to 24hr or not to 24hr
The Jetblack 24hr was set a month before the world championships & it was a good opportunity to get in some decent training while competing, although this time I opted to ride in a team because of the close timing with the World Champs. Riding such a race in a team meant that I was able to use the event as interval training over a 24hr period letting me ride at a higher intensity than I would normally ride but at the same time using nearly as much calorie burn as I would at a lower intensity riding solo.
I rode in a team of three for the 24 hrs with #TeamMacDesign in my new cycling kit provided by #FizoCycling. The new endurance chamois in the Champion Systems kit is awesome compared to there older models.
Anyway lets get back on track. The race went well & I found myself riding hard every lap out on course & we finished in first place in the team of 3 elite. My nutrition went well along with my fitness that I am very happy with. My training plan has one nine hour long endurance mountain bike ride once a week & I think that will help me with the task of riding non stop for 24 hours. The hard part about sticking to a structured training plan has meant that most of my riding is now on my own to allow for the correct intensities & times allowing my body to adapt. The last time I stuck to a structured training plan was in my late 20's & early 30's while competing as a middle distance runner & that allowed me to run at the top level of the sport in Australia back then, so I know the importance on proper training & it's benefits.
Duncan Millar at DIY MTB has been awesome with the servicing of my suspension on the MTB. The suspension goes through a pounding over rough terrain when you constantly ride for 24 hours & if you read most suspension manuals they tell you to service your forks every 40 hours. That's not many rides when your training for long hours day after day & every time I get my suspension back from Duncan it feels so smooth & new again. By the way by the way DIY MTB don't just do suspension, they also have awesome bearings, brake pads & lots more to keep your bike in top order.
The team at Graham Seers Cyclery also play a big part in racing with there top servicing & the reliability to get parts on time when I need them before a race. I took my bike in & basically had a full rebuild before the world 24 replacing all my suspension bearings with enduro bearings from DIY MTB, refitting my shock & fork, replacing my chain, & sprockets, replacing my cables & brake pads along with disc rotors & new pedals. As I mentioned your bike goes through a rough time riding for long hours & always needs servicing.
"Moxie" Jason Moxham from Fizo Cycling was helping me out at the world 24 along with the world champ Jason English & one of a new generation of 24 hour riders starting out at a young age, Dan Baker.
I got to put my trust in Jason after he offered to help out while riding in a team during all the rounds of the Evocities last year & was looking forward to his help at the world 24hr passing me food & drinks as well as giving me updates on my position. Jason is sort of a team manager if you like by organizing a place to stay, a car to travel in & places to eat or visit where ever we go & New Zealand where the world solo 24 hour was to be held was no exception.
Last but not least I would like to add that without friends & family to help out along the way it would be impossible to train for such long hours & keep my life on track. endurance riding is a mind game as much as it is fitness, you have to be mentally tough to push your body through the task at hand & it always helps when friends & family make you smile & help you out along the way. so before I write any more I want to say thanks to everyone that knows me & is reading this blog :-)
Getting to Rotorua
Eventually, plane flights booked, passport ordered, race entered & accommodation sorted there was no excuses as my motivation grew toward the world champs.
There was a bunch of us Australians travelling over to compete in the worlds because of NZ's cheaper travel options & I was looking forward to us supporting each other out on the track as well as hanging out before the event. 90% of the Aussie's I knew well from all the races I have competed in during the past few years, making me realize how far I have come over the past few years & there all a great bunch of people.
This world champs also had a special twist to it with three members of Hastings Valley Mountain Bike Riders from Port Macquarie including myself competing, one of which happens to be the current world champ, Jason English & the other, Brendon Wood who will be competing in his first world championship event at the age of 18yrs, now old enough to race for 24 hours. I was excited to be there to race with these guys & see both in live action. If Jason wins he will be 7 times world champ this time breaking American Chris Eatough's record & I wanted to be there for that.
Catching the plan was an experience in itself after I was told horror stories of bikes being damaged or lost at airports. We chose to drive down to Sydney to catch the international flight out of Australia saving a nights stay in the City & that nearly turned out as the first mistake getting stuck in peak hour traffic. I allowed an extra three hours travel through the city traffic on top of the three hours they want you to be at check in by & that turned out a blessing. I ended up arriving with 10 mins to spare from the minimum 2hrs check in & had no idea on where I was going or what I was doing, but managed to work it out going through customs with no hassles after all the horror stories I had been told.
Arriving in Auckland & transferring to the domestic flight to Rotorua I managed to get myself in more hot water rushing through customs, I was told as I loaded my bike at the drop off that my ticket said I had one more bag. Suddenly being 15 mins early for my flight turned into panic when I was also told I would have to book another flight because I would no longer make mine in time. I had to go back to the International terminal, pick up my bag & get back through the long line up in customs before boarding. The NZ staff at the airport seen my panic & went out of there way to help me out showing me the back way to get my bag & another at the service desk copied my passport, found my bag, got it through customs & back to me in about half an hour. I ran outside back across to the domestic airport in the rain following a colored line with the bike box & bag on a trolley in front of me blocking my vision running into a cement footing around a pole nearly sending me to emergency as onlookers laughed. I guess I would have laughed if it wasn't me.
I eventually made it back to the domestic terminal but in the end I would have missed the flight. I was extremely lucky gain this time because my boarding flight was delayed by an hour, so I managed to now be there a few minutes before boarding. Ahh the stress!
Tapering & loading
Rain had now started to set in & looking at the days ahead it looked like we were in for a very muddy race. Waking the next morning rain hail or shine I was keen to go check out the race trails & headed out for a wet lap or two. The entry into the Redwood forest was over our back fence with the race trails just down the road.
Upon inspection the track was wet but not as bad as expected, it had some very slippery tree roots that kept you thinking as well s some greasy corners but way better than expected.
Normally I would start getting sleep & eating more carbs days before a 24 hr but I was so excited about the whole experience that I found myself enjoying the area more than tapering for the race ahead spending our time exploring hot water springs & mud pools in the area. Well it was raining non stop after all & I was in NZ for my first time. I got a great preparation massage two days before the race because of the wet weather from our team massage therapist, Jenifer Dirkin-Holler from Weaverville, California. Well I think she was there for Mr English but he must have been busy doing other stuff LOL. Thanks Jenifer :-)
I had four days in Rotorua before the race, I managed to get out for a ride a couple of times in the rain only having one bike for the race & not wanting to wear anything out or cause bike problems for the race.
The night before the race was spent at an all you can eat buffet loading in what carbs I could recognize to be eaten. Walking out of there I was so bloated that I wondered if I would be OK on the start line the following day, it was a great night with all the crew as well as some new faces meeting up before the big race.
What will race day bring
The elite riders got a show at the start line with a Maori welcoming, but from where I was, all I heard was a lot of fearsome shouting & blowing of horns. I really hope none of those guys are going to jump out from the lush greenery of the forest in the middle of the night.
Us age group riders started 10 mins after the elite riders & my race start was good, placing me right where I wanted to be early in the race. The first lap was busy but not to congested as all the riders seem experienced at this level of competition & all knew that 24 hrs is a long time on a bike, anything can happen during that time.
I like to break up a 24 hr race into sections to get me through. I call the first 6 hrs the warm up, the next 6 I concentrate on food & work out where I am position wise as I ride into the night. The next 6 I like to attack positions & find that this is where the racing really starts as riders tire in the early hours of dark morning. The final 6 hrs I re asses my position & hold on to what I have left muscle strength wise reminding myself that anything could happen when your as tired as you are.
Well the first 6 hrs went to plan better than expected as I found myself in first position while conserving my energy as night was about to fall, but as I was fitting lights second & third place came into the pits. Moxie kept my spirits high telling me that everyone back home in Oz was cheering for me & suggested that I jump onto the train & ride with the guys. Heading out in front the boys tucked in behind me & I knew there was a race to be had if I was to make podium at the end if I could make it that far from racing this early in the event. It was not long till the boys (Jason Archer & Kevin Skidmore) went around me & started picking up the pace. I was lapped by the elite guys, Jason & Tobias at the front earlier on but Jason & Kevin seemed to be riding faster than them, so with some race strategy in mind I backed off the pace allowing them to ride off in front of me thinking maybe they would start to wear themselves out before day break at that pace.
As I rode toward midnight in the second 6 hrs of the race I realized I had left a lot of my race food back at our accommodation & I started to struggle with staying awake, my bike also seemed harder to push & started to make horrible noises coming from around the rear wheel somewhere. I couldn't work where the noise was coming from but put it down to something loose back there creaking badly. I kept riding after a quick inspection & a tighten of the rear skewer back in the pits.
Midnight & the third 6 hrs came around fast but I was in deep trouble left with no energy from the food I had forgotten & my race plan was failing, I had now slipped back into 4th & had no energy to chase like I normally have at this time in the race. I was in survival mode & was dreaming of the boys in front to doing the same if I was to have any chance of beating them. I was concentrating on keeping the bike upright trying to see through my blurred/tired vision more than race strategies now.
My pit crew went back to our accommodation just before day break and picked up my secrete food I had left behind & I started to load up on as much watermelon as I could. Things were starting to come good again & I started to pick up the pace again. I was a lap down now on the leaders & didn't expect to catch them back up but was eyeing off 3rd. Everyone tired & weary from 18 hrs of racing it felt like they were standing still as I went past & I felt like I was racing again. I managed to go past Kevin Skidmore who had lapped me in 2nd & not long after go past Jason Archer who had lapped me in 1st. Both seemed to be extremely worn out & I was feeling good. The only thing was that I was not the only rider that picked up the pace. Elvio Fernandes who I was trying to catch in 3rd had also picked up speed trying to chase down the boys in front. Looking at the time left in the race I realized there was no way I would catch any of them unless they stopped & it seemed the faster I rode the harder it seemed to push on the pedals & the more annoying the grinding sound coming from the rear wheel became.
Not wanting my bike to fall to bits with that awful noise I opted to slow the pace back down, strategy that maybe the riders in front will think I have nothing left & stop early or slow down more themselves. They all rode back past me & that was when I knew for sure there was no chance of podium for me. I crossed the line just before the 24 hrs & headed out for another lap even just to even up the lap score to make me feel like I had a go.
So What About The Result
I did get my nutrition wrong & that was a big factor but what was the noise coming from the rear wheel making it hard to push? Well it turned out to be a broken axle that I was dragging around for 18 hrs. There is always next year :-)
Congrats to Jason English wining his 7th world solo 24 straight. I felt so bad for Tobias Lestral crashing out mid race & then having a number of flat tyres setting him back to finish 3rd ahead of Cory Wallace in 2nd that gave Jase the 24 hr race of his life but I am stoked for Jase as a good friend & training buddy knowing all the hard work & dedication he has put in to finish on top of the world once again.