The Croc takes it’s last mouthful (Crocodile Trophy Wrap-up)


One of my brother’s many sculptures. He called this one something like… “Crocodile Consumes the Diesel in the Croc Trophy 2017” – Timbo had a point.

What a bunch of different emotions I have felt throughout this past demanding week. The Crocodile Trophy has been the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done in my life. The only things that have come even remotely close are a couple of treks Karen and I have done where the physical demands of the experience combine with the mental and logistical demands of our situations and goals.

I remember a time when Karen and I were bush-walking well inside the most remote area of Victoria around the top end of the Wonangatta Valley. We were navigating off track, it was pouring rain and we knew that we had at least three full days of walking to get out to our car. That was around 1996.

On New Year’s Eve in 1997, we trekked from Jomsom to Muktinath at the foot of the Thorong La Mountain Pass in Mustang, Nepal. What is a well-trodden track in most circumstances, was covered in deep snow and it was technically very dangerous. We arrived in Muktinath late in the evening thanking God we had made it through, and I spent the whole night worrying about how we were going to make it out the next day without the correct gear (snow-shoes and/or crampons). The next morning we did in-fact experience snow-slips and land-slides on our descent.

The combination of demands during these past experiences came somewhat close to the those required to get through this past week in the iconic 8 stage mountain bike race. It may seem silly that I talk of emotions… it’s just a bike race isn’t it? I think those who have attempted such challenges themselves will understand why I make such a point of it. The effort required both physically and mentally, draws on every element of your being so that in order to complete your goals, you can’t help experiencing all of the feelings and emotions that go along with it.

Goal setting and sacrificing

“When it’s no longer possible to complete all of your goals, you sacrifice lower priority goals in order to perform and fulfill higher priority goals.” – Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, Miracle on the Hudson.

(I happened to be reading this book throughout the week and took comfort from Sully’s words. He was talking of things a little more significant than a mountain bike race – like saving 150 lives versus a relatively insignificant 60 million dollar airplane but hey… it was presently relevant to me.)

It’s extremely hard to set realistic goals for a race such as this. I found that task hard on the Port to Port earlier this year where you have no idea of the standard of rider competing. As that turned out, my position of third with a podium finish overall was what resulted from me doing my very best.

The Croc has been my ‘A’-race for the year so I wanted to do well – my very best. Again, I had no idea of the competition the race would provide. I knew Gary James (AUS-Canberra) would be there and he’s won the last three; I was confident I would bring him good competition and reasonably confident I could beat him but the rest was completely unknown.

Goal – Hmmmmm… not really sure what I can do (that’s hardly S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely!)

Stage 1 at Smithfield Mountain Bike Park provided me with an early opportunity to use my strengths and find out a little about my opposition. A technical single-track stage of 35 kilometers without a lot of climbing was perfect for me and I had prepared well. Had I not snapped my chain on the steep switch-back climb of the third lap, I’m certain I would have walked away the winner of the stage – my lap times were consistently the fastest to the end. That was my first emotional challenge of The Croc; get over it and move on.

Goal – okay… to win (getting!


Yes absolutely… I was thinking that boomerang could have been mine but for the weak link.

Stage 2 to Lake Tinaroo smacked me in the face again when a sharp rock pierced my rear tire on the first steep climb and that puncture continued to cause me problems right to the finish line. The issue cost me many minutes but more importantly, the huge amount of climbing on this stage (2100m) and the next day on Stage 3 (3000m), exposed the real competitors in the category. Three mountain-goats came to the fore; Michael (AUS-Tas), Graeme (NZ) and Peter (Austria). My God… these blokes could climb and climbing fast in stage races mean huge gains in General Classification time. This is where my first goal flexibility came in to play… ‘Okay, maybe a win is going to be hard. A podium is still a possibility but let’s just see where my best effort can get me.’

Goal – best effort.

Stages 4 and 5 offered flatter terrain which played much more to my strengths. I enjoyed riding many of these kilometers with another main contender in the category, Jean Luc (Belgium). He was not quite the mountain goat but was all muscle and he ground away outback kilometers for miles on the front of our bunch as we took hot turns on dusty corrugated roads.


I was happy to get to the end of Stage 5 and find myself three minutes off third position with Jean Luc just holding that last step on the pod (Pete and Michael held the top two positions). Going into Stage 6, I felt I really had a chance at the overall podium with more grinding kilometers to come in Stage 7, less climbing and a Stage 8 time-trial which suited me well for the final stage.

Goal – back to the podium again… why not I say?!

I pause with the progression of this story to give you some context around how bloody hard this thing was; stages 3 to 6 were four days in excess of 100 kilometers each (specifically – Stage 3/100km, 4/122km, 5/125km, 6/102km). For many weeks leading into the race I had been dreading these four days in a row and was trying to prepare my mind for the pain of many grinding kilometers on the mountain bike.

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 6.55.45 pm

This is an example – my Garmin file of Stage 5 – 125 kilometres

You now have some idea of how everyone felt going into Stage 6; hot day, tired legs, 102km with over 1000 meters of climbing.

It started like a frantic road race (only on dirt!). It was a big bunch and everyone wanted to be near the front to take advantage when attacks started to go down. Touchy brakes, high heart-rates, loud tyres, nervous tension. The race strung out pretty quickly and after a few kays Rod and I were happy to find ourselves settled into the fastest bunch a short distance behind the main break containing Erick Dekker (NED-former pro) and a couple of other elite riders. Phew… now to settle and consolidate.

The benefits of this bunch were tremendous for me. All four of my main rivals were there; Michael (AUS), Peter (Belgium), Graeme (NZ) and Jean-Luc (Belgium). All I needed to do now was stay with them for as long as I could, particularly Jean-Luc who was holding third position overall and was clearly my best target to take opportunities to immediately improve my standing. We settled into a nice pace-line a couple of times but the consistency was absent.

At the 23 kay mark, a rider directly in front of me touched a wheel and went down. Before I knew it there was a mountain bike and rider high-siding then sliding directly in front of me. I could not avoid it and rode straight up onto his rear wheel, cassette and derailleur before riding up and over his left thigh as he groaned with pain beneath me. I ended up completely off my bike sliding along the road but managed not to go down to skin on bitumen myself. A commissaire attended to the accident and Rod and I (he had been on my wheel – that is, right behind me) put in our best effort to get back onto the bunch. We managed it but soon after I realised I had double-flatted (front and rear), smashed a bottle cage, lost a bottle and caused some kind of damage to my rear derailleur. I pulled over to fix things, the bunch was gone and there went any chance I had of a good finish and a General Classification (GC) podium.

Here lay my most significant emotional challenge for the race. I rolled (or clattered) into the first feed-station and further inflated my front wheel which wasn’t sealing properly. By the time I got to the second feed-station I had mentally pulled the pin on the race. If John our support had been there with my car, I would likely have thrown my bike straight up onto the rack never to roll a pedal in the Croc Trophy again.

For better or worse, John couldn’t make it that deep into the bush and I rolled on… just rolled… slowly, not even steadily. I was mentally checked out and exhausted until I snapped it all back together again at the third feed-station and came up with a new goal and a brand-new focus. I had to literally shake my head and yell at myself repeatedly to snap myself out of my miserable pathetic attitude in order to re-focus.

Focus – accept the destruction of my GC time and ignore overall position from now – soft pedal for the remainder of today – ride Stage 7 tomorrow as much like a rest-day as I could – smash out Stage 8 as strong as I can.
Goal – win Stage 8.

Job done. The end (but read my little epilogue).


Stage 8 win – 30km individual time-trial – finishing with 4km along Port Douglas 4 Mile Beach


There were a couple of other important things which occurred through this week-long journey which I can’t ignore. Three of us set out to do this thing, not together but together – if you know what I mean.

Good friends don’t let you do stupid things alone so the three of us decided to do this stupid thing together. Rod and Mick were there for me, Mick and I were there for Rod and Rod and I were there for Mick. John was there for all of us.

My dramas of Stage 6 paled into insignificance when I crossed the line to find that Rod had crashed a few kay before the finish line. We spent the next half hour first-aiding and getting him off to Mareeba Hospital from where he was later discharged looking like a dressed up crash-test dummy. His current prognosis four days after is bark off, a bit of a sore knee and a more seriously sore shoulder. As I type, he is off at the doctor then the specialist on the Sunshine Coast to ensure his shoulder is not going to present more permanent problems. Rod couldn’t ride Stages 7 and 8 and has “unfinished business” he says – clearly our #copsatthecroc page will need to exist for another year.

Mick rode his typical consistent race every stage; no issues, no complaints… just sure and steady to firm up good mid-field positions in every stage and overall every day. My circumstances also provided a highlight for me in that they gave me the opportunity to ride nearly the whole of Stage 7 with Mick. It was lovely to bitch, moan and celebrate through the varying terrain of the stage together as we wound our way through the 78 kilometers of the Mareeba district and Wetherby Station.

Will we be back? Hmmmm… hard question. Rod will apparently – and he might need a little help and a mate or two to do stupid things with him.




Why is my life so hard? Well… it’s actually not.

I’ve set myself some big goals this year, the biggest of which is completing and being competitive in the Crocodile Trophy mountain bike race in September.  More on exactly what that is in a later post.  I need to be positive and focussed throughout the year and I’ve put quite a bit of thought into how I’ll do that. This little bit of writing is a start.

I confess to being a big Freakenomics podcast fan.  I’ve listened to every single episode but this is the first time I’ve gone back and re-listened to an episode twice within a week of it’s release.  On each listen I’ve picked up something new which I can apply in my life.

Here’s a link, it’s called ‘Why is my life so hard?’  It really is worth a listen.  Apart from my desire to share it with you, I also need to give appropriate credit to Freakenomics because this has formed the basis of my little piece… not that these issues have not been on my mind for quite some time.

Here’s the basic premise – Headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry; where barriers and hindrances command attention because they have to be overcome, benefits and resources are often simply enjoyed and largely ignored.

A simple and relevant analogy is riding with or against the wind. Whilst riding against the wind I am constantly aware of it and wishing it was not such a barrier to me.  When the wind is at my back I feel the relief for about 30 seconds then power on and enjoy the benefits without another thought.

I notice the barriers and blissfully ignore the benefits.

When I raced in the Emergency Services Games mountain bike race a few weeks ago, I made a wrong turn on the first lap which caused me to complete a needless climb and half a kilometre of trail which was not part of the course.  When I’d finally realised and re-set myself, I was behind a heap of riders I’d earlier used much energy to pass.  I then began to let that get the better of me.  I was cursing and cussing, blaming the guy in front of me who had led me up the wrong track.  I was lamenting my lap time, seeing myself losing position and ultimately losing my overall place in the race.  What I wasn’t doing was thinking about the fast, light, high performance mountain bike I was on which could assist to drag back my time and position.  I wasn’t thinking about the training and work I had put in to getting fit enough to achieve a winning position; training and work that was designed to overcome such challenges.  And I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was still riding at the relative pointy end of the race and just had to remain positive and consistent in order to come back to a position where the mistake I had made would make very little difference in the end.

It took me an hour or so to re-focus my thinking into a positive frame of mind – that was an hour wasted. An hour of complaining to myself and encouraging a negative frame of mind when I could have been thinking things that would have made it a lot easier for me.  Silly.

Headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry; there are so many applications of this in our lives and so many ways where we should turn it into a positive rather than a negative – many more important than it’s application to cycling but hey… that’s where I’m at right now.  The kids, their homework, doing the dishes, pulling the weeds out; so many ways in which focussing on the benefits and not the barriers can make life so much better for us!

For now – for me – it’s cycling and the Croc.  It will be getting through every barrier… sorry, gaining from every benefit leading up to that which will help me achieve my goals.

And staying on the bike of course.

(My ongoing milestones and results throughout this year will be maintained and published on this page in order that I can keep track of what I’m achieving).

The dusk lap, the dawn lap – and a dark, dark, dark lap in between

There’s something very special about 24 hour mountain bike racing whether you’re competing as a team or as a solo.  Riding a lap in the tiny hours of the morning is so much something that seems so crazy, crazy, crazy.  It’s hard to argue that it’s not.

I started my third lap at 20 past midnight and was woken for my fourth at 5 a.m… and crawling out of a nice snuggly warm tent in the middle of a Canberra April night is really, really, REALLY hard.  Under what other circumstances would you ever consider going for a ride at those times of day?!  Madness.

It’s amazing what team-work, along with the pressure to please your mates, can motivate.   


The Edward Teach Guild – MTB Racing Team (this link may provide some explanation) is an entity of which I’m grateful to be a member… we all love to be members of a group.  The Guild is the team which has never lost this race… til now.  And yes, I was proud to be a part of that as well.


Consistency and reliability are the keys to this kind of endurance racing. Consistent lap times, reliable machinery equiped with good shit that works really really well, and an element of luck…that’s what wins.

The Rabbit‘ (Brett Kellett) took our first lap – as is his want and skill – and smashed out the prologue and onto the course well-and-truly in the top 20 positions in a race of 320 teams.  Nice.


Then snap goes the chain… and down the drain goes 15 minutes.  Well… um… that wasn’t the start we were after. Beej (Brian John) and I head out on our laps to start the chase then, ptssssss…. goes Cam’s tyre at the top of the drop when he tries to bunny-hop a hubbard (i.e. any rider slower than yourself).  Down the drain goes another 10 minutes.  That’s racing.

Thereafter, we chased and chased and chased.  It’s testament to The Captain’s (Bruce Dickey) leadership that no-one is given quarter to accept defeat… nor to ride at anything but their best.

The excitement of the dusk lap (entering the dark of the night), the loneliness – if it wasn’t for hubbards – of a dark, dark, dark lap; and the tranquility of the dawn lap were mine to wonder at.  And as hard as it is to bring yourself to do certain things, the reward of the achievement is amazing and extremely memorable.

Our mishaps had put us in 200th position overall and 17th in category at the completion of lap one.  By the end of the race, we had clawed back to 9th overall (320 teams) and 2nd in category (22 teams).  And yes… there were times where we said, “If only….” – but we can’t be saying that.

That’s racing.  😉

Just a dash of political incorectness

It’s always great to review, debrief, analyse and thank those responsible for a great event… and it was a great event.  But the gushy praise for trail-builders at the end of the race was a little over the top in my view.  I’m sure the 100 kilometres of trails built in the area and the work put in by the crew is awesome… but we rode 16.5km of trail and have seen virtually the same 16.5 for at least the past few years (with a few new little tid-bits here and there).  These were by no means the best trails I have ridden and are in dire need of significant maintenance and durability work.  Some of the descents could do with some serious berm-work and solidifying – rather than end up with the dusty results we saw.  The team, the event, the atmosphere, the trip… these are the reasons I go; if I want to ride trails as good as this, I can do that in the middle of Melbourne on Yarra Trails; and I can travel very little distance to ride trails way WAY better than the Kowan State Forrest.  So great work guys… but don’t get too cocky and comfortable; it’s a competitive environment and there are good races everywhere with much much MUCH better trails.  I think the boys of Kowan would do themselves a massive favour by consulting with the trail builders of the Alpine Cycling Club… Just saying.  (PS:  Don’t get pissed off with such feed back… go with it and give us some interesting stuff next year.)

And Hubbards… my God!  Are we really trying to build a mountain bike culture where we don’t race anymore?!  Are these events turning into a ‘ride‘ rather than a race where it’s okay to put your arse in the way of your fellow riders who… yes… may well actually be racing for sheep-stations – or similar?  And then when you get passed by a faster rider, you threaten to ‘report their number‘ due to aggressiveness – which is just racing.  My God!… time for me to shut-up.

I guess that’s all part of racing too.


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.


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.


A disastrous race but a beautiful ride

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!”

I agree.

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)

Good one Cycling Australia (sarcasm intended)

I had thought I wouldn’t make it to the Jack Bobridge 1 hour record attempt tonight.  I was aware it was on Cadel’s big weekend and expected to be down at Geelong.  But a late invite from a good mate and a change in program for me meant that I could get there at the last minute; excited to see Jack (hopefully) break the record set by Matthias Brandle (Austria) only a few months ago. He rode a 51.852 kph average following Jens Voigt (Germany) who rode 51.115 kph only one month before.

I didn’t know the exact detail of these times prior to my arrival. I expected such information would be available on scoreboards etc., once I got there.  But alas – zip…

Since starting to race mountain bikes about 7 years ago, I have grumbled about the standard of organisation in road races compared to the usual professionalism of mountain bike events; they are poles apart. The atmosphere, organisation, marketing and general fun associated with mountain bike racing far excels that of road racing. I know this may be a controversial point-of-view but there you go, it is mine.

Tonight, Cycling Australia did not upset my opinion.

They completely stuffed it up; an international event drawing international interest.

Bobridge started just after 7 p.m., with a little bit of hype (appropriate for an Australian event) and a very large cheer off the line (appropriate for an Australian event). So then I start looking for the details… The details, where are they…

  • The current World Record?
  • The holder?
  • The average lap time required?
  • Split-times?
  • Is he on target?
  • Is he off target?
  • How many laps does he need in half and hour?
  • How many in the whole hour?…

Nothing? Oh… hang on… there you go; we get time elapsed in very small print on the scoreboard… fantastic… oh… and there’s a little lap counter down near the start/finish line showing us how many laps he’s done. Grouse.

IMG_1516So my mate and I start our own timing on the iPhone and then start communicating with another mate who is at home on the live stream doing his own calculations. We had a pretty good idea of how he was going then, and our timing indicated he was only just on target for 52 kay or so.

IMG_1517Then at about the 45 minute mark, the scoreboard started to provide a little more info. It told us (and Jack as he rounded each lap) that he was on target to ride a 54.5 kph average.  Cool; he’s going to do it easy. But that can’t be right; our timing can’t be that wrong.

And then the whole scoreboard was turned off… about five minutes after it was showing the 54 kph estimate. “Shit… what have we told Jack!?“, I’m sure they thought (not to mention the audience).

At about this time I’m thinking, “If that’s the official timing, then is that what Jack’s coach has been telling him?”  If so, then it’s not a wonder he slowed a little at times because he’s going to smash the record by minutes.

IMG_1515Who knows if that was the case? I guess we’ll find out but this was the conversation between me and my mate on line (next photo)…

You’re probably thinking, “Surely they couldn’t have made such a grave error; effecting the mindset of the athlete in his drive for the goal?”  Me too!  That’s what I’m thinking. Surely not. I hope not. I really hope they only buggered it up for the audience and that it didn’t cause Jack to change his pace in any way… leading to his ultimate defeat at the behest of the hour.  He rode about the same time as Jens; two world records ago.

Let’s hope we find out. Did Jack think he was on target for 54+ kph? That’s what I’d like to know.

Come on Cycling Australia; this was an international event. It has been, and will continue to be, the subject of further international commentary. I hope – despite the comments of my on line friend – that our international audience was not impacted by a lack of information or and abundance of mis-information. Either is embarrassing.

I have some good friends at Cycling Australia and Cycling Victoria who I’m sure do a great job. They are large organisations with growing profiles. That’s not an excuse for stuffing things up but a reason for getting them right. I hope Australia’s next 1 hour record event is managed a little differently.

Bragging about the B24


I’ll tell you up front that the B24 mountain bike race is the idea of a couple of my really good mates. They thought of the concept, established the race and now work their arses off to run it. Last weekend was the second iteration. It’s also in my beautiful Bright; so yes… there is a certain amount of bias in my thinking. But I’ve felt compelled to write something quite independently because I think it’s such an amazing concept for a race.  It’s just not normal and I reckon more people need to know about it.

The marketing line the guys are using, quite appropriately, is this:

“The B24 has been borne out of a vision that brings mountain biking, the town and the tracks together to create the ideal location for a 24hr race.”

It’s very easy to gloss over that line but when you think about it, the concept is quite fantastic if you compare the B24 with any other 24 hour mountain bike race in Australia, past or present.

They all run out of paddocks; big ones, granted; and paddocks with a lots of good stuff in them and usually in very nice places – but paddocks nonetheless. None of them are right in the vicinity of a perfectly equipped town such as Bright; walking (or rolling) distance to everything you need and right next door to really good accommodation.

home1For the second year in a row I’ve stayed at Jo and Gordo’s in one of their Pioneer Garden Cottages.  It’s really good value accommodation in a gorgeous location only a hundred metres from race transition.  So, rather than crawling dirty back into your tent in a cold paddock between laps, you can go back to your unit, have a shower and lie down on a real bed whilst you wait to go out and punish yourself again (if that’s infact the format of racing you have chosen).  And if you choose to race the Esprit de Corps format – and you choose to sleep through the night – you’re very close to the track when you choose to get out and smash out another couple of laps.  Brilliant… it really is brilliant.

And speaking of Esprit de Corps, I had never really thought about it properly until I found myself unexpectedly competing in the category last weekend; for 3.6 kilometres anyway. You get to ride just as much as you would in a traditional 24 hour team but you do the riding when and with whom you want.  It’s explained here on the website but I reckon there are a number of advantages I hadn’t really thought of:

  • You don’t have to start on the gun – you can wait for a while, then start free and clear of other riders to either enjoy your lap as a team or ride free and fast, without your speed being determined by the pack.
  • You can do a social team lap, then smash out a couple of fast ones to test your own pace, throw in a night lap, have a good sleep.
  • Alternatively, you can start out on a nice casual team lap, ride 3.6 kilometres, offer your team-mates a few tips from your deep and wide experience, then ditch it off a log, break a rib or two and spend the day with Feisal.
  • You can ALL do the dawn lap rather than fight about it (because it is such an amazing experience).
  • You can allow the awesome environment of Bright and the amazing atmosphere of mountain bike racing to last for two whole days, soak it up when you’re off the bike and still have an absolute ball on what I reckon are amongst the best trails in Australia (without the stress of accurate timing of mates’ laps, quick transitions and quicker-than-you’d like breaks).

That last point is seriously good. So often I go to mountain bike races and, because I’m competing seriously, I miss out on enjoying the atmosphere and social advantages of mountain bike racing.  The B24 lets you do that as well as race and compete seriously; and the set-up and sponsors are so good that there’s heaps to do, bikes to demo and beer to drink.

So if you’re serious about your mountain bike racing, the B24 is for you.  If you’re semi-serious and want to have a good time as well as show everyone how bloody fast you can go without crashing, the B24 is for you.  If you’re brand-new to mountain biking and like having a good time in one of the most beautiful towns on earth, the B24 is for you.  To be part of this event is a privilege and despite my bias to my mates and my town, Bright, I write this impartially because I so absolutely think that more people need to know about it and be part of it.  If you’re not, you’re really missing out on something good.

(Some photos follow but don’t leave without watching the really well produced video below… it really tells the story of a fun race and a fun weekend.)


Thule B24 2014 from Hand Cut Productions on Vimeo.