Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Dirty (Medio) Fondo - Race Report

Today, I completed my 3rd Dirty Gran Fondo at Wandong (4th event if you include Dirty Gran Fondo at Gembrook).

Photo taken by The Canadian at the start

I didn't write too much about the this leading up to it as I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself to do well. I did the same route/distance as last year which was good because it gave me something to compare. The 65km Medio on the mountain bike.

Last year, I came DFL with a time of 5:33. This year, I didn't place DFL and I had an improved (total) time of approx 45min.

The event started much later than last year. Much better as it takes 1 - 1.5 hours to get to Wandong from Melbourne. You are also able to wear what you would ride in for the most of the day rather than worrying about layers. This year, I started the event wearing my short sleeve jersey and bib knicks - no arm warmers, no ear warmers, no knee warmers and no rain jacket. The weather has been kinder to us this year compared to the previous 3. We got to the grounds around 8:30am and it was a mad rush to the toilets (I was busting pretty much from South Melbourne) and to pick up our race numbers before rego closed at 8:45am.

The event started at 9am and I stayed at the back, my usual starting spot for events like these. I rode well through the first 10km, slight climbs through some rocky sections. It was then a fast descent where I decided to practice on my descending skills - being relaxed more through the shoulders and arms, bum off the saddle and use the legs as suspension too. I also trusted my bike that it wouldn't fall into pieces if I rode over rocky and bumpy sections.

I remember one section of the climb where I first hopped off to climb, I am glad to report that this year, I rode up most of the climb to a point where I started spinning through the gravel (it was so steep) and I fell off the bike. Luckily, my hydration backpack broke my fall and I walked away with minor grazes on my elbows and a bruised palm. I wore my long finger gloves so the fall wasn't as bad if I wore no gloves (glad about that last minute decision). I walked my bike up the rest of the climb and had no idea that my chain had come off and was wrapped about the hubs. There was a section of the trail where some guys were shooting bullets into the open field and that was where I decided that I would hop on the bike and it was only then I realised what had happened. I spent about 10min trying to rotate my chain out between the gears and the spokes and the guys ended up helping me - how many guys does it take to get a chain out of trouble, the answer would be 3! It was really stuck! For a moment there, I thought I wouldn't finish the event due to a mechanical.

When the bike was ridable, I thanked them and rode off into more climbs. The gears were playing up due to being misaligned from the handling so it was rattling and shaking throughout. I ploughed through the first feed zone when there was no mechanic available to help and I am not a "food" person as I carried all my nutrition on me. After the first feed zone it was a nice ride through more sheltered tracks with stunning views. Once I got to the 2nd feed zone, I could get someone to help me tune my bike so the gears were aligned with the chain. After this, there was no more rattling but there was a high pitch squealing which I thought  were birds amongst the trees for about 10km before I realised it was actually me.

I remember a few points along the route where I walked up the climbs and I am happy to report that I rode through all of them, every single one!!

Looking at my strava, it looks like there were some good 25% pinches and I felt every single one of them. Luckily the terrain was rough enough that my tyres had a good grip. The final 13km was pretty much downhill and apart from a few tricky sections, I let gravity do its thing. Happy to say that my top speed was 10km/hr higher than last year and so was my average speed was 4km/hr more.

I felt good on the bike but I didn't want to be too complacent. I knew that I wasn't DFL and I knew that I was well under my previous time.

Riding through the presentation 

So happy to finish (or still grinning from the caffeine gels)

Before the start...

According to the actual results, I finished 4:47 which is 45min faster than last year's 5:33.

A few comments/notes:

  • Although I trusted my abilities on the bike much better compared to 12 months ago. Some technical sections of the course still had me rattled, especially sections where there were sharp turns. 
  • Increase my strength and fitness on the bike so I feel like I am actually racing and not just "riding"
  • Without the falling off the bike thing, stopping for 10-15min to get my chain out of the hubs through to getting it tuned at the feed zone, I would like to aim for a respectable time of 4:15-4:30 for next year. 
  • I really do need to get on the mountain bike more than the two events I do per year. 
  • I would like to do the Dirty Gran Fondo Gembrook on 18 Sept and it is a week after Amy's Gran Fondo (11th Sept 2016). I did both last year and they were also a week apart. 
For the next week, I will do a spin class (most likely on the Tuesday), Albert Park laps if the weather is not shit (otherwise, it will be spin class), most likely another ride into work on the Friday. No long rides this weekend due to some schedules clashing and me having to finish off a billion cycling caps. 

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