Exploring the force of Gravity

According to the Wikipedia dictionary, gravity is the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth. I can relate to this definition, as I pull on my Liv baggies and flow top for the first time, dropping my seat and feeling the extra inches of low travel sink and bob underneath me.

Shoving on a full face helmet and sliding on alien style goggles, I am now feeling extra-terrestrial; confident I will fly toward the center of the earth down the wide array of Mt Buller trails that await me. No longer lean and lycra clad astride a racey carbon hard tail, I feel a new surge of relaxation and peace on my new ‘fun’ bike. Super light camel back at the ready and loaded with supplies; I am no longer weighed down by tools and tubes shoved awkwardly in back pockets.

Now totally set up for trail riding, I am adventuring and learning to descend, taking in the beauty of nature. This bike is all about exploring and enjoying the trails in a whole new way. I am extra-terrestrial, gravity bound. I am intrigued.

Looking back over my mountain biking journey, nothing beats the sheer exhilaration of my first day ‘riding park’ at Mt Buller with my partner and best friend John. Clattering and shattering down dusty, corrugated switch back berms I try in vain to keep him in my fogged up goggle vision, suspended mid-air as the Liv Intrigue soaks up every inch of the trail.

In retrospect, the day felt like a constant play of contrasting elements. From ear blasting, bone-shaking, forearm cramping, adrenalin-pumping descending to being kicked in the bum by a swinging steel chair lift, bike thrust into arms as it scoops us up – hanging on for dear life lest we fall to our dismal death.

White knuckled we swing, adrenalin slowing, heart rate dropping and legs dangling free. The trail becomes just a flashback as the ground we were so close to now sways and steadily drops far beneath us.

This is the zen of the chair lift, the blissful song of the bush, the glow of the tiny yellow native flowers dotting the earth below. The relief of physical rest on the chair lift mixes with the undeniable element of danger, merging to form a deep state of trance like altitude-induced meditation.

As we rise further up above the forest trees, the chair lift swoops into the landing and once again, we are rolling back to the trail head.

This time to welcome another wild eyed, teeth chattering, gravity bound extra-terrestrial adventure to the center of the earth and back.

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Not just another graveyard blog – an early insight wake up message

 

Monday morning, 6am, the morning sun flickers through my venetian blinds and lifts me from a cozy slumber. Surrendering to the latest habit of checking an array of social media channels upon awakening, I lunge across for my totes sweet little blue gen Y 5c and allow the information influx of twitter, instagram, email, weather and facebook to soak into my bleary eyed reality.

 

 Notifications, updates, likes, shares, the odd re-tweet…. ah yes, all appears well in the overloaded world of smart phone technology…That is until I stumble across a new facebook message from a good friend and endless supporter of my MTB endeavours. His rather loud words leap out from the screen with bold authenticity, urgency and enough unguarded clarity to somewhat bewilder a girl. Especially while her consciousness still hovers somewhere between the murky depths of REM and stage 4 of the sleep-wake cycle: #precoffee #bonsoy #totesuncool.

 

“KT!! UPDATE YOUR BLOG! DON’T LET IT BECOME JUST ANOTHER GRAVE YARD BLOG!”

 

My blog…My long lost little word press blog! Great beard of Zuess! Neglected, unkempt, forgotten, quickly becoming a barren cyber space land of tumble weeds, crows and crumbling headstones. What a kick-start to the week; what a launch pad into the day – a message so loud, clear and unexpected that it literally hauled me out of sleep, away from I phone aps and straight into energizing real world action.

 Like the rush of energy as you bite through the extra doughy, white bread nutella sandwich shoved in your face by your pit crew at some ungodly hour…. and the instant relief as your body knows it’s just what you needed…

 

“Graaaveyard blog…graaaveyard blog,” the words echoed around me with an eeriness I did not forsee, sweeping in through my windows like a cool southerly change under the scurry and flap of black raven wings. I saw myself armed with spades, pitchforks, and an old hessian bag…anything I needed to march to the graveyard and resurrect my word-press blog from going down into the rotting jaws of no man’s land. “Get outta the way crows!” I’d call, with a rifle slung over my shoulder and a sturdy ‘girl guides’ eye for a pesty vermin target if the situation dared require it.   

 

 As the beauty of my morning autopilot routine would have it, I was – in reality; marching to my coffee machine, hitting the on button, porridge now also brewing, incense lit, mat rolled out and daily yoga sun salutations underway…Yet on another level that startling morning facebook message had altered my path, sparked a new nerve, realigned my purpose.

 

Stretching through downward facing dog, I caught a glimpse of my upside down bookshelf lined with old journals, notebooks and diaries. Forward high plank, engage core, down to low plank and into upward facing dog threw my vision to the morning Fairfield sky, the trees, and my mountain bikes hanging out on the deck.

 

Back into downward facing dog, the upside down bookshelf came back into perspective…dust filtering off the pages in big shafts of sunlight…unsettled by the flapping of crows wings taking off from headstone perches, up into the sky in fright…

 

Jumping (or floating) to the top of the mat, and into my new favourite yoga pose: full wheel. Kinda like a big 29’er, barreling through new morning ground at sunrise after a dark night, through transition where you find something once forgotten…or you’re handed it, letting yourself be supported…encouraged. 

 

Resurrecting what was once buried… 

                                                 Shining the light

                                                                          Waking up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Exposure Surf Coast 50 km 2013

I love swinging left under the big wooden Eumerella Scout Camp sign, off the Great Ocean Road and onto the dusty gravel, as though shaking off the remnants of the city and leaving the world behind for a day on the trails.

Bikes clattering in the back of the van, Tor and I turn up the I pod for one more blast of triple j goodness, throw down the last of our foamy lattes and roll into the familiar grassy, tea tee sheltered camping grounds.

Wandering down into the bustling festival hub, past the circle of sponsor tents and the smouldering start of a bonfire in the centre, I remember this is where my love of mountain biking all began. Right here at the Surf Coast was one of Sam’s first races years ago; (Scotty had roped him into it of course); and soon enough Sam had got me on a little Giant hard tail and the rest is history.

So Tor and I make our way over to the rego tent in anticipation, grab our numbers, cable ties and head back up to the van to get our beautiful new Liv Giant Obsess bikes. In the middle of all the action, a few guys are stoking up the camp fire sending smoke curling up into the ocean air, filtering through the scrub. The coffee machine brews noisily, people laugh, gears click and tyres crunch over gravel…  “10 minutes to 50 k briefing!” calls Mick on the loudspeaker.

It’s good to be back.

As we took off up the fire road, it was like letting the reins go on my old black pony Flicka on her way back to the home paddock. As I tapped around a few of the dudes so as not to get stuck in the single track at the start, it was the lungs and the heart rate reminding me that my fitness is certainly more “chubby pony after a long winter,” than “thoroughbred status.” Still, all I really had to do was sit there, and the Obsess Advanced 1 carbon hard tail machine just did it’s thang.

After racing the men’s Giant XTC 29’er hard tail, to be on a women specific bike just felt right. The geometry felt really good, the 27.5 inch wheel s seemed more snappy and simple to manoeuvre and the grip shift sort of felt like I was racing a Yamaha YZ 80 with peddles. The trails were super fun, lots of cool logs, sweeping corners, a few testing climbs and stunning ocean views. It was all as I remembered but better, renewed, revitalised and with even more magic.  

Thank you to the team at Southern Exposure for putting on a great festival and race, to all the other event organisers and sponsors, to Liv Giant for the amazing support, to my race buddy Tor for a smashing first solo MTB race and to all the other competitors, riders and spectators for making the day rock.  

‘Til next time,

A Ton of Fun @ Buxton

I always thought mountain bike heaven existed only in the fantasy land of my strange and often wayward imagination. Like some mystical fleeting day dream that flashed before my eyes in the yawn of a drawn out meeting, a traffic jam or an endless myki top up queue. 

Yet that all changed as I found myself wandering, bike and bag loaded, into the transition area (forest/nook/fairy land) of the Buxton Boot camp 6 hour. It was the set-up of my dreams!  Sun streamed down through the tall trees, bouncing off shiny carbon frames that whirred and wheeled past. Great tunes were pumping from the stereo, mountain bike mates were popping out from under quick shades, and then not too far away…(sigh)…the sweet aroma of coffee beans, freshly ground.

After a seamless registration, a charity wrist band and a skinny flat white with one, I was in a happy place. T’was a grand morning to mark the finale of the VES 2012 series, and oh what a series it has been! While stuffing goodies in jersey pockets before rider briefing, my mind drifted back (as it tends to do), to the first round in chilly Ballarat, so long ago! Then it was all about the flat, fast kurrajong track at Youies; the epic ups and downs of Mt Beauty; the tight, techie twists of Beaconsfield and railing rocky descents of Albury. Not to mention Blores Hill, Castlemaine and good ol’ Officer.  

From February to November, this fantastic series has covered all types of township, terrain and territory; catering for everyone from the beginner mountain biker to the premium strava segment hunter.

As we all headed out up the fire road, I was eager to check out these so often raved about trails for the first time. As to be expected with any Big Hill Event, these tracks really came to life, each with its own sign posted name and story to tell.

After a few laps, the meaning of ‘magnetic corner’ become strikingly apparent, while the shade of ‘spider gully’ felt like a tropical oasis on the brink of home.  As mild dehydration set in at about the 4 hour mark, I couldn’t help but shout ‘woot woot!’ each time I rambled down this trail. Another treat was the lucky sighting we all had of the rare, colourful plastician-inflatus tortoise species, who had apparently escaped from up the road at Healesville sanctuary only days earlier. A divine species.  

There were many more treats to be had throughout the day; the wickedly fun berms, the dusty descents and the endless km’s of single track. It was great to chat with a first time 6 hour solo rider out on course, about to head out on his last lap. I also loved seeing my bro and cuz battle it out in style for their first and second place in the solo men’s race. A huge congrats to Clare Vlahopoulos for taking out the win in the solo women’s 6 hour category.  As for me, I was happy to roll in with 2nd place in the 6 hour women’s, before jumping straight into the river, (via the bbq) and en route to the brewery. Thank you to Big Hill Events, all the volunteers, my sponsors Liv/Giant, fam and friends for making the day so rad.

Podium shy but still on a high – The Scott 24 Hour Solo MTB Race, as published on the Liv Giant Facebook page

The Scott 24 hour Solo, 2012

“Podium shy but still on a high” – by Katie Chancellor

Flashback to about 12:45 am last Sunday morning: rolling into the pits, mud slathered, gel smeared, glasses fogging up, limbs aching and sharp pains doing figure eights of the gut. There’s a brick of 900 lumens on my head pushing into my neck, beaming into the eyes of my support dudes who I see appearing from the shadows, thank god, blinded but somehow still smiling and waving. What’s wrong with them!? They’re so happy. They’ll let me stop. They’ll understand…They’re going to tell me I can rest, lie down, I’ve done enough. This is bloody ridiculous Katie, you’re exhausted, its way past bed time…

“That’s it guys!!! I’m out! I’m over it. Don’t touch me!!” I growl like some big footed wilder beast rolling into civilisation for the first time. Be warned, right now those who dare enter into my sphere do so at their peril. Like a mud caked, pain wracked she-woman of steaming negativity I enter what is otherwise known in 24 hour racing as “the dog hour.” I hear many people get at least one, maybe not the super pros or experienced elite, but for us new comers I understand they’re basically a rite of passage. My support dudes advance unafraid with the courage of frontline troops, perfectly armed for this moment. “BAAHHHH Don’t touch me!!! Don’t touch me!!! Get away!!!” I holler in my wilder beast ways, clambering off my bike and tossing it to one side, waving my arms and venturing into the pit, limbs flailing. The icy wet grass over there has never looked so damned comfy! I promptly stop, drop and curl into foetal position in the corner of the tent, with one arm outstretched as a barrier to keep the guys at bay: “I’M OVER IT SCOTTY!!” I yell… yet alas, he advances…

“Hey Katie..” he whispers almost childlike, happily, squatting down over me and dangling a ham and cheese toasty in my face. “Hey Katie…look what I’ve got! Look! Hot food! + Guess what….coffee!!!” …. I uncurl slightly and grab his outstretched hand while he pulls me up:  “I’m over it Scotty…” I moan, calming down…Troy throws a blanket over my shoulders giving them a massage, cracking some kind of joke that makes me laugh…Simon hands me a bottle of chocolatey Optimizer smiling, “This’ll make you feel better!” and Toddy offers me his waterproof socks: “I’ve got two pairs! Seriously! Two pairs!!” I stand and look at them all surrounding me smiling, supporting me. For every pained statement I make, they have a positive (usually in the form of a crude joke). For every doubt, fear and heartache, they seem to have an answer. Next thing I know, they’ve completely cleaned my bike, re-stocked my pockets with goodies, swapped battery packs, polished my glasses and god forbid, lathered denco-rub on my neck (Toddy, was that you?!) Suddenly as if by magic, I am winding back into the red lap feeling pretty damned good. The time? 1:03am…

There were plenty more unguarded moments like this that I am sure are etched forever on the caffeinated retinas of my poor night crew. As a wise cousin once said, there will be highs and lows, peaks and troughs, good times and bad…that’s right people, there were some pretty Zen moments in the Kt Chancellor pit that night.

Looking back, I think that’s the great thing about these 24’s; they force you to be in the moment for what it is. No guts, no glory; or something like that.

Flashback to looking down at your wheel and seeing the track is bathed in white light, and little black spiders scurry across out of your way.

Then you’re back, riding past the same bog hole full of frogs at night, and they croak the same weird tune every lap.

Next you’re rolling into transition and it feels like coming home, like you’re some lost adventurer on a never-ending journey – until you’re not. You’re surrounded, cameras flashing, ushered to the deck chair, plonked down, pit crew leap into action: “scull this, eat that, spit that out, put that down, don’t eat that! Yep, doing great, now get outta here!” Meanwhile I’m more interested at staring at the fairy lights above the tent as they blur into cool colours, like red laps and blue laps all merging into one.

Then you’re back on the bike half choking on an interesting combo of nutella sandwich, pizza shapes and lime gel: well that was noice, different, unusual.. I guess sometimes in life you’ve just gotta bight off more than you can chew. “We’ll see you soon!” the support crew call, clapping, cheering, pushing you back out into the ruts that await you, armed with energy  bars, fresh layers and everything you need to conquer whatever lies ahead. They run along next to you, giving you every ounce of support they can. So how can you not keep going?

Then there’s the rush of energy flying down the descents, the encouraging chats out on course with other riders, or how about that magic rainbow that arches over the trail horizon as you catapult from the luge. Although that could have just been my imagination 😉

And of course, I love dawn…

It’s edging on 5 am and you think the sky is getting a bit lighter, just fading ever so slightly. But maybe you’re seeing things, imagining things, (like sausage dogs, bushrangers or tree branches that come to life).. Maybe you’re also talking out loud like a crazy lady to poor unsuspecting team riders asking if the sky really is getting pink, and if so, how amazing is that! Can you bloody believe it!?

An hour later and you find yourself spinning up the side of a switch back hill climb, looking across to that silvery pink horizon where the stars have long faded…then it happens. The sun moves below the cloud lining, exploding out and soaking the whole mountain side in gold light. I remember laughing out loud when the sun hit me, completely awestruck by the beauty of nature. As if reborn, I felt blown away at the chance to experience it in such an incredibly awesome way as this. The excitement (enhanced by a mix of no doze, delirium and deep heat fumes) lasted about a good sixty seconds. Then the clouds rolled over, the extreme aches set back in, fumes of another kind became apparent and I was harshly reminded that a good oh, I dunno, five hours of enduro riding lingered between now and the finish line.

So, overall, the Scott 24 hour for me was an incredible experience of living in the moment; reminding me why I love this sport so much. It was my third 24 hour race and although I missed out on the podium this time, I was pushed by the ultra-amazing solo women and my super power support crew to a whole new threshold of possibility, and then some.

It was as always for us Chancellors, a huge family affair, bringing together my Mum, Dad, Cousins, Brothers, Partners, Friends, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles…all there for each other through the great times, the good times, and the explosively shit times 😉 (Sorry Sam)…

A massive thankyou to LIV/GIANT, CORC, Scotty, Troy, Toddy, Simon and all my seriously awesome family, friends and supporters.

We’ll see you next time!

Katie  xx