This one was down at Forrest. There's a lot of hype about the trails down this way, personally, I don't get it. Though it does mean less people on the trails I love:) I do a recon lap and I'm not disappointed - It's underwhelming in its technicality with stuff-all altitude gain. Maybe I should have been a little more positive about the course as things just didn't flow today. Are you still reading or is it too negative for you already? :)
1st lap is a 'super lap', it's got extended fire road to sort out the field before we hit the single track. I'm struggling already as we rise then swing right and finally into the single track. I'm about 6th wheel. I can see the front of the race as we are all tightly bunched so I'm not too worried and the pace seems to have been wound down a notch. We stay like this for a while until we get to the undulating section which starts me thinking I need to get past the guy in front as I can see he is now showing signs of dropping the wheel in front of him. But there's no real opportunity presenting itself to me and a gap slowly starts opening. The guy in front of me starts to dig a little deeper and as he does, his bike handling skills start to wane. In fact, if you were to graph the two, they would be directionally proportional. How do I know this? He keeps fighting harder and as he does he's all over the shop. I have to back off and give myself some room because he's like a bomb about to go off. Finally he does go off. The trail sweeps left and for some reason he keeps going straight and he's into the scrub like an F1 car into the kitty litter. Finally I bridge then we get the added bonus of the other categories reversing into us. It's a mess the 1st lap.
Lap two and we are now on the 1st section of single track that we missed due to the super lap. It's lined with balga grass trees and it feels like you are riding through an automated car wash! The single track opens up a bit on a flat section and I decide to go on the attack in search for Matt Molan who went on the attack earlier during the second half of lap one. No one comes with me so it's head down bum up in search of Matt. The second half of the course has some fast rutted sections and it's on one of these that my chain leaves the big chain ring for a rendezvous with my crank arm. The ruts and speed I'm carrying doesn't feel safe to go one handed and nurse the chain back on. By the time the chain is back on, the chasing bunch is back with me.
I recoup and go again, this time Tom comes with me. Again on the second half of the course I go to slam back a gel but in ends up going down my wind pipe. I think I've now got a good idea of what full blown Emphysema could feel like as I try and exhale with minimal effect. Tom's gone so I'm now third with a lap to go.
The fourth lap is far more enjoyable than the last three combined and I'm hooking into the sweeping turns through the trees. Senior Woo has made the long trip to man the bottles in the feed zone again and there were some sleek changes today. He's still in the feed zone as I approach for the finish line so out comes my hand, bottle-less, and we 'high-five' as I pass him heading for the finish line.