Image source The RoostOnly a few years ago back in 2008, I had the opportunity to compete in the Dirtworks event held in St Albans. I was only 16 and competing in the 50km event. Upon completion, I remember sitting on my own at the finish line, primarily waiting for my father to finish the 100km event, but in the mean time, watching the elite guys cross the line looking fit and fresh! I was so envious of Hamish Elliott who won that year, in a time of 4hours and 9 minutes. Four years later, with a few more k’s in the legs, I set out to find myself a late entry and give the 100km a good go.
Image source The RoostI’m not going to lie, I was stressing on the Friday. It came down to a number of things. Worrying that I had forgot to pack something, how my legs felt on my roll in the morning, but most importantly how I was going to cope with the distance. I was confident in my ability leading into the race yet concerned, considering that I had never ridden 100km on a mtb before. I had plenty of road k’s in the legs and was just hoping it would convert to the mtb just fine.. Before spending the night in the back of the car, I was able to give myself a rough race plan. It wasnt too hard to come up with. Conserve as much energy as possible early, whilst not letting the front runners out of sight. Last as long as possible.. On the cold morning of the event, the gun went off and the lead group of 40 or so elites took off. It was a cruisy pace for the first 12km on the bitumen/gravel road until we reached the first climb which also doubled as the KOM. I made sure I was positioned near the front and sat in fourth, following Andy Blair’s wheel. Ahead of him were Adrian Jackson and Ben Mather who had already started to pick up the pace for the KOM points. I was riding within myself and decided to save some energy by not contesting for the points and crossing the top in 3rd. As it turned out, our group of four riders had managed to get a gap on the main group and there was no looking back. The brutal climb had split the race early and we decided to capitalise on our advantage by swapping off to increase the gap. Just before the 28km feed zone, Jason English managed to bridge over to us solo until he (apparently) crashed not long after. We rode as a group until the halfway mark at 50km and I was feeling good. Right after the feed zone I dropped my bottle which I was pretty bummed about so instead, made sure I was eating as much as possible until the next feed zone. Ben Mather was forced to stop here to fix his seat and unfortunately for him, never saw the front of the race again. It was now Blair, AJ and myself riding at a nice tempo. After about 10km, Blairy got a bit of a gap on a technical section and hit the gas. I was following AJ’s wheel and when out of nowhere, a big stick flung from his rear wheel and went straight through my front! An over the bars and head butt the ground all happened within the second and I got up feeling pretty groggy! Thankfully the bike was fine and I was just telling myself to get going before the gap got too big! I knocked my seat back to a ‘level’ position and sprinted off, running on pure adrenaline. I got to AJ just as he had to stop on a technical section before I went by with Blairy on my mind. I thought he had made the winning move a few km earlier but to my absolute suprise, I saw those bright pink 4Shaw socks up ahead somewhere in bush, and I put my head down to finally shut the move down. Still feeling ok, I sucked in some big air while I sat on Blair’s wheel for a while, before we started working together. We crossed the canoe bridge and started climbing again. This time it was hurting just a little more than it did a few hours ago! My chain was sucking a bit causing me to lose ground. Unfortunately I was having to dig into my reserves to get back on the wheel. With the final kilometers of climbing approaching, Blairy made the winning before the huge decent back down towards the event centre. At this point in the race, my S-works epic was really shining, cleaning up my little mistakes that are always caused by that point in fatigue. The legs were definitely in a bad way by now and all I could do was watch Blair ride off into the distance for the win. I have to say, crossing the line was such a great feeling. The relief of finishing, but also with a podium result felt phenomenal. The top 4 riders went sub 4 hours, myself at 3h 49min and my garmin read an average speed of 26.2km/h. Moving! Again it goes without saying, DRIFT BIKES/SPECIALIZED- the best team to be working with, could not be asking for better service and equipment, thanks a lot! Hopefully see you at the next one! Cheers! - Trenton Day