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Archive for April, 2009

The Terra Australis 2009

Posted by fenner on April 17, 2009

Well then before I get into the full Terra report I simply have to say what a fantastic week it was, from the start to the finish a magic experience was had by all the competitors.

The Terra started for me with a long drive down from Kangaroo Valley in NSW after what can only be described as a very hectic couple of weeks build up. What with work, my business, my wife Sally breaking her arm, buying a new house, hurting my back and trying to train a little the drive down actually signalled for me a week off!!!!!

I love stage races, I love the total emersion into the race and its ability to cut off from reality and leave the participant encapsulated in the experience. This is what I was after along with 7 hard days training for the upcoming 24 hour Nationals in Canberra. I was meeting Sam Bach at Wangaratta for the pick up and then we were to head off to the start at Falls Creek. The general chat on the way was dominated by Sam’s experiences fighting the terrible fires throughout VIC earlier in the month. This really put it all in perspective and gave us a grounding as to just how lucky and privileged we were to be heading off for a 7 day race on our trusty bikes.

We arrived at Falls and had the usual check in to our accommodation and sorting of gear, this lead to a quite night and the apprehension of the race to come.

 

Stage 1.  Falls Creek – Mt Beauty 79km (actual 94km)

A tough day in the saddle! and in the leaders jersey

A tough day in the saddle! and in the leaders jersey

 Morning came around very quickly and before we knew it we were lining up at the start with the rest of the Terra crew frothing to get started on what was due to be a 80km stage with 2500 meters of climbing. The gun went and we were off, lead at a ferocious pace by Troy Bailey and Joel Donney and followed by the Torq crew of D-Mac and Fetch and Sam and I. The pace quickly settled and the first of the weeks many climbs began. After the initial 10km we were still together and setting ourselves up for the first descent, at this point the Torq team stoped by there team car and this left the BMC boys and Sam and I to haul off down the descent. Troy and I nearly hit the deck on a very loose section and came shoulder to shoulder jostling for line and position. By the bottom of the descent the Torq crew were nowhere to be scene and so I raised the tempo on the tarmac climb back up to Falls Creek. I held a constant 340 watts close to threshold and Sam and I began to pull away from the BMC team. By the top of the climb we had a couple of minutes lead and maintained the pressure to create a good gap. From that point on we saw no one else and kept a steady rhythm on all the climbs and flatter sections. The descents were rugged and on virgin terrain and before long we were struck with the first of 4 punctures for Sam. By the 4th one we had run out of CO2 and so had to resort to the hand pump. Just as we was getting going we could hear a team flying down the rugged descent. This caused some concern so we put the hammer down and cranked off at a hectic pace. Five minutes later and we could hear no sounds from behind so we assumed we had again established a gap and settled back into our rhythm. We later learned that Torq had caught us only to puncture straight away. After the second feed we knew there was only one climb left and then the descent into Mt Beauty, this however didn’t match with the distance on my Powertap and I was getting a little concerned as we were nearly on 80km at the base of the climb! This would throw out all my feeding strategies meaning I didn’t have enough High5 gels and energy drink. By  the 7km mark on the climb the it all started to go pear shaped, the familiar and horrible hunger knock started and the power started to drop, after another 1km it was even worse and Sam was pulling gradually away and I was chewing on the bars. By 9km it was nearly all over rover and I could barely pedal the granny gear. The head was spinning the guts were rolling. Sam was shouting encouragement and I could see the top of the climb so I soldiered on. As I got to Sam I started throwing up and projectile vomiting all over the bike. I am sure that Sam thought all I needed was a large can of harden up but the puke seemed to tell him the real story and he helped all he could. It was all down from there to the finish and we descended quickly through the MT Beauty single track, the flow was back and it felt great. We still had the lead and all was good in the world ;o) At close of play Team Total Rush had a 35 minute lead over the Torq Team and another 5 mins over the BMC Team. The 79km stage had actually been measured at 94km and it really was a super tough stage.

 

Stage 2 Falls Creek – Dinner Plain 92km (actual 103km)

Chasing the D-Mac train on stage 2

Chasing the D-Mac train on stage 2

Well after stage 1 Sam and I had a great lead and it was down to the other teams to attack us and for us to defend. It really set the tone for the week of racing and the constant pressure and speed of the stages. Very early on we found ourselves away with the Torq crew. They quickly attacked and we let them go, regaining contact after a lengthy road section on a rough and tech decent. On the next long granny ring climb the guys attacked again and we again let them go, inch by inch they pulled away and the knowledge that we had a 35 minute lead allowed for a little rope and not riding ourselves into the ground every day to stay in contact. At the end of the stage we had lost 6 minutes, but still had a big lead and were determined to continue to defend it.

 

Stages 3, 4, 5 Dinner Plain – Beechworth

Super fast day 3 still had some hills!

Super fast day 3 still had some hills!

The next 3 days were a blur, The torq guys attacked and we tried to go with them. On day 3 we managed to hold them to a 6 minute gap again. Stage 3 was fast at over 27km/h average speed, the final 20km’s were flattish and a mix of road and gravel and I was hitting 240 – 370 watts on the front driving at 40 – 45km/h on the MTB!!!!!

Day 4 was the queen stage and it started badly for us with a puncture on the first big downhill. We chased up Mt Buffalo road and passed the BMC duo near the top. By the first feed we had the Torq guys down to a minute as they left the first feed as we arrived.  This was however the last we saw of the dynamic duo as they hammered a cracking pace coming in 20 minutes ahead and pulling margin down to 1.5 minutes.

Day 5 ridgeline rampage!

Day 5 ridgeline rampage!

Stage 5 was crunch time and we got up early and warmed up on the first section of the race. We were going to go out fighting that was for sure, I set a hard pace from the gun and held close to my functional threshold at around 350 watts. The torq guys matched us and halfway up the first big climb of the day Luke attacked and the gap opened. Sam and I responded but we slowly but surely dropped off the pace and they pulled away.  The 5th stage was a tough one. It had lots of ridgeline pinch climbs one after another sapped the legs and then on the fast downhill Sam had a major sidewall split. It happened when I was leading and by the time I realised I was at the bottom of the decent. I realised Sam wasn’t coming after a couple of minutes and began the slog back up the climb. After about a km I saw Sam running with the bike, we made good a repair and got going again. We had lost a lot of time however and we knew it was all over. We still smashed it all the way back to town coming in another 20 minutes down.

 

Stages 6 and 7 Beechworth – Wangaratta

Before the start of day 6 hanging with the BMC massive

Before the start of day 6 hanging with the BMC massive

The final stages of the race were a little more settled. Day 6 was more like a XC race and the group of the Torq and BMC crew stayed together with us for a final sprint finish. It was all fun and games with Sam leading out, but getting caught with a swift curb jump and inside line charge by Macca. The final day we had arranged for a neutral day and Champaign at the feed station. We all rode as a group into Wangaratta and had a ball chatting and talking about all our week on the Terra Australis.

Day 6 single track

Day 6 single track

Overall the Terra was a fantastic week of racing, it challenged, it thrilled amazed us all with the scenery and stunning vistas from the mountain tops. The organisation was first class and special mention should go out to the Finish Line Team of Iain and Clayton and there long suffering wives and team of helpers who were simple outstanding. I can definitely recommend the Terra Australis to those who want a real challenge, a life changing experience amongst likeminded people. It is a race for some it is a personal journey for others, it will whatever your motivation be in your soul forever.

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Picking up 2nd place from Clayton

Picking up 2nd place from Clayton

 

 

 

 

See you all next year

 Fenz

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24 Hour Nationals 09 (The Psychology of racing)

Posted by fenner on April 12, 2009

The end was already in sight!!

The end was already in sight!!

What can I say after a very disappointing Nationals for me:o( A week ago I was feeling great, I had a recovery week which was planned to bring my TSB back up to +12 for the Saturday morning of the race and by Thursday morning I was feeling fit and refreshed and ready to go. Thursday was the turning point, with 7 hours of driving 48 parent teacher interviews and the potential loss of a $56, 000 deposit on our new house due to some cock up with the finances and the head was spinning out of control andaway from the race. I was yet to pack or sort out the bikes as I had, had just no time since driving back from the Terra at 3 in the morning the previous Sunday to participate the the Glengarry 20 year celebrations that I had stupidly commited to before I left for VIC. Friday morning and I was frantically getting the camper loaded, gear packed and bikes put together and on my way to the race. Whilst on route I called a couple of riders to find out that there were no spaces left in Pit Row!!!!!!!!!!! The stress was mounting rapidly, I arrived and it was obvious that my crew and I were not going to be able to get on the pit row front line. Now with a race like Majura with laps every 25 – 30 minutes this is a serious disadvantage, MORE STRESS. I quickly upset one of the poor CORC ladied helping to get the race organised (I didn’t mean to be short) and it was over the fence and set up with all the gear being passed across a chest high wire fence. I thought it would be ok so went with it. How wrong I was, first time to change bikes and gear and I was told that if I did it again I would receive a time penalty!!!!! EVEN MORE STRESS!!!!! By the time the rain came belting down my head was gone, my crew were soaked to the skin, every time I came into pits and needed something, they didn’t have it!!! Poor Sally and Aaron would have to run 50 metres across pit lane hurdle a fence and do the same to get back to me with whatever I wanted or needed!!!!! My new XTR rear mech then crapped its pants and I had to keep stopping to be able to limp back to pits and swap bikes. This made me lose contact with Andrew Fellows and it felt like another nail in the coffin to my race. I could go on with some of the funny and not so funny things that happened through the paltry 7 hours that I was racing but I would get RSI in the two fingers that I type with the list would be so long. I was going ok really, just tapping out my own rhythm and when I pulled the pin actually gaining time back on Jason and those ahead of me. I just didn’t want to go on any more it was as simple as that.

In hindsight I shouldn’t have started the race, but, the physical side of things were great. As a physiologist I often neglect the importance of the mind and how in a race like a 24 when we spend so much time with our own thoughts that small nagging issues play havoc and totally derail our best laid plans.

So as always where to from here? Firstly get it out of the present thoughts and move on. Lessons are, I have had just too much going on in my life at the moment to deal with a 24 hour race. Focus on the Worlds in July with the knowledge that I will not be working 12 – 16 hour days teaching and running a business. I will not be moving house and trying to sort out a mortgage. My wife will not have a broken arm and I will not be leaving my current job and going into business on my own.

As I write this the leaders have just finished the 24 National’s.A great big well done to Jason English who again didn’t miss a beat. Well done to Dan and Andrew good solid racing guys. Also well done to Jess for pulling off a fine win over Katrin. My thought also go out to John who pulled the pin around the same time as me, we have raced so many of these things mate and you know that sometimes mate the “Computer says NO”.

Well thats quite enough of that rant. Training will resume next week with the focus on the WORLDS IN JULY 09.

Cheers

Fenz

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Terra Australis Race Report

Posted by fenner on April 5, 2009

Hi all,

Well I am back and rather smashed from the Terra Australis with a 2nd place finish for Sam Bach and I to the Torq duo of D – Mac and Fetchey, but, what a race! It was without a doubt the best race and experience ever. It was full on from the get go and the company and racers were first rate. The organisers Ian, Clayton and the whole crew who worked to organise the week are champions and all I can say before the full detailed report and stats is say get the time booked for next year guys because the Terra is the best race bar none.

Laters

Fenz

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