You are hereBlogs / Tristania's blog / Crampital Punishment

Crampital Punishment

By Tristania - Posted on 17 March 2013

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.
Re: This ride meeting: 
Capital Punishment 2013
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Position (Category): 


After doing well above my expectations in Convict 100 (My first MTB marathon) last year, I decided to sign up for CP and C100 this year hoping to match or better my time.

No dramas there.

Several weeks later, I mentioned to my friend Tanian, a very promising all round MTBer in his early high school years who had given it up over the recent past in trade it for rugby, and without warning, he announced he would sign up with me; Canberra was a good halfway point from his university in Wagga Wagga.

Although surprised, he subsequently jumped on the bike and went training hard over the next couple of months (both with me and by himself), and two weeks later proudly announced to me that he had done a 40km training ride averaging 30km/h. We intended to be in the top 10% if possible, and made the agreement to stay together; the plan being to alternate our order such that we could tailgate each other throughout the race

Pretty safe to say he was ready!

However, that weekend, when we talked on the phone, he said he had been a bit sick that week (with mild flu,) however all he said we needed to modify was instead of taking turns taking the lead, we'd still go at full pelt; just he would tailgate me the entire race. Not being with him, and knowing how robust he was, I figured it would all be good. Just stay positive and all would be good.

So we checked into our accommodation and Tanian appeared reasonably well, chipper and extremely keen to take this on. As he had had a nasty experience cramping up in a previous ride, as had I recently in a recent navigation competition, I made it sure that we had enough electrolytes/fluids in us, so put five scoops of Gatorade powder in both our Camelbaks as well as pure Gatorade into our water bottles. Come the next morning and we were both keen, slightly nervous, but feeling ready. Tanian commented to me how he didn't feel bad at all. There was nothing to worry about; we were prepared to ace this event.

Or so I thought.


Having taken a short warm up along a nearby track, we were not the first to line up, we did not get the best start, being well back. I tried hitting it around people, but even a firetrail is not a great overtaking place when there are hundreds of people on the track, so when the singletrack started, it was a bottleneck, hence we were just going at the pace of all the other riders rather than gunning it, and I was disappointed about how this was wasting our precious time being stuck in the flow when we both could EASILY have gone quicker.

But as things turned out, the few minutes (at most) that this cost us came to mean nothing compared to what was to come. Only 15km, less than 1/6 of the way, in, Tanian said to me, "You have to slow down, my thigh is beginning to cramp." Hoping that it would go away (as they can), I was sadly mistaken, for several km later, it was that bad that he had to get off the bike in agony and lie down, despite the fact that he had been drinking heaps and heaps as well as eating. Only 20km in.

Although Tanian told me to go on, I insisted that I'd stay with him. "I promised that I'd stay with you throughout the whole thing," I told him, "This is an unconditional promise." It was agonizing to see HUNDREDS of people overtake me as I stood and walked with him up the hills, but I'd feel even worse if I left him to deal with alone.
Particularly with what was to come.

The cramps became worse. First is was just in his legs. Then somehow they got to his back, his arms, then his fingers, and gradually made it more and more difficult to ride at all - the cramps hit when he stood up, mounted the bike, stretched out his legs or stopped/started peddling, and every few hundred metres Tanian would lose control due to these cramps and fall off in agony. It was brutal. It was bad enough having cramps ONCE, but just seeing it happen to him time after time was unimaginably painful!

Although wanting to pull out at the 40km mark initially, Tanian was determined to go a bit further, at least to the 65km stop.

Nothing improved at all, unfortunately; the riding pace decreased rapidly, and the agonizing cramp spasms became more and more frequent and painful, with Tanian being sent to tears because they were so bad.

I could go into specifics about each painful stint but won't. I think you get the idea if I were to say that Tanian quipped to me that this was the "least pleasant experience of his life," and doing this when sick was "such a bad idea." After trying to work out what was going on with the fact that although he had been drinking heaps, he was cramping hard and pissing bright yellow, I finally hypothesized that all the fluids were going to fight the infection rather than to preventing cramps.

After 25 more painful kilometres, Tanian said to me, "Tristan, I can't do this, I've GOT to pull out." After much attempted convincing not to by myself, I realized I couldn't sway him otherwise and stood by him as he told the marshal that he had to DNF, where I realized several complications:
- Tanian didn't have a phone.
- He was geographically 2km from where his car was parked, but my mother, who had accompanied me, was at Stromlo waiting for me, had his key to the car, and needed to stay there for me.

So it was concluded that he would stay at the 65km stop whilst I finished the race and then we would drive back, pick him up and drop him back to the car. He assured me he'd be fine lying there for several hours as he waited for this to happen. I wasn't too keen on leaving him, but luckily I could text my Mum (who had been thinking we'd be finished by now) to tell her the grim news.

Suddenly, I remembered the regular time mats that would record timings for individual sections of the course, and figured that whilst my overall time would be far from respectable, I could prove SOMEthing if I had a decent time from the next mat to the end.

So after reaching the 71km mark; the end of the untimed section, I hit top gear. Suddenly, my pace had doubled. I flew by the middle-of-the-pack riders along the Black Mountain firetrail, where it consisted of one dip after another, where my speed on the downhill holds the momentum to hold above 30km/h as I go back up. Then there was this steep firetrail that felt like a killer (even though not actually that long nor steep), though I ground it all out with great pain.

The pace of other riders was much slower than it would have been had I been hitting full pelt throughout the race's entirety, and it would have lost some time having to wait to overtake over a hundred riders throughout this section of the track. I ground along the up-and-down firetrails until I got to Mount Stromlo.

AKA Mount Everest.

Although I knew this section of the track well (having done the "Cockatoo Switchbacks" ascent many times, it had never been so painful, having 90km of riding up my skin (even though I'd only really pushed if for 30 of these...) and trying to do it at full pelt. Nevertheless, I kept at it, every painful metre of it. I thought one metre was a constant distance (OK, I know the Einstein thing), but one metre has never felt so long in my life!

That being said, the last 4km; (Skyline & Luge) was a breeze, and one of the best descents I've ever had. I FLEW effortlessly down it until I finally reached the S-bends and tunnel. Although annoyingly getting caught in the blowing pyrotape, I flew down the tarmac (despite feeling cramping coming along myself) and across the finish line.


Although tired, as the peak of my exhaustion was at the top of the mountain, I wasn't too bad at the end . And as I had pushed it for only 40km out of the hundred, I was experiencing temporary tiredness, rather than when I did push it to my limit the whole way, where I was incoherent and could hardly walk for the next two days.

After "showering" in the dark Stromlo facilities (which it was impossible to see in), getting off as much morning dew mud off as I could, it was time for Mum and I to drop by and pick up the casualty.
Everyone had left except for Tanian and the kind race official who had stayed with him the entire time, which was very good of him.
He was in much better spirits than he was when I had left him; Apparently he had been given regular food and fluids by the medic and the course staff, along with half a dozen of other people who had pulled out, and he told me that the medic had said to him, "WHAT THE F*** DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING RIDING WHEN SICK?!" But it was true, of course, and he freely admitted he deserved it. And he WAS feeling much better; good enough to drive back to Wagga that day.


As much as I could call him an idiot, I won't. He wasn't particularly dumber than me; had I been sick shortly beforehand, I'd have done the same and raced at full pelt anyway. It's just he learned the lesson NOT to the HARD way, where I learned it passively (still it WAS hard sacrificing my position...).

I should have insisted he have a phone; that would have made things easier...

If racing with someone and you agree to stay together, that agreement holds no matter WHAT you go through. I stayed with him knowing he'd have done the same for me.

Essentially, I paid TO do the race.
Tanian, on the other hand, race not only paid TO the race, but also paid BY doing the race.

Which now leads to a bunch of new MTB marathon jokes, for example:

Q: What's the difference between hell and a MTB marathon?
A: People die BEFORE they go to hell.

TIMING SPECIFICS (inc. section rankings)

0-16km: 47:24, 96th
16-40km: 1:51:09, 657th
40-61km: 1:30:14, 603rd
Untimed section
71-89km: 46:52, 73rd
89-94km: 21:24, 97th
94-98km: 9:58, 129th
98-100km: 3:57, 235th. (I got stuck in pyrotape... :S)

So for the bit that I pushed it, I was 1:22:13 over the 29km. I'm curious as to how this rates.

Anyway, although I sacrificed any position, I do have Convict 100 in a month and a half.

That was just training Eye-wink


A couple rode 94km of the race, where they were met by a marriage celebrant at the top of Mt Stromlo, who performed a ceremony for them, and they proceeded to finish where they were given a wedding gift of a tyre each!

Wow, an eventful day for you Tristan. Very good of you to look after your mate and sacrifice your race.
Looking forward to hearing about your Convict 100 in April.

Good write up Tristan !
Sorry to hear about your unfortunate mate.

You're right about the climb up to the top of Stromlo, I don't remember them hurting that much.

Good call on staying with your mate, that kind of thing (keeping commitments) is far more important than a little race result... no sheep stations in it.

Another lesson i'd add is to ditch the gatorade lolly water and use the proper stuff like Endura or High5.

The guys here have been a great help to me with race nutrition knowledge, I'll shoot you a pm

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Best Mountain Bike