The Flight Centre Cycle Epic has long appealed to me as a bike racer. This was a pioneer event when it first appeared on the radar whilst I was still racing in the Juniour MTB ranks in NSW. A long distance MTB event! As the years have passed, my calendar finally aligned to grant me the oppurtunity to make the flight up. Foregoing the Goulburn to Sydney road race, I headed north. With the Crocodile Trophy now on the horizon, getting in some long, solid, dirt race miles in the Queensland conditions is ideal preparation.
It was warm from the get go at Spicers Hiddenvale. Finally, I have been able to race down under this year sans arm warmers! The pace was dictated by the star studded field early including previous winner Adrian Jackson, World 24 Hour champ Jason English, multiple national team member and now DAD Aiden Lefmann, 2nd place getter at the national champs Trenton Day and strong man Andy Fellows among many other quality marathon mountain biking fast men. The first climb had Adrian Jackson from Flight Centre- Merida take the front, this quickly sorted out the field behind. By the road section at the 20km mark the lead group had shrunk to 15 riders from the initial 1500. After chasing back on with Dan McDonald from Flight Centre-Merida after struggling on an early climb, the pace had eased, I took off hoping to coax a few into a small breakaway group. Unbeknown to myself there was a feed zone around the corner, this was not to plan. I pushed on solo, knowing a long climb lay ahead establishing a margin on the lead group was enough to keep me away until near the top of the climb where I could now join the heavily shrunk lead group of Day, Lefmann, Fellows and English. My time with these heavy weights was brief as I slipped back over the top to the next group of two. This was a good group to be in as we established some good time into those behind us. Enjoying the sweet singletrack in this section and lovely views from the ridgeline, I actually found myself enjoying my time on the bike at this point. I kept chippin away toward the finish which I thought at the 3.5hour mark could not be far away.
I saw a sign saying 8km! “BEAUTY” I thought, still feeling good, time to empty the tank! When 30minutes passed since that sign, I figured something was wrong with the track signage. I was getting delirious and dehydrated. I came across a feed zone, stuffed my face and refuelled in a halucinated, completely exhausted state. Here, someone told me it was still 15km to go. I was crushed, but pushed on trying to find some more fuel somewhere in the reserve tank. Another feed zone at 5km to go warranted a stop for more lollies and water. I was pedalling squares here, but still had’nt lost any positions. Then Mike Blewitt from Subaru-MarathonMTB.com passed me, I mustered up enough energy to stay with Mike till the finish. Finishing and collapsing, I have not emptied the tank like that for a long time, bringing back memories of croc trophy 2011. Thoughts of this feeling again for 10days straight was scary to say the least.
For those in the diabetes world I started the race at 10.3 (approx190 USA measurement) and finished around 3.5 (50). The BSLs slipped much lower than that mid race which indicated I needed to be more aware of my distances covered and been more consistent with my mid race eating. A very tough day out!
A good drive back and good laughs with Graeme, Mike, Trenton and women’s winner Jodie brang a smile back to the dial and Im sure Ill be back.
Congrats to Jason English on the win! Top fella Trenton on the 2nd and Dad Aido on the 3rd!