2013 Epic was always going to be a tough day on the bike for me. With a lot of time focused on riding the roadie for Tour de Cure, the MTB really didnt get much action this year for Epic training...
The weather looked good and temperature felt great first thing Sunday morning. There was no sign of rain on the radar at all.
With lack of rain lead-up to the race, the track was very dry, fast and dusty. This saw the record finishing time for the Elite's category being broken.
Stephanie and I jumped in the car around 6am and made our way to Spicers at Hiddenvale. I registered and collected my race number and Stephanie got some directions for pit stops.
With my number secured to my bike, I made my way towards the start line. There were people everywhere! 2100 entries for 2013. Thats a record turnout.
I slotted into my category (30-39yrs) and waited for our wave to be released onto the trails.
We had Robbie McEwan racing for the first time at the Epic. This was Robbies first ever MTB race and he didnt know what he was getting himself into... I also saw Adam on the start line. Adam had just returned form Timor. He had been riding MTB in a 4 day race over there and was now saddled up to race Epic only a week after... He has worked super hard to get where he is in the last couple of years and its been awesome to watch him build his skills become a fantastic rider. Proud of you mate!
Away we went! Congestion as normal as we funnel through the bottleneck at the starting gate and then out onto the open fire road. Everyone quickly sorts themselves out and gets into a comfortable pace to head into the first of the trails. There were so many people in the race this year, it was deffinitely congested in some areas. Along with the 35+ degree heat and the clouds of dust we were inhaling, there was a fair bit of "frustrated yelling" at other riders who were "holding up" the track.
I felt pretty good from the start and I new I had to keep my pace up if I wanted to finish in a certain time. There is a reason why the Epic is known for its climbing! I seem to forget this every year... Strava read 21% in some places and I would believe it! Those are the points I walked. You often see someone giving it a good crack to get to the top without stepping off, but not many make it the whole way. Kudos to those that do! Very impressive!
I made the first pit stop and grabbed a sandwich and water bottle from Stephanie to refuel. Lucky she had just been a TDC support crew member a few weeks earlier! :)
From that point the climbing started. The sun was beating down on us and we really had to keep our fluids up. I have never seen so many people lining the sides of the track with dehydration and cramps. I stopped at every water station along the way to top my bottles up. There was no way I wanted to get caught without water on the trail. Lollies and fruit was also located at each water stop and was much appreciated by all.
There were some brutal climbs and the descents on the other side were just as tough. Even with your brakes locked on, there was no way your bike was stopping on the way down. It was steep and loose on the surface.
Thanks to ESI Sports Photography for being out there to support the event. Great to see Danny out there on the trails behind the camera.
I made it to the finish line of the 50km event. This is the point where the full Epic riders turn around and do another 37kms. Normally this would be me, but at this point my race was over... I have been cramping in my hamstrings for the last 10kms and couldnt bring myself to push on and cramp for another 37kms.
I was happy with my time to that point and with the way I rode. The tracks had been well maintained for this years event and were very fast to ride. Hayden Brooks and his team have a massive job to make sure the course is in good health and they had done a great job.
I got to see the Elite riders finish with a sprint finish to the line. 1st and 2nd place were split by half a second! The Epic record had been smashed also. I cant believe how much energy these guys had after 87kms in the sun at the pace they ride. Absolute machines!
I caught up with a couple riders who I rode with in the TDC QLD Country tour only a couple of weeks before. Paul and Peter both placed in their categories. Well done to both of you.
A successful weekend of MTB fun and I cant wait to do it all again next year! Bring on Epic 2014!