I arrived in Saturday afternoon at the sleepy town of Tathra, keen for my first 100km race in 3yrs, and eager to put in a solid performance. The town had obviously come alive with the race, as over 300 mountain bikers made the trek to the coastal town. After a visit to the beach and registering at the event centre we headed back to Bega where we were staying the night, before heading down to the local pub for a feed. One hour later, loaded with pasta and sticky date pudding, we rolled up to our room and crawled into bed.
One disadvantage with the 100km format is the earlier start time of 7.30, which means an even earlier wake up time of 5.45! Ridiculous, but this minor speed hump was overcome, and I arrived at the event centre with about 45min to spare for a quick coffee, which I promptly spilt all over my car boot, before dropping some drink bottles off and rolling around for a warm up. Rolling up to the event briefing we were greeted with the news that it would be a Le Mans start, a 80m sprint to the other end of the field. This turned out to be pretty good for me as I entered the single track in about 5th place. This only lasted for about 1km before a fire road pinch where the rider behind me charged in front before the next single track. The next 9km were all single track, which proved costly as the two guys in front of me were unable to hold the wheel of the front four leaders. I managed to pass both of them before the final single track descent into transition and opened up a gap between them. Coming back into transition for the first time, I grabbed a drink bottle of Andy (official bottle holder), and began the chase to the lead guys. After a long tar/fire road section I hit a short single track section before crossing the road, where an official told me that I was about 30sec behind the leaders. Once across the road, the single track turned to fire roads, and the gradient soon became steep as we hit some of the tougher climbing in the race. Just before the first feed station at the 35km mark I caught one of the guys who had been dropped from the lead group. I worked with him until the 50km feed station back at transition where Andy had a very stale honey sandwich for me and two more drink bottles. I rolled out of transition with my new riding pal before we hit a mown track around some undulating hills along some of the local properties. At this point the lead guys were about 5mins ahead of us, and we could see them climbing up around the other side of the hill that we were descending. On the next climb, I dropped my partner and opened up the gap in the single track, as I climbed up out of the transition area again. At this point I was feeling good and my nutrition plan seemed to be working just fine, as I tried to conserve energy in all of the single track that was in the second lap. I kept flowing through the single track before I arrived at the feed station at the 80km mark where I halted to grab my drink bottle. However this was another little mistake that I made, as I ended up grabbing some other poor suckers drink bottle (I am sorry to this guy if you are reading this). I promptly gulped down a mouthful and quickly realised that this was definitely not my bottle, but rather some strange concoction that someone thought tasted good. Each to their own though. However this was all I had for the final 20km, so I had to suck it up and drink it, as anything is better than nothing at this point in the race. Just past the feed station the signs soon started popping up letting me know how far I had to go, and it wasn’t till the 10km to go point that I started to long for the finish line, and instead of consuming another gel I just kept pushing on. My muscles disagreed with this decision and with 5km to go I finally cracked in the constant single track, making the last 5km seem like 20.
Despite this I crossed the line in 4th position (4hr 33), about 10min behind the lead group of three which stayed together until the final sprint. My bike was awesome during the race and was perfect for the awesome single track that Tathra had on offer. I was pretty happy with the result, with my nutrition plan working well until the last 10km, and with the beach being just 50m across the road, it was a good end to the race.