After riding an 8hr at Awaba earlier this year I had the plan to stay on the hardtail for the whole 8hrs again. The first few laps felt fast, my heart rate jumped over 190 on the camelback climb and Andy Hall was crazy enough to try this pace too. The tracked flowed as well as I last remembered but with a bit of rain falling between this race and my previous visit the track was far more harsh on the hartail. I had to slow the pace on the downhills to prevent my bottles from ejecting.
I rode around with Andy for almost 3hours until some pedestrian traffic separated us. I was pretty sure I would see him again as my legs had seen a hard week back on the bike and were feeling pretty smashed. I took my first full week off the bike which is the longest break I have had since breaking vertebrae in 2008!
I spent the next couple of hours thinking about how flogged my hands were getting until I finally gave in around the 5hr mark and pulled out the Merida 96. I don't know why I didn't do this earlier. It took me a lap or two to get use to the duallie but my wrists started to feel relaxed. I was smashing the downhills heaps faster and started to have a whole lot more fun. It ended up that my last lap was my fastest of the day once I had both the track and duallie dialled in. I was just disappointed I missed the cut-off by two minutes preventing me from getting another sweet lap in on a sweet track on a sweet bike.
A big thanks to Paul and Di who managed to race well in a mixed 3 and also feed me during the race. They did a great job.
As this is my last race for the year it is worth acknowledging all my sponsors for 2011.
Adidas eyewear have been very generous with their support this year, especially given the rate that I break and loose glasses!
Anytime Fitness have supported me for over the last year. The 24hr access gym with a 24hr rider!
Continental Tyes have had me covered all year. I have been running a Protection Race King on the back and X King Race Sport on the front in all races that I attended this year. I only went a Protection on the front out at Alice Spings, just in case!
Dirtworks lined up an arrangement with Ritchey this year for me which was great. The hollow carbon rail 130gram seats are really comfy even for 24hrs.
JetBlack Products have looked after me through:
Crank Brothers - I'm running eggbeater 11 pedals which are the lightest pedal on the market. They also work well in mud and clay as they are so open.
NiteRider - I run the 3000 lumen lights on the bar and a minewt 700 on the helmet which has worked very well.
Stans - I have a set of the new stans titanium 1200 gram wheels on my duallie and my hardtail also run podium rims.
Weldtite - I have been running wet lube all year. My bike only needs re-lubing under 8hrs in really dusty or muddy conditions. I have also started using wax on my road bike which keeps the whole bike a whole lot cleaner.
Merida have invested heavily in me. This year I have had two 96 Meridas for 24hr racing, an 0-nine hardtail for shorter races and a team roadie for training and road racing. I have been very lucky. These bikes are impressive, not only the weight but the way that they ride.
I'm going to miss the 96 bike when it goes. I have only ridden it at races over 10hrs. This will change next year when I get on the 99's and start enjoying how much fun duallies can be. The 0-nine will stay in my garage for a while as I compare it to the new carbon big nine (29er).
SRAM have also made it possible for me to race so successfully. They have helped build my bikes up with their amazing XX kits. They have also provided ongoing support at races which has been much needed.
Gordon Street Cycles in Port Macquarie have spent hours keeping my bikes in perfect working condition. My bikes have gone into the shop several times barely working only to come out like new every time.
I'm sure Darryl from Shotz Nutrition didn't know how much I ate until he started sponsoring me. I'm really a big fan of the caffeine gels during the night, electrolyte every second lap and protein recovery bars after hill repeats.
Lazer helmets have been looking after me for the past 4 years and I still love the ability to adjust the helmet tension on the fly.
On The Go have been looking after my casual gear. Next year I'll be matching my year 12 students in their On The Go year 12 hoodies!