Scabs, Sugar and Sandbagging at the WSMTB-CamelBak 4 Hour

The Year of Shred got off to an interesting start at the CamelBak-WSMTB 4 Hour race last weekend at Yellowmundee. Instead of tearing up the trails, the trails tore up me.

But I wasn’t the only one. Hot weather had made for a slippery, sandy surface which caught many people out on the familiar club track. While a lot of riders crashed their bikes through transition in the opening laps, I’m pretty sure I was the only one to do it twice.

The event had a smooth, yet low-key and social feel.
The event had a professionally run, yet low-key and social feel.

I’d made things a bit harder for myself with some compromised equipment choices, you see. First up, I’d over-inflated a leaky front tyre so it stayed up for an opening double lap. Not the smartest thing to do in preparation for loose sand. Next, I’d been too busy to service my forks when they needed it, meaning the rebound and most of the travel were on hiatus that weekend.

Changing the front tyre and grips had also lightened up the front end of my bike, which I’d failed to recognise until it started to handle differently on climbs. A raised front end, a leftover mod I’d forgotten about after riding a downhill trail, changed the handling further still.

Add to this the early morning feeling where you want to go back to bed for two more hours and the only thing racey about this rider/bike combo was the number stuck on the front. After stylishly losing skin on both legs and tearing up some new knicks, I took it fairly easy for the remainder of the first two laps and made a check list of things to alter before heading out for another.

Red Bull. Possibly the best drink of all time (along with coffee and those yogurt drinks at the petrol stations in France).
Red Bull for the win!

The total lack of regard for careful bike prep hopefully signifies that I wasn’t really at the race to ride my best. The WSMTB 4 Hour series was just too good a chance to throw my bike in the car and catch up with a whole lot of mates. Mates like Brian ‘Big Dog’ Price who gave me a desparately craved Red Bull to switch my brain on for the rest of the day. And Rosie Barnes who’d come up to visit from Canberra for the weekend and let me talk her into racing the women’s pairs.

Team 'Kath and Rosie'. We thought real hard about that one!
Team ‘Kath and Rosie’. We thought real hard about that one!

Watching Rosie ride reminded me how to ride. She’s so smooth through the twisty and the rough stuff. More than that, the way she was grinning through the first couple of laps made me want to go out and do the same. So we swapped turns a few more times until the clock ticked past midday. There were no other female pairs racing that day so we had the win wrapped up from the gun.

In addition to catching up with heaps of people off the bike, it was great fun smashing out some quick laps on the bike. Rosie got the fastest female lap of the day and I learned how to ride again by the end of the race pulling out a quick one right at the end. The 4 Hour format was super fun, and I really enjoyed how the racing finished on a high and without the addition of any extra scabs.

Jasen Raymond contemplates the sheer speed of his new bike.
Jasen Raymond contemplates the sheer speed of his new bike (and what he’s been missing out on with the old one).

Thank you to Western Sydney Mountain Bike Club for another excellently run event. Thanks also the Bicycle Garage crew of Marty, Jez and Rae-Anne for sharing their track side set up and making the day even better still. And thanks to the trails for reminding me how to ride and that you should never be too busy to look after your bike.

Photos: Kath Bicknell (most) Big Dog (Bicky Barnesy Dream Team).