In which I shall swear at trees... competitively

That's torn it. I just paid my entry fee for the 2012 Kanangra Classic Mountain Bike Enduro.

It takes place in October 2012, the weekend before my 38th* birthday, in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, in the Blue Mountains Plateau, somewhat south-west of my usual biking trails in the mid-mountainsplateau.

To be honest, I'm not too intimidated. I've done the 100km thing quite a few times this year, including a two-day ride with a 130km second day, and the reputation of Kanangra trails is that they're relatively friendly and don't have the horrifying climbs you find, for instance, going up Ingar and down Anderson's. Still, I've never ridden the area before and I'm not 100% sure what to expect, and I'm currently well off the pace of last year's leaders.

Of course, having said that, I seem to be comfortably above the pace of last year's tail-enders, having clocked O-I-A-O in about five and a half hours riding time (about six and a half taking breaks into account)**. A mid-pack result, therefore, would be just fine with me, but every few minutes I can shave off the time is a greater achievement. I'm not out to win, by any means, but I have a competitive nature.

I'll be riding with James Taylor, who is very fit indeed, and no doubt race tactics will be discussed often between now and the start time. James will, I believe, be rocking a Gary Fisher 29er on the route, while I'll be running my BMC Speedfox, a 26er which is specifically designed for the Enduro distance, unless I subsequently discover that I can make my hardtail go faster - a feat which has eluded me up until now. Hopefully I'll also have the wherewithall to lighten and optimise the bike a little, since it's largely stock right now and could use some tweaks to make it perfect.

The last time I raced was back in the mid-to-late 90s, in fact I believe my last event was a fateful Polaris Challenge in Kielder Forest at which my riding partner and I, overconfident in our abilities and addled by a cheeky Guinness at a rather nice pub on the way back, were stripped of our quite respectable points tally for a late arrival at camp on day one.

That won't be happening this year. For one thing, there are no pubs anywhere near the course.

So, I'll be riding a lot more often and for a lot more kilometres over the next few months. I might even bite the bullet and break out the road bike occasionally, and will probably be in the gym when the weather is too bad. Suggestions of good, fast, 100km+ trails are welcomed, and riding partners are also welcome to join, if you're willing to clock up the miles...

If you've ridden in the Kanangra area before, all hints, tips and advanced info will be appreciated - though I will of course be riding the route a lot in the intervening months - and it only remains to say that yes, I will accept sponsor logos if you're mad enough to want your brand associated with a rather slow late-30s pommie idiot whose main contribution to the day is likely to come in the form of swearing at trees***.


* I had to check that was correct
** I have mild doubts about the reliability of MapMyRide's numbers on this one, but in the absence of any disconfirming data, I'm going with it.
*** There is a new subspecies of Lyrebird in the Blue MountainsPlateau, characterised by its uncanny mimicry of the phrase "FUCKING TREE! FUCK YOU, TREE. WHY ARE YOU IN THE WAY, TREE?? FUCK."

posted @ Monday, April 30, 2012 12:08 PM

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