By Peter Rohr
On paper the Keepit Real 100 seems like a pleasant jaunt through the rolling hills surrounding Lake Keepit, situated between Gunnedah and Tamworth. On paper that is…but the reality is that this is one tough ride. On the morning of the ride both riders and organizers were contemplating the effect of heavy overnight rain on the trails. The start was delayed as Daniel Raffaele paced as nervously as an expectant father awaiting the birth of a beloved child. Enough of this rubbish exclaimed Dave Harris and he blew the whistle for a frantic start. For those doing the 50km and 30km versions, the first 30 through the pine forested hills above Lake Keepit offers some superb flowing single track skillfully crafted by Daniel Raffaele (et al ) linked together by short sections of fire trail, some of which are a tad on the steepish side. When I say steep, I’m sure I passed a couple of fellows abseiling down the same slope we were trying to climb. Add to this steepness the aforementioned goodly amount of rain the night before and what you get is a word you will hear often in this report..mud…and not just mud.. but that slippery clay version that sticks to everything and anything but is particularly fond of rubber bike tyres, rendering any version of tred pattern quite useless. Under these circumstances many riders fought gallantly for a tiny smidgeon of traction, only to be defeated at various points up these gnarly climbs. Occasionally one rider or so would make it, to the cheers and encouragement of those pushing their trusty mounts stoically to the summit. This camaraderie is why I love the sport. Some downhills were equally precipitous, offering mug riders like me more than a few “code brown” moments as I pretended to effect some sort of control over a fairly redundant braking system. Just as quickly we were back into the flowing single track which the rain had made quite superb in my view.
All too soon the 30km forest section was done and it was game over for the 30k riders. Just an easy 20k loop around the foreshores of the lake and we are done too…..did I mention mud? Somehow those 20km felt like riding 100km backward with two flat tyres…and it tested me to the limit. I was happy to see the finish line and any smart Alec remark of squeezing a second lap in was not considered on this occasion. In the meantime the more sensible riders participating in the 20 and 10k versions were enjoying the lakeside tracks and the challenges thereto attached.
Of course none of this applies to legends such as Pete Selkrig, who I’m sure just kept riding over from the Mt Annan 24 hour, rode the 50 and rode home again. In any case he led the way for JB racing with a blistering 2:14:40 (7th overall and 2nd in the 40+), which indicated to me that his tyres only touched the ground on the odd occasion thereby avoiding the mud…did I mention the mud? Michael Crummy was similarly impressive with a red hot 2:21:19 which also indicated minimum contact with the ground. Another low flying jet (get it…jet black..low flying jet…) was Sarah Mills tearing up the course in 2:30:55 finishing 3rd fastest female in the 50km. I was elated with my hard earned 2:48:13.
The 30km crew were equally impressive, with the Jetblack crew wearing a path to the podium. Mitch Hannemann flew in with an impressive 1:57:39(3nd) and Curtis Humphrey hot in pursuit with 2:09:58 (7rd). Well done lads. Nardeen Hayden came 2nd to the Under 15 yr old National Champion Katherine Hoskings. Susanna Mills (Sarah’s mum) rode very strongly and finished with a very respectable 2:35:40
Dalene Pretorius impressed with her debut 20km in 1:16:23, as did Nick Hayden (33:32) and Todd Hannemann ( 1:26:56) and Christiaan Mills (Sarah’s brother) in 1:20:11. Special mention to Jan Hannemann and Hermann Mills for guiding the Dirt Masters around the 10km course
Congratulations to The organizers Switchback events. Brilliantly marked course, electronic timing, excellent venue and facilities and heaps of prizes and giveaways. Great value for money and smiles all around. Hope to see more JBers next year.