Over the past two weeks I have been able to enjoy some quality racing. Due to several reasons, my packed schedule for example (along with my inept ability to stare at a computer screen when the slightest bit fatigued).
The weekend before last I was closing out my week with a massage from my lovely French friend Sophie. She was telling me about the Xterra off road triathlon event that she was racing the following weekend just down the South Coast from home in Callala Bay. She mentioned that with a bike course that wasn’t particularly tough and a longer than usual run that it could suit myself even with little mountain biking and solid current run form. I took a day to process this information along with the facts that the race was a 90 minute drive away, I had no races in the near future that Xterra could affect and the un-ignorable fact that will play on any pro’s decision of a great prize money pool.
By the following Tuesday I’d decided to race. I began the search for a bike (I hadn’t ridden a mountain bike since last September on a borrowed bike) and the wonderful folk at Spearman Cycles were more than happy to help out. Cam, a young mechanic at Spearman’s was very obliging to lend me his own pimped out Giant XTC, a beautiful machine. Thursday was time to test out the course and myself. After cruising through half the 30km bike course I realized it was not exactly purpose built for me. Long, technical sections of single track were bookended by rutted fire trial for the length of the course. I decided to give it a bit of throttle to see how the hard tail handled and quite soon after came upon a not particularly tricky section, my right pedal clipped a rock, left handle bar clipped a tree and myself & machine reversed positions: Me on ground with bike mounting me. I tentatively stood upright and declared myself sore but not injured. I jumped back on the bike and meekly finished my reconnaissance with a slightly sheepish wariness.
Back in town I was giving the bike a good scrub when I noticed what at first seemed to be paint scraped away. â€œGreat,â€ I thought, â€œhad the bike for two days and already devalued Cams baby.â€ It wasn’t until I took a closer examination that I realized it wasn’t just paint that was damaged but the carbon seat stay had been cracked clean through the frame.
With a slightly nauseas feeling I jumped in the car and drove back up the coast straight to trusty Spearman Cycles. When I broke the news to the guys there was no comment of blame but rather discussion of what needed to be done to get me back in action. Huge thanks to Ryan and Jess for kicking on until 10pm on the eve of their long weekend to build up a complete new bike for me to ride two days later.
Happily, my race went much smoother than the preparation. A fun swim in beautiful Jervis Bay was followed by a challenging but equally as fun bike course. Despite approaching the bike leg with much less regard for my wellbeing I was able to stay upright (well that’s a lie, but now I only count crashes that result in something, bike or body, actually breaking). As expected the super technical course separated the real Xterra warriors from the tourists and I entered second transition with around 8 minutes deficit to make up over the 13km trail run. I certainly gave it a good crack too but the gap was too big. I reeled in a few guys to snag a 6thÂ place at the Asia-Pacific Champs on debut.
I would like to mention just how amazingly welcoming the whole Xterra community were to an â€˜outsider.’ Eventual men’s winner, Dan Hugo, actuallyÂ thanked meÂ for coming along to their event. Guys, it was a pleasure to be there! A great bunch of people who have discovered an incredibly fun activity that is picking up great traction around the world. And they know how toÂ Cellarbrate! I hope you’re not trying to keep it a secret cos I’ll be back and I’m bringing a heap of mates!