Let me start by saying that I have just had a crazy-busy weekend. You know... the ones that feel like they went for 5 days - not two.
But boy did I have fun. Let's start from the beginning....
Saturday morning I was up at 5.00am for a mountain bike endurance event - somewhat appropriately called "Capital Punishment".
From the website:
"Capital Punishment is a 50km and 100km mountain bike enduro. The Capital Punishment course will take in the best of the Canberra single tracks including Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Majura Pines, Black Mountain and Mt Stromlo. These famous single tracks will be linked via fire trails with only the minimum necessary bitumen."
I have not spent a lot of time on my mountain bike in recent times (or my road bike for that matter), so I opted for the 50km race.
One look at the elevation profile - and you will know what sort of tracks we covered....
While 50km on a road bike on sealed roads may be a 'nice ride', 50km on a mountain bike on single track and sodden fire trails, is far from an easy ride. As I discovered.
But I digress.
I decided to wear a camel back during the race as aid stations were limited. I stuffed it to the brim with gels, fruit bars and nuts, although I couldn't fit in my apple.
Packed, I headed out to the car only to discover that it was pouring outside. And not just light rain, but heavy 'soaking' rain. I must admit at this point I thought about pulling out of the race, but my damn
stubbornness pride got in the way and I didn't want a "did not start" recorded next to my name.
So, the next task of the morning was operation "raincoat".....or should I say operation "frantically-look-through-all-our-unpacked-boxes-to-try-and-find-raincoat". After 10 minutes of frantic grumbling, I found the elusive raincoat in a random box and headed out to finish packing the car.
Mr BBB was kind enough to accompany me to the race start - which was handy given it was a "point to point" race - in which the start and finish lines were at opposite ends of town.
We arrived around 7am, shortly before the race start. I was amazed at how many people were up bright and early to take part in the event, particularly given the conditions were less than optimal. Over 750 people participated in the 50km event, which started in waves according to your anticipated finish time.
At 7.20 or so my wave was called to the start line and we were off.
The first 5 kilometres was largely on fire trails, which were completely sodden and slippery due to the overnight and ongoing rain. That, coupled with a significant climb, sure got the heart pumping.
It wasn't long before I arrived at Majura Pines and was treated to wonderful single track.
The trails were quite crowded, but everyone, including me, were in good spirits.
The muddy trails continued and I soon found myself heading north, through some paddocks.
While the section was relatively flat, the amount of water and mud made for a very slow ride that zapped a lot of energy out of my legs.
At the 2 hour mark I took a gel and kept the legs turning. I decided that I would eat each hour, but in retrospect I should have eaten every 40 minutes or so given that my energy expenditure was probably quite high.
During this middle phase I started to feel sore and tired, and there were not a lot of distractions. In some parts I found myself riding alone and feeling quite isolated. But, I knew that this challenge was one that I could complete, so I just told myself to keep riding - no matter how slow.
Around the 25km mark we hit an untimed section which took us along a sealed road. The rain was quite heavy at this point, but I was relieved to be able to keep up a good speed on the road and the kilometres clicked by quite quickly.
At the 35km mark I came across the aid station and re-filled my water bottle. I wolfed down a fruit strap from my stash and also grabbed a banana from the aid station.
I decided not to stop for long as I didn't want to get too cold and I knew there was 'only' 15 kilometres to go. But what a challenge those last 15km would prove to be.
It wasn't long before I hit the outskirts of Mt Stromlo, where I knew some awesome single track awaited.
First obstacle, however, was some of the muddiest trails I have ever seen through Deeks Forest. I swear the mud was three inches deep and flowing in some of the downhill parts.
These trails formed part of the final uphill climb and were filled with such thick sticky mud that riding them was impossible (for me at least). So pride aside, I opted to walk (which was hard enough!) for about 1 kilometre or so, pushing my now heavy mud-filled bike.
It was around this time that the elite guys from the 100km race passed me - and can I just say - I was completely awe-struck. While I was pushing and grunting my way up the steep, muddy and narrow trails, they came flying by as if it was a normal Saturday ride. Inspiring!
I didn't get passed by anyone else through this section, so I assume that most people had to walk it - rather than ride.
With about 7 kilometres to go I hit some usable trails and got back on the bike for the remainder of the climb. And climb I did...albeit slowly.
I was out of food by this stage, and keen for a hot shower, so I put in what remaining energy I had to try and get to the top as soon as I could.
After what felt like forever, I finally hit the top, and was able to enjoy a rapid descent towards the finishing line.
It's hard to believe that it took me over an hour to get to the top, yet I was back down the bottom in 10 or 15 minutes!
The final portion of down hill trails was so much fun - and a nice reward for the previous hour long climb.
When I saw the finish line, with Mr BBB standing right next to it, I was almost in tears.
5 hours and 33 minutes, and 54 kilometres later, I was done.
I finished 55th out of 107 female competitors in the open category - which I was super pleased about.
And my first words to Mr BBB after crossing the line? "That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life".
And my next words to Mr BBB? "So do you want to do it with me next year????"
Post race thoughts
This was a wonderfully organised event, and the sign-posting was flawless. Despite the rain, there were loads of volunteers on the course helping direct traffic where needed, and generally greeting the riders with a grin and words of encouragement.
I was astounded at how many people had to pull out of the race either due to equipment failure or fatigue. The event, no doubt due to the conditions, had a large attrition rate with over 45 people withdrawing during the race, and many people that did not start the event at all.
I was really lucky that I didn't experience any flat tyres and my bike handled the course well. Although it was making a few strange noises by the end, I am fairly sure that it is nothing a good service won't fix. There were a lot of riders who had brake failures towards the end which would have made for a very scary ride in the final downhill section.
I will do this event again, but I will not underestimate its endurance status. I didn't help myself by not training enough, and I should have brought more food with me.
That being said, I had a wonderful time. There were moments of self doubt and moments of fear, but when I crossed that finish line, I cannot describe how fulfilled I felt.
Amazingly, my day did not end there.....stay tuned for part 2 of my weekend adventures! Luck for me the next part was not as muddy!
Happy baking :)