Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keepit Real 100 2014

As we headed out of Sydney it looked like we might miss the regular afternoon storm. Dinner was at Singleton and there was a fair way to go to reach Tamworth. The clouds were brewing, forming the inevitable rain-cloud shape with just patches of clear sky. Unfortunately the roads weren't heading in the direction of the clear sky and on the radio the Hunter Valley were being warned of hail and high winds.

There was rain, hail and high winds, so much so we pulled the car over pointing it into the oncoming weather, fearing the bikes may be wrenched from the roof otherwise. The rain persisted all the way to Tamworth featuring some spectacular lightening along the way. Thankfully our lakeside cabin was dry, while we enjoyed camping on the foreshore last year the additional crew joining us this year needed a few more amenities.

Slightly damp conditions around Lake Keepit,
tell-tale signs of the possible trail state.
We were at Lake Keepit, just west of Tamworth, for the second edition of the Keepit Real 100 by Switchback Events. A challenge by distance event along the shoreline and forested sections adjacent to the lake ridden mostly on the fire-trails and single-tracks in the area. We were signed up for the 50km again this year and pretty happy with the addition of more single-track for 2014 rendition.

Race day dawns, still humid and overcast but no longer raining. Time for breakfast and some pre-race prep before heading down to the registration area to pick up our race number, timing chip and goodies.

As we count down to the race we spot some of the top competitors this event has drawn, Jamie Vogele and Peter Selkrig fresh from last weeks National Solo 24hr Champs, and Torq/Merida team mates Em Parks, Holly Harris and Billy Sewell. But more impressive was the rest of the riders, it seems that there was twice as many people up for the challenge this year.

There was a new starting loop before we traversed along some 4wd trail and were spat out not far from the dam wall. It was a fast start with last years winner Sam Spokes putting plenty of pressure on the remaining field.

From the dam we headed into the steep hilly country where the Switchback Events crew and hardy volunteers had crafted the additional single-track sections. This single-track was intermixed with more open fire-trails, usually just in time for a steep climb!

Jamie Vogele and Billy Sewell lead out the 50km event.
The fire-trails were clay based and when not flicking globules of orange at you they were attaching themselves to our tyres. Thankfully we took the On-One which is built for these conditions, its wide stays and thin tubing now allowed for our super fat clay-laden tyres to pass easily and not collect as much muck.

At the 10km mark a deraileur misalignment saw us stop to fix the mechanical, our only one for the event. Handfuls of riders passed us and our work was cut out to work our way back up the ladder. The single-track helped, we were able to rocket along the sweeping narrow trails and over the technical sections with relative ease. On one of the more gradual climbs we caught team mate Sara Mills and further on it was known roadie and recent MTB convert Ray Griffin.

Riding with Holly Harris at the start of the back 20km.
The trail turned back towards the dam wall and we burst out of the forest, we were now riding with last years winner Sam Spokes, a mate of his and Holly Harris. Sam had turned off the afterburners due to some pedal cleat issues, turns out mud and road-shoes just don't mix. While Sam wasn't racing to win he still pulled some solid efforts as we transitioned from the first 30km to the flatter, more open remaining 20km.

It was time turn up the hurt just a little more and we broke away from the group before the course turned onto the hard packed fire-trail section. Then it was into a TT position to maintain the gap back to the group, just insight ahead was a CX bike (Lewis Garland). I really wanted to catch the CX bike but every time I came close the course would flatten out and he would gain time. We were now returning along the shoreline and it was exceptionally boggy, almost like riding on wet sponges.

Turning from the shoreline up towards the finishing arch, locking out our X-Fusion fork and determined to leave it all out on course, sprinting all the way. We didn't catch Lewis on his CX but made up a place overall passing young Michael Harris, finishing 13th overall and 7th in Senior Male Category. Full results are available here.

What a blast the Keepit Real 100 was! A heap more singletrack, nice overcast conditions and the most leg-sapping mud we have seen in a long time. Thanks to Switchback Events for putting on another challenging event in a great location, you should look out for more events from this dynamic team. It was great to catchup over the weekend with my JetBlack MTB Racing team mates, thanks to the team and our sponsors for their continued support. 

No comments:

Post a Comment