Yesterday I came 2nd in Masters in the Dirworks 100 and got treated to a spectacular show of nature – a pounding hail storm.  A great race result and a post race spectacle – that is my idea of a great day.

I headed up to Woodend the night before the race to camp.  This ensured a relaxed and easy start to the day.  I organised my food for the race, lubed my chain, pumped up my tyres and I was ready to go.  My training preparation had been reasonable so I set off with the second bunch of riders and hit it fairly hard for the first hour.  Usually I start slowly and warm into a race, so I wanted to address this.  I soon found my road training paying dividends on the fire road as I bridged across to a group in front with the help of another rider.  Then we were into the single track in the pines – lesson 1, do more mountain bike training and ride some of the course the day before to get my head into MTB mode.  I flailed a bit through the pines and it took me an hour or two to get into the groove on the single track.

My goal for this race was to start a bit harder and push through the middle of the race (40km to 80km) where I usually back off.  You can not make up ground by pushing hard for 10 minutes, you have to do it for 2 or 3 hours.  At around the 30km mark it started to get hard, so I dug in and kept pushing.  Then, miraculously my legs came good at 40km and I started punching it out of the corners.  That felt great!  Lesson 2 – when it is feeling like really hard work, keep pushing because I know I will come good.

By the time I got to the half way feed zone (which was back at the start area), my drive train was squeaking like a….  a…..  something that squeaks a lot!   I loaded up my fresh bottles and food then emptied two water bottles over my drivetrain to clean it.  I had prepared those two bottle specifically for that purpose.  Forgot the lube though, so I had to borrow some from someone else’s feed station – thanks to the anonymous donor.  I had a fast stop and I was back into it.

My back was sore, my ITBs were aching and my legs were hurting – I frequently got into the “oh poor me, this is soooo hard!” frame of mind.  Periodically I would stop my mind and think

“Am I pushing with my quads?”

“No”

“What if I do push, does it hurt?”

“Let me try….No!”

“Okay, don’t worry about those other distractions, just push with my quads”

“All right, off we go!”

Lesson 3 – don’t let physical discomfort take me into the “Oh poor me, this is soooo hard” state of mind.  Focus on the muscles that move me forward.

20km to go and my drive train is squeaking again and threatening to chain suck.  I can hear the chain catching on the chain ring.  The last thing I need is getting stopped by chain suck, so I emptied a gel onto the chain.  That helped.

15km to go and my hamstring, then adductor, then quads start to cramp.  I know they are just complaining, they don’t really want to cramp.  So I drop a quick “Shut up body” a la Jens, then punch hard up a pinch to let them know who is boss.  I back off a little where I can.

I keep asking marshals how far to go and most don’t know, then finally one says “About 500m”.  “What?  Is that all, let’s go” and I punch it down the hill and over the line for a time of 6:03:30, 2nd place in Masters and 16th overall.  I was very happy with this result.

After the presentations, with a dark and portenteous storm front looming, it starts to rain, then rain hard, then pounding hail.  I have never seen hail like that.  It pounded on the roof like thunder, dented cars, cracked my windscreen, turned the lake into a mass of eruptions as the hail stones slammed into the water.

And this is what happened to a tent in the hail.