I have seen myself get stronger over the year & after completing my last FTP test (functional Threshold Power = The maximum average power output you can generate over an hour) where I seen a huge improvement of thirty Watts, I was feeling confident that I would have a better result than worlds where I placed 4th in my age. I had competed in a hot 12 hour race only a few weeks back & had all my hydration problems sorted for the 24 hours. I knew my race diet worked at the world champs & I was confident that the same eating plan would work for me this time around. I had new tyres fitted to the bike & I had spare wheels so I knew if there was a problem I could swap them out. I had more than enough batteries to light me up through the night & I had a new Garmin Edge 1000 GPS with a charging battery to get me through the entire 24 hours monitoring my lap times, average speed, heart rate, cadence & time of day. I had my wife Cindy helping me in the feed zone with my six year old son Kaiden because she knows what I am like & did a great job in the worlds last year.
So you could say I was very well prepared. We even had Cindy's foster brother Chris Lonergan, that lives 10 min from the track at Campbeltown give up his comfortable bed the night before so I had a great sleep before the race.
We traveled straight to the race venue at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens after Cindy finished work on the day before race start to get a good spot in pit lane, set up our camp & pick up race numbers before the gates shut at 8pm. The past few days I had felt a little sick for what ever reason, but in saying this I had just wanted to eat & eat, which helped me with loading carbohydrates before the race where I normally struggle to make the 700 grams the day before racing. So this time around I was well fueled up before going to sleep the night before racing started.
The race also had team riders riding for the 24 hours as well as 6 hours plus 6 hours solo riders on the track at the same time as the solo 24 hour riders making the total of riders reaching over 400 going around a 9.8 km loop track & I knew it was going to be crowded & a bit of a pain in the butt moving off the track to let the faster team riders past as I started to tire from hours of riding but we are all here because we love mountain biking.
The Temperature for Saturday was expected to reach 29 deg C with a low of 12 deg C during the night followed by a top temp of 32 deg C on Sunday & with no rain predicted & not much rain beforehand it was going to be one dusty ride hot ride.
I got my first update on my position at around three hours in telling me that I was positioned 4th in my age category with other riders riding within seconds around me including the leading riders Bellchambers, Spearing & Timp all riding single speed bikes & with awesome reputations as the best riders in the country/world.
My legs were feeling good & my energy levels felt OK besides the heat that had now registered 34 deg C on my Garmin knocking me around a bit, but not as much as the riders I was passing on the side of the track suffering from cramps so early in the race. I was concentrating on drinking 610ml every 40min lap swapping water & electrolytes lap for lap as well as getting as much food down as I could. I found eating a hard task in the heat & there were only some foods that seemed to go down OK. Banana in a wrap with Nutella not being a good choice in the heat as the Nutella meted & let the banana slide out of the wrap dripping chocolate all over the bike & myself. A better choice became more sustainable foods such as chicken noodle soup, but this meant stopping every now & then loosing a bit of time each lap while I had the food by the pit tent.
As it became cooler into the night I was pleased the make it through the day without cramping like most other riders I had seen on the side of the track during the day but it had seemed that the sun had still caused a little damage to my energy levels & I still did not feel like eating but forcing food down each time I completed a lap.
After witnessing this ordeal I thought about how fresh I felt & decided to go out & finish the last 6 hours of racing with the hope that all other riders in front of me would retire & at least slow to a unrealistic pace. I smashed down some weetbix & got back on the bike feeling good & had to keep reminding myself to take it easy because I still had six hours or so to race. Although it was just after 6am when I was back riding laps you could feel the heat of the day starting to climb already. during the last six hours on the bike I felt good & kept a great lap pace overtaking solo riders one after the other till I climbed back up to 6th spot in my age group & 25th overall & I knew there was no way I was catching the other riders in front of me now a few laps ahead, so I just maintained my position through till the end where I was awarded with a nice cold beer that sat well with me in the heat of the day that had now reached a top temperature of 37deg C on the Garmin.
There were a lot of surprises that came from this race including former Commonwealth Games mountain biker Tory Thomas that won the overall female finishing 5th overall behind the boys.
I had a tough field of riders to compete against in my age with David Speering finishing 1st & 3rd overall ahead of Michael Timp in 2nd & 4th overall & Brett Bellchambers in 3rd & 7th overall, all riding single speed. I really don't know how they do so well without gears ???
Thanks to Chris Lonergan for letting me stay the night before the race so I could get a decent rest.
Thanks to all that cheered me on during the race & squirted water over me to cool me down, you know who you are. You are all becoming my family away from home & make these races a very memorable experience for years to come :-)
Thanks to both my sponsors, Graham Seers Cyclery & Enriched Health Care who both make it possible to race at my best.
And a massive thank you to Rocky Trail & all the crew for hosting such great races throughout the year. You guys are awesome & make it all worth while :-)