This weekend was the Australian 24 hr Solo Champs, held at Mt Stromlo.
This year saw the race leave Majura Pines and instead use the trails of Stromlo.
The course itself was very different to the Solo Worlds course we had all competed in last year - with no climb to the top of mountain. Instead, the course took riders out to the western tip via trails such as Little Rascals, Blackberry, Slant-6, Willolink, Party Line, Break Out and Berm Track.
Despite there being no real climb, there was a steady gradient to ascend to get to the top of Willolink. But the real challenge to the course was that it was pretty much all single track and a lot of pedaling. Because of all the rain over christmas, the tracks were very rocky and bumpy ... and throughout the race the track was constantly moving and evolving with new rock gardens forming and moving around!
My strategy for this race was going to be simple - don't lost contact with the lead group, survive the night, and power home in the morning.
I was also looking forward to (hopefully) hanging onto my riding buddies of McAvoy, Ed, Garry etc.
Despite a lot of talk amongst the top riders of a slow start, once the siren went off there were a few guys who went off like scolded cats. There were 4 riders up front, with Ash setting a cracking pace. I jumped past McAvoy, Ed and Bellchambers early in the lap and kept the lead group in sight.
Not surprisingly, this pace did not last long and soon it was just Stuart who was off the front and I got to sit in behind English and have a chat.
Soon enough I fell off English, and had quite some time sitting in 3rd place - with Scotty C about 3 minutes behind.
Around dusk Scott and Ed caught me up, and it was nice to have some company heading into the night. Ed eventually got off the front and Scotty C fell off and it was off into a cold night for me.
From dusk until midnight I struggled to keep my heart rate up - consequently my lap times slowed, and the cold really hit me. By midnight I was feeling pretty down and out, with news that McAvoy, Bellchambers and Ash were all close by. I decided to break the seal and pop and few no-doz.
Within 10 minutes the no-doz kicked in, my lap times dropped and I was back on! Everything felt fine, no pain, riding strong - hey this is fun!!
Perhaps due to pushing a little hard through the night, not taking on enough food or caffeine or perhaps I am just soft - but by 6am I was slowing down again. I still had a pretty good lead on Bellchambers and Ash, so I just had to survive and hope my usual morning energy kicked in.
No morning energy came ... but the Brett and Ash steam trains did! Soon enough my 4th was a 6th and I was limping around wondering where I went wrong.
Lucky I had a big gap to 7th, so I could finish the last few hours with some slow laps. I waited for McAvoy and English to come around for the last lap, and we had a great cruise for the last lap.
I kept the food real simple for this race;
I also got all my caffeine from no-doz. I did not really use any caffeinated gels.
Bike & Equipment
My pair of Scott Sparks did really well again.
Knowing the course would be rough I dropped the the front fork PSI down to 50, and ran the rear at 160. I also tweaked the rebound to keep it even more super soft.
I also put on some Richey form grips to absorb more of the impact. These were a big success.
After doing some test runs, I chose to run a Schwalbe Rocket Ron on the front and a Schwalbe Racing Ralph on the rear. I ran both USTs. With all the rock gardens I did not want to risk a sidewall.
The choice of tires worked, and I had no tire issues.
The twin-lock was again a real advantage - especially running the lower PSI pressures. As soon as I hit the (brief) fireroads or crit track, the lock out was fully on and the bike was as powerful as a rigid ... and then a quick flip of the switch and it was back to being super soft.
The true success of these bikes is that my body has recovered really well. Despite a little sore wrists and fingers, the rest of my body (back, neck etc) are all fine!
A big thanks firstly goes to my support crew - Robyn, Kylie, Anne, Houran + special guests of Robbie and Indi
You guys & girls did a great job to keep the food and encouragement rolling, and doing all the bike cleaning and maintenance.Could not have done it without you!!
Thanks to Dave & Brett from ACT Bike Superstore for getting my bikes all prepped and ready to race.
Thanks to Jase & Houran (Radical Lights) for letting me share their pit space.
Thanks to my trusty training buddies - McAvoy, Garry, Ed and Dave - it was great to be riding with you out there. Well done to all of you - you all did really well!
This weekend I am hanging up the Spark and pulling out the Scott Addict for the Tour of Canberra.
Then in a few more weeks there is the Beechworth 6 hr, Paterson 24 hr and a 8 hr in Nowra ... nice!!
|Age group podium with Ash and English|
|McAvoy and I happy to finish|