.....and Salmon and brown wombats,
Well,the Scott24 has been run, and barely survived by the Soggies, in what was a bit of a weekendus horribilus. Actually that's a bit harsh, although it's fair to say things didn't go exactly to plan. “The Plan”, being, a nice social outing with the lure of beer taking hold somewhere in the eve such that running all the way through was only optional.
It all started off well enough. Excellent camp right near transition with Ben's camper forming the hub of sogginess. The course, the standard Red lap Blue lap combination, also looked to be a step kinder this year, with the usual brutality of the blue lap toned down a few notches. The beer was chilled and we would just see how far we got. With early laps accruing word from both Salmons was that the course was sketchy courtesy of its dryness. This was indeed to the case, with Mikey having a minor off with a front wheel washout on the Luge.
On our second rotation Ben and Mikey swapped order so that each could run the alternate loop. Ben almost got home to transition when a couple of hundred meters from the end of the red lap a gravelly step down at speed saw his front wheel wash, resulting in him hitting the deck hard and sliding s few meters before he became tangled in some partition fencing and dragging that a few meters as well.
It was clear when he appeared at transition nursing his arm and shoulder that the medics tent would be the next port of call. Unfortunately he'd gouged quite a hole in his left elbow, and it was quickly confirmed that Woden hospital, X-rays and some stitches was the best option. Ham acted as ambo whilst Mikey was by this stage dodging black snakes half way round the blue lap. So Ben had to wait out the usual emergency queue whilst Ham returned to head out on course once I'd returned from running a double.
Remarkably, at this stage we hadn't actually missed any transitions but were missing our friend – a far more depressing scenario. Somber talk back at camp revolved around hoping that Ben hadn't done his collarbone, and would perhaps be back at camp soon to at least partake in a quiet ale. "Soon" turned out to be quite a while, and it wasn't until about 8 pm that Ben finally hobbled back to camp, complete with three stitches and a patch quilt of bandaging, but most importantly no broken bones.
Although he didn’t let it show, for Ben this must have been a bit crushing as he’d been training hard to run solo at WEMBO the following weekend (world solo 24 champs), as had I, but this now seemed unlikely. Incidentally he wasn't the only one to be undone by this terminal section of the Red loop track. Consequently the barrier positions were shifted to prevent further repeats.
By this stage, and given the circumstances, I'd decided to call it quits for the day, especially as I already had 50 km under the belt and the race was meant to cap a week of tapering. Night laps, well I'd get a bunch of them next week anyway, and the temperature was now pretty chilly. Ham and Mikey still partook, but eventually we settled round the glow of the camper to discuss life matters whilst consuming pizza, chips, and a little beer. Then it was off to bed.
It was a cold one, and I drifted off to sleep to the intermittent hum of knobby tires on Tarmac, as riders either returned from the blue lap, or headed out on the red lap, just meters from where my tent was pitched. Having had a shower I slept pretty well, got up and headed out for an early morning double. The track still retained some tackiness from the evening due, and I rumbled into transition to record my longest ever Red lap of some 9 hrs! After completing a blue lap I hit the transition area for the morning staples of coffee and bacon and egg rolls.
My next lap was a Blue and this is where I joined Ben in the damaged goods department, although my pilot error happened way out the back of the course where I was enjoying the thrill of clearing some doubles on the Double Dissolution sector. I' m still not sure exactly what happened but air off one of these was met not with a smooth landing but with but a touchdown which had me lose control, surfing some loose stuff before the finality of going over the bars.
I immediately scrambled to get myself and bike off track as riders started flying past. Was I OK?, they all wanted to know. Pretty much doing anything elicited jolts of pain due to a bump on the left knee, a corked groin, and an extremely sore lower left back. Terrific! There was nothing required in the stitch department, but to some extent there might as well have been as I could barely move.
The hard tail couldn't move either, having performed a magic trick of its own. The handlebars had flipped round past the point of rotation such that the RH shifter/break mechanism (and bars) was now on the wrong side of the top tube. Steric hindrance, as we say in macro-molecular parlance, should clearly have prevented such rotation. I had to loosen the shifters and rotate them round the bars to swing the front end back to its normal orientation. To top it off the rear wheel was now well out of true, but not so much that I couldn't get home. After collecting myself for another 5 min or so I started the awkward process of limping home.
Well, that was my race over and I joined Ben under the shade of the tarp to compare war stories. It was over to Ham and Mikey to swing laps for the remainder, but they were up for it. Ham was riding well, lapping consistently, as was Mikey who was discovering the joys of lower tyre pressures. Meanwhile I was licking my wounds, figuratively, and marvelling at the bar-end shaped punch mark in my groin, which explained the magic trick performed by the handlebars. On flipping round the bar-end collected my groin with force enough to flex the bars the 1 cm required to hurdle the steric impediment represented by the top tube. This tube itself now sported a minor scrape and fracture as evidence, although the integrity of the tube itself looks to be OK (touch carbon). More sound, at least than I am feeling today (The Monday after), which was meant of be a day of a light spin and packing, but which now looks like it will be largely spent prostrate, although a trip to Concord Hospital beckons to make sure there is nothing cracked in the vertebrae department.
On reflection, the weekend was a well intentioned plan that just didn't stay on script. Funnily enough, despite it all it was still an enjoyable adventure with the boys, although obviously we would have preferred to emerge with full ranges of motion and free of cat gut. I suppose I'll just have to take things one day at a time and decide mid week whether I think I'll be able to run on the weekend. Obviously a major bummer if I can't, as this has been the overarching goal of the year. But whichever way it pans out, I suppose that's life!
Postscript – Tuesday. No cracked vertebrae (much relief), and was actually able to ride in (very slowly) today. Funnily enough doing anything on the bike is easier than trying to do anything off it. So in all probability I’ll be a starter on the weekend, although I’ll have to temper expectations accordingly.