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Getting out of NSW - to ride and race.....

Antsonline's picture

By Antsonline - Posted on 27 April 2015

What with the bad news about the Convict, and also the fact that the trails around us will be pretty beaten for a while, I thought I’d share some details with y’all about some racing I have been doing outside of NSW, and just some of the logistics of the trips – because I think its probably a fair bit easier than people think, and it’s a great option to get some fantastic riding done.

Just this weekend I went and raced in Bendigo at the ‘Golden Triangle Epic’. I hadn’t really heard of the race before, but a friend is involved in the organization of it, so invited me down. I initially turned the invite down, but given the wild weather during the week, I made a last minute call on Weds night to travel.
I booked a flight (Tullamarine), hired a small car, and got some accom (car and accom was shared with a mate).
We rode on Sat morning in Syd, then left on a 2pm flight. We were in Bendigo late afternoon after an easy flight, and car pick up.
Built the bikes, went to dinner, went to bed. Got up, rode to the race (and here is the kicker..) raced 100km in the DRY on trails I have never ridden before (the 10am start time was a pleasure too) and then got back to the airport for an 8pm flight, to be back at home at 10pm.
It was so easy, and it really was cheap too.

A couple of weeks previously, we did the same thing for the Wombat 100km. Some of the best trails around, great racing, and only 40mins from the airport (Tullamarine) in the hire car. Again, home on Sunday evening having left Syd on Saturday.

A few weeks before that – the same deal, but for the Giant Odyssey (Otway). Fly to Geelong, get a car, 50mins drive, and bingo. Another phenomenal race with very little hassle and home a bit earlier…

Next up we are off to Derby, Tasmania for the National Marathon Champs, and then after a little break racing resumes in QLND for the Flight Center Epic (near Ipswich) which is a 60min drive from the airport and then what I consider to be the best weekend of the year – the Hellfire Cup in Tassie. Mates, trails, short stages, and a unique ‘festival’ atmostphere…

I suppose the point of this thread is not to talk about the specific races (race reports are something that can be done some other time) but really to just share that it is so easy to hop on a plane and jet out of the poor weather, or the lack of races in NSW. Correct me if I am wrong, but so far this year, there have been ‘zero’ marathons in NSW (I’m not counting Canberra – AMB100, Cap Pun, Duo Classic) and now that Convict is done, there is nothing planned in NSW for a long time (3 Ring Circus, and Fling). Sure – there are some multi-lap enduros, but actual ‘marathons’ seems to be a blind spot in NSW.

I’m always happy to share any recommendations on races, or accommodation options in local towns etc.
There are so many options out there, and I know it’s a pain to pack the bike up, but once its done, its well worth the effort – even if you just do one or two a year. It’s a different vibe to race with guys you don’t know so well, and the races always greet and welcome inter-state travelers with open arms.

Disclaimer: I have no kids, and am lucky to have a very supportive wife!

Jubas's picture

... thanks for writing up!A few quick Qs:
What do you use for bike transport? Cardboard bike box? Specific case (e.g. evoc)?
How much extra do you have to pay in terms of airfares to carry a bike?
What's the minimum size car you have to hire in order to transport one (two?) of the bike boxes?

I've often thought about jumping on a plane for an event, but the logistics (and cost!) always make me shy away

PS, the Husky was run earlier this year (NSW marathon)

Antsonline's picture

I hoped it would inspire some Q's.

for my bike, I use an Evoc bag. That being said, I travel with a mate who uses cardboard. It makes little difference.
If you fly Qantas, then you have 23kg (but in reality they will be ok up to about 25kg).
So there is no extra penalty to fly with the bike.

What does that mean practically? Well - its your bike, shoes and helmet in the box, with some empty bidons a few gels and a multi-tool to rebuild it. Spare tube etc already attached to the bike.

I thne take a good sized rucksack as hand luggage, in which I have my race kit and warm-up jacket, and any spare casual clothes. Sometimes I strap my helmet to the outside of that bag too - if the bike bag is getting too full.

Hire cars are probably more confusing than they need to be. I have been using Hertz recently, as they have had a '2 model upgrade' plan deal on. So I have booked a 'Hyundai Getz' (smallest possible) and then on arrival have been given the option of a Corolla or a Golf. Both are fine, and as long as its a hatch back, its seats down in the back, 2x bike bags in the back, and two passengers up front.

It really is pretty easy.

Yes - you are right. Husky. Within a hair of being cancelled. I forgot that one.

Flight Center Epic or Hellfire Cup are both great events if you are looking at the calendar...

Jubas's picture

Cheers for the quick response. And, some follow-ups!

I recall you riding a Specialized Epic - how much do you have to do to fit it in your bag? de-pressure the shock? I don't suppose you'd mind taking a pic of the full bike bag next time you go?

The hire car makes sense. I assume that you just pick up water food etc on the drive to the race venue

What do you tend to do for accommodation? Just a quick search online? Use the race's preferred accommodation partners? Camp?

Antsonline's picture

Yeah – I ride an XL Spec Epic.
Wheels out and tyres down, seatpost slammed down, bars off and turned parallel with the forks, padded, and then strapped to the fork itself. Pedals off.
That’s it. I never de-pressurize the shock front or rear. Don’t pack a susp pump as a result. Typically (99 / 100) if you need something, there is always a helpful soul in the car park with a full tool kit – as they have driven to the race. Or there is always the race support mechanics. If your bike works when you pack it, its gonna work when you unpack it too. I have a special ‘little’ pump that I take to races – its small and plastic, and really lives in my bike bag – you want to use it every day, but on trips away to re-inflate tyres its perfect.

I rarely camp – that would involve just too much stuff. Mostly it’s a google search in the local town and a cheap hotel. Normally under $100 for a twin room. I have been to most of them a few times now so have my favourites and keep a ‘little black book’ (literally) of hotels that are worth going back to – close to the race venue, supermarkets, resto’s for dinner, perhaps with a hose (smaller details) to rinse the bike down afterwards.
Travelling tip: If you request a room for handicap access you wont need to take your bike up and down stairs, and also it might have a big shower room – ideal for giving the bike a rinse off after the race. A ‘ride-in’ bike wash!
The hotel will have a kettle and a toaster, so its coffee and muffins, fruit salad and yoghurt for break – all bought the night before in the supermarket.
If you have bigger hand-luggage, you could easily pack your own breaky (dry muesli and some fruit) and take it with you, but I am too lazy!
Coffee at the venue is always easy to find, and there is always a burger to grab for the car drive back to the airport.

I have yet to unpack from the trip yesterday, so tonight when I open up the bike bag, I'll get a shot.

Chitts's picture

.....Ant, you need to spend less time riding the bike and more time producing 3 kids so that you too can have restrictive leave passes and cash-flow constraints related to needing a house with a garden and pool, and don't forget the guilt trips over private vs public schooling. Smiling

That said, I would not want to encourage any actions that could move you from Elite into is tough enough already....Brian and Faretta both need children too!! Eye-wink

Brian's picture

Haha. I've just got a puppy and that's enough for me Smiling

Pyrate's picture

perhaps they should introduce race categories based on number and age of our children?

Jubas's picture

Thanks for the info!

sly_artichoke's picture

Have always baulked at interstate races due to the perceived difficulty. My eyes are now open wider.



Chitts's picture

....great idea. Don't forget to factor in temperament of the spouse Eye-wink

skipper_nz's picture

Awesome post ants as always
I am interested in the bike bag as I ride a XL dual sus 29er and have always avoided buying a bike bag because no one can say weather it would fit or not!
What is your budget for a 'quick' weekend ride like that?

Pyrate's picture

Fair call, but a spousal temperament factor might be a little difficult to measure (at least in my house) due to wide variability in results. Number and age of children is more or less a known variable.

Perhaps they could introduce such a concept as an Offspring Discount, whereby a reduction of entry fee is given based on the number and age of children - 15% off for every child under 6, 10% for each child aged between 6 an 12 and then 5% off for every child 13 - 18 years of age.

Any such discount in turn should help mitigate against any adverse spousal temperament factors?

I really should be working....

Antsonline's picture

@skipper_nz the XL defo fits in the Evo bag. You wouldnt want the wheelbase much longer, but there is still room.
I'll try and get a shot this evening.

Budget for a weekend - its a tough one to answer - its always under $500. I fly a bit with work so can sometimes use points for flights.
Roughly its $250 for flights, and then the car and accom is another $200ish, but that is split between two people.

Of course, it isnt the cheapest way to spend your weekend, but it isnt a huge amount of money when compared to buying new shiney bits for a bike.
You know the phrase "its a tool, not a jewel"?

I'm loving this side convo about discounting for children and spousal temperament.
I do know @Dicko runs a 1:1 bike expense vs spousal 'investment' policy. He gets away a fair bit, but doesnt often buy a round of drinks Smiling

Pyrate's picture

My current bike expense vs spousal investment ratio might be a little out of whack - Wife got a new car, I got a new bike.

Still think that I got a good deal though!

On the interstate destinations point, I'll throw my 2 cents worth in an suggest Cairns and surrounds.

In early June there is the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge from Mt. Malloy to Port Douglas. It claims to be the oldest point to point MTB race in Oz and has a 35Km and 70Km option. Both options will have you flying down the historic Bump Track to finish with a dash along the sand of 4 Mile Beach to Port Douglas. I think a stage of the Crocodile Trophy goes over the same course, at least in part.

Sounds like a good way to dodge winter for a weekend.

Antsonline's picture

So - as promised (last night I got sidetracked by a glass of wine), the unzipped bikebag.
Its a normal Evoc bag, with an XL Spec Epic inside. The seatpost is on the 'floor' between the bb and the bottom of the fork, in a bag. The bars are off and turned perpendicular with the forks (you can just see them. The helmet and shoes are easily fit in there too.
Thats it!

As you can see, lots of space on top of the rear triangle for a bag of clothes, or bidons etc.

Hope that helps. Apologies for it being dirty - better get around to cleaning it!

pommyracer's picture

hi @Antsonline
not sure if this is a dumb question, but here goes. Do you ever have issues with sealant and tubeless tyres on your travels? i noticed you only pack a small pump and no extra sealant. do you ever run into issues with re-inflating tyres?

Antsonline's picture

I haven't ever had any problems. I let the tyres down to about 10psi, so they arent completely flat. In fact, I really only take out the minimum I need to in order to fit them in the bag.

They never unseat from the rims, and if they did then I would either use a c02 cannister to get them up, or I also have a little 'schraeder - presta' adapter that I could use at a car service station on their air compressor.

Jubas's picture

Ta for the picture! Reckon a bike with 30mm more wheelbase than your XL Epic would fit in?

I've often heard of people removing their rear dérailleurs too - is this not an issue for you?

Antsonline's picture

30mm extra would be fine. As you can see, I run a cassette on a spare thru-axle kit as a frame spacer, so if I took that out, there is more room at the back of the bike. The rear mech off would create even more room.
I havent ever really bothered removing the rear mech. Its never been a problem - but the Evoc bag is pretty well supported and protected around the rear mech. I know of people who take off the chain, and the rear mech, as well as the rotors on their wheels - and for sure, its the safest way to go - but I can honestly say that I have had no trouble at all. Maybe the odd bent rotor, but nothing that cant easily be bent back.

Lach's picture

I've got an XL Niner Jet 9 and to get it into my EVOC bag I need to remove wheels, pedals, remove seat post and seat, remove bars and strap inside bag, reverse the stem, loosen off the rear der so it doesn't stick out too far. As Ant says, just let the tyres down enough to get them in the slots - probably helps to run skinny XC tyres like an Elite Smiling
Don't forget to put some spacers in between the brake pads. Make sure you have a mini pump that gets you up to speed or use a CO2 canister, bludge a track pump or stay near a servo (however, the modern servo air set ups (set the pressure and then wait until it beeps) don't seem to work with any adaptors that I've got, so a plan B is advisable.
The more you do it, the easier it gets. EVOC bag is big enough to take my XL shoes, helmet, Camelbak, some rags and brushes and tools and still get under most airline baggage limits (XL Jet is about 13 kg as I've got it specced) - however check your airline.

Chitts's picture

You need to use the "flat tyre" button at the servo with the adaptors.....I dont have a home compressor so have to mdo it on all my new tubeless tyres. Not as user friendly as the old fashioned ones.

Lach's picture

Does that work even when they're not flat?? I've only tried "topping up" and it did SFA when I set the pressure to 40psi.

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