After the World 24 hr MTB Champs I had a busy time catching up on work & found myself having 4 weeks off training on the bike. The first day back training I found my legs feeling fast & fresh over short distances that I could not ride so fast in the past. I remember having a two week brake every 6 mths in my athletics training in my early 30's & coming back stronger than before, proving that the body some times needs to recover completely in order to gain improvements.
A week out from the the race training started & I felt good besides legs tyring a bit faster than usual for the first few long rides but I was really keen to ride the Piney once again.
Half my little family traveled over to Armidale with me this time for the race the night before & with a late start of 10am it allowed Cindy to tick of the Armidale Park Run from her bucket list 8 am the next morning while I packed the motel room & prepared to race.
I woke up with a sore throat & a slight pain in the tummy but it soon went away after breakfast, so at the time not thinking much of it I put it down to maybe something I ate the day before while carb loading.
We got out to the race with just enough time to get myself ready before the start thanks to my sponsor Graham Seers Cyclery for saving a spot under shelter for the race. Dave from Seers had two teams racing in the event & myself as a solo rider, making a large crew of riders from Port Macquarie & I was looking forward to racing alongside them all day. Something I don't get much chance to do travelling all over the country racing long races so far from home.
In this race I also had another sponsor competing as well in the same category 12 hr solo, Duncan from DIYmtb is always keen to race at the Piney and made the long trip up for the event. Good thing he knows all about servicing suspension with the rough track the Piney dishes out over 12 hours.
Keen to impress my sponsors I lined up last minute on the start line with intentions on once again taking out the category & hopefully a top three finish overall in the solo riders with 12 hr riding my specialty.
Jason English & some of the other gun riders were at other events competing over the the weekend so I was in for a good chance.
I brought a new GoPro Session for my new Trail Terra business & decided to give it a test run on the first lap so you can all see what the race was like first time around for a solo rider.
The start was a lot faster than previous years with younger XCO riders growing up fast & racing in teams now at the Piney 12hr. Riders like Holly & Michael Harris who recently won races at the National XCO Champs only weeks beforehand.
Heading off into the single tracks I settled down into a nice rythem after getting carried away trying to keep up to the team riders at the very start. The Piney had a lot of new gap jumps scattered all over the place & there was no way I was taking any on unless I got to follow a rider that knew they how to hit them, so my first lap became a bit of a recce ride with that in mind as I did not seem to have a rider to follow most of the time that was hitting them up. Every year the Piney seems to be getting more roots & exposed rocks making the race harder on the body for a 12hr race, or at least that's the way it seems for this old fella.
I liked the way the local MTB club linked up the trails this year allowing a good climb to recovery ratio. A few new shorter but harder A lines around the 14 km loop had also been added in giving a great option if you had the energy to take them on.
First lap out of the way I felt like I was in a great position after getting a bit carried away at the start & all I had to do was keep going for another 12 hrs. I was feeling good & looking forward to racing.
I followed a riders wheel over the 2nd lap & got to hit a couple of the gap jumps quickly finding that some of the jumps took out a lot more energy than I wanted to give away if you wanted to clear them in a 12hr race & some were larger than others to gap making it easy to make mistakes when the body starts to tire. So that fun idea didn't last long at all but I can't wait to come back for a XCO race one day soon or maybe next year I take the soft option & race in a team.
As the race went on I began to feel a bit off & the pains in the tummy came back the same as when I woke in the morning. Each lap now was getting slower & I was forcing food & water into my swollen tummy but with updated news from the pit crew I was riding in first place for my category & somehow third overall against the other solo riders, lapping faster than those behind me. I kept pushing through the pain wondering if it was going to go away like it did in the morning but it was only getting worse with everything I swollowed & I didn't feel like riding anymore.
I decided to stop at a remote pit toilet half way around the track & see if I could suppress the tummy aches but in doing so at a smelly toilet I found myself bringing up what I had eaten quite fast. I quickly got out to get some fresh air & a drink to wash out my mouth while watching riders go by.
Looking at the GPS I had done just over 100k & still had another 100k to go at the half way point in time & thinking ahead of racing the following weekend for 7hrs I decided to call this my last lap.
I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the race, especially with my family & sponsors who were there as well, but at the end of the day I put it all down as experience & look forward to the next days racing.
I am not entirely sure on why I was sick but as a good guess it could have been germs from the toilet pump out that I repaired on a charter boat the day before after still smelling it on my hands after showering & then eating my dinner.
It was not long & we were heading back home on the three and a half hour drive down the mountain where I surprisingly started to feel great again before getting home half an hour till race end.
Watching the photo's & results roll in during the night I was happy for the riders making podium & those that finished the race. Well done to all that competed in what is one of my favorite 12 hr races. It was awesome to hear that there was over 300 riders.
Thanks once again to my sponsors DIY mtb, Seers Cyclery, Enriched Health Care & Fizo Cycling keeping me racing mountain bikes.
Thanks to the New England Mountain Bike Club for organising such a great race & also all the volunteers helping out. I know how much goes into running a great race.
Racing Near Home
It's not often that I get the chance to travel only an hour down the road to race & I was looking forward to all the familiar faces that are regulars at the more local races.
The Nambucca Valley Cycle Club have been working hard to make this race as enjoyable as possible for those that have entered the race including clearing the whole 13 km of MTB track with leaf blower making the trails smooth & fast. The weather had been dry & the day was shaping up to be perfect as well.
My daughter had just turned thirteen & she had a party organised the day before the race with half a dozen friends also staying over, so I was not able to travel up for the race till the morning of race day leaving before six thirty Sunday morning.
After all the excitement at the party I thought the girls would not take much to get off to sleep, but who was I kidding. After asking the girls politely to keep the noise down several times just before midnight I decided to turn of the house WiFi after hearing all the talk about Instagram & other social media. Yep that did the trick, just after midnight I was finally able to get some sleep. It was all good though, the girls were having fun & I was telling myself it was all training for 24 hour racing.
The morning of the race it seemed like payback as I made noise five am in the morning packing the car for the trip up to Nambucca Heads for the race.
I missed the opening of the new highway North of Kempsey by one day unfortunately & the road works seemed to go forever on the trip North arriving at the event an hour before race start.
After setting up for the eight lap 108km race I got in a quick warm up, put on the race number & headed to the start. With teams & shorter distance riders on track I knew the start was going to be fast & I had to remind myself that I had only a few good weeks training from the Convict 100 that I did not do so well in weeks before & not to get caught up in the first lap sprint. relying on my experience I set off at a steady pace aiming to came home hard toward the end. A conga line had formed as all the riders accelerated to around 50 kmh going through the big dippers & you prayed that the riders in front didn't come off in front of you. Heading up Serpentine Climb the pace started to slow down & I began to make up a few spots from some of the sprint riders in front, heading into the first weaving singletrack along the Pines I realized just how fast the track was going to be from all the hard work the club had put in. Before I knew it I had completed my first lap with the GPS showing an average speed of 23.5 kmh & I felt like I was riding quite steady pace.
I found a few riders in teams that I would go around on a lap & as they swap they would go back around me, it took me a while to work out who was teamed up with who.
I found the track much more enjoyable than previous times I had ridden it with the added sections of track varying the terrain & a few extra ramps & jumps that were really fun to ride. My favorite part of the track would have been Totem Poles where you hit a ramp jump over a tabletop on a left bend naturally letting you do a whip in the air that felt smooth on landing.
25km into the race I was still feeling good & decided to try & keep my pace solid by seeing how well I could nail each section of singletrack. Yep I was having a ball.
50 km in I did a quick pit stop to lube my now dry drive chain that started skipping teeth on the front chainring (time for a new one already) & grabbed a water bottle that had a caffeine mix I wanted to try hoping it would give me a bit of a kick to the end. First mouth full tasted nothing like it did in the taste test I had done before. Maybe it was from all the electrolyte I had drank beforehand that made it taste bad I do not know but I had to force it down every sip. By the end of the bottle I was starting to feel the effects of riding for so long & realised the drink just was not doing it for me despite what the company that sells it tells you about it being all you need to race with.
After 75 km I was starting to regain energy from my normal nutrition but now my legs were stating to lag. This is something I have been working on in training & I feel I went longer this time than I had been previously for my legs to become this tired, so it mad me happy to know that the training is starting to work.
Heading out on my second last lap down the fast dippers I heard a loud pop & thinking it was my tyre my heart rate would have spiked to its limit thinking of the worst if I was to come off at that speed. Turned out that the fork had popped the seal & I lost all my air pressure. I stopped & pressed the seal back into place & proceeded around the track with one tenth of the normal pressure in my front fork. You don't realise the importance of fork settings till you try & ride with 10 psi. I had to back the pace off on all tight corners or I would wash out the front wheel. With only one lap to go I put 100 psi back in my fork & ramped up the pace to hold 3rd overall but unfortunately with only a few kilometers left to go I started to cramp loosing two places overall but still rolling over the line in 1st place in the over 40's Masters with an average speed of 22.2 kmh. That is nearly one k an hour average faster than the Convict 100 a few weeks back on what I thought would have been a much slower track with all the twists & turns.
Conclusion is that I am getting fitter & faster again since the Convict & if I keep doing what I am doing I can only improve more during the year.
Well done to all other 130 or so riders on the day & congrats to the winners Ethan Kelly & Anna Beck, the winners of the Brian Cockbain Trophy. Left of picture is Donna Cockbain.
Well organised & great event, Thank you :-)
Reverse or not it's still an awesome MTB Race
Storms swept through the area of St Albans when I entered in 2015 causing flooding & trees to fall over the trails & the event was postponed to a latter date that happened to be when I was to be racing another event entered. The event organisers gave me the option to transfer my registration to 2016 for the 2nd time that the event was to be ran in a ant clockwise direction, so I was looking extra forward to the race.
I drove down earlier than usual on Friday afternoon & got a good camping spot by the river. I normally get there late & am left with long grass in a corner paddock or something.
I was greeted by nice warm weather on arrival for the first time at St Albans & race day was to be warm also but with a chance of light rain.
As I lied on my comfy new Sea to Summit sleeping mat the next morning I could hear the cars starting to roll in for the event & I started to get anxious for the race start. The start of the Convict has always been awkward with the masses of slower riders lining up an hour before race start making it impossible to get near the front unless you lined up in the start shoot when they did, not preparing your body with a proper warm up before putting your leg muscles under the strains of anaerobic climbing power on the first descent hill.
Jason English & I went for a small spin down the road after breakfast just before the start to get the blood moving around the body before Jase lined up for the elite start that went off 10 mins before the age group riders. I nearly entered elite just so I could get a good start in the event myself. I did not care about where I placed as much as doing a good race time so it was an option but one I will maybe do in 2017.
I lined up behind all the riders already on the start & noticed that riders I normally compete near were all the way up near the front. Your race time starts as you cross the start timing mat but if your not with riders you want to be competitive against it makes it hard to work out how hard you should push yourself to be at the front of your age group.
I was not let go until the third group of riders, around twenty minutes after the elite riders had left & there was nobody in my group that's face was familiar to me. No one there to push the pace for a podium position.
I started working my way up through the mass of riders seeing if I could get another rider to come with me. finally just after the sandy Macdonald river crossing I caught up to Martin Wisata from Rocky Trail & knew I would possibly have someone to work with knowing that he has done a few Croc Trophy races in the past. Sure enough after passing him on Jacks Track climb he went back around me on the first descent, this went on through the sandy undulating Womerah Range trail that went along the top of the mountain range. Coming down from the range onto St Albans rd I was on the chase again only to find Martin filling his drink bottle before crossing the famous canoe bridge where I went back in front again. I did the convict the last time with one bottle & a hydration pack, not having to stop at any drink stations, saving me valuable time & already it seemed to be working again.
The canoe bridge in previous years had only been two planks wide & was a real hoot to ride, but this year they decided to make it like a super hwy with four planks. It was a bit of a disappointment with no challenge as I rode across & I thought back years ago when I first entered the 100km just to ride the bridge & how you had to skid down a steep sandy bank just to get on it before balancing across. It was a shame to see this change to what it is now.
With all the chasing I had done in the first 33 km riding up Shepherds Gully became a chore as I once again remembered how fun & challenging it was to ride down it in the oposite direction. Once a fun single trail though the dense forest Shepherds Gully has now been graded into a super highway that you could drive a truck up.
All of a sudden I was becoming tired & found myself riding not much faster than those around me anymore & I knew the hardest was yet to come as we started hitting sandstone steps along the Old Great North Road that was built by the convicts.
My drive train was starting to sound really unhealthy with all the sand flicking up onto it from wet ground in the light rain & I was planning to do a quick stop to lube it up again at the 50 km Ten Mile Hollow. There was a volunteer that directed up around a left hand corner & I thought it was to the aid station but looked down at the GPS map noticing that it was now behind me. I don't know if he thought we looked like we didn't need to stop or what was going on but it was now behind us.
Riding up all the steps in the sandstone I was struggling big time & the route seemed to be a lot more uphill in the 2016 direction. Was I imagining it or was my fitness way down from last time racing in the other direction?
I remember having to get off once in the other direction at a large step up but in this direction I must have been off my bike 4 times already.
after being whipped by overgrown wet prickly bushes for what seemed like hours I finally reached Sullivans Arms fire trail where the track started to widen out now 30 km from the finish. For some reason I thought the last 30 km would be mostly downhill but this was not the case as we rode along the top of another mountain range before finally descending down a the steep private road where I lost concentration bottoming out my forks in a large wash away on the high side of a contour bank nearly sending me over the bars.
From there the race was straight forward along the side of paddocks at Wrights Creek road until hitting the tar for the charge over the finish line in St Albans.
I finished around half an hour behind my last attempt in the other direction two years ago finishing 13th in Masters & 44th overall. The race has definitely got me motivated to build my fitness back, still a fun race & one of my favorites but not as good as it use to be.
Congratulations to Jason English who went on the win the race this year just over record time ahead of Tristan Ward & Mark Williams.
I took my GoPro along for the ride
After having to pull out of a 12 hr race last weekend due to illness I was keen to get a good result even with the little training I had done with no structure.
I had never ridden at the Singleton track & was looking forward to a new location. It felt like it had been too long since last racing in a Rockytrail GP event & I missed the first round while preparing the track for the Bago Bluff MTB Marathon.
Like last weekend in the 12 hr I was again able to race alongside one of my sponsors. Fizo Cycling had two teams entered & two solo riders including myself in the 7 hr event.
I left Port Macquarie late Friday afternoon packing the car at the last minute for the 3.5 hr trip.
Arriving at the event location just outside Singleton around 8pm I was greeted by all the familiar faces that race these long events sitting under a huge setup by Grahame Sonter for the event weekend. Chairs & tables, LED lights, generator & even a shower.
I set up my little tent & got some sleep after catching up with all under a comfortable starry sky. Waking the next morning it was good to be able to lay there with no kids & gear to pack before heading to the track. The sky had a layer of high cloud keeping the temperature down slightly on what was to be a 29 deg C day.
The track was in very open bush with gum trees scattered throughout & the track didn't go any further than 1 km away from the start I was told with lots of corners at around 10 km in length per lap.
I took my time in getting ready & was looking forward to seeing what the track had to offer. After setting up for the race I took a quick spin to warm up the legs & check tyre pressures on the corners before heading to the race start where there was cow patties scattered down the road we had to ride through before entering the first single track.
A few rows back from the front my main focus on this start was to miss all the landmines & not get sprayed. The start had all the team riders sprinting for position into the singletrack as I held a steady pace nearly coming to a stop on the first tight corner. The first corner of many.
The first lap seemed to go by very fast as the track weaved its way through open tree scattered paddocks linked by steel over passes through the fences at the top of a hill.
In the first hour I seen three riders loose traction at high speed on the fast dusty corners & I began to concentrate on body position through every corner that was now becoming like fine powder. If you looked carefully at most of the off camber corners you could rail around small ruts that started appearing from all the riders giving the benefit of not having to use brakes so much, thus saving a little more energy.
I was averaging over 25 kmh for the first few hours of fun & was feeling good, but did notice my heart rate well above lactate every time I looked at the readings from the GPS. Knowing that I seemed to be caught up with the fast flowing track & having a higher than normal heart rate for a 7 hr race I backed of the pace slightly before I found myself hitting the wall with my energy.
The first 4 hrs seemed to go by fast while having so much fun touching up my cornering skills as I rode most of it with Micheal Crummy who was competing in the 4 hr solo category. 500m of track split while riding down a slight decline to mirror the other track beside it, making for some very fun duel slalom riding, glancing across at each other trying to get to the front before meeting up again. This was by far the best part of the track & something I would love to replicate near home.
As the 4 hr riders exited the track the sun began to peak giving no where to hide from it's rays in the open paddocks. I started drinking on bottle of electrolyte every lap instead of every two laps in the attempt to keep cramping at bay. Drinking one bottle after another had its own problems now starting to make me feel nauseated & all I wanted to drink was water. In the final hour of racing I was told I was sitting in 2nd position & it kept me riding strong till the end, picking up speed each lap as the clock counted down.
I rode back past Ian Bridgeland who went past me at speed earlier in the race. I knew he was not in my category but found him to be a great pacing tool toward the end keeping me strong on the pedals, also I did not know what position I was sitting overall & knew that he could potentially take the GC podium from me if I was in the running.
Crossing the line I felt like I could have ridden another 12 hrs if it was not for the small twinges of cramping I was now feeling at the top of my calves from the heat during the day. Given the lack of training I had done before the event I was happy to come away with 2nd in the 40+ category a lap ahead of solo 7 hr team mate Ian Butler & 4th overall riding a 7hr distance PB of 156 km (21.5 kmh average).
Thanks Fizo Cycling / Macarthur Designs for inviting me along to race along side & helping me out during the days racing. It's always great to race alongside your sponsors.
Thanks Grahame Sontor for helping out in the feed zone & letting me use the awesome hot shower to wash off all the dust before heading home.
Also thank you to all my other support to make it to races:
to 24hr or not to 24hr
Leading up to the 24hr solo champs I have found my fitness to be better than ever after setting up my own training plan using Today's Plan letting me peak at the right time after building a good fitness.
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.
Competing in a 24hr event at any level takes a lot of team work in both the preparation & during the event even for the solo riders. It all started back around six months ago going to see Simon Turnbull at Enriched Health Care & working on a foundation to build my core strength so I can ride for long hours both during training & competing. We also worked on leg & upper body strength so my legs & arms can keep repeating the same movements for 24 hrs non stop.
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
I have never been overseas before the world 24 & I was not sure on what to expect when travelling & while over in NZ. It all started with saving every bit of money I could afford & that was made a very hard task at the same time as starting my new business as a sport's promoter. The business is called Trail Terra hosting mountain biking & other trail events as well as training & coaching. It seemed every time I wanted to pay for a flight or something else to do with NZ something else came up that I had to pay for in the business.
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
Meeting up at the airport we met up with Jason Moxham giving us a lift back to our new house for the week. Because NZ is two hours earlier than home, over the next week we stayed up late keeping our body clock's the same.
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 track was an awesome layout using some famous tracks in Rotorua. & the climbing didn't seem to bad either. On race day the wet weather had cleared but some damage had already been done to the event center making it a very muddy pit. There had been over 200mm of rain that fell in the days leading up to the race & I was expecting mud right around the track. A quick inspection reveled that the track was nearly perfect. Their is no way you could ride on trails anywhere is Australia after that much rain, you would have to wait nearly a week. Now I know why Rotorua is so good for mountain biking. Hero Dirt!
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 finished 4th in the 40-44 age group & 18th overall. Identical to the result I had at the worlds in Canberra in 2013 & one that I was sure I would better this time around.
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.
Thanks Nduro Events & WEMBO for a great 2016 World solo 24 hr Championship event. Keeping 24hr racing alive!
Preparation & Planning ahead
With missing the National 24 hr champs earlier this year due to illnesses beforehand I missed an opportunity for more 24hr race experience before the WEMBO world 24hr Solo Championships in Feb 2016 and entering the ThuleB24 was the next best thing after finding out it as a growing event on a challenging course that is also considered the Victorian champs to some being the only 24hr event currently in Victoria.
The event was to be held in the beautiful alpine town of Bright surrounded by the steep terrain of Mount Buffalo, Mount Beauty and others. The area is also a well known location for cyclists, both on road and off road because of it's location and friendly cycling atmosphere. Arriving in town after staying in Cootamundra with my sister to break up the 12 hr drive to Bright there were bunches of road cyclists everywhere taking on the steep hills in the area all riding around in there supporting team kits.
We booked a night into the big 4 holiday park so our two smallest kids will have a great time away as well in the park which was located in the small town of Porepunkah just outside of Bright.
The kids had a great time swimming in the pool & jumping on the giant blowup trampoline while I got a small ride in to stretch the legs and check out some of the local area on the bike before heading up to Mt Buffalo for a drive/walk checking out the scenery in the area. If your ever in the area you have to take the time & walk up the Horn. It was amazing!
24 hr race day
Awakening the next day after a good nights sleep we headed out to the race venue at Pioneer Park on the outskirts of town to set up for 24 hrs of racing.
Race briefing was the only clue of what I was in for around the track as I opted not to ride a lap knowing I had 24 hrs to work out the best race lines. Called to the start line whilst downing as much last minute carbs as I could I still managed to position myself on the front line where I got a smooth start taking it easy for the first lap hoping riders in front of me knew the track better than myself.
It was not long in the first lap that Dave Speering mentioned his tyre was already leaking air and pulled over to re inflate it. The general race pace for the 24hr was quite fast averaging above 20 kmh and I was wanting to back the pace off, but in doing so found myself holding up keen riders behind me wanting to pass. Mid lap I let them by to burn all there energy on some open fire road that climbed a few hundred meters up the side of a mountain. Most of the climbing in the 18 km loop was on fire road with undulating sections of river rock scattered ground in the singletrack following a fast flowing little river stream. The descents were fast steep lines through pine plantations that became faster and faster every lap as you tried to stay off the brakes saving energy for the climbs.
A few laps in I was settling in to a comfortable pace on the course coming around at the hour mark ( just what I planned ) taking on food and a new bottle of hydralyte before heading back out. The day was hot in the sun but a cool temperature in the shade given the location of Bright. Perfect weather for riding.
I tried to get an update on my position now that I had been riding for a while & I was receiving all sorts of answers to what I was coming due to a problem with the live timing system with the majority of people telling me I was sitting in first place for masters. Just before night fall I was riding over a rocky step up onto a log & hit it wrong stopping the bike suddenly & in a hard gear not letting me get enough power to the pedal to get over it I found myself falling off the side onto rocks. Lucky not to injure myself badly I got back on the bike & started to ride with some more caution around A lines when there was a B line saving more energy to be taken.
As night fell I found myself in a small battle with Mark Astley, who I was told was in Masters & had around a seven minute lead on me. David Speering had stopped riding I was also told, so that was one less rider I had to keep an eye on with position knowing that Dave has in the past come from behind in 24 hour racing to make the podium. With confusion to why I was not told about Mark beforehand I went on the chase & after a few more laps gone by & I had now caught up to Mark where I sat behind for a while seeing whether he was looking tired or not. After seeing that he was taking the B lines on all the hard sections of track & riding slower that I wanted to ride on the hills I decided to go past. I think he realized as he picked up the pace behind me. I rode over a 15m log ride that I knew would gain me another 20m on him but now starting to tire I managed to fall off the side falling a meter into a bunch of thistles. Mark then asked was I OK before pedaling off into the lead once again. I began to chase him back down and after another lap I finally caught him again at the feed zone before going around once him once again. Thinking that falling off the log last lap was a one off I rode the log again to get some distance between us & once again I somehow managed to slip the bike off the side & fell into the thistles as Mark rode around me. I could not believe me luck falling off in the same spot one lap after another & letting him back in front of me. This time more determine than ever I chased him down straight away going past him on a fast downhill fire road before putting in some extra wattage on the large hill climb to make a larger break where he could not see me any longer whilst planning ahead not to go over the log any more now that I was starting to make mistakes with sleep deprivation setting in.
The hardest part of any 24 hour race is early morning when all seems quiet because of people sleeping in tents around the event center that are helping or riding in teams. although this 24 hour race was to be the best I had ever seen during the early hours of morning with entertainment out on the track that made you laugh & kept you awake with there crazy cheering. Angel Flight was a small section of track that was lit up with angels, party lights & music. The track was scattered with disco lights shinning in the trees & disco balls hanging from the trees that reminded you that it was not only a race but a party atmosphere. There were a bunch of guys having there own party by the river with music blaring & showing off there disco moves before giving a high five as you ride past & my favorite of all was around 20 teenagers on a bit of a fire road hill climb that dressed up like the crowd in the Tour de France running beside you shouting a random name and cheering with excessive noise as you had tears of laughter rolling down your cheeks.
As the sun got near morning the night got very cold & my bike lights were showing warnings that they did not have much battery life left in them but time seemed to go by fast throughout the night with all the entertainment around the track. I still felt good & as far as I knew I was still 5th solo overall & 1st in Masters as well as still lapping near the times that I had set out to do. I kept riding as I had for the last 19 hours happy with the result so far until I got the heads up that Mark was making a move to catch me with around three hours to go. I then decided to pick up the pace for my second last lap & not becoming too cruisy with my position seven minutes in front of him. Seven minutes is not a lot in a 24 hour race when it comes to the final moments I had learned in WEMBO 2013 that it is a critical time to eat if you want to finish strong. I was not going to let the same mistake happen again & end up in hospital or loose my position.
Finishing my 2nd last lap nearly eight minutes faster than me previous lap I was confident to back off the pace slightly for my final lap knowing if I was to be caught from seven minutes behind then that rider would deserve the win.
I rolled over the finish thinking I had finished in 1st place in masters & headed to the shower truck to have a much needed shower before packing up for the trip home & presentation that was to be held at 2pm.
With my hands, knees & back swollen from overuse I found it hard to shower.
Presentation I managed to get a seat & found it hard to keep my eyes open as I looked around at other solo riders nodding off the sleep. With the call to the podium I found out I was not in first after all with Martin Grannas in Masters finishing just under 10 minutes in front of me & Mark Astley who I though was my closest competition in Master now finishing 17 minutes behind me. It was a shame that live timing was not showing Masters during the event as I would have tried a bit harder to make the top spot, but at the end of the day I was happy to average over 17 kmh & that is what I had set out to do before World Champs in Feb 2016.
Final results for Open had Shane Roberts win his third B24 in a row ahead of Scott Chancellor & Sam Moffitt. The Female solo results was Alexandra Orme 1st, Leah Childs 2nd & Lara Cordell 3rd.
24 hr racing takes a lot of assistance & Preparation
Racing away a lot requires motivation & preparation, not to mention money in travel, accommodation & race entries. Without help from friends & sponsorship competing near the top level of the sport would be a very hard & expensive exercise. It is a shame that 24 hour racing is not recognized by the UCI as the ultimate endurance mountain bike race giving more global recognition & funds into the sport.
My family have always been there for me & without there support I would struggle in 24 hour racing. My wife Cindy & my kids have always stuck by me & I would like to make a special thank you for putting up with me & my racing. Cindy did a brilliant job in transition passing food, fluid & keeping me up to date with race positions. At the end of the 24 hours I was stopped in the feed zone for less than 10 minutes & this all adds up over the race time on track.
Thanks also to Graham Seers Cyclery for servicing my suspension linkages & rear wheel before the race. I recon after the replacement of my rear wheel bearings it required a lot less power from me legs than I was use to since riding in the mud at Wagga 6 hr where the mud had ruined every bearing in the bike.
My suspension is still working a treat after being serviced by DIYmtb & riding for 24 hours on rough rocky & rooty terrain requires a lot of importance in this area keeping your hands & back in working order.
You can't beat the original & the best in hydration. Thanks Hydralyte for keeping me hydrated
Nutrition requires a lot of attention & keeps the body working for 24 hours. Winners Nutrition had me covered & made it easy to chew & swallow for 24 hours & with there large choice in nutrition I never got board with any one flavor.
Enriched Health Care have been awesome to me for the past few years & are a very important part in any success I have had. Recovery & preparation are all covered with what they are able to provide me. There new Anti Gravity treadmill for recovery is the bomb when it comes to getting back on track along with Palates Reformer sessions for stretching & strength. When it comes to massage I have never felt so good after visiting Enriched Health Care. I don't think I have ever known the importance of a good masseuse until visiting Julie Ainsworth.
Thank you to my sister Dee & husband Steve for hospitality & letting us stay in Cootamundra to break up the long drive to & from Port Macquarie.
Thanks Outer Image Collective for all the great photos at the event.
Time for testing Fitness
After illness from a cold & an ongoing problem with a tooth I had to go backward with my training slightly to build my fitness up once again & also make the tough decision & decided not to enter the National 24 hour MTB Champs but instead traveled to Melbourne & road Around The Bay 210km for extra training after winning a free entry with Hydralyte Sports. I also used this opportunity to catch up with my Son & his family in Melbourne.
Jason English had planned to race in the Bayview Blast & was looking for someone to travel with to the event & after him twisting my arm with free fuel, a car & accommodation at his brothers, how could I resist after hearing how great the trails are at Redlands Bay South of Brisbane, as well as giving me the opportunity to see where my current fitness is at against some of the best national riders before my next race in a few weeks time in Bright Vic.
A Lesson To Learn
Looking at the start list I did not recognize any names in my category & planned to try & stay with who ever was near the front. With the elite riders getting a 5 minute head start & was not expecting to see many of them in the next 100 km that was to be ridden around a 25 km lap circuit.
The start was quick but not fast & I thought I was in an OK position as we entered the first single track where the pace slowed enormously & given that the track was sidelined by trees or grass trees there was no chance to overtake. There were riders calling for track behind me but there was no way I was letting anyone passed because I myself wanted to get passed the riders in front of me & I'm sure other riders in front had the same idea etc, etc.
The track was awesome with long switchback climbs, lots of changing terrain & fun enduro style descents but with the lack of places to get past riders I could not ride at a steady pace & instead found myself having to ride to other riders styles. Fast on the climbs, slow in the single track & extra fast on the fire roads not giving me any opportunity to get past.
With the race starting at 8 am QLD time & the start of the warmer weather I found it very tough trying to keep riding approaching 50km with only being able to carry one water bottle full of electolyte per 25 km lap & not wanting to wast any time by filling up at the water stations throughout the track. A mistake I was to pay for in the end.
2nd lap into the 4 lap race I found myself in the front of the pack I had been trying to get around & started to push myself through the singletracks, maybe a little so much as I was not able to correct a couple of small errors around corners slamming into trees coming off second best with a few cuts to my fingers & bruises to my right shoulder & leg.
I was quick to learn that I had to drop the pace back off a bit in the tight sections of trail & from trying to hard to make up time & I was also starting to get some cramping twinges in the heat as I ascended the hills. Backing off the pace on the last two laps I was starting to feel very ordinary struggling to breath in the heat & just holding off the onset of cramping. The pack I was riding with vanished into the distance & I found myself riding the pace of a 12 hour race instead of a 100 km marathon. I started opting for a bottle refill with 10 km to go each lap & with the extra cooler fluid I was starting regain my concentration that the heat had taken away from me during the day. I managed to catch up to the elite female riders & thought I was going to come good toward the end but as soon as I went past my legs started to cramp placing me back behind them on the climb. From here the race seemed to go downhill fast for me.
Going out for the last lap I felt relieved that I had not been lapped by the elite male riders at the pace I was riding & found myslelf fighting off cramps on every hill. The last 10 km of each lap was where the hill climbs took there toll & I was glad to roll down the second last descent knowing that I only had one more hill climb to get over before rolling to the finish. Climbing the last hill I could see two riders battling it out behind me & gaining quickly so I pushed myself up the hill as quick as possible with cramps in both legs before hitting the last fun gravity descent for the day with a 10 m gap. The two riders were keen to get by as we got to the bottom with the finish line in sight & looking over my shoulder I thought they looked to young to be in my category so I let them by to race for the finish.
Looking over the results Jason Herriot & Chris Thompson are the two that passed me near the finish & both in my category pushing me out of 3rd place down to 5th. A very disappointing result for me & a lesson I have learned very quickly. "Race to the finish no matter who you think is behind you".
At The End Of The Day
Thanks Jason English for the invite & congrats on 2nd place, also thanks to your brother Matt English & wife for a place to stay.
A huge thanks to the Brisbane South Mountain Bike Club for hosting the event & I'm sure Ill be back riding the trails in the area soon.
Thanks again to my sponsors for there ongoing support:
Enriched Health Care
Graham Seers Cyclery
Well done to all competitors on the day especially Elite male 1st Michael England, 2nd Jason English & 3rd Ethan Kelly.
Elite Female riders 1st Imogen Smith, 2nd Briony Mattocks & 3rd Anna Beck
Preparation was not ideal
All my training during the year has been geared toward the National 24 hour MTB Champs in Canberra this October, so at late I have been riding well & proving great results but what I did not count on was being sick. The week leading up to Wagga's round in the Evocities MTB Series I came down with a head cold & felt in no way like doing a MTB race. Taking it easy & only doing a couple of short rides in week as well as eating & drinking as healthy & as much as I could I managed to feel not to bad on race day even after looking on the ASADA web site and noticing that there is not much you can take to clear your head when it comes to cycling and the 8+ hr drive in the car the day before after going through a box of tissues with my runny nose, I still felt OK to race.
I grew up in Cootamundra, only an hrs drive East of Wagga so it was also a great opportunity to catch up with family down that way was as well. My wife Cindy also came from down in Coota & her father still lives in Wagga where we stayed the night before the race. It was great getting the chance to catch up & go out for dinner for the night at an all you can eat restaurant to well and truly complete my carb lading before the race, as well as stay somewhere in a comfy house that we felt at home in.
What better way to end the series though in a place that I grew up around and on a track that I had ridden before & was lookng forward to riding again. Seeing some familiar faces that are from down Coota way also make the race that little more special. It seems racing in SW of NSW is the only time I get to briefly see my Spokey Folks Friends. Maybe I should plan to do a more social ride one day with them.
The weather was fine & I felt ok
Rain had fallen a lot in and around Wagga & you could tell by the lush green & gold all over the country side while we drove down, but that did mean that parts of the track were going to be wet. Unlike home in Port
Macquarie where we can get over 50mm in just one downpour & it soaks up into the rainforest floor, in the Riverina that would mean flooding of some parts.
I was in the right spot at race briefing and managed a good start near the front among the 220 plus riders including teams & 3 hr riders that were to ride the fun 13 km race loop marked out.
The pace at the start was pretty fast as all the riders made there way up the fire road climb & I was not sure if I was going to survive the day while having a cold, so I just rode at a steady pace watching all the riders going around me.
I had raced in the Wagga 6hr back in 2013 before the World 24hr Champs in Canberra that year & just before starting up this blog. Back then I didn't have much luck with a leaky tyre & this year all I wanted to do was get a better result than 5th in Masters. I knew it was going to be a hard task with a cold.
Near the top of the hill a few km into the race I was surprised to see Jason English (the series leader) go past me thinking he would be way out in front of me. Turns out he was late to the start line.
The Pomingalarna Park in Wagga is a great MTB track & I was loving the return back to the track. I have always described the track as a mini Mt Stromlo style MTB track & one of my favorite MTB tracks in Australia with great lines that keep me smiling and wanting to keep riding km after km.
At the half way point in the race I was feeling OK but my bike was now feeling heavy from the mud I had picked up on the frame from the wet patches on the back of the hill. I was sitting in 3rd place in Masters but like all solo riders I had to stop and oil the chain to stop the chain suck that could potentially break the chain by getting caught up on the front chain ring as I put pressure on the pedals. My first oiling of the chain I could not remember where I had placed my oil & used another brand that was fast to grab in the pit. Riding off from the quick pit stop I could still hear the chain as though it was still dry & it was not to long before realizing that I was still getting chain suck. After working out that if I left the front shift alone, my chain would not suck up as much & I completed the lap OK, at the end of the lap I searched through my bag in the pit to find my WD wet Lube to apply on the chain. Immediately when I started pedaling again I noticed how much easier each pedal stroke was & how quiet my chain was again. I will recommend this oil for wet conditions now for sure.
With only an hour to go I was feeling a bit weary but with a hit of caffeinated carbohydrate, within 15 min I was getting my energy back. My Garmin GPS was being returned in the post during this time from a warranty replacement after it locking up in my last race, so I was using a Magellan 505 that I won in the Jetblack 12 hour earlier in the year & one of the main features that is missing that I use on the Garmin is lap times & this meant that it was hard for me as a solo rider to determine if I was getting slower but I was told that I was gaining on 2nd place & I was pretty happy with that. With the hour to go I thought I would only get another lap in after being told at race briefing that all riders results would only be counted under the 6 hours, but on completion of what I thought was my last lap I had everyone encouraging & letting me know that if I pushed myself I could get another lap in & catch 2nd place still finishing under the 6 hours.
The last lap was tough with a cold but I was not wanting to complete it over the 6 hours wasting my effort for the last half hour, so I made the most of it pushing harder up the hills & trying to stay off the brakes on the downhills. Feeling surprisingly good after downing more caffeinated gels I managed to ride a better time than my previous lap by a minute and a half & finished in 5 hrs 58 minutes completing 118 km that earned me the Centurion trophy that is given to riders that complete 100 km under the 6 hrs. Only seven of riders got this trophy in the 2014 Wagga 6 Hour.
unexpected results made possiible
I finished 11th Solo overall & 24th overall including against the teams & that placed me 3rd in the Masters category behind Jason Morgan 2nd & Stefan Merriman who not only came 1st in Masters & the 1st solo rider overall ahead of Ed McDonald who placed 1st in Open Male ahead of Jason English in 2nd & Andrew Lloyd in 3rd. The Open Female results were not far behind with Jenni King 1st, Liz Smith 2nd & Eliza Kwan 3rd.
All other results are in the link below.
Thank you to both Cindy's father Alan & his wife Jan for there hospitality & letting us stay as well as letting me have a shower after the race to wash the mud off before driving to Coota. It was great to catch up & spend part of fathers day with you.
Thanks to my sister Dee & brother in-law Steve also for there hospitality in letting us stay for few nights after the race where I got a chance to spend some relaxation time after the race as well as go for a short ride the following day to see what changes had been made to the Coota MTB track since I was last there.
Thanks again to #TeamMacDesign who not just helped me in the pit for this race but have been a great help throughout the series.
Thanks heaps once again to my sponsors for supporting me, because without there help I would not be racing away as much as what I would like to & finishing on the podium.
#EnrichedHealthCare for all physio & strength training
#SeersCyclery for all my bike repairs & servicing
#DIYmtb for all my suspension maintenance & repairs
The Evocities MTB Series for 2015
The Evocities MTB Series has been a great series taking me to four tracks that I have never raced on before out of the seven inland tracks in total & letting me race my bike for a total of around 900km.
The series has been well ran by all the local clubs & had great support by all the inland Evocities & in particular the Mayor of Dubbo Mathew Dickerson who helped the series kick off.
I would like to thank all the sponsors that supported the series & made it what it is bringing some of the best endurance mountain bike riders to the races by supporting all the categories.
As well as all the other volunteers that helped with marshaling & other tasks along the way.
I am over the moon to finish 2nd place in the Fly Orana Masters Male category against such a strong field of 90 riders in my category throughout the series & I would like to thank my closest rivals for the challenge along the way, Jason Morgan in 1st & David Speering in 3rd who kept the races fun & exciting to say the least.
Congrats to all other riders reaching the podium also & in particular Jason English for the overall solo win in the Male Open & Eliza Kwan for the overall solo win in the Female Open
ironing out problems
After doing so many K's on the only MTB I own, the bike is starting to take it's toll with the lack of maintenance I have been giving it, so I am well overdue in get things sorted back to the way they are meant to be. As mentioned in my last blog I sent my forks & rear shock away with Duncan from DIYmtb on the South Coast for some TLC & after he inspected them he could not believe how I managed to be racing so well with them. With the return of my suspension I was keen to test them out on the local trails & set up the air pressures & dampening before riding 12 hours on them. I could not believe that I was running such low pressures in my rear shock to get it to work before sending them off for repair. It now takes all the bumps out of the trail & feels as smooth as silk to ride. Just goes to show that when you think things are working OK there not always & it pays to get these things serviced before it's too late, costing you more money to repair or replace if you don't.
After a few rides I had the suspension dialed & now it was time to get the play out of my wheel bearings, that was a simple task after taking to Seers Cyclery but when I got on my bike to leave I found my front brake had now somehow lost its ability for the leaver to return after applying the brake & it left the calipers jammed onto the disc rotor. After trying to bleed the brakes we found the fluid that was coming from them was very ordinary & had caused a problem with the plunger inside the leaver. Being late Friday afternoon I rang around every bike shop near by & left messages on social media trying to find a compatible front brake. No luck though as my Shimano Deore XT brakes have the gear leaver bolted onto the brake leaver and are hard to come by. I did consider draining all the oil from the system and racing with only the rear brake but somehow I did not feel safe in doing this & I did know it was against the commissaries rules for any type of racing when your bike is not in proper working order.
I managed to find a diagram on the internet when I got home showing that the brakes could be pulled apart, so with nothing to loose I got to work in pulling them apart & found nothing wrong with the internals at all that I could see, but they were filthy dirty inside from the old hydraulic fluid & this must have caused one of the two internal plungers to fold over not letting the plungers pull the calipers back to there normal set position. After cleaning them up & re-assembling them I went back to see the boys as Seers Cyclery Saturday morning to get the brakes bled with fresh fluid before heading up to the race at Nambucca Heads. At first it did not look like I had fixed the problem, but with much persistence we finally got the brakes bled & working better than new. I pack my gear for an overnight race & still had enough time to see my youngest daughter play a game of netball before picking up my father who was going to camp the night and try out his new inflatable mat he just bought at the camping show the weekend before in Wauchope. With Dad staying at the race I did not have to drive home after staying up all night racing making it a much safer option to travel home.
I made it to the start
The Jacks Ridge MTB Park near Nambucca Heads is just over 100 km to the North form home & it's awesome to be able to have these larger events so close to home letting me sleep in my own bed & having all the creature comforts of home before riding a mountain bike over off-road terrain for hours on end.
Arriving at the event I was impressed by the set up through the feed zone, there was even a lolly bar you could attend on the way through if you needed that little extra boost to get you around the 12 km loop. The track weaved its way through the event tents before heading back out into the dark forest alowing for teams and solo's to be track side under the light.
For those that do not know Jacks Ridge at all, the track is a buzz to ride with the first section taking you through what they call the roller coaster, a series of large dips across gullies on the side of a mountain where you hang on for dear life hoping that nothing will jump out in front of you travelling at break neck speeds. You then head back up Serpentine Climb to the top of the ridge weaving in & out of trees, over drops & into berms before heading back down Suitcase & into the appropriately named Snakes & Ladders. There was a new section of track cut in that I had not ridden called Chasing Teagues that flowed really well with some little steep twists that kept you thinking every lap & took me a while to master.
The start was slow & it felt like I was riding a magic carpet with the suspension set up and working like a dream on my bike now. I had two choices to make at this point in the race, do I chase Andrew Lloyd as he rides off the front into the lead or do I hang back and enjoy the race a bit more with David Speering and Benjamin Jacka who were riding in front of me. Knowing that I was feeding myself right through the night & that it takes a week or so to recover from a 12 hour race and I had the final round of the Evocities MTB Series in two weeks time I opted to ride with the guys in front of me for a bit.
Looking down at the GPS I realized that the data on the screen had froze showing an average speed of 21 kmh & a total distance of 8km. Pushing all the buttons on the GPS I could not even turn it off so I changed over to my Garmin Vivo Active watch just to get an idea on what lap times I was doing, but I knew this only had around 8 hours of activity recording with GPS so my Strava download was not going to show the whole ride where I wanted to get over 200 km. These things happen I guess.
With the colder weather of riding at night I felt like I had hydrated a bit to much during the day & now needed to go to the toilet once again, so with the first opportunity I went around the boys catching them by surprise and slowly increased the gap until I had enough time to jump off the bike for a minute or so, expecting to see the boys come by I was shocked to see nobody as I got back into the swing of things riding through the night. At around 2 hours in I started hearing the shout of my name as Dave Speering was now trying to close the gap on me, as we passed on sections of track that were meters apart. Realizing that he was trying to get to me leaving Ben behind I increased the pace slightly, leaving just enough to keep him pushing hard but not enough to let him catch me & toward the end of each lap I put in a little extra effort giving me enough time to grab some food & drink as I went through the event center.
Dave yelling my name every lap at midnight was now starting to get to me & I had to try and loose him enough that he did not see me on the closer sections of trail anymore but with his partner trying to stall me on his behalf by offering me a free chain lube or anything else she may think of to give Dave a chance to catch up to me. I of course refused help & manged to do my own thing letting her know that I had it all under control & was feeling great, hoping that this information would be transferred back to Dave getting him back at his little mind games Mwah hahahaha!
It was an awesome atmosphere every time through the event center as everyone gave loads of encouragement & cheers that kept me smiling lap after lap. I was so surprised to see nearly everyone still up right through the night & it definitely helped me stay on my bike.
Just after 1 am some fog rolled through making it hard to see as my helmet light shined on the water particles in front of my eyes & it made you feel in a trance like state.
There was a point at around 3 am that I felt like the only one out on the track & I started to struggle to keep seeing straight. I forgot to buy some caffeinated carbohydrate gels before the race & I was really needing them now. I tried picking up the speed slightly in an attempt to keep me awake and found myself facing the other direction on the trail after sliding out on a bend. Having a lough at myself I got back on the bike & kept riding at an easy pace again only to find on the next lap near the same place I this time ran wide on the corner & hit some logs on the side of the track landing on my head, luckily OK.
I tried to take my mind off the race & picture all the solo training rides in the bush I have done in the past taking in the views and sounds of birds during the day as well as remembering back at the solo rides in the night to and from social rides out of town with my buddies & things were starting to feel good again taking away all the tiredness and bringing the flow back on the bike.
There was the cute little animals you see out at night in the same spot nearly every lap, like the small brown snake on the side of the track that seem to move to a different position every lap even though it did not look alive & the tiny bush mouse that ran across the track in front of me until a bat swooped down in front of my light grabbing it under its wings. Memories that stay with yo forever and things that make night riding such an adventure.
With my 100 lumen handle bar light on the 4th dimmest setting I have been able to get right through the night with it & that free's more battery's to us on my 1500 lumen helmet light that I run on the 3rd dimmest setting. I normally get through the night with one battery change that I could remember but heading out on my last lap just before 6 am while going down a steep fast drop on the roller coaster my helmet light went off leaving only me handle bar light shining on low until I was able to slow the bike down enough to take a hand off the bars and turn the handle bar light on a higher setting, but an doing so the battery on it was so low that it too went off leaving me in the dark & not being able to see a thing I managed to find the nearby fire road and carefully negotiate my way back to the event center only taking out some bunting & going off the road a few times along the way. I was able to grab another battery and head back out for my final lap again. Lucky for me this time lost did not let Dave catch me and spoil my chances of first place where I finished in the 40+ age category and 2nd overall, including racing against the teams where I managed over 212 km in just over 12 hours.
people to thank
Graham Seers Cyclery have helped me out many times & this time they did not let me down by bleeding my brakes and making it possible to attend this years Dusk Till Dawn 12hr.
What can I say about Duncan at DIYmtb, he is a fork god as a friend of mine said on Facebook. After servicing both my forks & rear shock, riding my bike for 12 hours felt like riding on a floating carpet. I don't remember ever feeling my suspension work so good & it made the riding way more enjoyable. It pays to have your suspension serviced by a professional regularly.
As you get older & train as many hours on the bike as I do you get injury's & in the last month I have been having issues with back pain. I have seen the Physio, Alex at Enriched Health Care and she has been been working miracles on my back problem & I was able to get through the 12 hours with ease.
Thank you to Switch Back Events & the Nambucca MTB Club for hosting such a great event. It is great to see clubs closer to my home town running the events most mountain bikers want to ride in & it makes it event more enjoyable with all the familiar faces from our local area cheering you along.
Last but not least I would like to thank all my friends giving me encouragement & trying to assist me before the race with my brake issues & also my dad that came to the race with me so I did not have to worry about falling asleep on the way home after the race.
Read my page, "A LITTLE ABOUT ME"