The Convict 100 is a Sydney institution in distance mountain biking. Jump onboard with Andrew Fell from the JetBlack MTB Team, as he recounts his day in the chain gang.
The Convict 100 has been one of those races that has been going for many years. Based around the quite town of St Albans in the upper MacDonald area the course meanders up, down and around some truly beautiful countryside.
The 2017 edition would be no exception. With the crisp morning air and a light fog lingering around the event centre, the day was set to be an absolute cracker.
The race has 3 distance options being 44km, 68km and 100km so there is really something for everyone. The Jetblack MTB race team had many entrants this year across all distances and formats. Even George Greigg would competed the 68km on a single speed hardtail. (thats nuts). The battle of the Gordo’s was also to feature this season as Owen has now stepped up his riding and is providing a battle royal to the Old Boy.
With this years event not being part of the National XCM series the elite field was well and truly down on numbers but that didn't mean that there would be slow racing. With Elite and Senior categories being combined for the 100km race we were counted down and the race began.
A somewhat calm start gave all a chance to get the legs spinning before the first decisive climb of the day at Jacks track. From there an elite group formed and the racing was on. Team mate Scott Reynolds took the early lead with some confidence fed by some recent strong results and good form.
This was not to be his day, coming unstuck by a burped tyre causing a crash into a tree and almost ripping the entire back of his jersey off, Scotty would learn that marathon racing can be a heart breaking affair. This was Scott's first marathon distance race. Having competed in many lap based 4, 7 and 12hr solo races Scott wasn't new to hours in the saddle. The subsequent chase to catch back up to us would put Scott through both enormous physical and mental pain and eventually hitting the wall. This is not a place to hit such wall.
This is where the Convict 100km claims its victims. It's a hard course. Not necessarily from the climbing which there is plenty or the soft sandy fir trail, which there is also plenty. The Convict 100 involves negotiating some very technical rock gardens both climbing and descending for what feels like an eternity. The seemingly relentless shaking puts additional fatigue on the body like no other race. These rocky sandstone trails require Nino Schurter like bike skills to successfully negotiate and brain surgeon thinking to correctly pick the right line. Call it a cobbled classic of sorts for MTB racing. This is what makes the Convict so iconic.
My day at the Convict 100
The lead bunch continued on and I lost contact and spent the day chasing a few minutes back. I briefly had them in sight climbing up Shepard's Gully but couldn't quite make contact. Riding mostly only own through the technical sections of the race, I figured it was like being sentenced to hard labour with no end in sight. The course in some long sections is so rough and technical that eating and drinking become almost impossible unless you physically stop riding, which for racing isn't ideal. So this constant mental game of thinking "can I eat here?" or "quick grab that drink, how far to the next feed?" is a true battle. It must be like being a convict and not knowing when your going to eat or how much longer you need to suffer for.
Eventually I made it to the last feed station and with less than 30km to race I was relieved to almost being able to feel like it was over. Another 15km of constant leg sapping undulations and a fast steep descent back down to Settlers Rd the final 10km would be trying to ride as fast as I could while feeling the constant twinge of cramps threatening to take hold, fatigue well and truly had set in and my whole body seemed to be destroyed.
Crossing the line in 4hrs 28min and 12th overall and 6th in category I was pretty happy. Tired, sore but happy to have finished another Convict.
Scotty was to come in about 30min or so later and despite having a shocking day and suffering so much he still managed 2nd place in the Opens category.
In the 68km category official Owen beat Gordo by 1 second but I suspect these two raced smart during the day and helped guide both for the overall win in their categories. Malachi raced in the seniors and finished in 4th. For a 13 year old this is a huge result. Big things to come. Watch this space.
Other JetBlack riders Simon Ballard, Troy Laughlin, Lucas Bendt, Dave Leckie, Alberto Peixeiro all had tough races during the gruelling course. New comers to the JetBlack team Grant Pople and Kurt Saunders both tackled the 100km distance with times below. George Greig took the choccies and won the Singlespeed category.
Time Results below for 100km
Andrew Fell – 4:28:52 (Senior) 6th Place
Grant Pople – 4:40:03 (Masters) 6th Place
Troy Laughlin – 4:48:33 (Veteran) 12th Place
Scott Reynolds – 4:51:57 (Open) 2nd Place
Simon Ballard – 5:35:28 (Senior) 33rd Place
Kurt Saunders – 5:42:56 (Veteran) 38th Place
Alberto Peixeiro – 6:08:34 (Veteran) 55th Place
Time Results for 68km
Owen Gordo – 2:44:25 (Open) 1st OVERALL and 1st Place
Craig Gordo – 2:44:26 (Veteran) 1st Place
Lucas Bendt – 3:25:31 (Senior) 6th Place
Malachi Covington – 3:28:53 (Open) 4th Place
Dave Leckie – 3:49:27 (Masters) 10th Place
George Greig – 3:50:47 (Singlespeed) 1st Place
Congratulations and well done to the winner on the day Michal Kafka. You were bloody strong all day and well deserved the win.
Truly a great race, and great event put on by Max Adventure.
Now to clean the bike.... after a sleep.