John W and Dom are racing the BCBR over the next few days:
BCBR day 3 has turned out to be a good one! Fabulous breakfast at Campbell Ri followed by a ferry ride to get to Powell Ri for the start of stage 3. School busses dropped us at the ferry terminal and we walked on via the vehicle loading ramp as seems to be the norm here. A pleasant cruise across to the mainland gave time for an overly generous breakfast to go down and time to make some mental notes about the ride ahead.
We walked from the ferry to the new HQ through town and the locals were out in force with a band of bagpipers and families on the street to welcome us. The midday heat was intense as we made the 10 minute walk to where our bikes had been disgorged from the trucks. As a pasty limy I was fully factor-50ed and the wet race jersey trick just before the of was a psychological advantage at least.
From the off the pace was set by the Italian (not Brazilian – oops) fella took it on himself to pound out the tempo for the second wave and this time I decided that as soon as the trail went up and the tree cover disappeared after 5 minutes that I was best off applying some restraint so let him go. However, looking back after 5 minutes it seemed that I had still gapped the chasing bunch by a good minute or so.
Today the start intervals between groups had ben reduced to 3 minutes so I was able to start passing 1st wave riders relatively quickly and still had my Italian friend in sight as we hit the first proper descent and he was as usual more than happy to cede his position. The doubletrack that followed was relatively high speed so that traction wasn’t a problem on a hardtail and the sighting and catching riders was great motivation to keep pushing on.
Turning onto the singletrack I was fortunate to have one of the enduro motorbikes pick me up and ride 30 or so metres ahead to reassure me that I was on the right track and give some guidance as to the terrain ahead. The smoother and less rooty trail was also a bonus and for the first time in the race I didn’t feel like I’d brought a knife to a gunfight.
Arriving at the first aid station it I just managed to inhale the last of my second bottle and refilled both to be on the safe side as I wasn’t sure whether the tree cover would continue. The gravel road up to the highest point of the day was far from inspiring but the lure of some really special singletrack on the Enduro section over the top was sufficient to keep things ticking along and being able to see riders in the distance also helped.
Pointing downhill after the climb I slipped past a four riders in quick succession without realising that the Enduro was so close. Bearing in mind my lack of DH prowess I thought twice about diving straight in but instinct kicked in and in I went. My confidence lasted maybe a dozen turns until my ambition outweighed my talent and I was forced to use a pair of trees for a brake which were perfectly placed to meet my bars without catching my hands. The 4 guys went by me and their more measured approach meant that I could trail them to the end of the Enduro with a reasonable margin of safety. There may well be a lesson in there somewhere…..
Back on the double and single track again, munching Clif Shot Blocks (they’re great) and gulping electrolyte kept me feeling strong and steadily making places up. A quick half-fill of a bottle at the second and last aid station, a short climb on more blissful singletrack and it’s all downhill to the end. The sinletrack here really is ace – dappled shade between smallish evergreens with a grippy, loamy soil hosting moss and ferns except where constant biking has cut a narrow line.
The second Enduro was a very different beast and having passed and been repassed by a full sus 29er (inevitably) rider in the bouncy, rooty approach to it I followed him into the stage which turned out to be very fast loam followed by rocky sweeping doubletrack. Disengaging brain and making minimal use of brakes I was able to catch him as we emerged onto tarmac for a 5km road section. I suggested that we worked together and took the first turn on the front for a couple of minutes. Pulling aside to let him do the same I quickly realised that he had no intention of keeping the pace up and quickly took over again, dropping him on the next rise. Approaching the following right hand bend at some speed I was able to explore the adhesion limits of knobblies on blacktop. It transpires that rolling resistance isn’t the only reason that this only reason that this type of tyre is unpopular with roadies and an extended but harmless front wheel slide took me harmlessly to the other side o the road!
Head down for the next few km brought the last of the delicious singletrack and a la out blast down the last of the gravel climb that we ascended at the start before turning along the shore for the last 500m sprint to the line.
All-in-all a splendid days riding and the seaside setting of the finish is perfect with our tents a very feeble stone’s throw from the water. To top it off, it seems that I was 3rd overall in the old gits category today which brings with it a Jim’ll Fix It style medal and a cheesy grin!
Tomorrow promises to be much longer and more gruelling. As long as it’s not too technical I think I’m in with a shout of good result again.
Further update: Real highlights today were the guy on a long blonde wig playing electric guitar on the singletrack miles for anywhere and the voovoozelas: if you wondered what happened to them after that thing in SA, now you know!
Just had a magnificent dinner un the local school with girls on roller scates serving drinks and a 13yr old singing who’s way way too good for any talent show. I saw him 1st in Powell Ri.