PenUltimate Destinations

Back Yamma BigFoot – 2012

7-11 September, 2012

As winter draws to a close it is time to start thinking about getting back out in the camper again, and what better way to do that than to combine it with my favourite mountain bike race of the year – the Back Yamma BigFoot! Last year I did the 100k race. This year, despite much better preparation I had only entered the 50, and hoped to be able to push pretty hard for the whole race.

We arrived to set up camp just after lunch and arranged the camper to give us good protection from the cool breeze that was making the temperature seem much colder than it probably was.

Our campsite all set up on Friday afternoon

Before long it was time to cook up a nice red chicken curry for dinner before we all turned in for an early night.

On Saturday morning we spent a bit of time getting a bit more organised and collected some firewood for the next two nights before heading into Parkes so Rach and Ella could have a look around the shops while Lucas and I picked up Jason English from the airport who had flown in to do the race.

We headed back to the campsite to have some lunch and watch the Burgers set up their tent. You might remember that they were soft last year and stayed in Motel accommodation in Parkes – this year they decided to ‘rough it’ with us! After lunch, Burgs (with his brand spanking new Trek Superfly 29er) and I set out to do a recce of the back end of the course. We took it pretty easy and still managed to do 27km at an average of about 19km/h. It was looking possible to achieve my goal of doing the 50 (it was actually 52km) in about 2:30m, which would be an average of over 20km/h.

The highlight of Saturday afternoon was the kids race. Once Lucas found out that there was a kids race happening you couldn’t keep him and his balance bike away from it! He was the youngest in the field by a long way (and only completed one lap rather than the 3 that the big kids did) but he had an absolute ball. The organisers were kind enough to recognise him and give him a special prize for his efforts during the official presentation on Sunday afternoon. You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face!

Lucas smashing out a fast lap

Saturday night was for carb loading and some bike maintenance before getting a pretty early night again. Amazingly Lucas stayed in his own bed for the whole night, every single night for this trip! Better than what’s been happening at home!

Two trusty steeds… ready to go!

Sunday morning (Happy Birthday Burgs!) – race day dawned cool but clear, perfect conditions for racing. All of our preparations were looking good until about 30 minutes before race start Burgs discovered a slowly deflating rear tyre on the Trek. Two tubes and about 28 minutes later we were ready. We quickly headed down to catch the end of the race briefing before we were sent on our way. Unfortunately we were right at the back of the back due to our late arrival.

Anticipation building, ready for the race start.

The first dusty fire road section was very busy as we tried to pass a few of the slower riders, but any progress through the field was going to be slow. About 6km in there was a gully crossing with an A line and a B line. When I arrived there were a few people stopped and pushing their bikes up the A line, so decided to keep going up to the B line and hope to ride past them all. Unfortunately the B line was even slower and I had to stop and wait for what seemed like hours to finally make the crossing. Meanwhile Burgs had wisely taken the A line and was now out of sight. I had some work to do!

Overtaking was pretty tricky for the next 5 or so km. I made a couple of little mistakes too which didn’t help – like taking the wrong line over a crest and ending up in the bushes – much to the amusement of those standing around at the crest! Rule #1 – never waste an audience! The first 10km took 32 minutes, which was slower than I would have liked, but meant I wasn’t too far behind target for a 2h30min finish time.

Finally the track opened up at about the 13km mark with about 3km of fire trails. Time to put the hammer down a bit and see what the legs had. I went past Burgs, hoping that he would tuck onto my wheel but he was content to ride his own pace. At the end of the short fire trail section I had passed about 20 or so riders and was sitting on the wheel of another rider traveling at a similar pace to me. The next 10 or so km I sat quite happily on his wheel, every now and again he would get a little gap on me moving through traffic, and I’d catch him back up at the next single track section.

At about the 25km mark I was back on target so moved to the front of our small group to do some work and see if I could push the pace a little and was surprised to drop the other rider who was behind me. From there, it was just a matter of keeping up a solid pace and pushing as hard as I could to the finish. As it turned out I achieved my goal, finishing in 2h 28m, 20th in my category and 38th overall out of  140.  I was really satisfied and happy with this, but still wondered how much faster it could have been had we not started at the very back of the pack. Burgs finished 12 minutes later in 2h40m – 67th overall.

The camp shower got a workout that afternoon with Burgs, Jason and I completely covered in dust from the trail. We smashed some hot dogs for lunch before heading down to the presentations. Lucas was very excited to get his prize at the same time as each of the category winners.

Lucas accepting his prize

Following that a few quiet beers were enjoyed as we had a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

On Monday we headed to Orange as I was doing some work at Orange Christian School on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. We set up the camper on the front lawn of John and Fi’s house in Orange. John had come down for the 27km race and they had kindly offered to host us on Monday night.

Packed up on John and Fi’s lawn

A few of the OCS lads, John, Luke and Steve took me on a guided tour of some of the awesome single track in the Kinross state forest on Monday night. I really want to get back here during the day as the track were great fun.

So an extra 4 nights takes our cumulative total to 110 nights. We still feel as excited and blessed now as we did on night 1 to be able to spend time as a family in our camper. Our next trip won’t be too far away at all!

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