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By sikllama - Posted on 22 September 2014

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.
Re: This ride meeting: 
Kowalski Classic 2014
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
50KM/Veteran Male
Position (Category): 

Wow. What an awesome day.

The Kowalski Classic was pencilled into my calendar very early on this year after sampling the lovely trails of kowen/sparrow hill last year. It didn't disappoint! Soundtrack for the morning was the new Slash album 'World on fire' which was turned up to eleven on the Kings hwy as a convoy of bike laden cars made their way to the event centre. Had a quick chat with @dicko in the carpark - nice to meet you mate.

A mild start to proceedings was welcome and my strategy of starting at the front of wave 4 paid off as I entered the first of the singletrack section in about 15th wave place and avoided any initial congestion. I was instantly transported to my happy place as our train snaked its way towards Sparrow Hill - the trails flowing like molten lava in between gumtrees - a typical Aussie background panorama. I was amazed by the number of riders with flats in the first 6k's, must have counted 7 or 8. One word guys...tubeless.

At the 12km mark I came across @BlackFlash who was riding with a group of mates - good to see you champ-i-on Smiling Hence I hit a wall of riders for the next 2kms which was exasperated by stoppages at every semi technical section. I was able to slam down a gel during this section. Once past that it was all good and since I was feeling quite good I tried to push a little and keep momentum in the little group that had formed, telling them to keep pushing whenever things threatened to stall on a steep or rocky section. Up the switchback climb to the first feed station I sat behind a slower rider for a bit to catch my breath, then filled up my water bottle, ate a half banana and was on my way within 90 seconds. The race down firetrails to get to the next section of singletrail was interesting even down the middle of the pack as I was involved in a few close calls hahaha.

By now the sun was shining, a beautiful day in canberra with views to match - the zip was zippered 3/4 down on the jersey (the photos will be shocking) and for the next 6km I pushed hard and found some flow. I forgot I was in a race and concentrated on just pumping the trail in order to save pedalling except when necessary. Like at the 3 ring circus this technique worked well and I found i could easily keep up with 'stronger' racers - need to practise this.

Hitting a sustained switchback climb around the 32km mark my race changed a bit with the onset of some back pain which increased in intensity and required some management by slowing down a little and stretching where i could. It meant that I had to let a few riders past and be patient whilst it subsided but never went away. Guess I need to strengthen my core. The next 10km was a little painful but went up the Big Wednesday climb ok, downed another gel at the top and continued

Onto seismic rd for a second time and lots of riders were either cramping or in some kind of pain Smiling I must admit I walked the last third of this one but hopped back on near the top and one the of the marshals said it was all downhill from here and by god he wasn't wrong. Eye-wink

YEEOOOOOOWWWWWW! The final couple of k's was a series of awesome downhill berms of the 'beer garden' where I was right on the rear wheel of a rider, not being able to see the trail in front. Finally getting past I overcooked a corner, ran wide nearly into an automatic camera setup, and had to let the rider past again. Over the man made bridge and now hammering past 2 riders onto firetrail I followed another rider up a last pinch climb. Spinning like crazy I passed this guy only to be met at the top of the climb with some red tapes- we had gone the wrong way. Fark Smiling

Returning down the aforementioned firetrail section we saw the red arrow towards the finish - I just didn't see it in my furious chasing of the guy in front. With the finish line now in front I decided this was a great time to play for sheep stations and I sprinted a couple of old blokes to the finish line Smiling Karma handed down an extremely swift payback as I skidded to a stop after the line and proceeded to clip stack in front of 30 guys. Hushed giggles were heard before someone helped me up and my race was indeed over.

Hung around and had a good chat with @jp and @tristania as well as seeing the first ten elites cross the line for the 100km - was cool to see the likes of Johnston, English, Cooper and Lewis cross the line. Kudos to the guy whom came across the line waking a bike minus a rear derailleur, a chain and five rear spoke. An expensive scooter.

So, really enjoyed this one, was tough on the upper body more than anything but I'd recommend it for anyone considering entering a race due to its great atmosphere, friendly people to talk to if you're so inclined ( I ended up talking to one of the trail builders to get some inside goss on how the day was progressing) and the generally non technical nature of the 50km course.

Next, and last for the year, is the Fling...

Always good to see people you know out there. We had an interesting ride. The decision to ride as one large group of 8 didn't quite go to plan....
Great write up too. Catch you on the local trails soon.

Well done Rob. Sounds like you finished it in style Eye-wink

I laughed when I read your account of what happened to you at the finish line! That'd be so amusing to watch (except for you). Glad you enjoyed the race and hope that motivates to get back on the Superfly and put on full pelt to improve your position for the 'Fling.

I think some rides on Quarry Road Track would help you a lot in terms of both fitness and handling as it will make the 'Fling hills much smaller in comparison. 7 weeks to go for the big day!

good report!

I've lose count the number of times I nearly hit the rider in front me during the first half, and nearly lost it at one corner Smiling
Beer Garden was a great finale to the 50K and a great dessert after finishing up the main meal going up seismic road.

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