Riding first leg with Carolyn and Peter (we qualified for X160 so only got the short course). I didn't get time for a warmup because I was having brake issues (or more correctly lack of brakes) and had Peter running around trying to source brake fluid for me. Thankfully got sorted but I had to race off to the start line and didn't collect a GPS (not sure if I was supposed to but very few others did either).
Got around quickly but with a few small errors along the way at the 1st, 6th and 8th. 1st control I picked my route (we only had 15 seconds after turning over the map before the mass start with about 40 riders jostling for position) but then I changed it partway there because everyone else went a different way and a quick glance at my map showed me I couldn't get to my control from the direction I was going to approach but turns out I could. Lost time on my route taking the much slower option through the pale yellow (I shouldn't have been cutting across it in the first place).
Took the wrong single track at the 6th then overshot my junction to the 8th where my map was folded and I rode past the fold. Marquita and I had the same course barring the first control and I ended up having to pass her three times.
We ended up 4th I think behind GBR and two SWE teams. If I hadn't made errors we would have gotten onto the podium but Peter also made one small error and Carolyn made some larger ones so it kind of balanced out between us. Still loads of fun though.
I started the day with a swollen knee due to crashing on it and all the other guff yesterday and finished up with a broken nose and a hole in my head after smacking into an overhanging tree just after our 5th control (of 19). I was hoping to go a whole year without a trip to the hospital but sadly that was not to be. Perhaps I'll aim for the 2018/19 financial year without incident!
Oh, I still continued on with blood all down my face and map board (I swapped cleaning mud off yesterday for cleaning blood off today) and finished 7th, not far off 5th sadly (error at the 8th cost me that spot).
Today was one of those races best forgotten. It started off at a low point when I got an email from the AFP telling me I'd been booted from their recruitment process after failing the 'organisational' gateway (medical/psychological) then got worse when the rain that seemingly went on all night was still going when we were putting our bikes together at the EC although it did stop about 40 minutes beforehand but the damage was done.
The majority of the tracks had been turned to mush and as it turns out I cannot ride in mush so my race was over before it had even begun. Not only that but I made a number of errors out there and my route choice from 10-11 was so bad (I went over the top of a hill so high it had a tower on it when I could have taken a flatter and probably even shorter option). On the way to 11 I called my race over and just ambled around the next few before picking up the pace once we got back onto the mass start map, where the tracks weren't quite as mush like. Still made a couple of minor errors on this section even though I'd been on it before (I was so confident on one CP that I went on map memory but my memory of where the control was located was wrong).
Part of the reason I made such a bad choice to 11 was that I had earlier crashed and managed to get mud inside my map board so when I refolded it, there was mud smeared across the route choices so I picked the one that looked navigationally easier, totally missing the fact it went up 32 contours (160m) in a very short space of time and had a tower marked at the top (the second half of the climb was so steep I had to walk it). On the other route, the climb was less significant and it would have all been rideable as the contours were further apart, not to mention the fact the first half of that route was a solid black track (which didn't mean a whole lot today except you weren't likely to slide off the track).
So I only managed to place 10th today, a whopping 38 minutes behind the leader.
Oh, in addition the start flag was in the wrong place, which was totally bizarre, and that put me off right from the start because I was supposed to turn at a track junction at the triangle but there was no junction until about 100m further on (I also couldn't get the tracks to align to north at the start, which threw me). I passed Tash on the way to my first control (she started 11 minutes before me) and she looked totally lost but I couldn't help her at the time because I also hadn't a clue where I was although figured it out about 10 seconds later.
Buggered up my knee too having to carry the mud encrusted bike down one track that was totally bogged up with clay and several others that I just couldn't ride due to wheel slippage. Hopefully tomorrow is a new day (and a new area).
Mountain bike warm up/down 16:07 5.83 km (21.7 kph) +52m ahr:114 max:161 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
I'd been having problems with the gear changing of my bike late in yesterday's course so thought I'd get it fixed before we started today so we arrived very early so I could work on it. I hadn't gone 20m across the car park and attempted to change gears when the cable came loose!!! That was a lucky break. Had it happened during the course I'd have been stuck in the small rear chain ring for the whole race (being a sprint and almost dead flat, I wouldn't have bothered stopping to fix it)
Holy crap that was the most fun I've ever had in a sprint race! It was fast, required very good concentration and it was fast! I'd seen a copy of the map beforehand (online) and headcam footage and thought it looked a little bland but that couldn't have been further from the truth once out on course.
I did get a little confounded when I got near to my first control to find an entire tree - branches and all - blocking the track and since I'd taken the 'difficult' route, I thought I'd somehow ended up in the bush but after a quick look I spotted the control just past the tree so had to climb my way through (the obstruction wasn't shown on the map). I immediately went on to make my only error of the course by turning down an unmapped track on the way to the second. Similar to yesterday that my only error was on a track not shown on the map very near to my turn. I was a little put off but the track ended after only 30m in some thick grass and rather than trying to bash through to see what would happen, I reversed course and continued on.
The rest of the course was intense focus, micro-route choices to save valuable seconds and then trying to avoid other riders, pedestrians, dogs, pedestrians with dogs... My 2min marker caught me at the 20th control (he finished 2nd yesterday so I expected him to) and we spent the rest of the race jostling for the lead. I navigated and made better route decisions than he did but he was faster. I ended up right on his tail across the line and that scored me 5th place in the M40 field, woohoo! Goal achieved :-) Very good since sprints aren't my forte.
Went to the local Audi store for essential supplies* afterwards and it started drizzling on our way in and was still doing so on our way out (10-15 minutes) but during that time the road had become totally flooded to the point the water was up to the cars' rims. I'm not sure if it bucketed down when we were inside or if Hungary just has really poor road drainage and all the nearby water had drained into this one street.
*Choc milk and something resembling an ice cream drumstick with the choc lined wafer cone but both gluten and dairy free so I'm not entirely sure what that left
I don't think I impressed our hotel host by leaving our leftover dinner in their fridge (I said we'd remove it by lunchtime but we didn't). We have a bar fridge in our room but it's switched off (can be turned on by special request) and we're not allowed to store personal food items in there 'due to hygiene requirements'.
Well that was a load of fun! The single track was fun, the hills were fun, the nav (although lacking much route choice but then that's mass start for you) was fun. After yesterday's training map I was expecting a load of shite today but the trails were in much better condition. Some overgrown rubbish and ruts but that's mountain biking. I found all the tracks and took some of the better micro-route choices (missed the one from 7-8 but the circle covered it up so didn't see it although could have gone through the white - actually I missed at least two good route choices due to unbroken circles) and one 2min time loss from 22-23 when I turned up an unmapped track (wasn't the first nor the last to do so) that was very near the one I wanted. That cost me 5th place and I ended up 7th of 15 so top 50% at least. Hope to improve on that over the next few days as I didn't know how hard to take it out today. Apparently I was in 4th for much of this race! I suck at downhills though and it's costing me. Oh wells, damned good fun!
My arch-nemesis - Mark Huster (who I've raced against several times at WMTBOC and we place comparatively against each other) - got me by 24 seconds (and two places) after he cut through the white at CP 23 (which was legal). I just didn't see the option. Looking at the GPS trace, I navigate better than him but he is faster.
I'm very much looking forward to the long distance race in the same area on Friday. Tomorrow's sprint map looked pretty basic but I watched headcam footage of a race on the map soon afterwards and realised it could be trickier than it seems (last event there was April 2016 so they felt obliged to show us maps and footage so we weren't overly disadvantaged).
Hopefully the rain that has set in this afternoon/evening disappears by tomorrow.
Mountain bike warm up/down 16:15 4.14 km (15.3 kph) +33m ahr:103 max:127 shoes: Giant XTC Advanced SL 29er
Ride back to EC then back to finish then to EC.
I don't think I impressed our hotel host by not tipping the pizza delivery guy tonight. I didn't know the protocol!
Set the alarm for 8am to make up for sleep lost on the flight(s) over so when I woke up at 4:50, thinking it was 7:50, and it was light outside, well I decided to go out for a ride anyway to get it over with. Up into the same lot of bush as yesterday to do more exploring. Found lots of single track and other good tracks although seemingly went around in circles for most of it. Got to the other side of the forest and found a sign informing people that bikes weren't allowed in the forest, which didn't seem all that accurate or helpful given I'd seen three others riding through yesterday although if I'd seen the sign upon entering the forest yesterday, well I would have ignored it all that much sooner.
Found a couple of towers on high points that I climbed for the view over the city and surrounds. Had the forest mostly to myself for the first hour (other than one hiker who magically appeared when I was up the tower with my bike at the bottom) although all the dog walkers materialised at around 6:30.
I don't think I impressed our hotel host when I wanted to take my bike out at 5:20. Problem is they lock the place up tight overnight, including both front gates and the garage where all the bikes are kept (the Danish team is all here as well as Richard and Debbie) and he didn't like having to open everything at that time. Wouldn't be a problem if we had the gate access codes! Oh well, I told him I wouldn't be heading out prior to breakfast on any future days given they are all race days.
Afterwards Tash and I walked to the Castle District and wandered around there for a couple of hours (good thing I went riding early because I had no time to do it when I originally planned to) before wandering back home and getting caught in the rain for the last ten minutes.
It's kind of depressing that the internet connection at our hotel is faster and far more reliable than anything I've ever had access to in Australia and certainly much more so than our home connection. Even Aus hotels the connection will drop out on you if your'e not sitting in the right corner of the room (mind you, I've not always experienced such good connections at Euro hotels).
Started off at the event centre with the "model event", which was basically just a few controls set up in a field so you could test the range of the SIAC, then headed over to the training map. We'd heard from EVERYONE (Peter, Carolyn, Marquita and Rob) about how awful it was and that we wouldn't enjoy it unless there'd been several riders through to beat down the trails (they'd ridden yesterday so there had) and it turned out to be not too entirely awful although the main choice of tracks to choose from were graded anywhere from slow to difficult so not a lot on offer.
We decided 40 minutes would probably be enough so I got back to the car by that time then added a few short sprints as a substitute to the 1-2-3-4 that I'd normally do on a pre-race day. There really isn't enough road space either at our accomms or where we were training to have that happen so I made do, plus if today's trails are any indication of what tomorrow holds in store (the map is basically directly west of today) then there won't be a lot of fast riding anyway.
Copped a stinging nettle to the arm at some point that's still tingling over three hours later so that'll be fun. The difficult graded tracks seem to mostly be graded that way if they're badly overgrown so one to potentially avoid. For tomorrow's event it'd be good to be last starter but the M/W40s are first off so not much chance of that happening.
Can't say I'm having the best run in my MTBO life right now. Last event I went to I forgot to pack my helmet. This time I left my map board back at our accommodation, not to mention leaving the spare derailleur that I bought specifically for this trip back in Australia.
After arriving in Budapest we lazed around for a bit, wandered off to the shops and bought and ate a packet of mini cornets (Tash had 5; I had 7), then I decided I needed to put my bike together and take it out for a ride so I did. Plan was to explore the streets but I rode up and up and up the hill we were staying on and that turned into a forest with a whole bunch of trails on it so I did a lap around there then rode back down a different street to our accomms.
I don't think I impressed our hotel host by walking around in the lobby barefoot. I was only looking for Richard at the time and couldn't be bothered putting my shoes on just to go downstairs so I didn't. He said to me that he didn't mind but that the other guests might, which really meant that he minded.