Convict 100

 

The Convict 100 is one of the longest running and most challenging mountain bike marathon races on the calendar – this year it was held on 5 May 2018.  This event has been able to survive a declining number of events and still attracts people to the event each year, many of these people are new to mountain bike racing.

While numbers where down on previous years, there was a great buzz in the historic town of St Albans – which becomes the Race Centre for this event every year. The event offers a number of distances – 44 km, 68 km and 100 km.

Admittedly a gravel bike is probably not the preferred bike of choice for this event, however I decided to enter the Cyclo-cross category for the 68 km event with my bike of choice being my Curve GXR aka Kevin.

The highlights for me on this day where the first 5 km of the event – I was in the top 20 of the field until we went off road!  Nevermind.  The other highlight was the final 10 km.  This was a gravel section where I settled into the drops and held a strong pace until the finish – there was satisfaction passing many riders as I rode into the finish shoot. With the final highlight being finishing on the podium.  Overall result was 77 over the line out of 358 (3:45 mins) – finishing in the top 21 % of the field.

The Convict 100 runs through the convict trail that connects Sydney to the Central Coast and Hunter.  The terrain is mainly rocky sandstone, fairly technical in nature and is usually best ridden on a bike with suspension. I chose to run a set of Curve 650b carbon wheels for the race – a great choice considering the lack of suspension. The WTB Nano’s where flawless – set up tubeless I managed to avoid any major mechanical issues.

This event features some great gravel segments.  This descent was awesome.  I managed to negotiate the next corner – only just – as I had to unclip, dab my foot to take off some speed so I didn’t end up riding down the embankment!

Thank you

Thank you to Maximum Adventure for running this event and keeping the people interested in racing Marathon MTB races.  The photos featured in this story where taken by Outer Image Collective.  And finally thank you to Curve Cycling for making rad bikes to go exploring on – the Curve GXR aka Kevin loved the event.

Looking forward to racing again soon.

James

Instagram: @jr_w

Maximum Adventure’s Convict One Hundred, St. Albans 2018

Yarramalong to Wollombi

Leaving Yarramalong shops (coffee) this ride heads out a quite rural valley. You head up the gravel Cedar Brush Climb (6.8 km @ 4.7%) and down Murray’s Run. The descent (and climb on the return) down Murray’s Run is sealed but once you’re in the valley it turns back to gravel on and off.

Then you spend a few K’s on the sealed Great North Road heading North West. This is the busiest road on the trip.

Finally turning left you head the back way over a small rise and fun gravel descent. Don’t miss the turn right turn on Yengo Rd or you’ll end up with a bigger adventure! Yengo Rd takes you through some flat farming country into Wollombi where there’s a Tavern for refreshments. If you want to shorten the ride look at heading straight on to Laguna where there’s also a shop and cafe before the return.

Return along the same route. You’ll notice the sealed climb up Murray’s Run, but it’s worth it for the descent down Cedar Brush Rd.

Usually suitable for normal road bikes with care. We classify the dirt roads as easy.

Cedar Brush Creek Climb

Known by the locals this climb is one worth traveling to. You’ll climb your way from the farms near the creek up through the forest. The road conditions here regularly change from smooth and tacky to a bit washed out.

There’s nothing too steep for the 6.8 kms at 4.7 %.

The road that keeps giving

The section of gravel along Yengo Rd is flat and pure. It keeps surprising you when you think you’re nearly there, but there’s more to travel until that beer at the pub.

Plan Your Cycling Adventure

This information is intended to help you plan your gravel adventure. It’s a recommended classic gravel ride, that’s why we recommend it (yes we’ve ridden it, multiple times). You will still need to plan your cycling adventure. Road conditions can vary and can be closed. Know where you’ll fill up your water from. Mobile phone reception will not be available for most of these routes.

You will still need to plan your cycling adventure. Road conditions can vary and can be closed. Know where you’ll fill up your water from. Mobile phone reception will not be available for most of these routes.

Check the weather. Confirm the route and your navigation with another source and know how you’re going to navigate (without phone reception).

Enjoy the ride and post your photos to the Graveleur Facebook Discussion page.

Let us know what you think of the route in the comments below.

N+0 Just Go and Ride your Bike

Are you a self confessed gear junkie? Each year do you find that there’s some new component or frame that you simply must have. Do you love it when a more compliant frame is released? Do you love it when when someone announces a tire that rolls a tiny bit faster or has more grip in the corners (or so they tell you)? Do you love to hear that you can have more gears on the rear and less of the front. 1×13 anyone?

The bicycle is so refined now that each new piece of gear is only a tiny iteration in a long line of refinements. There’s always someway to make it better. And we must have these new improvements.

Bikes have become more and more specialised. We’ve got bikes for racing crits, endurance rides, training, gravel, racing CX, racing XC, enduro…

This specialisation isn’t just between these big categories. For gravel we’ve have the fast all road bikes. We’ve have CX bikes (yes I know it’s not a gravel bike, but really? It’s a bike that rides gravel just fine). There are the bikes that can take 40c tires. We’ve have touring oriented adventure bikes, monster crosses and drop bar mountain bikes.

I’m sure you have a need for each one of these bikes.  My next ride might be 70% tar and the 30% gravel will be smooth and fast – I think I need a Specialized Diverge. But the one after that there’s some washed out fire trails so I need something with 40c’s, perhaps I’ll take a Niner. The weekend after that I need to take some bike packing gear so I need a Salsa with all the bells and whistles. Then I saw a rad video of some guys using 650b wheels with MTB tires on some single track and it looked awesome, I need that too.

We suggest it’s time we take a long hard look at ourselves and why we ride bikes.

When you tell someone you’re a cyclist I’m guessing you don’t say “Hey I’ve got an unhealthy materialistic preoccupation with upgrading and buying new bikes and gear because it’ll make the world better.”

Or  “Somehow I feel that I’m missing out if I don’t have the latest.”

Perhaps “I think it’s just fine that only after a month of having a new bike I’m already planning my next build.”

Then we have the pressure from other cyclists.

“You’re not running hydro brakes? What are you thinking?”

“Are you telling me that you’re not on 1 by yet? You’ve got to switch over. It’ll change everything.”

“Manual shifting is so imprecise. I’m so happy I have electronic shifting.”

We have jokes about it too.

“N+1”

“My biggest fear is that when I die my wife will sell my bikes for what I told her they cost.”

Like I said, I’m a gear junkie. I love new gear and yes I have a very nice near new bike with top tier components. It’s admired, and not only for it’s bright orange colour.

Our obsessing is also because our culture values what’s new and innovative and the pursuit of these things.

We think we are obsessed with gear because we love cycling (well duh). When we can’t be riding we constantly think about and research riding, bikes, frames, wheels, gears…We think about it all the time.

We want this to change.

Exploring in the Snowy Mountains

We are not going to stop thinking about bikes all the time. But we are going to spend more time on obsessing about adventures. Dreaming of trips and reading ride reports (this is why Graveleur will have stories – the community needs to hear yours).

We are going to spend time studying maps and looking for interesting places to ride.

We are going to think about how we can make rides more interesting and fun for the other cyclists. About how we can encourage riders to try something a little bit further from the centre of their comfort zone (open gravel rides).

Remember:

A new bike will not make you a better cyclist.

An upgrade won’t make a difference.

Experience is everything.