Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Singletrack Mind - 8 hr - Rydal

Singletrack Mind - 8 hr - Rydal (Lithgo)

1st place - Male Solo

16 laps / 8 hrs 07 mins 52 secs

This weekend was round 6 of the Chocolate Foot Singletrack Mind Series.

The race was in a little town called Rydal, which is about 15 minutes outside of Lithgo.

Heading up for this race I was not sure what to expect. Just two (2) weeks since the Scott 24 hr I knew my tank would still be running close to empty.

Post solo 24's are strange. It will take me a good four (4) weeks to recover, and during this time you can have days on the bike feeling great - and others where you may as well just stay in bed.

Regardless, I knew I had to give this race a shot.  Garry James and I went out for a practice lap on the saturday arvo and were a little shocked with the track. Not shocked in a bad way, just not something we had seen before.

The track itself is contained literally within a few hundred square metres. But withing this small space there is 9km of singletrack! In order to achieve this mathematical oddity, there must be 1000 corners in the track. This is a track to practice every type of cornering skill.

From 180 degree off-camber switch backs, to 90 degree deep berms, to cornering whilst ducking under trees, up hill corners, down hill corners, corners with logs in the middle ... it is all corners!

Despite all these corners, the course did have a reasonable amount of flow - especially once I had ridden it a few times. The course also sported a couple of novel obstacles. These includes a couple of nice little jumps, little rock gardens and some interest pump track roll overs.

This practice lap was pretty skatey for me on my front tire - the 2.2 Race King. With so much of the track being off camber, and a lot of new sections just being cut in the lack of tire knobs was a concern. I headed out for another lap with an X-King on the front. A world of difference!

Come race start we would start at the bottom of a little fireroad. The teams riders took off quick, and Ed stomped past me on his single speed. I entered the single track a wheel behind Ed.

The first section of single track was ridden at a furious pace - with riders (including myself and Ed) either losing their footing around corners, or sliding out all together!  As soon as we hit the first little section of fireroad I knew I had to get in front of Ed - as he would be riding the bulk of the twisty singletrack for the first time and would be slow.  So, I hit the gas and was off.

From that point on I saw Ed and Garry a couple of times through the trees, but I knew I was making time on them each lap. So I settled into a comfy race pace.  As it heated up, I stopped to take on more fluid each lap and this worked well to keep away any cramps or heat problems.

In the end, I was able to maintain a pretty good pace for the 8 hrs and came to the end of the race feeling quite good. 

I actually quite enjoyed this track, and would definitely race here again.

Food & Nutrition

  • 9 x Torq Gels, 3 x Torq Bars, 2 x Cliff Shot Blocks
  • 8 x bottles of Torq Energy (2 scoops) + another 4 bottles of plain water


The Scott Spark was a great bike for this course. It's geometry really allows for you to hit a tight corner and keep weight on the front wheel. It also allows you to really throw the bike into the tight berms.

I ran the Spark in the middle lock out mode for the whole day, with a slightly higher shock and fork pressure then normal. About 170 PSI in the shock and 80 PSI in the forks.

For tires I ran the Continental 2.2 X-King Protection on the front, and a 2.0 Race King UST on the rear. This course was pretty safe for tires, and you could easily run Protection level tires without concern.


  • Robyn - for coming up and supporting me, Garry and Ed. Robyn has become quite an expert support crew. She knows exactly what I need and when. It is great riding and not having to think about that stuff!
  • ACT Bike Superstore - for getting both of my Sparks race ready (again). The new kit looked and felt great too
  • Chris Newman from Avanti - for the new Scott drink bottles. Lets just say my old bottles were getting a little manky ... 
  • Chocolate Food & all their sponsors / support - for putting on another well run event. Great event and great prizes from SRAM.

I'll update with some pics when they become available ...

Into transition ... wondering what food I will be getting ...

Ed telling me how fresh he is feeling ...

Pump track roll overs

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scott 24hr

Scott 24hr - Solo

3rd Open / 5th Overall

This weekend was the Scott 24hr at Mt Stromlo.

This race was going to be a change from the previous solo races, as we were back an hour glass / red / blue lap format, and we were sharing the track with the 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10 person teams.

Leading up to this race the Canberra weather was doing it's best to be miserable, and there was quite an amount of rain in the previous two weeks. Despite the rain, the track was held up pretty well.

The two lap format meant the red lap was through the lower sections of Stromlo (Holdens Creek), and then up the trunk trail to the top of the mountain, then a fast descent down Skyline, Berm, Luge etc and finishing via Little Rascals.

The blue lap was up through Blackberry, Slant 6, Willow Link, out into Deep Creek, back via Shadys & Missing Link, and finishing with the fast run down Party Line and the lower link trails back to the event center.

The blue lap was definitely the harder of the two - with a lot and lots of rocks. The Deep Creek area lacked flow, and required a lot of low cadence work. Lap times would start out in the low 40 minutes and blow out to an hour!

The race start was fast (as expected), with Ed McDonald setting the pace up the first red lap climb. Needless to say, with the start of race nerves and Ed's cracking pace, my heart rate was pegged at 180 bpm!

Ed pulled away from Jason English, and I hung with English for most of the first blue lap.

I had no intention of staying with Ed and Jase - I'd learnt my lesson at Easter Solo Nationals about going too hard in the first 8 hours, so I deliberately throttled it down and rode to a sustainable heart rate.

This was working well, and Ed and Jase were not getting too much time on me - and I was slipping away from Brett Bellchambers.

A few hours in and I came across Ed who had some mechanical issues. He had got about 5 minutes on English, and then lost it with tire issues. Once Ed caught me back up, we rode together for a few laps. Ed was obviously keep to go chase down English, and was clearly willing to give it everything to get there.

Letting Ed go, I settled back into my own pace of around 135 bpm which was working well for me.

A strategy I was using was to keep using the same gearing up the red lap, and really punch it on the descent. I knew that Brett would probably gain time on me on the climb, but I could get this back with a fast run down skyline. The same applied to the blue lap, with party line back being an area where I could gain time on him.

I did achieve a little personal goal in doing this, of hitting every red lap in my 3x10 big ring (44) ...

As the night came in, it was really nice to be doing nice laps in reasonably warm temperatures. Along with the super tacky trails, the night laps were really good fun. Only the odd Kangaroo jumped out onto the trails to keep me awake!

Somewhere out the back of the blue lap I had an encounter with a tree and had a little over the bars incident. I did not think anything of it, until I noticed that my knee was getting quite sore. Around 10pm it was very sore and I have myself one more lap to test it out. This of course turned into "I'll just get to midnight", which then was "I'll just get to dawn" .. etc

 Just before dawn an awesome fog rolled in over the mountain. With visibility down to just a few metres it was a real test of memory in descending. "I think I turn left .... now!"

By 8am I could no longer climb the red lap. My knee was just too painful to push the pedals. So, with much disappointment and emotion I stopped with 4 hours to go.

At this point, I was up about 27 minutes of Bellchambers, and behind a slowing Ed by 20-30 minutes.

That is the nature of these solo races. Despite me having great fitness, no nutrition problems, and having set a sustainable pace I got hit with the knee problem. Oh well.

A big congratulations to Ed McDonald and Jason English for their respective rides. Ed gave it everything to chase Jase, and Jase showed his World Champ form by keeping Ed at bay.

Congratulations also to Jase McAvoy for his Masters Solo win, Garry James for his Master's Team win, and James 'PRO' Downing for this Team's podium.


I ran my usual Torq bars, gels and energy drink. 1 gel / hour, 1/2 bar / hour, scoops energy / hour.

In addition, I substituted in some Cliff Shot Bloks, Muffins and the odd Sandwich.

I started my caffeine intake around 11pm.


My two Scott Spark 10's performed exceptionally well - with no mechanical issues at all. I had them set up nice and soft for the rough conditions - 50 PSI in the forks and 160 PSI in the rear shocks.

As always, the Twin-Loc was really useful. I would lock out the forks & shocks when hitting the fireroads and crit track.

Post race, no excessive muscle or joint soreness - a sign that the Spark was setup well and comfy for my 320km race.

For tires I ran a 2.0 UST Continental Race King on the rear, and a 2.2 UST Continental Race King on the front. During the start of the race when it was a little muddier, I ran a 2.2 Continental Protection X-King on the front.

With Stromlo being tacky from the rain, the Race Kings were perfect. Fast and strong. The low profile tread pattern is great for weaving down Skyline and maintaining full speed.


  • Robyn, Kylie &, Merryl for looking after me on track, keeping me going and helping me make the right call to stop when my knee was dead
  • Brett for looking after my bike ( as well as McAvoy's & English's bikes) throughout the race. It was great swapping bikes every 3 hrs and having everything freshly cleaned and running smoothly
  • ACT Bike Superstore for getting all my bikes ready to race. These guys really went out of their way to get all my last minute details sorted. They also hooked me up with some great new kit!
  • Chris from Avanti Bikes / Scott for bring down some extra backup gear for me and helping the shop chase up my last minute items
  • Mick and the boys for their late night cheering and encouragement up on luge/berm track. Hilarious!

Garry, Jase and me on the start line

Ed, English and I