Stage 4, Irvinebank – Irvinebank. 106km, 2400m climbing
A comfortable nights sleep with air conditioning and double bed in Atherton was ample preparation for what lay ahead in todays 120km stage of the Crocodile Trophy. The race consisted of 4 x 26.5km laps of a hard, very demanding course with dirt road, single track, sand beds, horse trails and some trail that seemed like a feral pig feeding trail rather than a mountain bike track.
From the gun it was on like donkey kong, a few groups attempted to breakaway from the bunch on the rolling dirt road that began each lap. A selection of approximately 8 riders managed to consolidate a gap which included myself and Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team mate and leader of the masters category Werner van der Merve. This group worked well until we hit the first section of donkey trail. This split the group up, and enabled those with the superior MTBing abilities to come to the fore. Ivan Rybarik and Ondrej Fotijk came to the fore in the duel for general classification honours.
After battling on the first section of donkey trail, I found a good group with team mate Mike Blewitt. This group worked well together again until the rough as guts trail selected those who had ridden sand, rocks and horse poo before. Each lap this group would thin out until the last lap. Mike dropped off and it was just 2: myself and Austrian rider Dominick Hrinkow.
After a frustrating first 2 days at the Croc Trophy this year, my legs, body, bike and health appear to be settling into this tour. However on lap 2 dire thoughts were entering my head as to whether I could complete this torturous stage. But I kept on pushing through the pain, frustration and agony. Surprisingly I felt stronger each lap and managed to sneak into the top 10 on the stage again. Werner Van De Merwe from South Africa continues his domination of the Masters category which could be another great scalp for Subaru-MarathonMTB.com. We my have moved into 3rd on the Teams Classification too.
The quaint mining community of Irvinebank have hosted the croc trophy circus for two nights now like last year, it is so refreshing to have a stage finish area with some shade and a pub! A big thank you to Nadene, the wife of Werner, and Mr and Mrs Van de Maerwe for the fabulous encouragement and support all through the tour so far.
For those interested in the diabetes management side of things, the Crocodile Trophy always throws a spanner in the works. Constant dehydration throws Blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride. I have been trying to stay on top of this by always having a bottle of SIS Go Energy energy drink on board and dropping the morning basal insulin quite rapidly. So far so good. A friendly cold coke on stage finish, backed up with some Rego Recovery is always a welcome sight too!
Tomorrow is another hard stage to Mt. Mulligan. The deeper field and shorter stages in this years tour has lifted the speed and the higher component of technical terrain is a definate struggle. The Croc Trophy pain train continues through Far North Queensland.