16 Jun Kooralbyn 6hr 2021
As I lined up to begin the Kooralbyn 6-hour marathon on Sunday 16th May, I was as excited as ever to be racing again. However, with my legs still feeling heavy from my recent BrisDivide 4-day bike packing adventure, I also knew that I needed a race strategy other than my usual “go flat out until I can’t go flat out any longer, and then just hang on as best I can.”
Jessica Douglas had been advising me about better pacing strategies to keep my heart rate and lap times more consistent, and I decided this was the ideal race to properly practice this. I wanted to push my comfort zones but not to blow up completely, so I set a target HR range of 150-160bpm for the full 6 hours. I knew it was a sensible strategy, but my inner racer found it very hard to stick to as I watched the lead ladies disappear early on the first lap!
A few moments of self-doubt ensued but I was strong enough to stick to my race plan. I focussed on not pushing too hard on the climbs, carrying speed through corners and braking less on the descents. Fortunately, the Kooralbyn track has some seriously fun descents! After regaining my confidence on (small) jumps earlier this year, I also had a lot of fun testing my new Garmin’s “air-time” feature. If I had known about this beforehand, I would have bought a Garmin long ago!
I managed to ride 9 laps of the course, totalling just over 86km and 1800vm. I never did manage to catch the top 3 ladies, but I was pleased with my reasonably consistent lap times and an average HR of 157bpm. This was definitely the best that I had in me on the day and while I wasn’t fast enough to make the podium, I’m thrilled with many personal successes along the way. I also had one of my most enjoyable bike races EVER: racing to my own plan, riding along a great track on a beautiful day, and enjoying the company of the other racers, spectators & volunteers.
My congratulations to Rebecca Stone, Michelle Woods & Corinne Dolan, who I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with and then competing against. Special kudos to Rebecca, who won the event after also completing the Brisdivide – showing the true depth of her strength & fitness. Apparently my legs have some work to do before next year!
Thank you to On the Edge Events, Andrew Bonney and the hardworking Bonney family for yet another fantastic event, and to Set In Stone Photography for photos that capture me having an absolute blast on my bike.
As always, big thanks also go to iRide Bikes in Toowoomba for their continued support of me & my Scott Spark, to Dylan Rhymer for his understanding and encouragement of my various biking adventures, to Jess Douglas for her training plans over the past year, to Ride Technics for their skills coaching & to Dietician Approved for their advice for fuelling both on and off the bike.
I still have a lot of improvements to make as a rider and racer, but boy I’m enjoying the journey!