This is a story of unrequited love. And coffee. And mountain biking. Last Sunday I took part in the Marathon Challenge in Avoca put on by Big Hill Events. The Marathon Challenge prides itself on being the toughest mtb marathon in Australia. The 90km 'full' marathon has 2800m of vertical climbing. (To put this in perspective, Mt Hotham is around 1300m vertical.) I opted for the soft option - 65km with 2500m of vertical.
In retrospect, this was perhaps not the sensible way to ease back into training after 3 weeks off. On the other hand, I was excellently tapered.
The plan to enter the marathon was hatched over coffee with a friend at a certain cafe in Kew. I really love this cafe because it serves excellent coffee that is made by the handsomest man in the kingdom of Melbourne. For brevity's sake, let's call him Adonis.
The problem with this cafe is that every time I go there I agree to half-baked plans for adventure purely because I'm so distracted by Adonis. I disappear into a giddy haze of delicious caffeine and unfathomable man-beauty. Don't get me wrong - I am not crazy for this guy. I'm sure in reality he has smelly feet and can't drive a manual and probably cuts his toenails in the bath. He is just a breathtakingly beautiful barista who should be on the catwalks of Milan or off being someone's muse or something. In the words of Derek Zoolander, he is really really ridiculously good-looking.
Anyway, I think it was Niki's idea that we did the MTB marathon. I'm not really sure, I was ordering a coffee at the time.
Niki can agree to half-baked plans like this because she is really really ridiculously good at mountain biking. I, on the other hand, need all the help I can get.
The race itself was well worthy of its reputation. Lots of climbing, some bowel-shaking singletrack descents and a few 'what am I doing?' moments. It was awesome. One thing that I love about MTB races is how friendly everyone is. From the fastest guys to the course marshals, everyone I saw was nice, encouraging and made you feel happy to be there. I think road racing could benefit from a bit of MTB vibe every so often. Special mention must be made of the food stops featuring super-lovely volunteers and Degani bakery goods. (Again, road cycling take note - why can't we have donuts mid-race too?) There was a coffee cart at race HQ too, which was a great touch, although sadly the barista manning it was no Adonis.
The weather was perfect - mid 20s and sunny - and we were lucky to camp at the winery the night before the race. This is the racing equivalent of living on campus when you're at uni - you can roll out of bed 5 mins before the pre-race briefing. Heaven. And although my own report card for the race would read 'room for improvement', I had a ball.
This weekend is the Crazy 6 at You Yangs put on by the good people at GMBC. Get on it.