Wildside MTB 2014 – The Prelude

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There were moments during Wildside that I was a God on two wheels.

I was sweeping past the other competitors like they were standing still, flowing down hills at breakneck speed, cutting up the corners, doing all the work at the front of the groups … I was brilliant.

No … I was awesome.

Unfortunately, those moments mainly happened either in my own head or during the cruise stages …

When it came to the actual race stages, well I was more like this  …

Yea, this isn’t quite the story of grit and triumph I was hoping to be telling.  I really did think that I’d do better than I did in the Hellfire Cup, and as Kim points out I sort of did … my names not on the very bottom of the list this time, and I never got further back than group ‘J’ in the starters lists … it was just unfortunate that the number of groups behind group ‘J’ seemed to have less and less people in them each stage as more and more people dropped out.

What does get in the craw a bit is due to five no shows and ten drop outs during the race … my name is still the last one in my age group to finish.

That kind of sucks, but it’s still a story to be told, and maybe if one person reads this and thinks “well if that unfit and under-prepared idiot can do that, maybe I can too” … and then they go out and give a race a go, well then it’s a story worth telling.

So let’s go .. In the beginning there was the build up …

The Build Up

As noted in a previous post, my build up to race day was less than ideal:

To be more specific:

  • I had not exercised in nearly two weeks due to a back injury.  
  • I was drugged up on pain killers
  • I was to be riding a brand new bike …so new in fact that just 100 metres into the first cruise stage, I had doubled the distance I had ever ridden it. 200 metres into the stage, I realised that I didn’t know how to change gears on my new bike and my seat height and angle were both wrong.  
If this wasn’t bad enough, I had just had Avantiplus Hobart convert my tyres over to tubeless four days before the race, only to have the tyres continually deflate over the next 36 hours.  So I took them back in on Thursday to be looked at again only to be assured when I went to pick them up on Thursday night that they were now fine.
If fine means that the rear tyre would be flat again by the time we got to Perth the next morning (it had just been sitting on the top of my car) and both tyres would be flat by the time we got to Cradle Mountain.  Then fine it is, but I have another word for it which I won’t share in this mainly PG rated blog.  
Suffice to say that not knowing if my tyres would even get me through the first 3km cruise stage is not my definition of ‘fine’.  What added insult to financial injury was that they’d even thrown my inner tubes away so I only had one spare inner tube if I did get a flat.
So summarising … just one hour before the race, I was lying in bed feeling miserable and injured.  I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to make what looked to be very tight cut off times and I couldn’t even decide whether to race my brand new bike or my old bike which was (let’s be honest) getting old.
Maybe a better summary would be to say that I was still in bed scared, sulking and wondering why the heck I’d forked out all this money to be here.
But an hour later, I was standing at the start line (nervous as all hell) but ready for whatever will be to be …
It was also at this point that I got chatting to John Dalco and found out that as well as forgetting to give me my supporters pack yesterday at registration (a saga I will skip) the registration desk hadn’t mentioned that I was supposed to check the board to find out which group I was starting in for Stage 1.  Consequently I had to run around and try and find someone who knew what group I was in (this in the end was done by interrupting the guy who started the groups off) and finally I knew I was in Group F, and eventually I was in the starters cage and about to start …
A while yet …

Getting closer …
In the starters queue…
… and I’ll pick up the racing from there in my next blog, but for now I’d like to talk about the other side of Wildside … the Support Crew.

The Support Crew

You have to have a support crew for Wildside, and I figured who better to support me in a race than Kim and the Monsters?
I mean, surely we could somehow incorporate a bit of a family holiday into my racing schedule?  Right?  
No, we weren’t convinced either, but thought we’d give it a try.
After a long drive up, we’d blown the budget and spent something like $250 to book a gorgeous little bush cabin at Highlanders for the night.  Given this, I did find it a bit strange that after arriving, we all chose to sit inside and watch the Princess Bride on DVD, followed by taking turns running to the cabin windows to see if any wildlife had come to visit us yet (or in my case – if my tyres had gone down again).
We did finally get a visit from some pademelons in the morning before we made our way to the start line where a certain princess was still getting ready … and no I’m not talking about me.
As this was our first Wildside race we were blissfully unaware that support crews didn’t usually come to the start of the cruise stage (I thought I had the most awesome support crew out there as mine was the only one there).  Later I found this was because all the other support crews go to the start of the race stage where they can do useful things like take photos and collect discarded clothing.
But I didn’t know that then, and so as the cruise stage set off I bid my support crew  goodbye and they headed off to go sight seeing at Cradle Mountain whilst I set off to do the first few stages of the race with a rendezvous scheduled around 1pm for lunch.
And that’s where I’ll pick up in the next post.

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