The Wicked Wombat 8hr is the last race on the calendar for 2015. It’s a must for me because of the relaxed attitude, AMAZING trails and beautiful weather it always gets. After missing it last year there was no way I was going to miss out, my entry was in early and I was way more excited the night before the race then I was the night before Christmas!
The event is put on by Rolling Ground, you can choose to enter as a solo, pair or a team of 4, however unlike conventional relay style racing, every rider from the team is allowed on the course at once. This ensures that whoever enters is certain to have a hard but fun day on the bike.
The majority of people racing would camp at the wonderful premises the night before the race. I was keen to camp, seeing that the race was an early start at 8am and I stayed here for my Year 7 School camp. Unfortunately instead we ended up hitting the road at 4:30am, meaning that when we arrived at 7am there was no time for a practise lap. We just managed to get our table and shade set up (Thanks Paul for the loan!) before the rider briefing started. It was all the usual business, with special emphasis on drinking lots and applying lots of sunscreen with the temperature expected to get above 30 degrees! After the briefing all of the riders rolled down the fire road to the start line.
The gun went off and the start was very relaxed, which reflected the relaxed nature of the race. The pace started to increase but I could tell that all of the riders knew we still had 8 hours to go. I positioned myself in the middle of the pack, knowing that my endurance was not going to level many of the other riders.
We started with a little half lap, heading up the final climb before coming down either the A-Line, which was a rocky switchback descent or the flow track, which is very similar to Luge at Stromlo. I decided to take the flow track because I hadn’t practised the A-Line and I remembered the flow track from last time and it was a LOT of fun! There was a little bit more winding single-track descending down to the start finish section and transition. A muesli bar was the perfect energy top up and it was on again. I was feeling good but starting to get a little bit warm and also knew it was only going to get so much hotter.
I cannot state enough how much I love the tracks at Bungarra. The guys and girls at Rolling Ground have done an amazing job. The tracks really capture a free flowing feeling, and you’re really able to keep up a high speed throughout the whole track. The flow track had just been redone for the race and it was in amazing condition. The 29" wheels and relaxed head tube on the new Norco were the perfect match for getting my flow on.
The next few laps really blurred past, taking on a new bottle every lap and sunscreen every second lap. After lap 4 the Christmas present was brought out, a small Bluetooth speaker, which fits, perfectly in a jersey pocket, it means I could listen to some music and try to throw some more atmosphere into the race. I never really train with headphones, not for any specific reason, it’s just not something I’ve ever done. Riding with the music playing was amazing though, I found myself riding faster and smiling more.
It was on my fifth lap that while overtaking another rider and pulling across to the right into some grass to try and get past my rear wheel bounced up and my pedals spun. I bashed my knee into my brake lever. It hurt a little bit but I knew it wasn’t too bad and I could keep going. I pushed on for another lap and a half. By the time that I came into transition after my 6th lap it was starting to get pretty warm and Dad had also just arrived at the same time as me. I hopped off the bike for the first time and just sat down, I was struggling.
Dad and I decided to set out for another lap, just taking it really easy. We passed a few people and we were passed a few times. I was finding it really hard and my knee was hurting quite badly on the climbs. When we got back to transition I decided that was enough. I had made it to about 1 O’clock, which was over halfway. Although I didn’t quite ride for the whole 8 hours, I was really happy with my race. Endurance events definitely aren’t my thing and if it weren’t for the awesome atmosphere I wouldn’t be at this race. I managed to ride solidly for the 5 hours that I stayed in the race.
This really was the perfect final ride for 2015. Such an awesome day to round out an awesome year, I've gathered so much experience and even a few results to boot! I can't wait to be writing the race report for the 2016 Wicked Wombat and see where I've come in another year. Very excited about the year ahead!