The Highland Fling is a MTB race in the beautiful hills of the southern highlands and attracts over 2000 riders who compete over either 58km, 116km or 100 miles. I was riding my KH 26 Guni with 150ml cranks and a maxis 2.7 tyre and had enter the 58km option. The organizers were really welcoming and supportive and a number of unicyclists have enter in the past. Sadly this year it was just me.
I arrived the afternoon before with a couple of mates who were on b@#es, so that we could register and set up our tent. This avoided getting up at 3am on Sunday morning.
An early pasta meal with sticky date pudding Deseret was followed by a short ride around on Saturday evening and I was already getting comments from b@#kers asking if I was really going to be riding “that thing tomorrow”.
After quite a restful sleep I was up at 5:30am ready to go.
I was starting in the 4-5 hour group so I had to wait until just after 8 before I could start.
With 2.5 liters of sports drink, several musli bars and gels I was off.
It was pretty easy to begin with as we rode along some tar which turned pretty quickly to fire trail, racing along in hig gear was a blast and I was going along at 25-30km/h. We turned into a farm and travelled for several km’s across fields, this was actually quite difficult as there where lots of tussocks so I was working hard to keep my balance while the silly sods on 2 wheels could simply turn their legs over.
Number 1 of 3 creek crossings marked our first major climb and it was at this point that I started to pass b@#kers. Most looked up and did a double taktrudged say well done etc as they trudged up the hill behind me.
This pretty much became the pattern of the morning as we wound our way through firetrails that moved like a roller coaster through the national park the b@#kers would sweep past me on the downhills mostly not even peddling and i would pass them as soon as there was any climbing to do.
I took every opportunity to use the high gear and my changes were almost going really well as I swapped bregularly between the 2 gears.
After a number of steady climbs and another river crossing we came back into the transition area having completed 27km’s before heading out on our second lap. The only bad part of the first stage was a logjam at one of the river crossings where I had to wait nearly 20minutes.
I received heaps of positive comments for making it that far but I knew the hardest part was going to be stage 2. This is where all the single track was as well as some significant climbs. So with more liquid in the tank, the temperature heading up towards 30deg c I headed back out.
5km’s of easy riding in high gear was paid for with some steady climbs as the trail wound across private fields and through national park trails. Wherever there were marshals they would give heaps of encouragement which helped keep me going so with 15-20 km to go we hit the major single track section, I was still feeling good to this point and was riding all but the steepest sections. I love single track but this stuff was a killer. I tried to ride as much of it as I could in high gear but as it got more rocky and technical I had to drop back into low for more and more of it. With lots of technical and rocky climbs and drops I was starting to suffer by the time we reached the end and i walked more of it than I wanted.
As soon as I was out onto the more open trails I was able to recover my energy and pick up my pace again. Apart from part of the final big hill climb I stayed in the saddle and before I knew it I was at the finish line.
It was a great feeling and everyone was so encouraging and I had heaps of applause. The organizers interviewed me and asked several questions including.
How does your manhood cope with being on the uni? Response ("they suck themselves up at the start and come back down at the end).
How do you train your groin for all that time in the saddle? Response (I put sand paper down my Knicks)
And finally… Why? Answer (I decided I didn’t need a training wheel any more)
Details of the ride are
58 km’s with 1050 meters of climbing, 4 river crossings, 10km of single track and way to many hills lol.
I was in the saddle for 4.5 hours with a half our of stoppage including the logjam earlier in the day and I beat nearly 220 people in my masters category.
One awesome thing that did happen was that as I was smashing down a fire trail one of the sponsors came up on a motor bike and was filming me trying to smash down the hill. I chatted to him afterwards and he said that when he was younger he used to ride in Canada and remembered a guy who was crazy good even back then.
You guessed it. Kris, known even in Australia.
All in all it was a fabulous day and everyone was so supportive and encouraging. Hopefully our profile was increased in a positive way.
What a way to end the race