A big test 5 months out from the Cape epic is the Highland Fling. The "Fling" is one of the biggest one day enduro MTB races in Australia with over 2000 starters. Buzz and I were up early ....4am to drive the 160k to Bundanoon. It was raining as we pulled out. Not a good sign for the weather to come, especially with a 110k race in front of us.
It was cool, overcast but dry when we lined up on the start line. I was nervous with anticipation. I chose not to ride with a Camelback as the cool weather would keep my thirst down. The pace was on from the start. Buzz and I were well positioned towards the front and I was riding well within myself. My plan was to tuck in for the first 70k as a lot of blokes go out too hard and blow up. After the first water crossing, there was a split in the leading pack of 40 or so riders as someone couldn't bunny hop a rock step, and all of us behind had to stop. I didn't panic and saw the leading group open about a minutes lead on the second group. I was in this group and quite happy to have others take up the pace. Buzz made the lead break and I didn't see him again until the 55k mark when the lead group splintered under the pace they had set. We became about the 3rd group on the road, with about 12 riders buzz, Gaz, Lucas, me and a couple of other Manly boys were in the group. I started to look around and see how many other over 50 "Supermasters" age group were in the group and I could see 3 others. It was going to take some experience to drop them, if I wanted to win my class.
At the second transition at the 80k mark, I made a very quick transition and 4 of us got away from the rest. I felt good and knew I was riding into form. I normally feel better the longer the race goes and I started to pull more turns as there were only 2 of us left in Superoldies . I noticed he was stronger on the flats than me, but I was quicker on the single trail and up hills. I sensed he was getting tired so with 28 k to go there was a sketchy creek crossing and a 500m uphill single trail, so I went for it. Buzz and my competition were behind me and I had clear track. Once you have made the break you are committed, so I put my head down and went for home. I was flying and sensed I was putting time into those behind. With 12k to go I knew I had a couple of mins lead on the other oldies and I had it in the bag. I would do around 4 hrs 58m to 5 hr range and that would have put me in the top 40 overall.
I had one creek crossing to go and I decided to ride through it, and as I hit the gas up the other bank, disaster hit! I snapped my chain!! I was stationary for 10 mins while I fixed it, and all the boys came past. I was spewing and when I got going again, had nothing left in the tank as all the adrenalin had left me. I rolled into the finish, 5th in my class, kicking myself.
However I was really pleased with the way I rode and are on track with the training for March!