On May 29 AROCsport held the inaugural Capital Punishment 100km mountain-bike race in Canberra. The event sold out a while ago and with 2000 participants in both the 50km & 100km distances it was the biggest mountain bike race ever held in Australia. The race was held on a Saturday (most are held on a Sunday) with the first wave heading off at 7am.
I drove down to Canberra on Friday morning constantly checking the weather forecast – early rain & then fine (apparently) with temperatures ranging from 7-14 degrees celsius – not too bad for Canberra at this time of the year!
Given that there had been no rain on the Thursday or Friday I (& many others!) thought the track condition would be OK – but how wrong we were!
It rained through most of Friday night & in to Saturday morning. Up at 4am to down some last minute carbs & clear the ‘waste disposal unit’ as my friend Sam eloquently put it then off at 5:45am to find the start line.
IT WAS FREEZING!
I don’t know whether i’m just a bit soft coming down from Sydney but I thought it was freezing cold on the start line at 7am whilst raining – thankfully i’d recently bought a spray jacket & some waterproof shoe covers as they became invaluable as the race went on!
Anyway started in the second wave approx. 7:10am; 3km of fire-trail followed by what is generally some of the best single-track in Australia (Kowen Forest & Majura Pines) but sadly not today – it had become little more than a mud-wrestling pit with the surface so slippery that it was hard to go in a straight-line at times.
The single-track was interspersed with some firetrail and a 6km untimed section of tarmac, a trip round the airport and a perfect finish at Canberra’s Mt Stromlo mountain bike park – which contains some awesome berms (see above) and switchbacks which helped take our focus away from the fact that we’d just ridden for 7h 30mins through some tough conditions!
The bike a little worse for wear because of the mud (front derailleur gave out 25km in, leaving me stuck in the granny ring, brake pads down to metal, chain-suck a major problem), it was a great feeling to finally cross the finish line around 2:30-3:00pm after feeling like stopping at the 65km feed station.
No matter what type of endurance race you enter I think you always question at some stage why you entered in the first place and whether you should continue on, but once you cross the finish line all those thoughts disappear, you think what a great time you just had and you can’t wait to sign up for the next race…
As a side note the winner, Jason English, finished the race in 4hr 35mins – what an absolute machine – and a big thanks to all the volunteers, organisers and the like that helped make the race possible – I will definitely be back for a bit more punishment next year (hopefully with some sunshine on race day)!