As I’ve alluded to previously, the Convict 100 (previously the Dirt Works 100) is my local Marathon. The trails in it are similar to those around me in the Northern Suburbs of Sydney, and it’s close enough to drive to from home on the day – albeit with a horribly early start time. In part, this is just the race starting early. Time really disappears in the early hours of the day.
There is the race to shovel some breakfast in, soon after waking up. Hopefully you can do this in the time that it takes coffee to brew.
The next race is getting everything into the car, as no matter how well you have tried, you’re unlikely to have packed completely the night before.
Early morning driving is often met with overnight roadworks – this morning was a race through all the bollards on the Pacific Highway.
Driving to a race can be part of your mental build up – especially with Sam Moorhouse at the wheel of his Subaru Liberty RS. The race at this point had well and truly begun.
The car ferry at Wiseman’s Ferry requires good jostling for position on the road in. We sat second wheel.
The next 20km are crucial, with limited overtaking possibilities – thankfully we held our position.
A quick park and the foot race to registration begun! Amazingly, there was no queue, so we were immediate winners.
And now to prepare for the race proper – putting numbers on, gels and bars in pockets, a little bit of tinkering with bikes – all the usual.
The race itself was due to set off at 7am – and like last year, it is easy to notice the difference that the Real Insurance XCM Series is making in terms of event profile. Sure, this race has always sold out. It’s a known course, not overly hard, and an easy trip from Sydney. In years passed, it was a smaller group that milled at the front in the cold fog for the race briefing. But the depth of Elite racers has increased. Greater exposure and media coverage of the bigger races like the Convict 100 have added value for all riders – but especially for Elites.
The Convict 100 route hits a hill at about the 14km mark, and this is usually a decisive point. A physiological split occurs, and small groups may form over the top. Heading around the final bend I was in my normal position: grovelling to keep the front in sight. But the difference today to years passed was the long line of Elite riders in front of me. Not just a handful – but riders from all of the East Coast of Australia – Tasmania included. And this is a real shift for Australia – although some racers do travel a long way for big events (Ben Mather is a prime example) it has really started to take hold with more people.
The racing is developing and getting faster too. With Andy Blair and Jenny Fay setting new course records on the way to their wins today, it’s easy to see that the Marathon format is starting to increase in importance for more Elite racers.
Personally, I just did what I could, racing about 36hours after a long haul flight was never going to be easy. But even after a short trip away it is great to come back and see friends, travel to a race with mates and team mates, and go ride your bike reasonably fast in the Australian bush. So it wasn’t a great performance, but I was really happy with the result.
Full results and reports from Sam Moorhouse and Tate Dogan will be posted in the coming days.