It all began on a Friday afternoon, packing our car and trailer with bikes and school kids before we headed north for Old Hidden Vale, near Grandchester QLD. The trailer almost doubled our fuel consumption and we were filling up every 200km but it was great to give the kids another race.
It seemed I wasn't the only one not looking forward to the run start in this event as a massive cheer was let off when race organisers told us it would be an on the bike start! Having not done a practice lap I was happy to sit back a little from the gun to see what the track was like.
I was surprised to see so many solo riders charge past but I was pretty determined to take it easy and see how the course unfolded. I had the bike in the big ring from the start and I expected keep it there but after the first 10mins of the first lap it didn't get used again!
The track started through pit lane and each lap you snaked past all of the pit row tents. This was a great idea as your support crew could see you several times in the transition area. After the transition came a grass downhill that had some different height hucks that kept the photographers entertained before some pretty cool burms which sent riders around the dam. After the dam were some undulations before the first climb. It seemed most of the uphill sections were fireroads and all the down hill sections were single track. Just the way tracks should be made! The first climb had a few sections to it before you hit a flowy, fast and fun downhill. It had rock gardens, log drops and plenty of corners to make it interesting. This was possibly my favourite part of the track. The track then started to head back up hill, not as much climbing as the first hill before a more technical downhill. This downhill seemed to follow and traverse a creekline before a fast single track with a slight gradient took you back towards the final hill at a very quick pace. The final hill was pretty nasty and had no places to pass. I knew this was going to hurt Sunday morning as you had to punch up some steep little pinches.
After about 1.5hrs I had managed to catch up to the lead solo rider Adrian Booth and we rode around together before he took a longer pit break. Adrian was a brave man trying to race this course on a hardtail. As Old Hidden Vale is a working cattle farm, the cattle make the tracks nice and bumpy! I had deliberately set my bikes up to be super soft. I was running under 100psi in the front and I had the rear set up with over 30% sag on the back. It was closer to 40%.
It took a few hours before the team riders caught up and I was finding it hard to work out who was a lap up and who was a lap down. I decided to just ride my own pace. After about 6-7hrs I lapped the kids I had bought up from Port Macquarie and I tried to spend a fair bit of time riding around with the boys. I was quite impressed with how well these three juniors went, 5th team overall!
As the sun started to head down some dark looking clouds started to appear and I was expecting another nasty cold race. I think I felt a few tiny sprinkles at one stage but I only had to put arm warmers on during the night. It was so nice to have a relatively warm race. I had a few moments during the race where I wanted to have a sleep but there was usually someone to talk to. I was impressed with how friendly people were on course. Almost everyone said g'day as we passed.
As the sun came up I was told I could catch the lead teams if I had a go. I put the pace on for a lap but I couldn't maintain the pace I went out at and it still wasn't going to be fast enough, so I took a more sensible pace as I rode to the finish. The last 3 hours seemed to go on forever and I was pretty happy to finish and shower up!
This race was my first 24hr in my new kit and I couldn't have been more comfy. Thank you Cannibal Clothing!