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...!