I was lucky enough to be able to make a fleeting visit to Brisbane for the Ayup Dusk to Dawn on the weekend. I must say it was quite surreal after being at work at 11am on Friday, then on a plane by 4pm, to be standing in a field in Canungra in south Queensland in the dark in my lycra on the start line of a race at 7pm on the Saturday (Phew!). The race had actually been postponed on two prior occasions this year due to inclement weather, which suited me fine because it meant I was able to come along! It did mean, however, that we didn't really start the race at dusk... We started in the dark. I rode a pre-lap before the race to check it out in the light and it was good fun. There was 180m of climbing over the 8km of the course, but it didn't feel like it. The course was quite pumpy and flowy and, in parts, a bit rocky and technical, but it was tough because there were no real breaks... You were working the whole time you were on the bike. The weather during the day was amazing... Blue skies and 22 degrees, so I was put back in my place a little by the bitter coldness that hit on dusk (it must've gotten down to 3 or 4 degrees overnight).
After 2 hours on the bike, I was putting in some solid lap times and was in second place in the (impressively large) female field. I had arrived in Brisbane with no support crew, so I was ever so lucky to have adopted and shared Sean Bekker's support crew for the evening (thanks to "Honk!" and the team). Three hours in, and I wasn't feeling so great. I was eating and drinking well, but my stomach was having other ideas. I'd had a pretty full on week so I was trying to put it down to that and keep moving on, but just out on my 6th lap, I was sick on the side of the trail. I was so angry. It was way too early to be vomiting. I tried to convince myself it was all good, but deep down, I knew I was in a bit of trouble. I finished the lap and came back into the pit area. I had eaten my food for the lap before I was sick, so I had spent a lap with no food and I couldn't keep anything down. I lay down for half an hour, that turned into 3 hours. If I stayed flat, I didn't feel sick, but the moment I moved, I did. I watched as all the riders I was in front of rode past. To be truthful, it was quite gutting, especially having travelled so far just for the race. A couple of hours out from the finish and I had managed to keep some food down and get some fluids into me, so I headed back out to greet the sun on my bike and put in some hot laps to finish off and enjoy the track.
I was glad I went back out. It was kind of a small win to end what was definitely not one of my finer performances. Then as the sun rose over the hills, i had one of those amazing moments when it makes me so happy to be a mountain biker... A bike, a trail and a sunrise... It doesn't get much better than that (well, perhaps if you added "a win"). Haha!
The thing I love most about going back to Australia to race is that there is always a huge contingent of Ayup riders there, and they're like a second family to me. We spend so much time as mountain bikers "doing it on our own" and to be at a race feeling like part of a team is awesome... Just one of the reasons I am really looking forward to heading back over for World Champs in Canberra in October... Only 2 months away! Before then, I will likely race the Day-Night Thriller in Taupo to fluff up the legs a bit and iron out any creases to eliminate a repeat of what happened this weekend. It's an exciting time of year.
Anyway, I'm looking out the window right now and the sun is out, so if you don't mind, I'm heading out to the forest for some fun on two wheels!