Preparation S part 3. Well, I suppose I'm ready as I'll ever be. Have enjoyed a slower last few weeks - I could get used to this taper business!
At Craig's suggestion (Craig is also riding the worlds) headed down to the ACT to ride the course on Saturday. Ben and Felix came along for the ride. [Thanks Craig for putting us all up the night!] Being a local Craig generously escorted me round the circuit for 3 laps, and gave me some tips along the way, and cruelly revealed my bike handling inadequacies. Even riding a hardtail 29er he was shredding me on both the rocky down hills and those riddled with tight berms. In short, the course is a good deal harder than the one I qualified on last year, and is maybe a fraction longer (approx 20 km a lap). Well, it is the worlds after all! Methinks I'm going to have to revise my expectations a little. The main climb presents no problem – switchback "Red" track to the top of Stromlo to Echidna gap where the brutality starts.
The first part of the descent (Wedgetail) loops round to the top of Skyline, although we don't go down Skyline….yet. A hard left has one entering "Pork Barrel", which was part of the day lap last year, but for some reason I find more difficult now. Very rocky, choppy and narrow in places, where running off the track is almost certainly going to hurt. I'm thinking that perhaps the extra travel and more relaxed geometry of the Stump made this sector more manageable last year. In any case, the sector is about 0.5 km long and it is the one part of the course I'm really dreading, especially during the wee hours where I'm going to do well just to stay upright! Craig just thumps this section and probably pulls close to a minute on me. Technique, technique technique!
The course then swings round the back of the mountain and although easy (disused fire trail), climbs the top half of the mountain for the second time (ggrrrr). Not much rest here but at least one can switch the brain off and feed on this sector. Very steep in places. At Echidna gap we cross the top of the mountain for the second time (the middle of the figure 8 circuit) and take a very tight alternate descent to the top of Skyline, which really is the magic carpet ride of Stromlo. Flowing, a bit of exposure, not too technical, occasional air, before crossing the bridge and dropping into the long and exhausting Luge sector; heavily bermed by tight and sometimes heavily rutted corners for a long time. Arms and hands really hammered by the bottom, where Homeview Junction is gained, and one can relax a little on the fast run back to the Event Centre and the pits….before heading out and doing it all again. Exhausted just thinking about it. Realistically I'm probably looking at more like 1'15' a lap, which probably equates to 16 to 18 laps in toto. We will see. I just hope I; (1) stay upright, (2) finish, even if it is bottomless stone last, and (3), it doesn't piss down with rain and hail like it did just as we gained the cars. Fingers crossed!
Here we go!
Rolling this lump (above) is the entre to the chute below, and to the sustained difficulties of Pork Barrel.