10UTB 2015

10UTB last weekend, very pleased with finishing 6th (out of 29) in male trios category with Tich + Jacob. My training had largely consisted of laps around Arthurs Seat, as usual, with two or three longer rides thrown in. But the 10UTB course certainly feels more “uphill” than “downhill” it served me well.

I did the opening lap, which involves a mass rolling start then a dash as the track narrows. From prior races, I knew it was important to start near the front to avoid the inevitable holdups as a quart of mountain bikers tries to squeeze into a pint-size singletrack. I was in the front 10% as we rolled down the road behind the motorbikes and didn’t suffer any real delays as the real racing started. This year I didn’t have time for a practise lap, so enountered everything for the first time at race pace – including the gorse bushes lining the side of the track, ouch! The 10UTB course is less technical than most – a good thing, given that it’s a 10h race – but there’s still plenty of roots, rocks, river and mudchutes to contend with.

Doing the first lap also meant I did the final (my fourth) lap of the day. Between laps, I relied on my favoured PBJ bagels + bananas for energy, washed down with Lucozade Sport. Between laps 3 and 4, I cooked a decent meal of pasta+pesto to refuel properly before the final effort. It wasn’t a hot day, but each lap I drunk about 0.7l of water. In my camelback, I also had multitool, chain tool, tyre levers, pump and spare tube. It’d be heartbreaking to get a mechanical out on course – not to mention the length of time it’d take to walk back.

As it happens, I was reoiling my chain prior to lap 4 and luckily happened to notice that my chainring was loose. Like, all bolts loose and all rings wobbly. I hadn’t loctite’d them when I installed them, thinking that doing them up to the right torque would be enough. But the 10UTB gives the bike a right hammering as you come downhill and they must’ve vibrated loose. So glad I caught that before heading out!

It’s a tough race. Jacob came back from his third lap looking white as a sheet. On my third lap, I tried sprinting the last bit of fireroad, and my quads cramped up – something I’ve never had happen before. The climbing seems to go on forever. In particular, you reach a point where you can see people starting to go back downhill, and you think the climb must be over. However, the trail actually goes up for another half mile or so above that before turning downhill. So it’s a psychological blow if you’re not expecting it. I was pretty pleased with my technical riding. I rode all the tricksy downhill bits, and only had one inelegant slide on the 90 degree right at the Auction Mart gravel road with no ill effects.

Camping was an “experience”. The usual midge-ridden grass field was out of operation after being trashed by World Cup Downhill car parking. So instead the camping was moved to the overflow carpark. This carpark was made of compacted gravel, impossible to get tent pegs into even with a hammer. Not ideal at all. I ended up weighting my tent down with rocks. And the midgies! Oh, the midgies! I’m not that bothered by midgies – the bites don’t get itchy – but they were just everywhere. Falling into my cup of tea, biting any exposed skin. A lot of people had midge hoods on, might have to get one.

We were lucky that Carolyn had brought a gazebo with her which was a great addition to the day (once anchored to the ground with rocks). It gave us a shelter from the wind and occasional drizzle and generally made the day much more pleasant.