Mountain bike warm up/down 6:05  1.79 km (17.7 kph) ahr:98 max:120 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
As if yesterday's bottom bracket problem wasn't enough, today on my warm up the gears weren't sitting properly and upon closer inspection I discovered about 7-8mm of movement in the rear axle so off to the bike mechanic again. Fortunately there weren't that many people wanting repairs (most people who approached him just wanted to use his pump) so he spent about half an hour on it. Dunno what the problem was after all that but in the end he cobbled together a couple of spacer washers that he cut out of a cardboard box and stuck them on the axle to stop it moving so much.
Unfortunately I just missed my start wave so started with the blue dot pairs, which was a mistake because they were slow whereas the blue dot solos were faster and the front runners in that group ultimately caught me around the cane fields (at around 16-17km) so I should have started with them (and it also wouldn't have been so much of an issue for the organisers adjusting my time at the end if I was already in a solo group).
On a positive note, despite sleeping like rubbish last night (and the fact we had to get up at 3:45am to get to Port Douglas for the shuttle bus to the start), I think my jet lag was more or less over by day 2 of the race, at least I didn't feel slow and lethargic anymore.
Mountain bike race (Reef to Reef) 2:02:05 51.31 km (25.2 kph) +366m ahr:156 max:178 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Disaster of a day with the axle issue on top of the bottom bracket and starting with the blue dot pairs, I'd dropped the lot of them within the first 300m, which left me to do the fast road section (where there was a huge benefit to riding in a group) on my own for the next 15km before we got into the cane fields. Passed two black dot solos on the way there but didn't see any more until partway around the cane fields, where some of the blue dot solos (along with pairs who'd hooked on) caught me. Tried to tack onto the front runners in that group but of course just at that point my rear quick release axle decided to come undone so I had to stop and do it up and watch a big group get away from me. Once back onto the road we hit a tiny incline and I repassed the rear half of the big group (the front half was already away) and tried to get to the leaders but no luck.
Spent the rest of the ride passing riders on some of the short, steep hills (I had to walk two of them) before hitting the downhill Bump Track, which I sucked at - I passed one rider before the descent but he repassed me and got a huge lead before I eventually got back past him just before hitting the beach. The last 4km on the beach was really quick and although when I got onto it I couldn't see anyone in front of me, I did manage to mow someone down just before the finish and even almost caught a pair in the process but not quite. Really had to work hard to do that though.
Shame about the mechanicals because I should have at least been riding with some of the guys I kept finishing around over the past couple of days - they were about four minutes quicker today and that could potentially been enough to put me up into 5th in the masters (the guy four minutes ahead of me broke his chain so I ended up passing him but had another go past me) - but as it was, my position overall of 14th and 7th in the masters didn't change from the start of the day so stayed put.
Good event anyway. I might just take hold of multi-day stage racing though I can't do Cape to Cape this year (again).
I also got to see a big snake slithering off the road when I was all on my own on the first road section!
Mountain bike warm up/down 14:01  4.61 km (19.7 kph) ahr:107 max:116 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Results (overall/masters): Day 1: 27th/11th Day 2: 14th/7th Day 3: 10th/5th Day 4: 18th/9th Solo GC: 14th/7th
Mountain bike race (Reef to Reef) 2:49:23 67.05 km (23.8 kph) +706m ahr:161 max:179 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
It's not good when you take your bike to the mechanic pre-race to have a look at the cranks and the first thing he says it's "That's f***ed". So anyway my cranks were f***ed, which actually happened during yesterday's race and were making a hell of a noise - the mechanic took the crank arm off and the bottom bracket fell out, which shouldn't happen so he tells me. Went for the bodged fixit job but it didn't work so I had to ride on a wobbly crank.
Didn't seem to worry me too much with a bunch ride for the first 15km meaning I didn't have to do much work (the legs were in the trashed stage after the past two days) then onto some muddy old farm tracks - "single track" they call it - before hitting the rainforest section, at which point I'd left most of the black dot field behind. Caught up to three guys on the fast rainforest roads on one of the inclines and went past but one hooked on, then we caught another lone rider on the Two Bridges track, which was about 17km of BS but the three of us worked together overtaking the straggler pairs then back into the outback where it was quite warm.
Final section of undulations were hard and we tried to ride down another rider in front of us but couldn't get him although all this time I'd been wondering when I was going to dump these two I'd been riding with (good team dynamics that) but they answered the question for me around the final corner into the finish, one of them (Neil Rattray from WA as it turns out, in the Grand Masters category - I only got beaten by one older gentleman solo rider today) tried to take the inside line for the sprint finish but only succeeded in wiping himself out on the other rider's wheel so left me to take the honours, which was good because it meant I just scraped in for a top 10 finish. Moved me up to 14th overall but sadly still 7th in Masters although now only 3 seconds behind 6th. I virtually crossed the line with the guy in 5th so made no ground on him, oh well.
Tough day out with a 30 degree 'winter' day. Not looking forward to going back to miserable Perth. Tomorrow I don't expect to be up there with a whopping downhill halfway through seeing as I suck at descents but will see how I go.
Carolyn Jackson did well, 3rd female solo rider on the day and she's smashing her category (with just one other rider) so has picked up a bunch of jerseys.
Mountain bike warm up/down 12:14 3.57 km (17.5 kph) ahr:109 max:129 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Mountain bike warm up/down 27:40 9.03 km (19.6 kph) +62m ahr:124 max:162 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Mountain bike race (Reef to Reef) 2:33:39 50.26 km (19.6 kph) +743m ahr:164 max:182 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Longer day and far less technical than yesterday. Also different terrain, yesterday being on the ocean side of the tablelands through the rainforest - I got a bit upset seeing a sign warning of stinging tree! - and today in the real outback.
Started in the first wave (though five minutes behind the pairs) with two other ADF riders and headed out for a 10km loop across the road that involved four creek crossings before heading back through the start arch (the early pairs riders got caught up in the later wave starts, which wasn't very well planned) then through the single track wilderness in the Davies Creek MTB park. Dry and dusty was pretty much the order of the day with several harsh pinch climbs and just the one big climb (~140m, with lots of switchbacks).
Had my chain come off at the 35km mark and lob itself in between the cassette and spokes and it took a fair bit of effort to get it out, probably cost about a minute and a couple of deep cuts to a finger. Had one guy pass me at the time, who I though was the third ADF rider (the other one spent most of the race 50-100m in front before I dropped the chain) but turns out he just had a very similar jersey. Tried to hang onto his wheel but he easily dropped me in the single track through the last 10km. I suck.
Progressed my ranking with a 14th place today, putting me into 16th overall and 7th in the masters both today and overall, four minutes off 5th place so have a bit of work to get up there but from experience, rankings don't tend to change much after everyone settles down on the second day so will see how I go.
Amazing that my bike held together for every race in Europe (after "temporarily" fixing the gear cable when I arrived there) but I immediately have problems with it on my return although in this instance it turned out to be the upper limit screw, which wasn't done up all the way so the derailleur dropped over the big chain ring into the spokes. Hopefully fixed now. Strangely I've now had issues with my bike on every stage race I've done, with C2C in 2016 I twice dropped the chain off the front ring (before I had a chain guide) and in the Alice Easter races in 2017 I broke a spoke early in the first race!
Mountain bike warm up/down 20:30 5.01 km (14.7 kph) +37m ahr:116 max:140 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Legs were dying by the time I got to the creek where Tash and I went for a swim (actually a very slow amble into the cold, cold water). Tomorrow's going to be a slog.
I don't really understand how race organisers allocate prize money. For the Reef to Reef, the pairs category has 148 entrants (74 pairs) and there's over $14k allocated to the top five pairs across male, female and mixed (so 15 of the 74 pairs or over 20% will benefit, better if you're a female pair since there are only seven). For the 187 solo riders there's no prize money, so I assume our entry fee props up the smaller category.
Similarly for the one day riders, there are 160 in the 36km event but only 43 in the 51km event. Top three male and female (of which there are just eight) in the 51km get money. Nothing for the 36km riders. Bizarre.
Mountain bike warm up/down 25:44 9.64 km (22.5 kph) +179m ahr:128 max:169 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Mountain bike race (Reef to Reef) 1:12:31 17.83 km (14.8 kph) +625m ahr:176 max:188 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Achieved my goal of getting a black sticker (first wave start for the next three days, <1:14 was the eventual target based on ride times today) despite feeling like crap. Kind of an orienteering start today with two people riding off at 20 second intervals to spread the field. Worked well I thought. HR says I worked hard! Lots of climb, which ordinarily suits me though I wasn't feeling it today but still passed loads of people on the hills.
Had my bag of tools fall out of the saddlebag halfway down the long, bermed descent so that was fun. Luckily no-one behind when I went back to collect it.
Placed 27th of 189, 11th in the masters field but only 3mins off 4th (who happens to be Grant Lebbink, former Aus MTBO rep) so I'll see if I can't scrape my way into the top 5 over the course of the four days, if the body cooperates.
Mountain bike warm up/down 20:31 6.03 km (17.6 kph) +65m ahr:124 max:143 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
A concerned citizen at our backpacker accommodation came to my rescue after I fell out of the car and lay on the grass (I did that for Tash's amusement but he saw me lying there and thought I'd either fainted or passed out).
Found a quiet section of road in Cairns and did a pre race 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 interval set, aiming for but pretty much failing to hit E3. Just too jet lagged to get any sort of power happening. Should be a great race! At least I got out there so my body knows it's going to be needed shortly.