The Duckmeister wrote:Blueshift will be something of a dark horse. Their brand-spanking new vehicle will either be troublesome in its lack of preparation time, or a gun that will be right up there.
This passage proved quite prophetic. Read on, if you please.Australian International Pedal Prix Super Series Round Three, Sturt Reserve Murray Bridge, September 18th-19th 2010
The armies of race teams descended on a cloud-covered Sturt Reserve, on the west bank of the Murray from Thursday onwards. I made my appearance late on Friday morning and set about making camp. Fortunately our allocated camp area was located nice & close to our pit, good for late-night rider rousing. I then had a decent bit of spare time to catch up with friends & have a general look around while impatiently waiting for Strathdale Racing's Team Boss Ben to arrive with the trike so we could finalise some little details before scrutinnering. We got there in the end, but not before a lengthy argument with the "Power Tube" air vent (a length of PVC pipe from the nose of the trike, over the bottom bracket & directing cool air at the rider's face) to get the headlight to fit. We eventually got there, so off to scrut it went. Fortunately we passed without trouble.
From there it was just a small matter of applying the race numbers & getting ready for the two-hour practice session. And at this point the headlight developed a touchy plug. Great. It had been working trouble-free for several months, but just when it was about to get its first proper use something went whoopee. Once the sweet contact spot was found it was fine, the trouble was finding the spot & getting it to stay there. We got it going, after subbing in a spare light to at least keep the thing on track & give the guys who hadn't yet ridden it a chance to get a feel. Braden had a spare light identical to mine (I loaned the now troublesome light to the team for the weekend), but he didn't arrive until the end of the session. At least we were sorted for the rest of the race though.
At the end of the session we found ourselves in a not unrespectable 20th on the grid of 215. Now that's actually better than it first appears, 'cos at this race the top three trikes from each of the four categories, plus the top three all girls teams take the first 15 grid places. So some of them start to tumble back through the running order pretty quickly.
So come Saturday, the morning started with the Top 15 Shootout to sort out the final grid order. Tru Blu took the pole, following on from their fastest lap of the night session, with TriSled's Aquila
alongside. In third was Bendigo Senior SC's Squirrel Grip Racing
Finally everyone was in place, and after a lap behind the cousre car, all hell *ahem* I mean the racers were unleashed for 24 hours of madness, mischief & mayhem. At the drop of the flag, Tru Blu took their familiar place at the head of the pack, with TriSled, Squirrel Grip & Deakin Uni Student Association's Phantom
in hot pursuit, with local favourites Blueshift also in the hunt. With Strathdale's usual Pet Freak unavailable for this one (he was with his school team in Squirrel Grip instead), our start slot was taken by BJ, who ran solidly for a while until right on cue 30 minutes in the Fog Monster again woke up. BJ battled on bravely, but crashed several times, fortunately none of them too severely. After about 50 minutes, he pitted & Sam was sent out to join the fray, aided by a Ned Kellyed windscreen to give at least some visibility.
And this was before the weather even turned nasty!
By this stage it was clear that the predicted four-horse race at the top end was well & truly on the cards, although an early puncture on TriSled put them on the back foot for a while & had them chasing hard to get back in touch with Blueshift. Tru Blu & Phantom were having their own little battle, with Tru Blu creeping ahead, all the while edging out a break over the others. Further back the racing was no less intense, although a distinct gap had developed behind TriSled. For the Open category, we were tussling with Platt Racing's Silver Streak
, ExPats Racing's Wet Whistle
(both Victorian teams), and South Australians Ozone Racing & Concordia College's Old Collegians. Thrown into the mix & therefore chasing overall points were some of the school kids; Squirrel Grip Racing
from Bendigo Senior, Kore-Rosion
& Wail-Dooen Warrior
, both from Bendigo South East and Helter Skelter
from Woodleigh School.
We were settling into a decent rhythm, and although the fogging was still troublesome, the extra venting at least meant there was some visibility. After Sam did his stint, it was time for our new batch of hired hands to strut their stuff. Aaron, Clancy, Ned & Matt, who we somehow managed to borrow from ExPats & their connections, all put in good solid stints with no major mishaps, just the odd bit of cross-country riding.
The Evil Back Straight began to work her black magic on some teams; the continuous vibration plus some not so small jolts placing massive shock loads on trkes & riders alike. Tru Blu and Blueshift both suffered breakages of rear faring mounts, which saw some ingenious bracing made by both camps, including hose clamps used by Tru Blu, and Vice-grips by Blueshift, simply 'cos they were able to be got in at the right angle to clamp the bits into place!
Our War Horse
also began to suffer a bit; old wounds from the crashes of the previous race opened up, and the lower part of the fairing became rather floppy. Platt were also having a torrid time, first of all having a little ....erm.... chat
with Phantom and some hay bales, which resulted in a bit of a restyling job on the nose. Not quite satisfied, they had a few more goes at it as the race progressed.
And finally it began to rain.
Fourteen hours or thereabouts of pissistant drizzle. Sometimes a bit heavier, sometimes stopping for a few minutes. And daylight was also starting to run in short supply. Joel took the last fully light stint, just before I took a turn, and warned me of the appalling visibility not brilliant grip in some corners. And so I was strapped in, more than a little nervous at the conditions, adding to that the memory of my two crashes in the previous race - something I wasn't too keen on repeating.
However, maybe 'cos I'm somewhat shorter than Joel & the resultant sight line is different, I didn't find the visibility that awful, at least for a little while. And while obviously taking things a lot more cautiously than usual, the lower roofline of our new lid made a noticeable difference in the handling. Always a good cornerer, the lower centre of gravity made it just that little bit more stable. I pitted after about 30 minutes to get the widscreen wiped & a bit more of a hole cut into it, but was still feeling good so stayed out for another 35 or so mins. Job done, I pitted & handed over to Braden.
He did an awesome 1 1/2 hour stint, which later on by his own admission was a bit of a mistake 'cos it didn't leave much for later on. He had a tumble at some stage, but I'm not exactly sure what happened. Took some paint off & slightly accelerated the progressive disintegration, but nothing too serious. Ben took a turn after Braden, and as he settled into the trike he leaned on the side of the lower fairing..... "CRAAACCCKKK!!!!" The sill of the fairing cracked around the cutout for the wheel strut and delaminated a bit from the monocoque chassis. The whole body just got a fair bit looser...
However, we were still faring better than others....
Tru Blu had continued trouble with their broken fairing mounts, and their lead over Phantom had been virtually eliminated, having been as much as six laps. However they were able to hold off the Fog Monsters better than most, with the big aero benefit of not having to cut holes in the front. So although they were losing time in the pits, they were able to get it back on the track. The scene was being set for a lap-for-lap battle to the end for these two. TriSled continued nipping at their heels, only a few laps back. Things were a whole lot worse over at the Blueshift camp though. Deep in the night, somewhere around 2:00am their chassis broke. One part of the crossmember broke clean off, while the other side also began to twist & crack. It would have been a several hour job to even get it rolling again, but the whole steering assembly would also have to be reset. Even if they did get it going again, their race was well & truly stuffed, so they made the painful decision to not continue. At least they got a decent sleep afterwards!
ExPats were also starting to suffer from Gremlin attacks again. Although they were started by someone else running into their tail & blowing up the derailleur, among other things.
Bendigo's troubles were more off the track; some kind of gastro had left most of their riders in a very major state of disrepair, but they valiantly pedalled on & still held placings very high in the overall standings.
Most of this drama happened while I was catching some sleep; when I resurfaced at 4:00am & checked the results, my first surprise was the fall of Blueshift. Meantime we were still circulating strongly, although we got black-flagged for doing several laps with no headlight. Somehow Clancy managed to see the Black Flag in the darkness but was unable to see the whiteboard we waved at him to say we needed to check the light.
Anyway, a pitstop, a new battery & we were off again, just plugging away. Concordia's Oldies had gradually opened a 5 lap lead over us overnight, and we had a two lap gap over Squirrel, but it was still anyone's game for the not-quite-top placings. Fortunately for us, but not for them, Concordia suffered a steering breakage with only a couple of hours to go, which boosted us into.....
...an unthought of 4th overall!!
However, despite their illness, Squirrel Grip Racing
were not going down quietly, chasing hard. As the final minutes ticked down they actually got ahead of us, however Aaron latched onto their tail and it became a sprint for the line. The official timing has the margin at two tenths of a second!!
In our favour.
Aaron had pipped them on the line for 4th overall, although the category places were not at stake; they were the clear winner in Cat. 3 (Senior Secondary) and we were safely 4th in Cat 4 (Open)
The final result; Tru Blu managed to hang on for first, two laps ahead of Phantom, with TriSled third, another four laps behind. Strathdale Racing was some 39 down on TriSled, with Squirrel Grip from Bendigo Senior rounding out the top 5. They had a 10-lap margin over Woodleigh's Helter Skelter
for the Cat 3 points.
Tru Blu also take the overall series win in style, winning all three rounds.
As usual, pics will follow shortly.