Attendees: (apart from the other 250 odd competitors) my team and the others
we camped with.
I have a copy of the race results online.
Photos by Steve Hanley, Martin Zweep, Russell Baker. More photos at the bottom of the page from David Morgan..
Michael Carden has told many of us that the Beechworthchaingang mtb club can put a good event on. Some of the Wagga crew agreed and told us about this race. It sounded fun, beautiful part of the country, lets go do it. Sam originally agreed to do the event in Mixed Pairs with me, then as a way to convince Ben to come on down to the race we got him onto our team as well.
Sam, Max and I drove down to the race on friday afternoon, arriving around 6pm to set up camp and registered our team. Upon arrival we found Martin and the Wagga crew with a good camping area a long way from the noise of the event centre. Ben decided to go to work on friday so would be arriving around midnight to the camp.
Once Ben arrived we got a good 6 hours or so sleep in and awoke to a clear morning, it was obviously going to get hot soon if the temperature at 7am was anything to go by. Rather than sit around playing convoluted games of Rock, Paper, Scissors with Jim making up new rules in order to choose who rode first on our team I volunteered to do the first lap. I almost regretted it when they announced the run would be from the bottom of the campsite all the way up to the transition, they relented and only made us run half way up the hill so it wasnt so bad.
As usual the first lap was a bit crowded, well at first, on the long granny ring climb up heart break hill it thinned out a lot and the rest of the lap was not congested. My impression of the course was, fun, maybe with a bit too much firetrail in the middle, and also a wasted drop on fireroad that should have been on single track.
The lap starts with a very fast downhill over open farm paddocks to a Dam, accross a little bridge and then climbs up towards the edge of the paddocks. Through a gate and along the outside of the fence line to the top corner of the paddocks and then into the first ST section, in native bushland. At this point we have a fast big ring, 30 or 35 KMH single track section called "Single Track Mind" for a while and then we turn sharply and head into a section called "Gravity Drop", this ia a fun off camber series of switchbacks going down a hill. At the bottom we cruise through more ST all big ring stuff for a bit and then come out onto fireroad at the first marshall point after a few little fun cornery singletrack bits.
At this point we have reached the base of "heart break hill", this is a 5 minute or so granny ring climb, not the steepest bit on the course, but it is long and you have to pace yourself and spin to get up it reasonably. Once at the top we head down losing all the height we just gained on a fast sweeping fireroad downhill called "Yahoo", this is fun with loose corners and you have to be a bit careful, however I would have prefered they used more single track downhill here, as you ride down you can see quite a lot of ST entrances taped off.
After this we stayed on fireroad for a long time, with a few steep pinches (granny ring bits), two long dips one down to some logs I always worried I would pinchflat on and one down to a deep puddle crossing, finally we climbed up to another marshall point and got back to some open paddocks from where we could see the event centre again. This was deceptive though as we soon entered more single track and would not get back to the camp site for around 10 minutes.
The single track here was bumpier than the stuff early in the lap, still in native bush, lots of fun to be had with tight twisting bits, a steep drop down to a wide bridge, a few dips and gullies, etc. After all this we climbed up to the base of the campsite and had to climb up the side of the campsite on a slightly grassy track, this was never too bad though as all day there were always people cheering you on for this whole climb, and hey the lap was almost over.
On the whole I really had fun on the ST on this course, it was well built, the off camber switchbacks were correctly benched and shelved so water would not ruin them, the changes in speed flowed correctly in all ST sections so you didnt use brakes unnecessarily and cause bad braking ruts all the time. I think they needed more ST, however the firetrails were not so bad as it was gorgeous bushland we rode through.
After my first lap I handed over to Sam and headed down to the campsite to relax and eat. During the course of the day, the weather got hotter however Sam, Ben and I all kept consistent lap times, Ben set the fastest lap time on the team doing his first lap, on the whole Ben and I hovered around 45 or 46 minutes and Sam around 52 minutes.
When we worked out the laps we would do as it started to get dark we realised that interestingly I would not have a night lap as it was unlikly to get dark until around 7:45pm which was later than I was expecting to get back from my last lap. This could possibly have turned out bad as I do a lot of night riding and Sam and Ben almost never get off road at night. After the lap I was far too pleased to be finished and feeling too worn out to think much about it.
In the end it didn't matter as Sam and Ben put in good night laps and Ben clawed back quite a lot of time over the next placed team on his final lap, even though he had two crashes on that lap.
At around 6pm Russ had told us we were only two minutes ahead of the next placed team, Ben started watching and said he thought he had seen evidence of them passing us. By the time Ben finished our final lap at around 9:25pm we thought we were in second place. So when Sam and I went up to the presentations to hear how we went we had quite a surprise when they announced we were in first place. We collected our medal and were instructed to pick a prize each from the table of prizes.
By this time I have to admit I was struggling to take notice of much of my surroundings. When I had finished my final lap I walked down to the camp and noticed my stomach feeling a bit sore. I ignored it and drank a bit of water and decided to try to eat dinner. As I ate my stomach continually got worse. I tried mylanta and a toilet visit, neither of which helped. Just before the announcement of the placing at the presentations I ended up puking out a lot of liquid and all the food I had tried to eat.
This could be problematic as I had my dinner time insulin injection before eating, and if I could not get food into me I was likely to go hypo, especially as I had been exercising all day. I continued to feel unwell as we got back to camp, and did indeed go hypo, I tried to get more food in and then went to bed. Unfortunately I started experiencing severe muscle cramps in my legs no matter what position I lay in, then I puked up all the food I had tried to eat in order to counter the hypo.
I did not feel too low sugar wise so I decided to just try and sleep, drinking water a bit as I did. When I woke up in the morning I still felt pretty ordinary and tired also due lack of sleep from cramps and stuff. I went up and had a shower, which got me clean, but didnt fix my stomach. When I tried to eat something again it came back up, by this time a doctor friend of Martin's who was camping with us had said I was suffering heat exhaustion and I should get to a hospital and on to a drip to rehydrate me.
Needing to get back to Canberra, Ben and Sam kindly offered to assist in driving me back, this would make it harder to look after Maxine on a long car trip but it looked like I was not going to be able to drive. This proved quite correct as after Sam drove me just past Albury, I tried to drive for a while it was immediately obvious that I shouldn't be driving. Ben drove me the rest of the way to Canberra while Sam drove their car with Maxine.
Upon getting home I rang my mother and asked for help as I was feeling really bad and would not be able to unpack properly. I rang my diabetic specialist (Endocrinologist) to consult on what to do, he said I should test for Ketones and if they were large go to the hospital. Large ketones can mean the body is starting to canibalise itself due to a shortage of food, this was very possible in my case as I had nothing to eat since the previous day.
When it turned out that I should go to hospital the specialist rang and said I was coming in and I got to the hospital around 6pm. Once there they put me on a saline drip and over the next 9 hours pumped 3 bags of saline into me in order to rehydrate my body. After the first bag I was once again able to eat food and keep it down.
On reflection I realise I had not been drinking enough, the temperature in the shade at the race according to Liam's watch was around 34c and I was only really drinking about 1.5-2 litres every 2 hours, including doing a lap in that period. I had a fun race apart from this medical issue, and I dont see myself underdrinking at an event again any time soon. Fortunately Sam and Ben both had a fun weekend, especilly after we had kind of dragged Ben down to the race. I was in the end very glad of Ben's presence as it made the race a lot easier, mixed pairs would have been very tough on this course, and I definitely think Solo would be more insane than ever on such a tough course.