Friday, October 31, 2008

Stage 4 with some delay

And so with some delay, stage 4!

Starting at the Seashells Resort at Yallingup, or Caves house as its otherwise known, we headed out to the stage start at Ngili Cave. The morning was a little less than exceptional, overcast and a bit blowy but it is the coast and there isn't a lot west of that point to distract the weather...

Redbull was the order of the morning for some after a pleasant evening function at Caves house, and we made it in good time for a warmup at the start.

A sandy climb was to be the order of the day to start us off, and we creaked the rust out of our legs up the climb as a pre-ride. And it was lucky we did. The stage began on the edge of a carpark, and headed straight up a very sandy track, which by the time the field had gone through, was forcing the tail riders to have to start walking straight away.

Willow and I amused ourselves by packing a moto-x style start groove in with our shoes whilst we waited for the starting instructions (time to note this stage was described as 'pleasant with some bitumen...' or words to that effect.) As we departed, using our packed grooves for maximum traction for about 3 metres, the field turned up the steep sections and the hiking began. Run, push, heave, run, push heave, watch Rohin ride away... It was a nice beginning...

Jason was locked in a battle with World 24hour competitor Johnny Waddell and the current junior XC champ of WA, and they were all feeling the days previous efforts. The sand was keeping most riders equal, negating any moves or extra skills they may have had.

On seemingly maximum attack, Rohin and Willow attempted to string the field out into the pain box, and succeeded nicely. I spent the morning chasing Rohin, and trying to get Willow to do some work other than speeding off on me whenever it went down or sandy. He was paying the price for a decent solo attack the day before, but was able to bridge back on whenever it really counted. Rohin was tapping away up front, gapping us every time it went up and watching us ride back on in the really sandy stuff.

And then it started... Course makings that either didn't exist or were moved, or we just missed? The 3 of us on the front blew past an intersection in a BS sandy paddock, and then somehow did a lap of the paddock, hand railing the fence. I'd say it was also the worst sand of the day too, cultivated by machinery at some time, and you'd stop dead if you missed even half a pedal stroke. As we completed what we found to be a lap, he ran headlong into Jason and Johnny, milling around as they tried to work out where to do. I wasn't that stoked...

Out onto the bitumen only to be attacked by one of the guys who'd benefited from our error, and it was on. Through the turnaround at the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse to the cheers of 3 men, no dogs, and grabbing a bottle of Ascend from the boys, and smashing it back towards the end. Somehow we'd managed to get cars in between us, so at about 60kph down the tar, we were dicing with drivers who had no idea what we were up to. But thats ok, the traffic management guys stood in the middle of the road and stopped the cars...?! I think he did truly think his life was ending as he did so, mountain bikers and cars all mixed together and he had to separate them. No envy there!

Back into our friendly sand paddock with the full crew, and headlong into the rest of the field. We were traveling back along the same sandy track, at 10/10ths into the rest of the field. Climbs, descents, sand, bog holes, all good and head on! With some more dubious trail marking and instructions, that was the final blow. Half the bunch split to try one gamble, the others went down the second choice and only one group was going to benefit. Sadly, it wasn't mine.. Jason's however took the right path, and they carried on through the sand towards the finish.

I committed to my track and hit it hard, only to come to a completely unmarked junction and realize it wasn't correct, and wandered up to intersect with the other track option. That was pretty much the nail in my day. As I reached the track junction, Jason rolled along and we rode together for a while, before I lost all enthusiasm and waited to chat with some of the other competitors on the final stage.

More sand took us all the way back to the start, and we experienced about 200m of singletrack as a pleasant final section all the way back into the finish area. I took the time to check out the national park as we rode though, whilst Jason and Johnny put on an airshow of their own for the photographers on their way into the finish, and as we crossed the line, it marked the end of the Cape to Cape for 2008.

A week of beautiful scenery, some great racing was had by those into smashing each other, and the hospitality was top notch. There are plenty of improvements that will be made before next year I'm sure, and it will be a good race for anyone to come along and achieve.

I've got more material to post up here next week in regards to Spex, and great new chain lube we've found and a general overview of our equipment and nutrition. Read whats been working for us, and see if it can work for you too.

Till then, thanks for stopping by and taking the time!

And we'll leave you with Perth on a bad day...!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CApe to Cape MTB wrap - Stages 3 and 4

Stage 3 dawned with rain. and a lot of rain! In fact it was flat out pouring for quite a while before the stage, but strangely, and thankfully, the sun came out as we rode to the start.

Starting at Wharncliffe Mill, we were again subjected to a few calamities, this time perhaps of our own doing. The instructions we were given the night previous said hope back onto the bike path that you finished on the day prior and take that all the way to the Mill. We rode along the same path, but found that it took us back out to the Margaret River surf beach. We realized as we puffed up a 'rail trail' (how steep can trains go??) and elected to return and try again as this obviously was not the right way.

We'd been out to the beach the night previous and found the swell was running pretty good. In fact there was lefts and rights for all the family, and no shortage of surfers out there enjoying it.

Back to the Rail trail however, and Jason, Rohin and myself were swapping turns along the correct Rail trail to get to the start on time having left it as late as possible due to the rain. Arriving in good time, covered in rail trail mud, we signed on and took our place on the start line.

With another ralaxed, softly uttered "off you go", we were away. Downhill or sandy starts mean that Willow is going to be on the rivet, and sure enough we were smashing it straight away. Back onto the bike path and it was rolling turns and dodging posts whilst the pace was racheted up.

A short while later, we'd shelled the rest of the field to be back with our 5 of Johhny, Willow, Rohin, Jason and myself, and we were heading for Yallingup. Screaming winds were bashing us around the paddocks that we rode through, with a fair stint on the bike paths, but later in the day we hit the dunes again.

Some suspect navigation was again getting us confused, with presumably locals getting a bit mischievous and forcing us to take some guesses. Some nice fellow had even collected a bunch of the markers and stacked them up in one place for us, so we had a pile of lefts and rights in one spot. Charming...

More sandy climbs made things tough, and once again Willow took his leave from us. Rolling off the front through the sand, he established a break once again. Back out onto the roads for the final kilometres, we worked hard to drag him back but it conspired against us by turning back into the fire roads and sand, and we simply ran out of road over the last new climbs and once again he took the first place.

Staying at the lovely Seashells resort, we again had the opportunity to get out and check out the local area. Yallingup - thumbs up!

And you know its a good place when enough people are sandboarding to get it banned!!

More to come as we go, and we're still waiting on some racing photos. They definitely exist, we just can't seem to get our hands on them as yet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cape to Cape MTB

So that Cape to Cape MTB ride has been completed for its inaugural year, and it was a good event, notwithstanding a few hiccups.

By now, our loyal readers who return on a regular basis should know that Jason and myself flew to Perth on the invitation of the team at Ascend Sport with whom we've developed a strong relationship with over the past 6 months. With a block of solid riding under our belts prior to the event, we headed over under the pretense of it being a race...

With our bikes packed, we hit the road early for our day of transit. Arriving in Perth, the rental Kluger was sadly about 2 inches to short to take our bikes and gear, and so a Prius was wrangled to transport us the 4 hours south to the Race headquarters.

Falling about 2 inches two short, we had tried every permutation and combination of the luggage required, and it was simply not going to fit, so it looked like we were going to be racking up the carbon credits in our little green machine.

4 hours or so down the road, and we arrived at Hamlin bay, accommodation for the first and second nights, and also the end of stage one/beginning of stage 2. Ripping out our gear from the GreenMachine, we set about throwing our bikes together. Jason needed to slip some wheels in and adjust his seat, and I needed to install brake calipers, seat, stem, bars, wheels, cranks, and pump everything back up to pressure. Gee, having an XL bike is great....!

Then I decided to install the correct rotors on each wheel....

After getting the bikes back in some semblance of order, and getting our kit squared away, we headed down to the beach for a swim to wash the travel off. The crystal clear water was simply amazing, and whilst standing in the water, I watched a stingray about 500mm across its back swim beside my foot. Lovely little chap he was... We were both smashed from a long trip there, and couldn't work out what day or time it was, a tradition we followed for a few days! After a great dinner at the Augusta Pub, and a long welcome dinner function, we collapsed in bed as soon as we could. I should also add that we found out that this function that the race was not a race, merely a ride, but you know that was never going to stop any of us. Strangely enough, for something not a race, they were timing it, and awarding winner of each stage..

Up at something silly Melbourne time, we had our breakfast and coffee (a treat we were to find later in the week) and rolled the 25km to the start to try and get some legs to come back to us.

With exceptional weather, we were truly getting a treat! The kit was looking great as well, although I'm not sure the locals and tourists expected to see bikes along the road as there was a few surprises.

We didn't say it was the most exciting ride, but it made up for it with beautiful surrounds.

How good is this? Just an average little beach on this side of the world...!!

The start was at Cape Leeuwin, a very exposed cape with a suitably kooky lighthouse custodian, and some very nice grounds. The weather played nice, and we all got ready to kick off. Rohin joined us here, and that made a formidable race with John Waddell and Willow also looking to play hard.

Since I've not got any race photos yet, I'll run you through the stage until then...

Ready, set,..... "weird tone from the microphone" - apparently that meant go. So away we went and Johnny set the early pace. Up a long fire road climb, Jason took control, until toward the top, I rolled to the front and shelled a large amount of remaining riders. Willow took control on the first descent, and we descended into the worst climb possibly of the week. Rohin, Willow and myself worked our way off the front, running up the kilometre sandy climb, and the others chased hard.

Descending towards the beach, literally, I was stopped by a flat tyre in over-shoe deep sand. Never mind how, the Spex tried in vain to keep me going but it was not use. The stick was rolling around in the bottom of my tyre, so it was good night Irene for a hole this large.

A tube and some gas and I was away again, lost a lot of places but with my angry pants on I made it to the beach and there it stopped.... Beaches suck. Thats it.

Rohin and willow were riding in hub beep sea water at points, the rest of us made do with run- push- ride- sink- swear- repeat. 2km along the beach was a big ask! The prize wasn't great enough to destroy our equipment on day one... And so we chased, and chased. Through the sand, the sand dunes, the sandy roads, and the assorted general type sand that we found along the way, until we hit some bitumen and a downhill attack into the Hamlin Bay carpark. After a 15km chase, I'd dragged a few back, and Jason rolled in after having just 'one of those days' that we hope we never have...

Tired from rolling in the sand all day, a few excursions, flat tyre and travel legs. After the finish, we all headed to the pressure washer (!!?) to spray the bikes down, as Jason had a tug of war with the biggest guy on site over the spray gun. We all made ourselves scarce as the little fellah took on a bloke about 3 axe handles wide! (I'm joking, sort of...)

Dinner that night saw us at the Karridale pub for the evening, another entertaining night with some general tale telling and such. Each evening there was a slide show from the day, a presentation, a speech made by the previous nights stage winner including 2 words chosen by the race director, and a heads up on the next day's stage.

Next morning saw some hurried maintenance to wheels, and we saddled up for the second installment. A 52km slog to Margret river. 7km of bitumen greeted us before a few kilometres of climbing where we shelled most of the other competitors and headed for the coast once more. Racing along the clifftops along limestone roads and through the Karri forrests, we hit the Leeuwin Estate, and apparently had a timed section there (news to all of us) before Rohin attacked on the last hill to hold us off through about 76 gates (that needed to be opened and shut) and we all burst into Margret River to catch the event organizers still setting up once again.

The mysterious elusive Coffee van. Sighted early on in the event, but then gone... Where did she go???

Rolling in to the applause of the young fans! :)

The finish straight and Ascend recovery area.

Willow and Niki speaking with the guys from Ascend, who did a stellar job all week keeping people both informed and recovered!

This is what happens when you take a bit too much air on the water bars... OUCH!

Rohin getting down some of that excellent Ascend Recovery drink, seen for the first time in the world at this event.

Now tell us we're crazy, but can you picture this face as Andy Bell in 20 years? Try the police computer aging thing, can you see the resemblance? Or were we delirious?

The face of the Cape to Cape, Niki Gudex was there at every stage, not necessarily with a glass of wine in her hand at all times.

And so that was the stage into Margaret River - not overly exciting, very tough and windy and quite long, and followed by a not terribly exceptional meal at the Margaret River hotel. On the up side, we both felt much better during this stage, and the racing was hard as hell out there, with no quarter being given, so that was heaps of fun. The Ascend Recovery bars and drinks were being sucked down in their masses, and plenty of people were going out of their way to come over and mention how much better they were feeling the next day, so there is something to it!

Stage 3 and 4 to come.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We're baaack

And with show and tell to do!

More to come when we decompress!

Friday, October 24, 2008

With the good graces of Rohin Adams, we're able to bring you the latest from the Cape to Cape Mountain bike. After a flight that seemed to never end,
and a car trip to renew our carbon credit debt (we got a Toyota Prius), we made it to Hamlin Bay.

Whilst I don't have time to get much down, what we have found is:

*The race isn't actually a race, its a ride.
*WA has a lot of sand, and a course director that really likes to send us into it. We did a 2 km section on the actual beach, and it was very, very difficult.
*The race directors have put on a really great event, with still some things to learn about the actual ride/race component, they have made all the riders more
more than comforatble and convienent.
*WA is amazingly beautiful!
*James Williamson threw down in the sand of stage one, and was the first person to pass underneath the banner at the stage end (remember, not a race.)
*Stage 2 saw Rohin Adams make the most of an opportunity on the final climb to gap the rest of the group to hold us off in a muddled finish, to take the title
of first person under that banner.
*2 Stages to go and we're off to dinner right now.

Plenty of photos to come as you'd expect, the Ascend products are just racing out the door, and we're looking for another 55km tough stage tommorrow.

Make sure you check back later in the week, and we'll hopefully be able to bring you some more stories.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Around the Bay...

A couple of weeks ago a good friend on mine held a fundraising night for the Neonatal Ward at the Royal Children’s Hospital. On the night a CSC team jersey was up for grabs which I was lucky enough to purchase. Bob Spagnolo from CSC formally known as the Gooch on channel 31 was the man behind the generous donation. CSC today played a big part in the around the bay in a day ride, having the biggest corporate team entered of around 200 riders. Unfortunately I was unable to take part in the ride due to family commitments.

I would like to thank Bob and the team at CSC for there contributions to the fundraiser night and with today’s ride. It’s great to see the big company’s putting there hand up to help out when it’s needed most.
As you can see in this pic, the Felt rxc team bike is fully pimped for this week’s race. Big thanks to BB’s Ben Randal for sorting out my front brake issue. Next time I bleed my brakes I will leave it to the experts or buy a proper bleed kit.

Well that’s it for me. Off to WA on Tuesday to race the Cape to Cape and really looking forward to it! This will be the first time I will race a four stage event so fingers crossed it may suit my riding style and with the right recovery products who knows what’s possible.

Thanks for stopping by, Jason J

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The longest post we've done...

I'm calling it, this will be the longest... Grab a coffee or a brew loyal readers! This is called binge blogging...

I will however try and pretty it up with pictures for you :)

So we really can't lie, or talk it down. We've been trying. We've said it. No playing around, we've been getting out at every opportunity to scrape some form together and Jason and myself know that we couldn't have done any more. Our familys' are screaming to see us, business is stretching, sleeping is optional, and we're having a good Aussie crack. I know I've seen Em for a matter of hours this week, and without our wives and partners, we could never make this happen, so THANK YOU. I even considered putting them up as sponsors, such is their commitment to our selfish activities.

Bikes have been prepped this week, with Jason opting for his RXC Team for the Cape to Cape event in WA next week, whilst I had a good going over of the Virtue 1. With a flurry of phone calls to resolve some sticky pistons, Jason's bike is ready to race, as is mine now. A set of serviced RockShox Revelations to relieve some leaking seals and an annoying knock, and a re-co'd rear Fox RP23 shock getting rid of a Pro-Pedal squeak, combined with new sealed bearings means that my Virtue will be one plush and fast rig for the 4 day event.

GVRaceTech once again went beyond the call to get parts and to get the bike performing the way it was designed. Re-bleeding brakes, pad swaps, new cables and housings, SPEX and High Density foam grips rounds out an already reliable package, and I'm pretty stoked. Next thing I do will be to go and get all the pressures right, and I'm done!

I'm not sure how to make sealant inspiring, but you all should have seen the video that was put up in the last post to see how this stuff really works!!!! No BS, no marketing, just well designed and executed tyre sealant made in Australia by Australians. Get on it!!

And then the packages started arriving!!

The new Ascend kit turned up in the nick of time. We think it looks great, and the cut is far better that we could have hoped for, so we should have a comfortable race over in WA!

What do you think??

Jason is happy! (so is Ash, by the way)

TaDAAAA! The new artwork has been finalized for the Ascend Proven Sport Proteins products! How about that! With 2 new ready-to-drink flavours of Blue Ice and Orange, we're sure that they'll be a hit over summer 2008/2009. These products are so fresh, you are now some of the first people in Australia to see them, and this is where you'll see all the new Ascend products first!

Let me remind you how you can get your hands on the extensive and every growing range of products that Ascend Sport offers - head straight to their website and purchase through their secure online shopping cart, and get on the best!

And finally, we also received a set of the new Felt team clothing! Looking pretty sharp I think, so you'll be seeing this kit about the place as well!!

And I did have to laugh at this...

So thats all for the day folks - I'm off to check on some shock pressures. Enjoy your day! And be sure to check back for all the latest on the Cape to Cape, as you know you'll be seeing it ASAP right here on the Felt Epix blog. Link it wherever you like, as we'd love to get the hits up and improve all we have to offer.

(so, was the post as long as you expected?)