Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Flight Centre Epic

I am so rubbish with keeping up a blog (and a training diary as my coach knows...). Anyway, after being awfully sick for 2 months I managed to get a month or so of just base k's without my body deserting me again. A couple of 5 hour road rides under the belt should be enough for a 100km mtb race right?

The Flight Centre Epic is one of the 'big races' on the calender, with over a thousand participants from elite to weekend warrior. The companion 'half' was my first ever mtb race so it's a bit of a sentimental event for me. I raced the 100k in 2007 and came away with the win from Naomi Hansen and so it was we lined up again for the 2009 version.

Although it was still officially winter we had an unofficial 'instant summer' in Queensland with temps around 34 degrees for the day. It was a bit of a shock to the system for eveyone so despite a dry track it was a long day out. I really enjoyed to course this year, especially through Ma Ma creek singletrack where they had warned us it was a bit rockier than usual due to the rains washing away a lot of the top soil. Down one descent I had Tim McCullough (proprietor of For The Riders) behind me, boulder hopping saying "they weren't kidding!".

After halfway we started to hit the tail enders of the 'half epic' as they started 2 hours later. By this stage the heat and stomach full of gels was starting to take its toll and I was feeling quite nauseous with a pounding head ache. Between checkpoint 2 and 3 I started a conversation with myself about why I do this and whether I should pull out or not. Keep in mind I was leading at this stage and thinking about stopping - not in a good way!

Well I hate a DNF and I had already pre-spent the $1000 winners prize on a new set of race wheels so I was obliged to soldier on. The last quarter of the race was just keeping the legs spinning over and struggling to get corn syrup and water into my protesting stomach. The rocky course was taking it's toll on my hands and I kept checking to see if my forks were locked out...nope, think my arms needed a service instead!

I don't think I've ever been so happy to cross a finish line and from all reports this was a common sentiment. One rider was carried away on a stretcher with heat distress while I hovered around the rose garden, positive everything I had ingested over the previous 5 hours was going to reappear. A big thanks to Kelly and Alicia who got me some Gastrolyte and then into the showers which seemed like instant recovery!

My favourite part of the epic is sitting on the lawn at Peppers Hidden Vale watching the sun go down and reliving the day with other riders - the pain and the ecstasy. Lining up to do it all again next year :)