Emma Rhymer | Noosa Enduro 2021
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Noosa Enduro 2021

The recent Noosa Enduro was a much-anticipated event for me, as I love the Noosa Trail Network and was keen for the opportunity to explore it further. My plan was to ride the 100km mountain bike race on Saturday plus the 90km gravel race with Dylan on Sunday. As we all know, however, sometimes things don’t go to plan!

Riding to the race start on Saturday morning, I grinned foolishly the whole way. Cars with loaded bike racks were convoying along the road, fellow racers were filling the bike lanes, and I revelled in being a tiny part of a big event. Riders milled nervously around the start line and the race village was set up ready for post-race refuelling and entertainment. I was looking forward to that too!

Caught up in the pre-race excitement, I ditched my original plan to use the weekend as solid endurance training and reassessed my goals. While waiting on the start line, I decided to simply push myself out of my comfort zone for as long as possible and simply see how long it took for my body to crack. I think my photos clearly show what my body thought of that idea!

Photo Credit: TaiShi Di Photography

To my surprise, however, I was able to keep going far longer than expected on a physically demanding course with little singletrack reprieve and some lung-busting climbing (including sections of scrambling hike-a-biking). My legs and lungs burned, but the amazing views took my mind off the pain – at least temporarily. I was also fortunate to find myself in great company for much of the race and being able to laugh/groan/laugh together at the next climb (and the next, and the next) made it much easier to keep pushing myself!

While waiting to top up my water at the second feed zone, I heard the news that Brisbane was entering a snap lockdown later that afternoon. It wasn’t unexpected, so I simply I joked that I’d better get moving and continued on my way as quickly as I could. Shortly afterwards, however, I was informed by several other riders and a text on my Garmin that the race had been cancelled, with all riders instructed to make their way safely to the finish. I stopped to confirm the news, commiserate with the riders around me, and take some photos of the view. (Have I mentioned how stunning the views were?)

I then set off again, but the intensity was gone now that I was no longer racing. I lowered my heart rate by 15-20bpm. I set a new goal of simply committing to a solid training session for the next 2 hours. My legs continued to turn, but my brain was preoccupied with working through the implications of the lockdown and race cancellations on myself and my family.  I’ve since grappled with post-race disappointment at not finishing in “race mode” and have questioned what this says about my tenacity as an endurance racer. Ultimately, however, I’ve accepted that I made a sensible decision with the information I received at the time. I banked valuable training miles on a challenging course, which will pay dividends later, but there is certainly some unfinished business I’d like to address at Noosa Enduro 2022.

Photo Credit: Outer Image Collective

Arriving back at the finish shortly before 2pm, the mood was cheerful but subdued. The race village was largely packed away and the food vans were under strict orders to close within the hour. I grabbed a chicken stir-fry for some much-needed recovery food, briefly caught up with a few friends and headed sedately back to Dad’s house. It certainly wasn’t the afternoon I had been looking forward to but, despite my own disappointment, my thoughts are very much with the organisers, sponsors & volunteers involved in running the Noosa Enduro. Such a bitter blow for everyone! As I write this, I simply hope that our SEQ lockdown is brief & that it proves effective in containing covid cases to a manageable level.

Photo Credit: Noosa Enduro

As always, my thanks go to everyone who supports my mountain biking journey – even when the races don’t quite go to plan! I’d particularly like to thank iRidebikes in Toowoomba, Dylan Cooper from Ride Technics, Anna Beck from Grit Coaching, Taryn Richardson from Dietitian Approved and, of course, Dylan Rhymer for all of their “behind the scenes” help.

Here’s hoping we are back racing again soon…

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