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Serious Fun!


By Tristania - Posted on 21 September 2014

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.
Re: This ride meeting: 
Kowalski Classic 2014
Status: 
Finished
Laps: 
2
Time: 
04:50:14
Position (Overall): 
11
Race Category: 
100km/Open Male
Position (Category): 
1

You often hear people using the term "serious fun," but when you think about the term, it's really an oxymoron.. I mean, if you're just having fun, like out at a party, even if it's a lot of fun, you're not taking something seriously. And then when you're serious about doing something, say a job, or for me, a university degree, it's rarely fun. Or is it?

I did the Kowalski Classic last year and thought it was a wonderfully organized and planned event and looked forward to doing it again. My training over the past two months has been fairly heavy and structured, with long rides on and off road most weeks in the lead up, along with some painful sessions on the exercise bike at the gym, and I was determined to hit a good effort this year and get a category win, and if possible, winning the non-elite section. Having done the Wollombi "Wild" Ride two weeks back, I felt in shape and ready to push hard. Having had made a couple of tactical mistakes that led me from a potential first to a fourth made me determined to learn from them.

The Kow has understandably gained popularity in the past couple of years, and this time 700 riders made their way to tbe start line, ready for a combined 50/100km start at 8am. As I'd camped the night at the venue, it felt like a very cruisy start without having to drive anywhere that morning.

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I line up in the front of the first wave after the elites, which also has a "gun" (Kowbell!) start (so that in a sprint finish the leader will win). I get a good break and settle in a group of four in front of the rest as we proceeed up a fairly hefty climb and by the start of the singletrack, I'm in 2nd place. I stay there, not letting him get too far ahead until I overbalance in a corner and step off, letting three others get by me in the ordeal. Dammit!

Over the next couple of kms, I make my way around two of those riders, and seem to settle at the back of a group of three. We shortly overtake some of the elite stragglers and the women's field, and have two 50km elites attach onto our group, where we stay throughout the Sparrow Hill duration until one eventually drops off the back of us. We average around 22km/h, which was basically perfect for me - fast and fun but wasn't fatiguing me at all, saving more energy for the second half. In the end of the first loop, we catch up to some more elites, one of whom we stay with as we climb the bugger of the hill, "Rolling Thunder." Then down through the "Beer Garden" and to the transition - now 50% through!

I grab my bottle and a bunch of food I left on the side and off up the hill. Fortunately, there are two or three others with us. After 4km of snaking upward, we reach one of my favourte parts of the track - "Kowalski's sideshow" More snaking around the singletrack, we drop one rider and are left in a group of three. With no riders in sight behind or ahead, I conclude that it is crucial to work with them until just before the end, where I will make my break.

I've gotta say, that climb to the 70km feed station is an effort and a half, but due to my hefty hill training, I take it in my stride and am able to take it easy as the other two in my trio obviously aren't as accustomed to it as I am. Another long descent and then we approach the infamous Escalator. "On most escalators, you can stay still and let the escalator take you up. Not so on this one, as we grind our legs off snaking up that darned hill. To be fair though, the pinch climb on the fire trail just before is the real killer, not to mention the "Effing Track" afterwards, just when you think you've finished climbing!

But by that point, we've basically finished all the serious climbing, and now it's just another fairly uneventful 15km kms in our group of three. I'm thankful for the feed station at 85km, where I can grab some more gels and smash them down, preparing for what's to come.

Although I am not certain of whether the race will over in exactly 100km (according to my computer), luckily I am able to look at the elevation chart I'd taped to my frame, and guage how far I am from the finish. So about 2 km from the end, I make my break! I get ahead of the other two, pound down the rest of the hill, and don't get chased. Beautiful. I hammer the rest of it, along the last 300m of fire trail with the end in sight. I miss a marking, and waste 10 seconds turning back around just 50m from the line, but I make it over. First in my wave, first in my category!

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Until prize giving, I'm under the impression that I've been the first non-elite over the line with a time of 4:50:14. But horror of horrors, I see that the first in masters, who'd started in wave 2 did it in 4:50:10. So that stupid wrong turn at the end docked me from that, meaning I just missed a top ten oeverall!

Life goes on. Another category win, keeping me in my Maverick Series Open Leader, getting me a backpack, wallet and new light as prizes. And seven short weeks to the climax of the race calendar (and probably the final race before I enter a marathon as an elite), the Highland Fling, and this race exerience has certainly pumped me for that!

I know that this wasn't the ideal race for many nobmobbers for various reasons, but well done to those who got through it with better experience, skills and race techniques - JP, Evan, Rob (sikllama), Cambo and Shano, to name the ones I spoke to, got through it all unscathed.

Back to the initial conundrum: Is there any such thing as "serious fun" or is that just a made up term? The Kowalski Classic confirmed the former. I darn well took that race seriously from start to finish, but I sure had a great time. Sections such as "Beer Garden," "Lovechild," "Kowalski's Sideshow" to name a few, are hard to ride without a smile on your face no matter hard out you are going.

See you all at the 'Fling!

Well done Tristan, a fantastic result!

Well done Tristan. You've got a great future on the mtb ahead of you.

The elites will be looking over their shoulder...

Well done mate.

Well done Tristan !!
Has anyone approach you for sponsorship yet?

great write up and good luck for the Fling.

Congrats Tristan, with the amount of training you put into it you deserve everything that comes your way. Fantastic result for you. Good luck for The Fling and I am pretty sure it won't be long before you're starting in the first wave along side the likes of English and Lewis

Good to see you at the race and a great result.

Nice one Tristan...stepping up to Elites should not change things too much!
Your beating most of them already!
Can't say I am suprised have had a great year of racing!
Hope it continues!

Tristan great effort.

Your getting way to fast for us older folk. After about 10km i was ready to explode.

Great ride.

W

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