A couple of weekends ago, my VIS teammate Chloe 'The Enforcer' McConville and I raced the Crazy 6, a 6-hr MTB enduro put on by the good people at Geelong Mountain Bike Club in the You Yangs. It was awesome; certainly one of most enjoyable races I've done.
We were talked into racing the Crazy 6 by VIS mechanic Ryan Moody (the voice behind the Platypus of Truth), who caught us at a vulnerable moment after the Tour of NZ and suggested we give it a crack. The words 'non-technical', 'good for roadies' and 'steak sandwich' were also used, which secured our commitment. And, if nothing else, knowing that our trusty mechanic would be racing there too filled us with confidence that if we broke something, help wouldn't be far away.
This was my first experience of racing a 6-hour in a team. We chose to ride lap on/lap off so as to stay fresh and to maximise the fun levels. Naturally, I made Chloe go first on the grounds that her biceps were of an appropriate size and strength to beat through the start line bustle. Ryan, meanwhile, had chosen to race the 6hrs solo (and still rode quicker than both of us combined).
The atmosphere at these events is just fantastic. With a mix of solo riders, pairs and threesomes - some taking it seriously, others there for the fun of it - there were loads of people in transition to play with. There is a great feeling of bonhomie at MTB races that you don't get at road races. If you like riding but get a bit intimidated by road racing, get thee to an MTB enduro, pronto.
For the first 4 hours, we trailed the leading women's pair (Trailmix's Jo Williams and Fitzroy Revolution's Amity McSwan) by around 4 minutes. You can read their take on the race here. We didn't talk much, The Enforcer and I, mostly because we spend so much time racing together that we can now communicate via a series of eye twitches. Also, I had told her that if I rode faster than her I would requisition her hot wheelset, which gave us both something to think about.
So anyway, back to us being smashed by Jo and Amity. These girls can ride! Our master strategist Julian (Mr Enforcer) was keeping tabs on the gap and issuing helpful instructions along these lines:
- "Man, you guys are getting SMASHED!"
- "You'd better ride faster. The gap is REALLY big."
After the 4 hour mark, we slowly started pegging back time. Roadies are nothing if not good at pedalling for extended periods. Gradually the gap closed from 4 minutes, to 2:30, to 1:30. At 5:59:20, McConville and Amity appeared together in transition, leaving Jo and I to duke it out over one final lap. Chloe had promised to greet me with a burger with the lot on the finish line if we won, and luckily that burger was not cooked in vain.
So in the end we had a ding-dong battle that made the day exciting, capped off with the legendary GMBC prize goodies and a couple of cool trophies made from carbon fibre. News of Chloe's MTB prowess spread as far as Martin Barras, who promptly offered her a guest spot on the AIS squad for a month of racing in Belgium. And I, in a giddy haze of dirt love, rashly signed up for Tour de Timor in September with the Apollo crew. The Roadie Project continues!