24 hours of racing Mt Stromlo - 18km laps with 500 vert meters per lap.
11th Elite / 27th overall with 20 laps.
Happy snaps from the race ...
Before I continue any further with this post, I must first say a huge thank you to my amazing support crew;
- Robyn - pit crew manager - did an exceptional job at keeping me fed, hydrated and organized. Not to mention all the packing and gear organization.
- Brett - master mechanic - Bike Superstore spared their mechanic for me, and Brett serviced the bikes for the whole 24 hours! He also had good words of advice early in the morning when I was really digging deep.
Back to the story ...
Heading into this race I really did not know what to expect. I did well at the Nationals earlier in the year, but I was wondering how much of this was beginners luck.
My training had been going well, and riding with Fenner's FTP training had really improved my riding, and doing training rides with the Jason, Kevin and Garry were confidence building.
My biggest concern going into the race was how to pace myself. This is something only experience can guide you in ... how will your body respond to a certain threshold after 6, 12, 18 hours ...
Leading up to race day was full of chaos ... my new Scott Spark 10 arrived on the Tuesday before the race. It took me a few rides to get it all dialed in and riding fast.
The Spark is a great bike - super light (10.4kg off the truck). It is really stiff, climbs well and is great in the technical descents. I highly recommend it!
I was going to run Rocket Ron tyres (evo/ust) since they are the lightest UST on the market ... but after just three runs through pork barrel they were like pin cushions! Stans flying out like blood from a vein in a bad horror movie!
To add to the confusion, some small weld burs on the inside of the new wheels were rubbing against the tyres causing even more flats!
Thanks to Dave for fixing up the rims, swapping over cassettes and rotors etc etc - and in the end I ran my Roval wheels on the Spark, with a Specialized Captain Control on the front and a Maxxis Larsen TT UST on the back.
The Captain tyre is certainly not the fastest XC tyre, but it still light (605g) for a really solid tyre. I have raced all year on these with out incident! The TT was a little heavy, but again I chose it for the reliability. I knew that pork barrel would shred many sidewalls, and I did not want to be changing tyres in the middle of the night.
I set up my Stumpy with the same tyres as well.
I was pretty nervous heading to the start line. I'd decided to race Elite rather then Age-Based. Racing a WSC at Stromlo, I thought Elite was the only way to go. So lining up against a lot of Australia's and overseas best riders was pretty cool (and daunting).
The running start was not too bad ... although I could have done without it. Having a 15 minute head start on the age based + single speed riders meant there was little traffic on track and everyone was flowing along nicely.
The first 3 - 4 hours went pretty quickly - with my laps averaging a little over an hour. In retrospect, I let my pace stay too high for too long. My heart rate was up around the 150bmp - it should have been down at 140bpm. I think this contributed to a big slumb in the late evening and early morning.
I made my other big mistake early on to ... I had decided to run Fortsip as my primary liquid food for the first 12 hours. I asked Robyn to mix this into my HEED / Torq Energy drinks. Turns out that certain flavors of Fortisip will curdle in these mixtures!!
It took me a few bottles to work out what was going on - which by then I was feeling pretty sick and had missed some valuable carb/calorie intake.
With the combination of going out a bit too hard and the food stuff up, I had a big slump around 10pm. But this was nothing compared to the slump I was feeling at 2am.
Not even a double hit of no-doze helped lift my 2am feeling. I was desperate for the sun to come up, and there was definitely a few pit stops around 5am where I had no idea how I was going to finish the race.
I was in the hurt locker real bad ... digging deeper then I ever thought possible. Interestingly, it was not the climbs which were getting to me - the main trunk trail ascent was almost relaxing - but the rough pork barrel --> deep creek decent was the killer. The bumpy / rutted trails just zapped the energy, and even more energy went with the focus required to ride these trails at a decent speed.
Aside from my pit crew, chatting with riders out on track really helped full me through. It was great seeing Ed for half a lap and eventual Jason.
Anyway, the last few hours finally came and with it that energy that comes with daylight. Not to mention I was hitting the Torq Banoffee Gels ... these Gels are amazing. Check them out if you have not tried them.
Heading out on the last lap I was told I was 2 minutes behind 10th place ... but I soon forgot this when I came across McAvoy to chat with. What a relief to have someone to ride with on the last lap. About half way through I remembered the 10th place was calling, and put down the hammer. Too little too late - missed 10th by 72 seconds :(
Oh well, next time.
Overall, a really tough race and a really good learning experience. I definitely dug deeper then I ever thought possible, and put everything I had into the ride.
The World Solo Champs will likely be in Europe next year. If I can sort out some more sponsorship I would love to be there!
Finally, well done to all the winners! You guys and girls are awesome!
Check some of the guys on the podium that I have the pleasure of riding with;
- Brett and Ed - single speed machines
- John Blankenstein - you are a weapon
- Jason McAvoy - teach me obewan
- Jason English
- Garry James
For reference, my food was;
- Hammer HEED
- Hammer Perpetuem
- Hammer GEL
- Torq Energy
- Torq GEL
- Nutella sandwiches
What's next? Highland Fling 100 miler ... just a few weeks away!!