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(International Squad Captain: Mike MacDonald. International Squad Racers: Mike MacDonald)
A race report from Australia...

On December 5th, 2010 Team UMB International made its debut in sunny Bendio, Australia at the Golden Triangle Epic ( Team UMB's only entry thought that the 62 km (39 m) would be long enough on a hot humid day that was to reach into the low 90s. Over 140 riders were registered but only 83 made it to the finish line as heat exhaustion and cramping took its toll.

We rolled off for a 9:30 start following an OHV that would lead us for the first five miles until we all crossed a highway and bunched up again. Then we were off to a rolling start where the road bikers showed off their peloton skills. After about two more miles of shakeout we turned onto 15 miles of single track around Mt Alexandra and through Bendigo National Park to the first checkpoint.

After another hour of singletrack we found ourselves back at the same checkpoint where food and water waited. After another 3 miles of singletrack we were back on a short paved section before finishing with another 14 miles of exhausting singletrack.

The final 14 miles were switchbacks, short steep climbs, flowing descents and mud bogs that made you wish the race was long over and signs reminding you just how much suffering was left. I started strong and stayed with the main peloton until we hit the singletrack where group split into three.

After getting lost early into the second segment I lost the bite valve off the hydration system and rode with the hose firmly clenched in the teeth until I was able to get the flow stopped.

Someone was also "kind" enough to turn over one of the trail marker arrows and once again I was off course for about two minutes. After getting back on course I arrived back at the checkpoint to hear that there were only about "a dozen" riders in front of me. I ditched the camelback to Karen (my trusty support crew) and pocketed an extra bottle. Unwisely, I didn't take any food with 20 miles left to go (this was to hurt me later).
I quickly caught two other rider and we paced each other for the next 10 miles until one of them made a clean break. I was pedaling along with someone in my category and discovered that we were likely first and second at this time. A few miles later we hit a two mile climb and I saw him reach down to massage a thigh muscle. Time to push and drop him. Soon he was gone and I started to think I had enough left in reserve to finish well.

Then came a series of 50 to 100 foot climbs and my legs screamed they needed energy now. Somewhere in the last five miles I was probably passed by two other riders in my category. Once was when I got off course again and the other who knows as there are no coloured tags to distinguish categories here. Everyone on a bike is a potential category member unless you can clearly see an age or sex difference.

Finally the finish line came in sight and finished hard. Finding shade I laid in the grass for about 15 minutes before my heart rate dropped below 100 BPM. Karen checked the board to see that I finished 13th overall, 3rd of 24 finishers in my category and only 1:07 out of first.

The lesson here is to stop and take food in the future. I'm sure the minute I might have lost at the checkpoint would be gained back if I had the energy. Lesson two is to remember the dam for cleanup next year.

 Anyone care to join me in September for another go? :)

Mike MacDonald, from Doreen, Australia (Google Earth: 145.1190767833913 -37.58578456402354)