Monday, 25 March 2013

Champagne Kow - Mont24 2013


Jemaine:  “Aww yeah…cause everything is just right conditions are perfect… there’s nothing good on TV… conditions are perfect…Oh, yeah, It’s business time…”

We assembled at the same grassy patch of the same Kow paddock, with Sara and Giles providing the fruit of a recent expedition to Rays’ Outdoors in the form of a newfangled concertina popup Taj.  Behold Soggy Central – which by mid morning on the Saturday digressed into the bombsite typical of most 24 hr campsites.  A warm day beckoned which, although requiring hats, T-shirts and sunscreen, translated into lovely dappled light through the otherwise dark Kowen Forest circuit.  Not too dusty either after showers earlier in the week.

Felix and I got to ride (slash walk) the opening lap.  A rolling start with insufficient rolling translated into a glacial first lap, even by 24 standards – the opening salvo of fire-trail proving insufficient to spread the bumper field of 593 teams.  Pushing in towards the front would have been smart, but I was enjoying chatting with Bart, Ham and Felix down the back as we waited for the peristaltic inching to proceed.  Approx 1:40 later I was back in transition with Mikey on track, to be followed by Ham and GK.  Anita was on track for the Soggiers, followed by Sara, Giles and Ben.  And so the afternoon progressed. 

The track this year was a 20 km hour-glass loop, but with the cross-over deep in the forest.  We like to think the organizers maybe even dipped their lids to us in the form of officially naming a sector “Soggy Bottoms”, which this year didn’t prove very soggy at all by soggy standards.  Conditions were perfect. 

Come dusk the breeze settled but never picked up again during what was a mild eve (maybe 10 C?), although even under the Taj a heavy dew managed to gradually dampen everything, including the lap board which progressively wept like tears through makeup (hence the official version below).  But now that we’ve done a few 24s together everything ticked along fairly smoothly.

The SBBs managed to get through the whole event without a hitch, or even a botched transition, mostly registering splits in the 1:03 to 1:10 mark, to amass a total of 21 laps (to the winners 28), finishing mid 30’s of 165 male teams of 4, and 107th outright.  We were close to being allowed to run a 22nd lap after the bell, which would have bumped us up a fistful of spots, but were denied courtesy of my poor positioning on that shambolic first outing.  The SerBBs also had a good run of it, accruing 17 laps to finish 50th in the mixed-team-of-6 category. 

Anita survived her first lap, then even another one in the dark (the terror pre-departure was palpable).  Words to the effect of “I actually enjoyed that” were noted upon completion of her third lap the next morning.  Giles managed to first lose his rear brake (presumably air in the hydraulic line), before having the front brake abandon him later on, to the point where he finished with no brakes at all.  Hope the weekend served as a good primer for the upcoming trailwalk.  Sara enjoyed the functional brakes on her new Anthem29er (now’s the time to make your case, Giles), and excited both us and the locals with some colourful outfits and comments. 

Felix did some pretty fine splits in spite of front derailleur issues, platform shoes and the odd leaky tire.  He claims he will do the next 24 on more than zero training.  Ben was nursing a cold, but still somehow ended up doing a late shift triple.  Mikey also put in some good runs on limited kms although got a little bit close and personal with the vegetation on his last lap – not entirely his fault.  He also managed to get interviewed over the PA down in transition at least a couple of times.  I’m sure in part that explains my being ambushed by the MC with a box of Aussie Butt Cream upon completing my second last lap – To ensure the Soggies stayed Soggy, he smiled.

Ham and GK were both fit and posting very consistent times, despite shouldering the graveyard shift - the dreaded 3434 shuffle - to deliver me the dawn chorus lap and a return to 1234 rotation.  In minor incidents GK corked a hand and a leg, but otherwise seems to be enjoying the delights of a wiggly course more and more.  Ham had a blast but suffered the unpleasant experience of having his lightset pinched off his bike during downtime (can’t believe that sort of thing happens at mtb events).  His only other complaint seemed to be an insolvable pad-rotor combination that had him telegraph his moves all round the course.  Hopefully easily fixed, and we’ll have to be a little warier next time.  That aside, we both reckon this edition of the Mont, with it’s combination of course, organization and weather (an absolute star performer), is probably the most enjoyable 24 we have experienced.  Will post some pics once I get em off the camera.

Speaking of on-course highlights, having somehow missed most of them last year, this year I got the mad drummer in the gums on one lap, then dueling banjos on twin-track corner during the first night lap.  On my midnight run the banjos had been replaced by the full rock-band experience complete with light show and smoke machine – on a hairpin in the middle of dense forest.  It was unreal, with anticipation building from a km away.  My only stroke of misfortune occurred midway through the very last lap when my left crank arm fell off (I had installed a new drivetrain only the weekend prior - maybe I should stick to the day job).  Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long before a passing rider obliged with an 8 mm Allen key and I was soon on my way again.  Luckily the few minutes lost weren’t sufficient to influence chances of a bonus lap.  And even more importantly this slight technical hitch (along with a slipping seatpost) revealed itself probably only a few km shy of the start of another tilt at a solo run next weekend.  Fingers crossed nothing else is scheduled to fall off.

SA:  "We’ve found a spare set of black AYUP lights, battery pack, cable and annoying rubber attachment thing which I am really sorry to say we must have accidently packed in our gear box.  So if they are yours give us a shout and we’ll get them to you."

Ha, I half suspected they might come out in the wash :)  Shame on us for entertaining thoughts otherwise!

Monday, 18 March 2013

3peaks pics

Looking over these snaps reminds me that although the focus is a tough day on the bike, the build up and camaraderie with lots of friends on different roads over the preceding weeks and months has been half the adventure.  It was still a bloody good long-weekend away.