Whilst a bunch of mates were racing at one of my favourite events from last year, the Buxton Boot Camp, a 6 hour enduro in Victoria, I spent about an hour and a half sweating it out in the tropics for Darwin Offroad Cyclists’ last event for the year – Monsoon Madness.
Held at Lee Point, a 20 minute ride from my house, the race encompassed as many laps as you could complete of an approximately 5km course in an allocated time of 1:30 minutes. I’m fairly familiar with the trails, and despite the stifling heat up in the top end at the moment, I was super excited about hitting the course.
90 odd club members were lined up to race at 4:30pm, and I was stoked to have Aidan and Kev there to make it hard. Out the front of the bunch from the start, I had Aidan alongside me and was happy to cruise the opening fire trail at 35km/h until Kev blew past about 100m in doing at least 40! He’d pulled off one of my favourite tricks, and it was a real struggle to get ahold of his wheel!
I couldn’t hear anyone behind me, and I barely had sight of the two leaders when I made a blunder. Over the top of a large roller, the trail bends to the left. I took it with too much speed and committed myself to riding off the trail and into the bushes, sending me off the bike, along with my mini pump and a water bottle. The pump I retrieved as I righted myself to watch about 5 riders slip away, the bottle I wouldn’t notice until I’d remounted and taken off. Planted obviously to the side of the trail, on successive laps that bottle proved to be a reminder not only to ride smoothly, but also that I was thirsty.
Not wanting to lose too much ground, I hammered it to get onto the second bunch, and followed better lines through the single track, and blasted it every time the course opened up or started climbing. I’d worked my way back to third position by the last of the single track, and when I emerged onto a long, uphill section of fire trail, I could see Kev most of the way up, and Aidan at the top.
And that is how it stayed for a couple of laps – I’d make up a bit of ground, but then fall a back behind on the technical stuff, before edging closer on the climbs and long stretches of open terrain. I really wish I had a power meter on my mountain bike, because it felt like I was really utilising all of the road training I’ve been doing.
Eventually I made it past Kev, who would stay close to my tail for the most part of a lap, and had to really hook it along the starting fire trail to catch up to Aidan – this time I was doing 40km/h! I was able to take a bit of a breather with Aidan in front on the single track, and me pulling hard turns on the fire trails and climbs.
At one point I stopped to pull some foliage out of my rear mech, with Aidan offering to slow down so I wouldn’t have to work hard to catch back up. But it sure didn’t feel like that – it took me a full lap to catch back up!
By this stage we were nearing the end of the race. I hadn’t checked the time properly, and had forgotten what lap we were up to, but the two of us thought we would get one more lap in. Aidan was looking cooked, and made it vocal, but kept on my wheel so we could take the 1,2. Perhaps 200m from the finish, Aidan tripped up a little – staying upright, but dropping his chain. I slowed up to almost walking pace, looking over my shoulder and wondering what the fuck was taking him so long, as I crossed the line – only to be pulled up by Alice. The race was over.
I did get one more lap in – a warm down and bottle collection were both necessary.
Massive thanks to all the volunteers out for the day – many of them gave up racing themselves to marshall and time the event – more than I’ve ever bothered to do. Congratulations to all the competitors for racing in those conditions too – it was great to hear words of encouragement shouted at me throughout the event, and I hope I was just as encouraging for everyone else (apart form the times I overtook with my head down and my teeth gritted). I’ll try and make as many of these races as I can next year, and I’ll have to give up a number on one of them to volunteer.
Strava: Monsoon Madness