Bob and I attempted our first mountain bike race on Saturday..the Kona Otways Odyssey. Given the choices of 15km, 50km or a mammoth 100km we didn't hesitate to choose the 50km 'Shorty'. Seriously good fun.
A few observations about the day in no particular order...
1. It was hard.
2. It took me 3:50 hours to cover the course of 50 kms. (I hasten to add Bob finished at least 5 mins ahead of me). I couldn't believe that you could ride as hard as possible for that long and cover so little distance. I've run 42kms in less time. I assumed we'd finished well back in the field but my quick check of the results seems we were pretty much in the middle. About 400th out of 800 overall, 40th in our category of 80 (over 50..that's as old as the age groupings get!). And the average time for the event across all categories? Spot on 3:50hours. Seems we were very average. Needless to say for a couple of newbys we were happy to just complete the course without serious mishap.
3. Mountain bikers are a much younger demographic than road riders, at least at these sorts of events. Only 10% of the field were 50 or over (~80 out of 800). Maybe because older bones are more brittle? Maybe age does bring wisdom??
4. The race is very tough on the bikes. I lost count of the number of times I got the front wheel over some log only to grind the chain ring into the timber. No doubt a distinct lack of speed and technique on my part.
5. It was hard.
6. Mountain bike riders are unfailingly polite. Without exception. Even the hotshots who were obviously flying along the single track sections (~50% of the course) waited patiently until you pulled over and let them through. If you stopped then there was a stream of offers of assistance.
7. The really technical and steep bits of the course (the bits I'd been most apprehensive about) were manageable because if you're in a line of riders and the first rider stops to walk the rest really just have to follow suit. Back where I was in the field there seemed to be no shame in walking tough sections. I'm sure that wasn't the case at the pointy end of the race, but no matter.
8. The track was dry and sunny..beautiful conditions. Having never ridden in the mud and wet I'm not sure what would have happened if it had been less than perfect. A lot more walking I guess! The idea of sliding down those tracks through such unforgiving forest (the trees didn't seem to bend much) is a little daunting.
9. Did I say it was hard?
10. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again