Drove up on Sat. A few easy sighting laps (in the full light of day, this time) reveal the course to be essentially the same as 2013. What a lovely circuit. Like last year – but even more groomed, and buffed preposterously clean by leaf blower – finally a purpose for such obnoxious contraptions.
Caught up with Varx at Port Mac in the late arvo. Then back to Taree for steak, chips, and a couple of light beers. Only a phone call from The Mudge saves me from a stout chaser. In tent by 9:30. Interweb magic allows an update on how Giles is faring in the NorthFace100. Ahead of schedule is a good sign. Can’t sleep so intermittently follow the Giro on CN.
Best bird came early – Russet-tailed Thrush on call from the sleeping bag. A first.
Super cold in the am (= sleeping bag a bit thin?). Slumber visions of starting in thermals and long fingered gloves prove unfounded. It heats up fast, despite the sun struggling. I start without both, or any gloves for that matter (not the worst thing I could have forgotten).
Usual bottleneck after the opening fire-road gallop. Like cyclocross, in mountainbiking the sprint is at the start. A handicap, but I struggle holding the wheel as it is. I think I’m faster once I get my eye in, but then fatigue blunts that anyway. Luckily I still enjoy my version of flow.
I settle into a rhythm. Someone on my wheel knows my name. We chat. It’s the rapidly improving Cory Dimmer – also in my category. We swapped positions and polite banter a few times last year in the hilly round at Orange where he won the Clydesdale prize (= fastest rider with combined weight (including bike) of 110 kg). Big, strong and with superior skills. This essentially flat course better suits him. I’m holding him up but he explains he’s happy on my wheel, learning to “pace thyself”. The track is a real joy to ride, especially with good company. I put in the odd subtle dig, but am easily matched. Focus on the long game.
Fourth time through transition and the p.a. reports that Cory is running 5th in Masters. I’m 2 meters in front of him, which means I’m running 4th, or thereabouts. Half way through the next lap I continue our conversation only to discover that Cory’s been replaced by someone else. I later found out that Cory had to ease off as his front brake caliper rattled loose on the fork, which he tightened at the next pit.
I ponder whether perceived “squishing-out” on corners is loss of pressure. Was 24 psis in the rear too few? Or was there a more obvious problem. Prior to the start the rear wheel had 41 bleed points (I counted them), including a freshly removed thorn. Should I don fresh rubber before or after I inflict a slash that sealant won’t plug?
Maybe two laps later Master Welch, who this season is running pairs with Mike Israel (thank goodness on both counts!), informs me I’m running third with McAvoy 7 minutes up the track, leaving 3 hours to catch him. I squeeze out two quicker laps. The second will be my quickest for the day. Who in tarnation am I kidding?
Myself, obviously. I’m now having splutterings in the engine and gut departments. Feeling periodically bloated even though I’m drinking less than usual. Must be the wrong combination of potions. I spend the last 2 hours feeling toasted. No hint of cramp, just trashed.
Not my best outing (too much of life on the beer), but an enjoyable days racing none-the-less. McAvoy finished 15 min ahead, and that Central Coast hard man, Adams, almost lapped me to take the category and 4th outright. I’m bumped to third (11th outright) because that ever-young James is now granted his own Supermasters category. He almost lapped me as well! Bridgland, who was running 3rd for a good chunk of the day also had a mechanical after which he struggled to find the speed he’d shown earlier in the piece, finishing 10 min adrift. Dimmer finished only a few mins behind him. So many finishers on 14 laps!
At the pointy end, McDonald and English (16 laps) stormed past me on my 6th outing. At this point it was shadow boxing and occasionally gritted teeth. They next passed me on my 12th, but by this stage English had a few minutes buffer. Smooth as silk, to Ed looking a little ragged. I’m also ragged, but crawling by comparison! Apparently, with three to go it was agreed that the honeymoon was over and it was time for full-blown fisticuffs with a not totally surprising outcome, although one gets the impression that Ed is slowly closing the gap. Hats off to both.
Another fine-vibe edition of Chocy Foot. Looking forward, albeit with trepidation, to doing it all again at what is promised to be a more white knuckle experience at Mogo.