Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Race Report From Down Under!

It was nice to hear from one of my old hoops buddies who is a pretty darn good mountain biker. If you don't know Joel you are really missing out on knowing a terrific guy. He moved to Australia a few years back and started a company that takes people on fun adventures. If you are ever thinking of heading his way, you should get in touch. Below is his latest race report filled with a few tidbits of local news. Enjoy The Ride Joel!
Your Adventure Starts Here!
Australia: 1-800-101-319 USA: 1-800-207-2453 UK: 0-800-234-6949 Skype:

Heya Greg and everyone.,

Just caught the note on the banquet, and as usual I only have that same lame excuse for not making the ride/banquet/etc...(spoken in a whiny voice) "..but I live halfway around the world"

I realized I was owed a race report to you, here goes, go ahead and blog it if you get the chance. (Chook means Chicken in Australian, so that make's me a chook rancher, right?)

Old Chook Still Climbing: hills and the learning curve.

Just a quick race report, filled with lies about the great things I did. This time though, in a new spirit of openness aimed increasing the entertainment value of the tale, I will avoid covering up all the stupid stuff that I managed to do all by myself, that said here goes, 'mates!

The Chook Ranch Down Under sub-tribe raced the RRR race here in North Queensland a couple of weeks back, and despite a comedy of errors, managed to podium, and narrowly missed first place.

The RRR (Rainforest to Reef Rampage) is the big short course race up here, maybe 45 km of racing, starting out with 20 km of flat, a nice single track climb, slogging through creeks in the jungle, a nightmarish nasty 3,000 ft in 2 miles descent, followed by a smooth Daytona Beach style 4 mile sprint at the end. About 300 racers took part, with a mass start that quickly narrowed to a narrow jeep road.

But the story starts earlier!

I love racing, but I am just the worst at bike maintenance, and don't notice things like, worn out tires, bent rims, crack frames, etc, at least not until the bike stops working or I hear something falling off and hitting the ground.

This time I decided to be smart and do a thorough tune up of the bike (that means put air in the tires and oil on the chain.) I thought I was pretty smart, actually noticing and replacing that tire with the tread worn down to the casing, and replacing the wheel with the inch long crack in the rim.

So race day comes, and we pop our bikes into my friend's van and head off to the race an hour early, (another first for me!, I am so good!)

Then I learned that with Zoke forks that if you transport your bike upside down and drive from sea level to 3,500 ft the air and oil can switch places, and take your fork down to a retro-rider 3mm of movement. Looked all over for someone with one of those adapters you need to charge the shock. Did not find one, but I did manage to find out my rear deraillure cable was worn to just a couple of strands at the attachment point.

So, minimal shifting, no front worries! Knowing I just got on Australia's great health insurance plans I figured I would race until I crashed or broke something, and see what happens.

The race went well, I managed to get out front at the start with the fast riders, and sucked onto the lead group till they got embarassed about this old guy on an old bike hanging with them and upped the pace. Two riders in my category caught up with me in a rolly part of the course when I got a bit too conservative about breaking my der. cable. We all played cat and mouse with each other for 15 minutes, and I finally put a break on them by running a river crossing and steep 100 metre climb leading up to the very scary big descent.

I knew that one of the guys behind me pretty well, he's fit and wise, and would never give up, so I grabbed the handlebars, let go of the breaks, and went for it on the downhill. My first mountainbike had a rigid fork, and this was a great reminder, both of how much help the new front forks are, but also how much you can do by just letting go of the breaks, finding the line, and holding on for dear life when it get's really rocky.

At the bottom of the climb it's 8 miles to the finish, 4 of it single track leading up to a wide flat hard beach. I went as hard as I could, hoping I could keep as much gap as possible. Things go fine, I hit the beach, 4 miles to the finish. With three miles to go I look back, and whoa! What's that guy doing right on my back wheel? It's him, and I know he's a road cyclist, so he's got the drafting and sprint finish strategy down pat. I think hard for maybe a millisecond, and come up with an idea...I will ride as hard as I can and leave this guy in the dust. All of you road types know what happenned :( I foolishly led him out to the last 100 metres, nearly killing myself in the process, so he could nip by me at the end and set a new course record.

Next time, (it's a 100 metre wide hard beach) I will ride up into the soft sand and kill his legs, then sprint down onto the hard sand and open a gap. I'll just ride around in a circle and loop behind him, (like Snoopy does to the Red Baron) hoping he will not open too big a gap, or fall over laughing. I will slow down or even stop, till he sees it becoming a three man race and takes the front. Next time, that's October, both my bike and I will be ready!

I did have a great time, and got invited to join this guy's road group. I am going to do that, they are nice folks, and I will pick up a few more tricks along the way.

My next ride, out in the jungle on Saturday, meet me at the Trinity Beach Roundabout at 8:00am. Who's in this week?

Oh, and if you like the ideas of nasty scary animals, check out these pics and articles, all taken from the local paper mostly in the last three weeks, this is a cool and gnarly neighborhood!

Crocodiles in swimming enclosures close the beaches
Snake eats cockatoo
Spider eats snake
Spider eats bird
Snake eats another wallaby (I ride here!)
Snake eats family pet
Snake eats wallaby

Just one race pic, have a look at the front fork!

cheers 'mates!


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