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When I got back into cycling in 2011 I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was recovering from a torn Achilles and had to battle injury much of the first year. My family had bought bikes and equipment from the HASA store in Dandenong.  I chanced upon an advertisement on the Website looking for riders to represent them in a 6 hour Enduro Victorian State XC series up in Woodonga. You needed to have a HASA bike.  And they offered you free merchandise in the way of reimbursement and paid for your entry fee. I could borrow my brother in laws bike, and applied.  Pinching myself thinking this was too good to be true. My first (and last) sponsorship!

Here’s the thing. I loved riding, and had some fitness to go fast for short periods.  But I was no Mountain Biker, and had no idea what exactly they did on an XC series. I trained hard for it, but when I drove up to Woodonga and got to the course. Straight away I thought “you’re fucked!”.

HASA man

I looked at all the rocks that you had to ride over.  Technical turns, jumps, and the crazy climbs.  I was blown away.  Having never done anything apart from ride the fire trails at Lysterfield Lake on a Mountain bike. I didn’t even own a pair of cleats back then and rode with runners. My attempt to ride the circuit was nothing short of embarrassing.  I was constantly getting off the bike to walk over obstacles, and was struggling to breath. The course was broken into 3 sections. First up was a mega technical and I had no hope of riding large parts of it. The second part was a ridiculously steep climb. I would haphazard close to 15%, and I wasn’t a hill climber back then and had to get off it and walk it.

This followed a mad capped descent through this tiny single trail that was bumpy as all bat shit. My bike didn’t have any suspension.  It felt like I was being ripped apart and in pain on the descent. The last section wasn’t so technical. About the only part that I could ride a bit before getting to walk several technical section. I was concerned in this section as there were 4 jumps about a meter high close to one another. As you landed, you hit the next, and this caused you to pick up speed and so on. I was pretty nervous going through these.

Ultimately one lap destroyed me.  I had signed myself up for a 6 hour Enduro racing for the HASA team. There was only one other member of my team Daniel Wayenberg, and we were to take alternating turns. Unfortunately as I was in a team I had nowhere to hide.

Me & Daniel Wayenberg

The race

On the day I was a fish out of water. Everyone looked so strong and had such great bikes & kits.  I just sucked. My first lap I spent the whole time getting off and walking my bike over rock gardens.  Technical corners and steep hills.  I was looking over my shoulder and getting off the path a lot of times whenever someone came up behind. My fitness was lacking for something this intense and really struggled. I was embarrassed with how bad I was riding.  Constantly riding into bushes and trees and had a lot of skin ripped off on the first lap.  You could guess that I really wasn’t having the best time of it.

Losing another life

When I hit the 4 jumps in the last section, the first 2 went well.  Unfortunately I got a little overconfident on the third jump.  This tiny voice whisper something negative in my ear which caused me to crap myself. I accidentally pulled on the front brake as I hit the last jump.  This caused my rear wheel to flip over my head. I realized pretty quickly what I had done.  And knew that if I couldn’t right the bike I’d brake a lot of bones. My first thought was that I was going to destroy the bike and would be apologizing majorly to Chris for destroying my bike.  Figured if I broke my neck may not even be able to do that.

I instinctively leaned the bike to my right. I was now in a position where I was going to drop the bike flat on its side.  A horrible image of my collarbone snapping again popped into my mind. I pulled the bike back under me and as I was heading towards the ground I was expecting a major crash.  How I didn’t kill myself, and had to pinch myself when I landed squarely on both wheels and kept going. I don’t know how I stopped the bike from flipping over my head.  Thankfully no one was around to see that I had almost killed myself.  This was a total nightmare.

Overdressed, boiling hot & wearing runners. What was I doing here?

Panic time

I got back to the start and sent Daniel off.  Having about 40 minutes to wait for him to get back and went and did a lot of soul searching. I wanted to throw in the towel. This was a humiliation, but ceded that I put a fair bit into this and needed to do at least another lap.

Lap 2

Lap 2 came, and the field had slowed down.  I wasn’t passed as many times which meant I rode longer sections.  And was able to get a little bit more confidence. I was out of my depth, and exhausted but no one seemed to care that I was going so slow.  As I was so courteous to get the hell out of everyone’s way.

Lap 3

Lap 3 came, and hardly anyone was moving. I enjoyed this lap the most, and felt I was getting it.  But at the same time was completely wrecked. On the third section I heard some riders fly up behind me.  This was a narrow section where it was impossible to overtake. I saw a tiny section I could pull off and did so, planting my left foot to the ground.  Which gave way under me and slid a couple of meters down an embankment. I copped only a few bruises.  But knew the rider who was flying past me which added to my embarrassment for the day. I got back on and finished the lap. My last for the Enduro.

Well I learned that I was not a Mountain Biker. Amazingly I didn’t have the slowest lap for the day.  There were quite a few riders below me.  All I can say is they must really suck at Mountain biking.  I came out covered in scrapes and bruises.  And majorly relieved not to have a major injury. I guess I’ve never ever had the confidence on a Mountain bike to hit the single trails since this event. Maybe I could become a decent Mountain biker if I put the effort in, but it was not for me. Thankfully I discovered the Road bike a few months later, and my destiny followed a different path.

I wish I could forget this ride.  It was truly regrettable.  I believe that you can get some good out of bad, and I did move on and find my niche thankfully.

Special note: Fortunately HASA wasn’t there to see what an embarrassment I was.

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One thought on “HASA

    Epic Fails « The Dandenong Ranges said:
    September 28, 2015 at 9:32 am

    […] Why I’m not a Mountain Biker […]

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