We got a lend of the parents caravan to keep comfy in the cold conditions & arrived the night before race start allowing for a good nights sleep before the race.
Race briefing before the 10 am race start we were told there were just under 400 riders & around 80 solo riders. A lot of riders for a 10 km circuit & that ment the track surface was sure to change over the next 12 hrs.
Ready on the start line only a few meters from the front, Phil Welch positions himself on the front as I call out to him to tell him I have a spot for him on my rear wheel. He refuses to budge though LOL. Shortly after I get my own back as Brett Bellchambers calls Andrew Lloyd to the front from behind me where he replies "I just have to get past the posty and his bike in front of me" LOL.
The start was furious with so many team riders smashing out their first lap, & it did not take long till I lost where I was sitting in the field, but I did not let it bother me too much with another 12 hrs of racing ahead of me.
I went out the first three laps with arm warmers on & there was a cold wind blowing across the track keeping the dust away but causing me to cough every now & then to the point where I was short of breath.
An update on the race after around 3 hrs had me sitting in second place with Phil sitting in first at around 5 mins in front of me. My heart rate had been sitting at a high 170 bpm & there was no way I could push any harder in such a long race ahead of me after breaking my front gear shift cable, now having to spin a higher cadence than I am use to on the downhill & open sections, so I just kept doing what I was doing for the meantime planning to pick up the pace later in the race if my heart rate was to come down like it normally does in these longer races.
It did not take long after 4 hrs for Jason English in the Elite category to come around lapping me for his first time & at this point I was feeling pretty ordinary already & wondering if I could continue. I loaded the pancakes, jam sandwiches & hammer gels into me but did not seem to be feeling any better so I decided to stop chasing the lead & just slow the pace back to where I felt more comfortable.
6 hrs into the race the race update revealed that Phil was now around 15 min in front of me but I was around 9 min in front of Clayton Locke so the only way I thought I could catch up to Phil was to pick up the pace or for Phil to have a problem with his bike & on the other end of the scale if I was to try and lap Clayton that would give me a better buffer to secure my second place.
As night fell I did a short stop & fitted my lights as my pit crew lubed the chain after 120km of dust riding. Now ready for attempting to pick up the pace over the other riders, my first lap into the dark revealed that this was going to be a harder task than I had thought. The wind had now backed off & the fine white dust was sitting in mid air making it look like fog as you tried to negotiate the single track through the rocks & corners. I found myself over shooting some of the corners as the track vanished from my eye sight & picking the best line through the large breaking bumps into the corners took all my concentration.
With around 4 hrs to go I found myself feeling very flat on energy & started to get some caffeine gels into me but it was taking longer than expected to pull through. I decided to stop for a short period and get a sugar/caffeine hit with a can of coke as Kedan from Bike Bag Dude came running down to me with some freshly cooked French toast on the pan dipped in Maple syrup for me to have.
After 15 mins I started slowly getting my energy back now that the sugar & caffeine had started to kick in and after an hour I found myself lapping 3rd place as I had a chat about our race. After chatting to Clayton I found out that we both had the same preparation coming into the event with a virus & the both of us had high heart rates at the start that we both put down to peaking with a cold the week before. I kept the caffeine sipping on caffeine gels to keep the energy there & felt great for the rest of the race, Maybe the best I had felt right through the race & I tried to keep the bike on the smoothest of lines so I would not end up with a flat tyre or something else that would cause me to lose my position in the race.
Going out on the last lap half way around I could hear the raw of the crowd and some distant yelling on the microphone, I looked down with a sign of relief as I noticed the time was now 10pm marking the end of the race. As I rode up the steep hill in the vineyard for the last time I was surprised that I had gotten to the end of the race considering the preparation leading up to the race & I was even more surprised to roll over the finish line in 2nd place and 11th overall, only around 5 minutes behind Phil Welch, who at one stage in the race I thought would lap me.
Jason English took the overall solo win a lap ahead of Andrew Lloyd & Michal Kafka.
Brendon Wood finished 9th in Elite Male Solo & 15th overall in his first 12 hr.
After having a nice hot shower we sat around the camp fire chatting about our experienced till 1am before one young enduro rider calling us 24hr riders soft decided it was time to jump his bike through the 1m tall x 2m Diameter fire bucket full of large flames before I retired to bed. I hope the picture goes online so I can show you all :-)
I would like to thank Cindy & my kids for their support over the weekend as well as all the others encouraging me both around the track and in the feed zone.