The crazy 8-hour mountain bike race on the downhill tracks at Toowoomba.
Well, where do I start this race was an adventure in itself!
The race was held at Toowoomba an hour and a half West of Brisbane in Jubilee park which is infamous for rugged, steep trails and a downhill course. The tracks are open to the public year round. The event was run by the local mountain bike club Toowoomba mountain bike club. The event was in its inaugural year and was a brave move for the club. 8 hour or longer races are in short supply and most do not seem to want to/have the time to put on a whole day event. The volunteers were there from 6 am until the last rider (me) was through at 5 pm.
The event was a lapping event around a brutal and rugged single track course in baking and very dry conditions. The course was 12.6km in length with 520 meters climbing per lap. I managed to ride 7 laps in the time allocated. I was the only female competing in the long course event over 8 hours. I won (obviously) and beat most of the guys coming 3rd overall out of the solo riders (10 brave guys).
Prior to the event when I was looking at the race course I remarked to my husband that surely the course couldn't be that hard and we would not be going down the downhill track - I was wrong on so many points!
The lap straight away climbed a big hill then it was onto the single track switchbacks - some I rode some I had to put a foot down. A big pile of rocks had me walking in the first 2km and I wasn't the only one!
It was out of the single track to a left turn and up a deceptively steep hill, couple more corners later the fire road turned into a bit more climbing single track again most it was rideable just a foot down round one switch back.
Then along a couple of km of undulating fire road to the top of the range. Then a right turn over a log round more single track a big pile of rocks to safely negotiate - on the first lap I stopped to attempt to help a guy to fix his chain - I was glad for a rest. Then through some very nasty rock gardens - a walking exercise for me.I shouted to one of the marshals that I struggle with rocks she shouted back we should go riding together and she could teach me to ride down if I taught her to ride up.
Then some rideable singletrack around a bend to the left then it went down, down and more down. Steep, slippery down switchbacks some/millions of rocks - enough to scare the hell out of me (on every single lap).
Safely negotiate this and then it became a bit more rideable again - I walked down some massive pile of rocks, found a couple of rideable B lines. Rode most of the logs some I got off and climbed over.
The ending couple of km's was lovely and a chance to refuel and breathe again.
At the end of each lap, my husband was there to shout encouragement and refuel me with food and fluids. On the second to last lap, he shouted that I had to 2 more to this I retorted "but I'm tired". I went past the rest of the pits and I shouted to a guy I know to kill my husband - he replied do another 2 laps then he would - so no help there.
In the end, I had 9 solid hours of skill practice and was able to fully test my fitness level.I feel ready to take on the National 24 hour race in Sydney next month now!
Any excuse to spend as long as possible on the bike - it's a source of escapism some people choose drug/alcohol/gambling I choose ultra-endurance mountain bike racing!