Over the weekend I participated in the Mt Perry weekend of mountain bike madness. My focus was on the 6 hour race as a warm up for my 24 hour effort and to sort out a few strategic issues to do with food and hydration. I felt great at the start with a little bit of nerves and a whole lot of excitement about riding an awesome course and finally putting my money where my mouth is as far as my fitness and technical abilities. Then BANG! Off we went.
Lesson number one: Don't be so nice at the start.
I got caught behind a LOT of people on the first lap. I am reasonably competent in the technical stuff but heaps of people got off and walked any little obstacle and that really held me up. As a guide, the first lap took nearly 50 minutes and for the next 3 laps I was banging out 40ish minute laps. I was being polite and letting riders through only to have them stall just ahead of me. I will go out harder and get some clear track next time.
Lesson Number 2: Set your pace and stick with it.
I followed a couple of my friends around for the first lap or two. It was great to chat to them but it didn't help me get a rythm going. The next major boo boo was chasing a mate so I could chat to him. I was there for a social race but I think perhaps it was a bit too social...... I basically blew up for the next lap and it really hurt after that. So, get consistent and stay consistent.
Lesson 3: It's 6 hours long, you're gunna get hungry!
Yep, I didn't prep any food before the race. I had gels and some fruit but nothing substantial to keep the hunger pains away or give me lasting energy reserves. I would never do a 6 hour ride without food so what possessed me to think it would be OK for a race I don't know. Dumbass.
Lesson 4: Murphy was an optimist.
I haven't broken a chain on a ride for years, literally. My chain was 3 weeks old and you guessed it. Snap, 20 minutes to change it. If the chain breaking wasn't bad enough I also left my tool box back at our camp site with the spare in it and my chain tool. Double dumbass.
Lesson 5: Refer to lesson 3. I just want to make sure you got the message. I'm a goose.
Lesson 6: Have fun.
Thats what it is about. I loved the race for the challenge it presented and the things it told me about myself. I couldn't stop smiling when I had finished and the adrenaline rush as I sprinted to get the last lap in before the time expired was unreal. I made the lap by a few minutes in the end but my timer showed I was much closer to missing out than that. I cramped like a bastard after that and had to wait for about 3 or 4 minutes before I could continue but after that I pushed on with a smile and a sense of relief that it was my last lap.
I can honestly say that I learnt the lessons the hard way. I didn't prepare for the race well and had no food made before the race and only a couple of options when it came to hydration. If my friends hadn't given me a well timed bottle of Coke and a squirt of Leslie's magic cramp killer I would have been in big trouble. Thats what mountain bikers are like though. I pull into the feeding station looking a bit rough and people start offering help. Cool people, very cool people. Am I ready for 24 hours of riding? Probably not but I will give it a red hot go.