Twelve months is a long time off the bike but it’s amazing how fast the time flies.
It felt like a month or so ago that I rolled across the line at the 2011 Capital Punishment to end a 2-month, 5-race marathon and enduro MTB fest.
Fitness was severely deteriorating then following a dramatic lifestyle change. As a national level road amateur riding 700km a week, I chose to rack the steed, earn some money and buy my own house. Unfortunately, this means I am now a full time office jockey, lucky to ride once or twice a week and struggling to keep up with the club bunch on a 60km Saturday morning coffee ride.
Now a prisoner of the daily grind and 9-5 lifestyle, it was far too appropriate to knock back the opportunity to participate in the aptly named “Convict 100″ MTB Marathon on May 5.
Recognised as one of Australia’s most challenging mountain bike endurance races, the “Convict” follows the historic Convict Trail through the Dharug and Yengo National Parks about 100km North West of Sydney.
Starting in the sleepy town of St Albans, the trail is diverse to say the least and bike choice is difficult (for me anyway). It mixes fast fire trail, single track, rocky descents, and if you get the time – (or are so far off the back of the leaders – as in my case) you can witness some amazing views across the surrounding valleys and Hawkesbury river system.
While I haven’t previously raced this course I have ridden all except for the Private Property sections a number of times.
Bike choice for this course is hard as there are two significant types of terrain to consider. A good mix of climbing and open fire road justify a lightweight (perhaps hard tail) setup, but the rocky and natural ridge lines provide plenty of justification for a rear suspension rig.
If you are lucky enough to have a quiver of bikes for various applications, then my next comment is probably not very helpful and more re-assuring for those that don’t!
100km in the saddle on this course and no matter what you have chosen, you will wish you chose the other.
I have ridden an alloy Scott Spark and while the suspension was fantastic on the descents and tech climbs, I watched MarathonMTB teammates on hard tails ride away in the “Race to S tAlbans Pub” at 10km to go when out training. The slight weight penalty combined with physical exhaustion took its toll.
A carbon Scott Scale however was excellent for pedalling efficiency and speed on the fire roads but my back was smashed after 5hrs of rock hopping and rear wheel “nursing” over the rough stuff.
The Convict 100 has a big reputation in Sydney and there will be a large field on hand to test their mettle against one another. Entries sell out fast and for good reason. It’s a fun and testing course. Primarily a power riders course, technical skill will start to play a role once the fatigue over the ridgeline sets in.
While I am severely apprehensive about my ability to finish in any respectable time, the Convict100 will be a great chance to blow out the cob webs and actually earn my next beer.
I know I haven’t done enough training but then again, you can always do more right?! (Downhill runs at Mt Buller count as training right?!)
MTBing is fun, tough and mentally challenging. If it wasn’t, why would you do it? Enjoy the race, see you on the trails and if you see me….don’t be afraid to give us a push!