Saturday rolled around, weather forecast said we should just get away with the race and for once they were right. Loaded up the car and drove up to Phillips park, signed on, met up with Si and Johnnie and we all stood waiting. We rode out to the start, there were 5 or 6 start points from "elite" to "going to die" I was going to put myself in the 2nd "fast" group but decided to downgrade to quite fast. Dunno why I bothered, the siren went for the start and we all set off at a pretty quick pace, several riders appeared to be going backwards we overtook them so fast. 1km of climbing separated us out before the singletrack, not enough tho plenty of stalling, including at a straight forward little bridge (!) over took a few mincers, over took some more on Tons downhill then freewheeled down the hill (I was on SS but no-one to be seen behind me anyway) then charged at the stepped climb, made it most of the way up the left hand side of the steps, that was the best I would manage all race. Through the field down the fast bit to the steep chute (the chin?) took a few more places there and onto the Drinkwater trails. Saw a guy loose it big time on the sheet ice, major congestion at the water splash and the super steep muddy carry, through the start and on to the field of despair which certainly lived up to it's name. Back on the singletrack with no-one ahead of me nice one, charged down, heavy braking for the left hander just as I exited I heard a guy approaching too fast and stack, ouch. After taking a few more places on Tons hill again I kind of found my niche, calmed down a bit and stopped redlining, space ahead and behind me just the odd bit of to and fro with some similar paced riders for the next couple of laps til we caught the stragglers (and then the fast boys lapping us) Caught up with Si and johnnie on my 4th lap just as the snow was starting, they reckoned it was nearly up, only 10mins or so until the cut off, I forged ahead after another lap, I made it too, there were already people waiting in the trees near the finish waiting for the cut off before crossing the line - part timers! ;-)
Did the singletrack and back to the start area, cut off still hadn't happened, I saw Johnnie and Si waiting with the others in the trees*, no amount of heckling would get them to do another lap so I carried on. Snow was starting to stick so reigned it in on the fast sections. Saw rusty spanner crash spectacularly at the water splash, proper soaked himself, was lucky I didn't join him as I had elected to take the rocky line, which now had a slick covering of snow, eek. Up the carry for the last time and rode into the finish happy that I didn't have to ride The Field again.
Pretty happy with my performance, rode all the downs (the chin nearly had me on the last couple of laps but I managed to save it) rode most of the ups, I didn't blow up and I didn't crash. Job done. Quite happy with 75th out of 278 aswell.
Was snowing hard by now, first time I've ever got changed in the snow, I don't recommend it, fresh dry boots filling up with snow while you are changing your socks is not fun. On my way down to the race HQ there were already vehicles stuck on the climb, oh dear. I stuffed my face at the catering tent (chana was awesome) and chatted to the others, RustySpanner had organised a few drinks but plans had changed so I got directions for the Church and rode (gently) over XC. Deep snow already, binners and his mate, WCA, DrP were already there, later Mr & Mrs TJ, pook, rusty, ninkynonk and finally Hora and his mate (a mexican mountain, cant remember the name) showed up. Had a good blether, talked a load of cobblers about bikes, events, popular internet forums etc On to the curry house which was pretty good then I split. The roads were well slushy, dropped down towards ringley quite slowly then decided to go offroad, bad move was like riding through treacle and my tired legs weren't appreciating it. Hardly needed my lights it was so bright with the urban glow reflecting of the cloud and snow. Dead peaceful. Finally made it home, absolutely knackered but rather a good day out. Top work by the organisers and marshals, good atmosphere from all the punters.
Few pics floating around the ether, some top quality mincing here
*apparently is was all chilled out chatting and killing time until the cut off horn sounded where upon there was a sprint finish!