered in inches of gravel and dirt from flash-flooding and higher-than-normal water levels.  I can’t help wondering what my brother Tim’s will be like (he’s in QLD).  Their house  would have born the brunt of it.

The most important visit of this day was the role along my new 6am-er Hammer Road.  This will be worked into the next Rhonda van Readie and will be sure to cause significant pain.  Strava is all set to record the segments… bring it on.

67 ks on the Lynskey.

Tuesday 27 December – Knackered!

Parmo and Paul at The Gap on Mt. Buffalo this morning

Wednesday 28 December – So that brings us back to today and my first day in Porepunkah has not disappointed.  67 on the roadie up Buffalo this morning and then 40 on the mountain bike this arvo have me once again… knackered!

A great group of about 16 of us headed out from the shop for the 6am ride which normally goes about a third of the way up Buffalo.  Four of us did the lot; me, Parmo, Paul and Marthijs.

I couldn’t believe when I got home, not only were my whole family still in bed but they were all still fast asleep!  I had to tip-toe around for an hour before anyone raised a sound.

“Therefore darling, this ride never occurred.”

And therefore, I felt obliged to get out with the local group on the MTB this arvo…

Just a few of the many who made it to the Bright Wednesday ride

So you can see why I say I’m in paradise.  I’m nearly wetting myself with excitement, much like Lucy was on Christmas morning when she opened her new iPod Touch…

Such genuine excitement is so exciting!

Rubber side up… woops!

This photo pretty much sums up the finish of a pretty crappy day…

A bloody leg and sitting on the side of the Eastern Freeway waiting for Karen and the kids to come and pick me up. Crap.

I was excited to be at Fatties again and ready to smash it up having had a rest day from the bike yesterday. I was feeling pretty good when quite early in the ride I washed my front wheel out in a soft dusty corner and went down like a bag o’ spuds.

It doesn’t look so bad but I could actually feel the skin ripping off my leg. Ouch.

A quick check of bike and bones and I was back on again with not too much of a problem.

Twenty minutes later I was sitting on Alex’s wheel along the most rocky bit of track on the trail. Because I was so close to him I couldn’t see to pick my lines well and was hitting rocks and bumps that I normally wouldn’t.

100kg on a hard-tail + rocky trail + picking bad line = torn up tyres

I tore a big hole in my rear, fixed it, flatted it, walked up to the freeway, rang Karen.

I’ve had trouble-free riding for months now. I wouldn’t say that it’s time something went wrong, but it doesn’t happen too often so hey… suck it up I reckon.

2hrs SS MTB
100kg

Fatties

It’s funny. When I talk about Fatties amongst my family they think I’m referring to the older ladies weight loss group which my mother-in-law attends to weigh-in and discuss the next fad diet they’ll try.

When I talk about Fatties amonst my cycling mates they think about the three hour smash-fest through the Yarra trails on mountain bikes at a pace most would suffer to achieve on a road bike.


Geez it was bloody great to be back! Fatties is the nic for the Fat Tyre Flyers mountain bike group ride from Eaglemont. From 6:30pm we hit the trails hard, try not to crash and attempt to appear to our mates like we’re doing it easy.

The going was a bit slow through to Banksia Street with some major trail damage after the recent flooding. It’s amazing how the trail landscape has changed as a result… lots of new corners.

By the time we’d been all the way out for a lap of Hans’s loop I was smashed as we cruised home on the gravel bike track in the dark with me running a cadence of about 130 – phew!

On the track at about 35kph –
Neil – “How’s it going Rich”
Rich – “Yeah mate……(spin spin).…… good……(spin spin spin).……. goin’ fine….(spin).…. mate…..(spin spin)……… fine.”

Remember – attempt to appear to our mates like we’re doing it easy.

Far out, I was glad to hit Burke Road to slow. Four other really fit blokes on geared bikes and me on the single speed heading out of town on the more open faster trails. Good one Rich!

What a grouse night! It was beautiful.

80ks solid on the road bike today pretty much finished me off.

Love it.

4hrs solid – SS MTB yesterday.
80 solid – geared road bike today.

99kg