Yesterday was the first round of the Victorian Enduro Series, held in Mt Beauty. The day dawned to a clear sky and mild temperature – perfect for riding. After a somewhat disorganised setup of the transition area, the hooter sounded and I was off! I was racing in Solo 40+.
The first laps felt good. At around lap 3, Jodie, who works in the Baum office and was racing in mixed pairs with husband Steve, called out that I was leading with a 4 second gap to second place. I worked out who my competition was and had a quick chat, letting him know we were in the lead and finding out he was called Damien. For the next 3 laps we were within seconds of each other each time through transition, neither of us stopping, just grabbing a bottle as we pedalled past our tent. Our strategies were clear – Damien rode consistently while I rode harder, getting ahead a bit then either crashing, stepping off the bike or having a mechanical to put us back within seconds again.
At about half race distance I started to really struggle. My easiest gear was getting plenty of use. Then I punctured. I sat down to have a rest and fix my puncture. By the time I got going again I was feeling a little better. Then I punctured again just before transition. I ran through to our tent and Jodie changed the tube for me. I was feeling pretty hammered by then and went to check my positon on the timing screens. If I kept going I could possibly get third. Back on the bike….struggle up the hill…..just keep pedalling up the hill ….. concentrating down the hill to avoid crashing.
Next stop in transition Jodie said only an hour to go, that's two laps. Really don't want to go again, but off I go. Not fast, just get the lap done.
Okay final lap. I am in third, but fourth is right behind me and he may have even passed me while I was looking at the timing screens. I have to do another lap, and fast! So I head off knowing this is the last lap and I can push. I don't know who the guy in fourth is, so when I finish the lap, I don't know if I am third or fourth. As I roll across the line there is no one saying "time's up" so I ask around – there is 3 minutes to go! Oh no, I have to do another lap. Fourth could be right on my tail so to secure third I go out again. As I approached the end of the lap I was closing on another solo rider. I was not sure whether he was in 40+ or not so we ended up sprinting the last 200m and he beat me by half a wheel. As it turned out he was not in 40+.
After the race I went to chat to Damien and soon found out that I had kept in front of the fourth place getter. I also found out that the guy coming second had decided to stop riding with 15 minutes to go, expecting or hoping that I would not make it back in time to do another lap. So I ended up second. I guess the moral is to just keep riding and don't give up. Easy to say now, but not when you are in the middle of it.