Bernard Riders – JWE report
James Williamson Enduro 2012
Five weekends – five races in my race calendar and 100+ hours of training in between. Tired? Not yet!!!
The last few weeks have been really busy, not just with training, but also racing. 5 races in 3 states and I can’t wait to be sitting on a beach in Bali in a mere 3 weeks time. But let’s get back to the race report.
How it all started. In the previous three races (Wombat 100, Capital Punishment and Convict100) I was really struggling and couldn’t find the reason why. I had spent many long hours in saddle, fast training, intervals training, sprints, track and hill climbs. The race plans was– slow start, then hold a steady pace until third feeding station where the plan was to hit it hard. But once I got to third station I was barely pedalling, my legs were cooked and with no power left in them. I finished the Convict 100km race in 14th place in elite category and left really disappointed with my result. I knew I could go faster, but something just wasn’t right and I couldn’t stop thinking about it the whole way home from Convict 100. I was so disappointed and frustrated with myself, I decided not to rest after the race and went for 120km road ride on Sunday morning in an attempt to identify what I was doing wrong and after comparing it to the last time where I analysed my riding style I realized what was causing my leg meltdown. So I tried new approach to this training and Bazinga! I found the problem. It would be too complicated to explain, but day after 100km race a was able to ride 120km in 33km/h average with 1500m of climbing and I felt completely relaxed once I finished the ride.
After this discovery, my coach and I have decided to adjust my pre-race training plan according to my recent unearthing. I did another few sessions and continued to feel good and strong throughout the training program. Then on Thursday my nose began to run and I felt the typical sore throat begin to develop so my motivation levels for racing the James Williamson Enduro this weekend were low.
“Always listen to your body” says the coach, therefore I had all day off on Friday to then decide later as to whether I would race at all. Saturdays plan was to head to Wingello in the morning to scan the course, build the team tents, get registration done and try some of the new Rubena tire range recently imported to Australia.
I called Michal Kafka, one of my team mates on Friday evening to ask him if he wanted to go as well and he agreed.. so off we went. He had just received new TWE 29er carbon hardtail – super light 9kg racing machine and his marathon Specialized Epic 29 Comp carbon and naturally wanted to test the course to decide what bike to race (lucky boy). So we got there, and got great place for our team tent at the event centre which was close to all the action and finishing line. After setting the tents up we got geared up and set off for our “easy lap” and when I say easy, I mean Michals pace (race pace). Michal has really special style of riding, as soon as he sits on his bike he gets so excited that he is riding and gets carried away by pushing it harder than necessary for our “easy lap” pace. Fortunately I am used to that now so I am trying to keep the same pace, even when it begins to hurt.
We have ridden Wingello trails many times before and it is our favourite track, so we knew what to expect, but we wanted to see what condition the trail is in and if there is any new extensions to the original red loop. The first thing I realised was that the ground was really dry and sandy due to the lack of rain over the last couple of weeks. I was using Rubena Scylla 2.25 on my Specialized Epic 29er and Michal had the same tires on his TWE bike. These tires had worked so well at all previous races – I haven’t had any punctures since I’ve switched to Rubena, but it might also be result of changing my riding style (and getting older) from really aggressive rider (downhiller) to really cautious one (grandpa). I just don’t want to have my race ruined, because of some stupid little jump somewhere, landing on sharp rock and puncturing my tires. Throughout our “easy lap” we rode the entire course together but I was pulling away from Michal in single trails and downhill sections which brought him to the conclusion that his Specialized Epic is the weapon of choice for this track. I was feeling good about the course and my fitness but could feel that a little bit more grip on front wheel would be advantageous for the race, so I made the decision to go for little heavier, but grippier Rubena Kratos 2.25 for the race. After all the important decisions were made, we picked up our race numbers which was very swift, signed the athletes waiver board, put Willo’s t-shirt on and were back in the car homewards to our warm beds in Sydney.
The alarm went off at a reasonable time of 5:20 where I got quickly dressed to take our girls (dogs) for a morning half an hour run. Whilst Hana my partner, who is also racing is cooking morning breakfast and packing the race food and drinks, gels and bottles so I
. Our bikes and all race gear are already packed in the car and we are just waiting for Michal Kafka who knocks at the door at 6:15 instead of 6:30 then eats half my breakfast and were out the door by 6:30. We were amazed that there was no traffic on M5 motorway and we fly down the motorway to be at Wingello by 7:45 and within 15 minutes we are parked in front of tents and getting ready for the race. In an attempt to warm-up (both the legs and body) by 8:10 I am already sitting on JetBlack Z1 fluid roller in the freezing morning at Wingello with temperatures of about 5.1 degree Celsius, which doesn’t include the wind chill factor which makes it feel very close to 0. This was nothing compared to Europe when I was racing cross-country skiing in -24 degrees and only wearing a thin layer of lycra and that is bloody cold. My personal thermometer (all men have them) wasn’t there anymore (it may have frozen off!). But it would be better to stop right here I think
Whilst sitting on the trainer, warming up the other members of our team are beginning to arrive, even though its mothers day. Hana and I are lucky in this way because our relatives are back in Europe, so we do not have to worry about celebrating mother’s day here anymore.
To sum the up, the riders for the day were:
- Hana Kosikova – 25km
- Ben Isaksen – 50km (Ashfield Cycles Affiliate)
- Michal Kafka – 50km
- Michal Burda – 50km
- Glenn King – 50km
- Ondrej Slezak – 75km
Not a big number, but at least some of them are here.
After finishing my 40 minute warm up session and heading down the hill for the start line. I am nicely sweaty, warm and motivated for the race start (as nice as that sounds). The first part of the track is an uphill section which is a tough way to start a race of this size because the pace is always really high and I tend to experience a lactate acid build up in my muscles immediately with fast start such as this one. Luckily this time don’t feel any pain in my legs and feel strong from the beginning which was no doubt due to the long warmup on our new JetBlack trainers.
Along with the pace, the first section of fast fire road is constantly rising, I feel great and can hold with the main bunch even though I have a little difficulty breathing due to the mid-week flu. Im trying my hardest to hold on because I know that if I can hold on for the first couple of km’s the pace will slow down and I can work with main bunch.
After reaching the top of the hill I looked around and found myself in 2nd position, following Brendan Johnston but just before first section of single track Dylan Cooper attacked to muscle his way into the single-track in first position. The single track was smooth, fast and we all kept the same pace as I rode behind James Downing who was struggling to fit between the trees. I thought it may have been because of the bike choice of a 29er hardtail, but it all made sense when I peered over his shoulder to see him holding the seriously wide downhill handlebars. The second we were off the single trail, Dylan Cooper attacked and developed a few second gap on the field whereby Mark Tupalski followed Dylan with a short sprint whereas I decided to stay with main bunch. We were at the KOM climb before we knew it and that was where everyone attacked, Dylan Cooper was far ahead followed closely by Mark Tupalski, then Troy Glennan, James Downing, Brendan Johnston and Will Bowron (shouldn’t these guys be at a mothers day lunch or something??). I had no idea who was behind me because I was so focused to hold on to the leading group and when we got to the top of the KOM point I was struggling big time. The bunch in front of me were about 100m ahead and I had to work hard to catch them up. I could see Troy turning his head to see where I was as I managed to catch the group just before next section of single track and where I could afford to ease off due to the amazing grip in the corners from the Rubena Kratos I could enjoy a comparatively effortless ride.
Exiting this section of single-track back onto the flat fire road the pace was fierce as I tried to hold on to the back of the pack again. The group was met with another set of hills as they were slowly pulling away from me when I decided to look for a group behind riding a different pace. Turning around, I could see only Graeme (Biscuit) Arnott about 100m behind and no one else, and the climbing continued until I was about 150m behind the main bunch where Graeme caught up and rode passed me like he was not riding the same hill. As he rode past I jumped behind and held onto his wheel as I coughed badly over the following km, because of the lingering midweek flu I couldn’t breathe, but I knew I couldn’t drop his wheel. On the last section of the climb for some unknown reason, my legs burst with energy again and I passed Graeme and starting to chase the leading group again where I saw Troy looking over his should again to check where I was. The chase was hard and it hurt as I caught them just before the flat section of fire road with a really strong head wind. I sat behind big man Troy’s wheel trying to suck a free ride with little success due to the ferocity of the headwind and just before we hit the next section of single trail I looked back and Graeme was nowhere to be seen.
Getting off this part of single trail (Love those singles) and onto a rougher section of fire road Brendan Johnston hit a sharp rock and was off the group leaving Troy, James, Will and myself. Dylan and Mark were somewhere ahead. I knew it will be a hard fight for third spot but at this stage I wasn’t calculating anything I just wanted to finish the first lap. I was so spent that I was considering finishing one lap and stopping as troy led us through the last part of the long single-track, my legs came back together.
Now into the second lap, I had to stop to pick up my second water bottle myself as the rest of the team were on the course as well and by the time I picked up my water bottle the boys were far ahead again. I was quickly on the chase again where I caught up with the bunch and we all began to work together. Thankfully, by this time my throat had started to clear up and I was able to breathe freely and began feeling better and better. After riding to the back of the bunch for the first lap I was able to analyse each riders strength and weaknesses which enabled me to plan my position during the 2nd lap. Where I should be in the front, where I should be sitting back and it was all working well for me as I was slowly preparing myself for last sprint to the finish line. On our second lap, we began to catch other riders in different categories and as a result of this our pace slowed down a little. As I led the group through the last section of single trail to get us onto third lap I saw Hana standing casually and warm next to our marvellous marquee taking pictures so I screamed at her – “Banana and water” and she passed me my last lap nutrition while running next to my bike. Unfortunately she passed me wrong bottle with tea, instead of my pre-mixed secret last lap drink but I didn’t mind because I was feeling so good through this race. As we hit the first set of single trail and James Downing chain snapped, it was only Troy, Will and I left. Knowing the finish was closing in I started to calculate if I should go for the sprint finish or attack earlier in the single trail, where I felt stronger and more confident due to the Rubena Kratos. I knew if I left it for the final sprint I would probably lose to Troy; a really experienced rider with strong legs. I didn’t know anything about Will, but assessing size of his legs and his 26inch wheel size bike, I wouldn’t bet on him against Troy. I was probably doing more thinking than pedalling in last 10km and bearing in mind that I have been riding bikes only 2.5 years I should be happy to finish amongst names such as these.
The last section of single trail I sat behind the boys trying to save as much energy as possible where I saw Troy starting to pull away in really sneaky way from Will. It was almost not visible, but it was there and it was taking lot of energy out Will so as soon as we hit the short fire road I passed Will and sat closely behind Troy’s wheel and continued to save as much energy as possible. The traffic on the last section of single track had thickened to a point where we were continuously passing a lot of slower riders. The three of us were squeezing through gaps which weren’t big enough and it was getting really sketchy so I must apologize to any and all riders who we didn’t give enough notice when approaching. It was about 3 km to the finish when we approached a rider who didn’t hear Troy yelling that three riders were coming and he had to slam on the brakes almost causing a 4 rider pile up. Luckily I got through, but unfortunately for Will he was held up in the confusion.
It was now only Troy and I left. After having decided to sit on Troy’s wheel to evaluate how much power is left in Troy’s big legs we then started a small section of single trail climbing where I saw Troy struggling on the uphill sections. So I made the decision to attempt to sneak around him and to develop a reasonable gap before we hit last fire road…..and it worked. Before we hit last section of fire road I was around 100m in front of him, as I tried to hold my pace and the gap I had just made on Troy. Lucky for me, I heard some girl on side of the track cheering for someone behind me, and as I turned around I could see Troy trying to catch up so I used every last bit of energy I had in the tank to cross the finish line in 3rd place. At the finish I found that Mark had crossed only about 50 seconds ahead of me and I was wishing that I had have known this information 5km before the finish line so I could have attacked earlier, but that is racing and I am so glad for my first solo podium at such a big race.
The boys at 50 km race finished strongly as well, but there might have been better results for Glenn – our team mechanic (ha yeah right!) who forgot to tighten his handlebars and had to return to the team marquee to put his handlebars back in place. Fortunately he found out that his handlebars were loose just about 3 minutes after the start so he didn’t have long way to get back.
Michal Kafka finished an impressive 5th in the 50km sprint just missing out on the podium in last sprint finish to Ben Isaksen (Ashfield Cycles Racing) and Daniel (Merida Flight Centre). Brad Morton secured first place followed closely by Andrew Arthur. Congratulation goes to Hana Kosikova for 7th place in 25km race in her first solo MTB race.
The organisers of the James Williamson Enduro 2012 deserve a special mention for running such a professional race and I cannot express how well was everything run. It was so smooth from the registration, race start, parking, announcements to the prompt display of the race results. I wish that all other organizers would take note.
Big thanks to our new sponsor Jet Black Cycling providing us with some trainers and other race gear. Also thanks to the amazing combinations of Rubena Tires and TWE wheel sets. As usual, the Specialized bikes kitted with Shimano gear worked flawlessly. Make sure you check out your local store for new Specialized Epic 29er.
After presentation we packed all our gear and set off back home dropping in at the Wingello post office, dvd rental, petrol station and restaurant at one place. We chatted with the owner for ages, who turned out to be really friendly bloke who explained all changes he has made to the shop since he took it over few months back.
The next hour was spent comfortably in armchairs next to the fireplace with coffee in hand and a veggie burger which was amazingly fresh – you could feel every ingredients, no fat and a super clean taste. Now I know that I can stop here anytime for great food instead of stopping at dodgy places on the highway. Wingello is truly a great place to visit and we will be back soon.
- James Estare Wines distribution
- Vue Bar – New venue
- Bakalar Beer – Beer of Czech Republic 2012
- Marrickville district lawn tennis club
- Australian International Beer Awards
- Room 139
- Hungarian Fest
- Bernard Dark Lager Successfully Defends Word Beer Award
- Bernard Riders – JWE report
- Bernard at Jet Black 24 Hour MTB