racing

Dingo Duo

Dingo Duo!

First off I would just like to say thanks to Fortheriders.com and Giant for supporting me with bikes and racing kit which helped me take on this tough yet super fun race.

This was the first time the Dingo Duo has been raced and it was held at Spicers Gap at Old Hidden Vale, about 1.5hrs drive west of Brisbane. The Dingo Duo had a few race formats that one could enter. “Pup Dash” which was a run ride run for the younger kids. “Dingo Dash” had you running the 5km running course. “Dingo Howl” which was the mass start for the 37km MTB course and finally the “Dingo Duo” where you Run the 5km course, ride the 37km MTB course and finishing it off with another 5km run.

I decided to enter into the Dingo Duo and not the Dingo Howl mainly because I felt it was the main event and I can run fairly well for a cyclist. I haven’t really trained for running since my orienteering/school years but I have done the odd running race here and there throughout the recent years, so I felt like I could pull something together for the event. I had to dust off the runners and tried to remember I couldn’t coast down hills like I could on a bike.

Planning the race could have gone a lot better. Especially when I finished a solid ride on Friday evening thinking I had Saturday to have a bit of a cruisy recovery ride to be primed for Sunday. I hopped onto the computer to check out the event details and immediately felt a little stupid finding that the race was on Saturday. I had just naturally assumed it was being raced on Sunday like most races that I enter. Ooops! So around 10pm I was washing my bike, preparing water bottles and nutrition and making sure I was prepared.

Race day was pretty stinking hot. First thing I did was set up my bike up in the transition area, my little cooler bag full of lollies and water bottles sitting next to it and I was pretty much ready to go. I didn’t really know what to expect for the run and how my body would hold up especially in such heat. I figured I would cruise the run at my own pace and see how the race plays out. I was hoping that I could either make some ground or be able to conserve energy on the ride keeping up with some of the other racers.

The Dingo Dash and the Dingo Duo competitors all started at the same time. The horn went and I started running at a cruisy pace, thinking everyone would come up beside me or pass me and I could just tag on behind them top gauge the efforts. No one did. No one passed and I had a quick look around at half way and there was only fast kid doing the Dingo Dash behind me. I didn’t really expect this, but I came into transition in just under 20 min. I was first in and I jumped out of my running shoes into my cycling shoes, slapped the helmet on tore off. Hit the first climb and it felt like I was riding up a 20% climb with a head wind blasting into my face. My legs were heavy from riding and it seriously wasn’t fun for my legs the first 10min.

I had passed through the second (out of three) checkpoint and I had a full water bottle and a bit left and I felt like I would be fine getting to the final check point. Oh boy was I wrong. I ran out of water and it was all rough, steep, technical single track to the final checkpoint. The final checkpoint was atop of a hill where the air was still and you could feel the heat coming off the ground and surrounding every part of your body. To add some extra suffer points, the climb had soft water bars that were almost as bad as soft beach sand. This was mentally tough knowing I had to save my self for the run, so I plugged away slowly at the climbs. I was definitely feeling it by this point.

The third checkpoint finally came into sight, I could fill up my water bottle and recoup. The two people manning the station said there was only 7km to go so I figured one water bottle was enough. Nope! I drank it way too quickly, then accidently crashed/fell coming up a technical climb and my right quad cramped which wasn’t that much fun when you’re feel pretty tired and sore already. Riding over the last ridge I came into transition in the lead. For the run I took a water bottle and a energy gel. I had forgotten to unload my bike tools so I was carrying some unnecessary weight.

This run was going to be the hardest thing I have done all year. My left calf was cramping forcing me into a grandpa shuffle early on. The heat was just as intense as it approached midday. I had to walk a few times to drink water. About 2km in my body started to feel funny. I know I had energy but my body wasn’t working, breathing was hard and my stomach felt sick. I struggled into the half way checkpoint on the run where there was some water.

I forced myself to at least walk and continue onwards. Staying focused was just as hard as taking the next step. The very open course had you running/walking out in the Australian heat beating down right on your neck. My body was freaking out, my skin felt cold to touch. About 1.5km to go I was feeling wobbly and really sick now. I needed to get water out  that I had guzzled throughout the run. It relieved my stomach a little bit, then caused it to cramp up at the same time. I figured I couldn’t do much to improve my performance so I plugged on. More or less I ran and walked my way until I saw the final lump that took you down into the finish and I knew I could do it, just not fast.

Readying my game face as I jogged down the hill I had to find something in me to not run through as if I had been dragged through a fire pit full of rocks. I was pretty happy to just stop, sit down in some shade and cool down and collect myself. I was totally destroyed, every bit of energy I had was spent and left out in the sun. Now I just have to recover for Sunday where there is the 75km Bayview blast MTB ride.

2014 World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships Poland Wrap-up

So this years WOC MTBO champs has wrapped up and fairly uneventful trip for me this year unfortunately. Wasn’t navigating fast enough and my long distance fitness/fire road riding wasn’t near what the other competitors were at. XCO fitness yes! But not this fire road belt power grinding.

The middle distance event was interesting, I had a mostly clean race after my fourth checkpoint which I managed to bugger up the simple controls by over analysing them. On my way to the fourth checkpoint I had a brief scare that I hadn’t punched at my second checkpoint so rode the next few controls with a sinking feeling. Fortunately I had punched!

10504980_10204530918662594_323281742305032544_oI rode the technical part of the middle quite well I felt, even with a Lithuanian yelling “GO! GO! GO! GO!” as I was riding down a single track with branches at my handle bar height and higher. Love riding trails like that… not really. He was an ok guy, but it wasn’t nice to be told to go faster when it would risk damaging my eyes or stacking it. I watched him flip over his bars as he passed me though. Then he would tear off on the fire-road and belt out the watts and then I would be behind him cruising. So I don’t know what was happening.

I made a slight mistake with a bush cut towards the end of my race which was annoying because I accidentally nailed the intersection I needed to go down but thought I had cut too high and I finished about 7min off the pace, which was apparently enough to get me into the A long final. Yay!?

Not much to say about the long final. I got tired, I wasn’t fast on the fire roads. Crappy tired making route choic10575445_10204545544028219_3513783738299518286_oes, second guessing my routes and I was super tired about half way through. I was 22min down when I came in. Wasn’t really surpassed I had a poor ride on all levels. I was glad to cruise back home and lay down for a few hours.

This was just a quick wrap up because I am traveling at the moment around the south of Poland in Krakow and Zakopane which has been good and a little stressful with traveling.

Australian Champs, Middle Distance

So this years Australian Championships were held in Alice Springs. I wouldn’t say I performed well, at all. I would say I was the fittest one who rode hard enough to reduce the huge errors and bad route choices I chose.

Alice Springs at this time of year is sunny, cold and windy. When there is no wind the temperature is perfect, you can feel warmth of the sun on your back and you can wear shorts and t-shirts, but once the wind picks up you need to be covered with layers of clothing, although this is coming from a Queenslander where in a 15 degree day I will struggle to leave the bed because it is too cold. (Like I might put on arm warmers for 5 rides of the year in Queensland)

The middle distance race was the first race on the Australian Championships calendar. This one was probably my worst ride of the year, although it’s not hard to beat that since I have probably done less than six MTBO races this year and some of the other Australian Team members have maybe done two. Especially if you’re from Tasmania where there is no MTBO races all year round.

So I will dive into what tricked me up about the middle distance. The middle distance map was a double sided A3 page. This is usually fine with my map board which is a Autopilot which fits larger maps fine. It was way they decided to show the course on both sides of the map was a little annoying and pointless. On one side of the map they fell short of fitting the course and the map on one side to take the mens elite up north where they needed an extra 4-5cm of map. So they chose to make it double sided.

It felt like the mapper/course setter could have moved the map around to only show the necessary check points so it would fit on an A4 sized page and then fit the rest of the map on one side. So you wouldn’t have to refold. What they chose to do is to print the course on both sides, so at the start you were shown a 98% complete course and tried to fold the map to fit everything in. In hindsight I see that I could of just folded the map in half to start off with but it wasn’t so clear in the rush of the 1 minute pre start seeing the whole of your course bar one check point. Reflecting on it now I am not sure if I should have been smarter to realised this or if it was over looked when course setting or controlling.

So these next two pictures are my scanned copy of the Elite Mens Middle (Mens 21) Distance course to show you what I mean by having a double sided for just one control.

Middlea

Middle Distance Side A

 

Middleb

Middle Distance Side B

 

So I have drawn my course on in red. On the map PTO is there to tell the racer to flip your map over to the other side. I have stopped at that control and started to draw where to go on the next side.

Middleadrawn

Middle Distance Side A – Route Drawn

Middlebdrawn

Middle Distance Side B – Route Drawn

For the next set I have circled parts of the course with a green pen to show where I made the errors and where I use the green pen to show where I thought the optimal route was.

Obviously you can find the huge error on the way to the start, I was still folding the map and I felt un-organised and just rode past the turn off. The tracks were very difficult to pick up even though you had great visibility over the landscape.

Middleadrawnerrors

The biggest error is missing the 4th control after having troubles finding a track entrance to checkpoint 3 which more or less didn’t exist, there were a few scratches in the ground which lead you into the control. The same with the 5th checkpoint I picked up a track that lead me to the checkpoint but it wasn’t as shown on the map.

After those early errors I got into an ok rhythm but went to take the right hand track on the way to 10 and it was a gap jump and it wasn’t possible to ride up it. (I know what you’re thinking, “What Chris can’t do a gap jump up hill?!”) I only lost a few seconds. Heading to 13 out of 12 I didn’t look close enough and flip my bike around and road out the way I came in more or less and it was 10-20 seconds slow which is hurt knowing I could of just continued forwards out of the check point.

MiddlebdrawnerrorsYou can see around control 14 I nearly rode off the map, I think I actually did. I was feeling fairly puffed after the climb. I knew I had to turn left just after the top of the hill and it was on the turn. When you got there, there was no track off to the left. Nothing. After riding past, then returning to where the track should start, I rode across the ‘unrideable’ yellow. After 20-40m of riding through the open a track appeared and lead you to the check point. A few other people had this problem as well. In the end it didn’t matter since I completely missed check point 4 earlier in the race.

Here at the WinSplits for the middle distance:
Middle Distance Class Splits

Middle Distance M21/Elite Splits

 

Off to New Zealand Next Year

Just leaving a small blurb here on what has been happening right now.

I have been doing heaps of mountain biking lately, trying to find my groove back from being off the bike for a long time. Definitely been finding my flow out on the trails.

Unfortunately my road bike has given up on me and it’s derailleur just dropped off while climbing up a short easy climb, so hopefully that can get repaired ASAP, but it might cost a lot if it doesn’t get covered by warranty. So if you have a large road bike frame you want to pass on to me I would much appreciate that.

Christmas holidays are coming around and so is the New Year. I head over to New Zealand on the second of January. It’s a multi-day event starting in the North of New Zealand and finishing up at Rotorua. Should be awesome.

Christmas Update 2

Again another late post. I have found the maps I had run on for the last two days of the Christmas 5 days. The fourth day was held on Rowdy Flat, which is gold mining country. I rode to the event which was roughly 26km away from Beechworth. The morning was fairly rough before riding out to the event. The night before my front tire had developed some problems with the rubber. It was bulging out on the ridge and felt thin and wasn’t looking well. I decide it would be safer to place a tube in and made sure I had patches in my riding kit.

Rowdy Flat is extremely technical due to the gold mining damage to the terrain and the erosion. This causes low visibility and lots of small steep undulations in the ground. I only made two major errors, and I couple of errors wasting time in the control circle. Heading from the first checkpoint to the second I accidentally veered off to the left along the tracks and had to make my way east back to the control. My next big blunder was checkpoint 6 to 7. I ran my desired route perfectly, navigating my way through the maze of tracks smoothly but when I had take the right hand turn down towards checkpoint 7 I turned right a junction earlier and headed towards 10 and wasted a good five to ten minutes searching in the wrong area. After that last blunder I flowed through the rest of the course.

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After the race we drove back to Beechworth to do the MTBO training. The training was riding on an old sprint course map and then we decided to go off to the local cross country track next to Beechworth. At this training session Adrian Jackson had come down from a Merida Team training camp at Mt. Buller to teach us some cyclocross skills which are quite useful in MTBO. Some how he ended up with a GoPro and was asked to follow me around the XC track. The problem was that I am 6’4″ and he just taller then my shoulder and the Beechworth XC track is a tight windy loose XC course. So it was quite a challenge to ride the course blind and fast with a high class rider bearing down on your rear wheel.

The last race was held in Beechwroth it self. This map I had probably the cleanest run out of all the five days of racing. Apparently the people who set the course didn’t realise the scale of the map and accidentally set extra long courses. We were used to running a 5 to 6km course and ended up running a little over 9km course if you didn’t make any mistakes. At the very end of the course we had to run up a steepish hill to get to the last control and finally finish.

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My legs were fairly sore and I was ready to head back to Melbourne to relax for a good couple of days.

Christmas Update

Christmas 5 Days and MTBO training. So currently I am in Beechworth, Victoria for the Christmas 5 Days, which is an end of year carnival that ends on New Years Eve.  For most people it’s a good event to attend to because it’s fairly social and it is held in out of the race season for orienteering. For the serious orienteers it’s great pre-race training for the World Cup event being held in New Zealand at the start of next year. So it has attracted a good selection of the elite racers and some international orienteers.

My fitness in lead up to this event hasn’t been great due to being sick for a couple of weeks, which may have turned out to be a slight sinus infection which I have now fully recovered from. Now I just have to get back into training. So I did just that on Christmas Eve. A friend of mine who lives in Melbourne was happy to take me out into the Dandendongs. He gave me two options to climb up the easy way or the steeper way. I chose the steep way thinking this is what I needed. Although my body told me pretty quickly that I wasn’t fit. Climbing up the side of the Dandendongs was very enjoyable even though I could feel my heart beat rattle my rib cage and hear it through my head pumping away. We did a little more than two and a half hours of riding with a decent amount of climb.

This is the view I got of Melbourne.

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The Christmas 5 Days started off slowly, with a one hour traffic jam trying to leave Melbourne. After that it was smooth sailing even though we arrived half an hour late. It had been awhile since I had run and also navigated through bush. After stuffing up the first control I found my flow and didn’t have any real navigational errors on the first day. Running around the course I felt ok, but after the event it felt as if I had run a marathon. I have absolutely no running muscles and my body was letting me feel it.

Here’s the first days map, I am running Course 3 because I don’t think I can run much further than 5 – 6km.

IMG_0135 Day 1

Day two was a big day. I decided to ride to the event. It was 26km away from where our accommodation is and the first 7km was downhill. After the ride I ran my course with only a couple of errors at the very end which I was pretty chuffed with, even though I wasn’t that fast on foot.

This is days two of the Christmas 5 Days. Course 3.

IMG_0134 day 2

After I had finished the previous coach of the Australian team Kay Haarsma told me to get ready for the MTBO training, which was on the same map I had just raced on. It was a small exercise that I rode with a couple of the senior riders who raced in Hungary for Australia. We did the first four controls with one minute intervals then we rode to the 5th Checkpoint and did started the intervals again to 6, 7 and 8. The minor tracks almost didn’t exist. At times it felt as if you were just riding through the bush guess where the track went.

This is the larger scale map we trained on.

IMG_0130 day 2 mtbo

Training was done for the day and there was still a race to go in the afternoon at 5:30. The race was a scatter race a point’s race and a line course race wrapped into one. The rules were you had 75 minutes to collect 15 checkpoints in any order and then come back to the finish to start your lined course of 5 checkpoints. Each control was worth 20 points. It was held in at the Indigo Vineyard which we raced the Australian Championships relays at last year. They had used similar control locations for the scattered controls and I found it fairly easy picking a route. My route took me down south to the control at the dam and then heading out east to do an anti-clock wise route around the map. My only problem was that I had stuffed my control descriptions under my riding shorts which had the row number for the checkpoints in the vineyards and when I went to retrieve the descriptions they were all wet and had torn when I pulled them out. Luckily my main rival was doing a similar route and I chose to follow his wheel through the vineyards. He was much stronger and perhaps a little fresher than I so at times it was hard to hold his wheel. Even though it would have been hard to pull away from each other regardless. He finished in 37:02 and I finished behind him in 37:22. He got away from me on the last little rise to the finish.

Here are the maps, we had to do the scatter side first before we could do the lined course.

IMG_0133 c1 IMG_0131 c3