A World of Hurt!
The first lap started well as I jumped on a train of four riders with Garry at the head of affairs. I knew that Garry was the favourite to win the Masters Category and it made sense to keep him in my sights. Jason McAvoy was attending a wedding and Mike Israel was another notable absentee. Dave Langley seemed to pose a threat although he had been struggling with a back injury that had already scuppered his quest for glory at WEMBO. I had also spotted Canberra's Paul Brodie at the start line and knew he would certainly be mixing it up with the main contenders. Indeed, it was Paul who raced into an early lead, which he was to hold for almost four hours.
Half way through the first lap, I began to lose touch with Garry's small armada of riders and I found myself moving backwards through the field. My early exuberance and energy seemed to have seeped through those weary legs and my confidence quickly waned. Clayton Locke glided past, and his dark lycra racing kit soon flickered away into a distant memory. I had turned up to race without any real expectations. The dusty and technical course was starting to bite. The short pinch climbs became increasingly more difficult and the heat sucked the sweat from my aching body and left crystals of salt across my short and shirt. Three hours had elapsed and I was suffering. Passing through transition, I heard I was in fifth. These races are an endurance test and I knew others would be in similar difficulty and I would just need to be consistent and the riders ahead would come back to me.
The last two hours were about survival. I was riding with just one brake (my front brake had failed three hours in), I was cramping badly , my feet had swollen in the heat, my hands were sore and I had a stitch, which I just couldn't rid myself of. My attention was diverted from the track and then I lost control on a dusty descent and crashed, swallowing a mouthful of the loose dust. As I tried to stand my right calf cramped. I tried to stretch the muscle, prompting my right thigh to cramp painfully. I sat in the middle of the track helpless for what seemed like an age. As I tried to stand, my left thigh cramped and so I waited a little longer. On standing, I found my bars had turned in the crash and so I was forced to make the necessary adjustments as two riders came by. Fortunately, neither were in my category.
I was completely exhausted at the finish and continued to cramp while driving back to Sydney. It's been a tough few weeks and it is time to relax a little before the final installment of this excellent series at Kinross Forest in Orange in three weeks' time.