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By Lach - Posted on 16 September 2013

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.
Re: This ride meeting: 
"Hidden Valley Classic"
Position (Overall): 
Position (Category): 

The weather was perfect and the terrain and track layout fantastic for this event. Props to Kevin and his team for putting this all together for what is a "once a year" event on this unique bit of single track at Coolah. A smallish field, with mens under 45's and over 45's and female categories, in each of the 3 distances (1 lap, 2 laps, 3 laps).
But boy, is it a tough race.....
The course is a 28.5 km loop up into the hills at the back of the Coolah Sports Ground. It starts with a 500m dash across the paddocks to a dirt road which goes straight up a hill, before linking with some fire trail and sniggle that gets you up 200m by the 4 km mark. The course then winds its way through the "hidden valleys" of the ridges there, with plenty of switchback climbs and snaky descents. And quite a few roos bouncing around to keep you on your toes.....
Total climbing was 1352m and, apart from the initial ascent and the run back down, virtually the whole of the course is pristine single track. Unfortunately, there had been no rain for a couple of months leading up to the race and the course was very dry. This meant lots of loose sandy soil in most of the corners, getting looser and sandier with each set of tyres. Which in turn meant wiping off a lot of speed to get through nearly every corner and then having to accelerate out again. And there were lots and lots of corners.
My time was nearly 2 hrs slower than the same distance at the Back Yamma only 3 weeks ago. Even though my first lap took much longer than I anticipated, I stupidly didn't go back to the car at the halfway point and top up my gels and water. Which meant that I ran out of water with about 15 km to go and was starting to hunger flat as well. Even so, I was 11 places higher on my second lap time than on my first. Everyone was suffering. Out of the 46 starters in the 57 km version, there were 15 DNF's, all of which pulled out after the first lap.
Congrats to Craig (Craked), who took out the over 45's in the 57 km version, and put in the third best time overall. The fact that he took a tick over 3:30 will probably give you a better idea of how tough this race was!

ps's picture

I think we have been spoilt with flowing singletrack on flat(ish) courses that provide fast ride or race times. Sounds like a pretty good effort on a course that probably doesn't suit you.

Lach's picture

Probably any course with lots of up doesn't suit me! I need to pare my physique down to Chris Froome type proportions and spend more time riding uphill.....
Surprisingly perhaps when you look at the time, the Hidden Valley course was all rideable for me, not like the hills in say the Angry Doctor or the first hill at Wollombi or the Convict where I need good walking shoes. It was just a tight, slow course, made slower by being really dry and loose, resulting in any speed being wiped off pretty regularly getting through the corners. The course would have flowed a bit more if Monday's rain had been last week and the track was a bit firmer as a result.
My Garmin data shows that I only hit 20 kmph a few times each lap and the only really fast bit of the track was the last few km's of fire trail / dirt road that was the reverse of the initial climb.

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