Ride 70k’s he said, it will be fun he said!
Well, I must admit, although I was very apprehensive about my longest ride ever, and 70’ks in some very tough terrain was certainly going to be a challenge, it turned out to be a fantastic day out in the forest riding with my best buddy.
It was an early start as we set out from home, leaving Brisbane in some particularly heavy fog. The morning was cool and sky was overcast which meant the day was hopefully not going to be too hot. After a coffee on the run and grabbing a few supplies we arrived an hour later at the Lilybrook Homestead, it was already a hive of activity and the first thing we noticed was how serious everyone looked! We were out for a fun day of riding with the accomplishment of finishing our first Mountain Bike Marathon Event.
With a chill still in the air we made our way down to the registration tent to collect our numbers for the race . It was a nice surprise to also find that we received a water bottle and a T-shirt for our entry fee. We headed back up to the car to attach our race numbers and make our final preparations before the long day ahead in the saddle. As the start time of 9.30am drew near the eager competitors madetheir way to the start line for the rider briefing. There were 2
races, The Logan’s run 70 K which would start at 9.30am and then the shorter 40K Base Camp Blast that would head off 30 minutes later, hopefully giving the Marathon riders a far enough head start that we would get caught by the faster Blast riders. And then we were off, my best mate and riding buddy Lamb, was on my younger brothers trusty, but very old, Trek Fuel. She was a good old thing in her time but now more suited to excursions of the bike path variety. With V brakes and some sticky front suspension it was going to be a day of survival. Our first mechanical issue was about 500M out from the start line when we had some chain ring issues. This was not something we could do much about so we were going to have to continue on and cope with it best we could. This was going to make things a bit tricky for Lamb as he used gears either side of the centre chain ring, not to worry, it was an adventure and nothing was going to stop us from finishing. Just another 2 k’s up the road Lamb somehow found the pavement! We were on a gentle climb up a gravel road and suddenly Lamb spun a wheel and was on the deck. It was a freak accident and one we couldn’t blame on the equipment. Luckily nothing more than a bit of racing rash and some blood so we continued on. By this time we were at the back of the pack but were catching a few other riders along the way. The trail along the lake was picturesque with the old climb thrown in for good measure. We needed to pace ourselves for the long day ahead and kept together. The early distance markers passed fairly quickly, 5, 10, 15k’s we were going well. Then suddenly the first 3 riders in the Base Camp Blast event thundered past, these guys were flying. We knew that we were approaching the turnaround point for the shorter 40K event so we had to now keep an eye out for these three coming back the other way on the narrow, sandy and sometimes blind corners. Once these guys had passed back the other way we reached the turnaround not long after but for us it was straight ahead with a further 50K to go.
Unfortunately not long past this point the Trek was struck down again, this time by a flat rear tyre. We pulled over and not bothering to find the leak we replaced the tube, hoping that this was our third and last issue for the day. Whilst Lamb changed the tyre I tried one of my peanut butter energy gels. This was the first time I had tried one of these and I was hoping that it might get me through the day. Also while we were changing the tyre the 2 groups of riders that we had caught and passed managed to get back in front. With the tyre replaced and the wheel back on we again set off. Not much further up the track we turned off the lake trail and headed up the Ridge Line Trail. We had looked on the map previously and we knew this was going to be a long and very tough climb. The good news was this was the toughest of the 2 climbs today and once we were up we got to enjoy a pretty hardcore, black diamond descent. The trails were great and with much variety, from loose shale climbs to some fast berm corners. the best part of the course I felt was over the back on the descent after the second climb. This was territory I had not ridden before and was clean exciting single track leading down the hillside passing through the corrugated iron tunnel which brought us back to the grassy plains and the homeward run. The marshall’s were also terrific with words of encouragement as we passed each of the check points. We were now back on the lake trail and heading home, although very tired after some epic climbs we were still feeling good and tried to pick up the average pace. Always sticking together and making sure we both got to the finish together we again started top pick up some of the struggling riders. The closer we got to home it felt the hills became steeper, we were beginning to tire as these climbs did not rate on the way out but were certainly presenting a challenge on the way home, we kept telling ourselves this was the last climb until finally we could see the Homestead. It was just a matter of turning over the pedals one by one as it was coming up to just over 6 hours on the bike.
Crossing under the Deswick finishing arch was a relief with a sense of accomplishment. What a great day and certainly an awesome experience.