Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 24 Hour Solo National Championships

Archie cheering his dad (Russ Baker pic)
I was asked if I would be disappointed if I didn't win the National Champs for the 5th time in a row. I was convinced I wouldn't be as I had prepared well for the race. If someone was to beat me then they too must have worked hard and would be a deserving winner. Looking at the entry list there were three or four riders who would ensure this race wouldn't be a cruisy roll around Majura Pines. After two laps of the race, this number went out to around six or seven riders that could have finished first.

I found it hard to think about the race and mentally prepare for it. Instead, I was just looking forward to riding my new Merida 99 bikes. I had ridden one of them on two occasions leading up to this event which had me even more keen. After a few solid carbohydrate loading sessions at the McAvoy's I had some serious energy on board ready to burn. Archie too had demonstrated his excitement being at the McAvoy's before the race and found it hard to sleep. My lack of sleep meant I needed to throw a couple of extra Shotz Caffeine gels in the food box as I would need to start taking them earlier than usual.

The Race Start (Dan Mackay pic)
On the start line it was all jokes with the blokes until the gun went off. I had the race plan of sitting back in 3rd or 4th position for most of the first 3-4 hours and that is pretty much what happened. It seemed like everyone wanted a go off the front at some stage. I found it really hard to get into race mode. I was hoping I just needed a good warm up but I started to doubt the quality of my taper in the lead up. I found it very hard to remember who was off the front at any given time.

Around 3-4 hours into the race Sam Chancellor had charged off the front. I wasn't going to ride his pace and I let him go along with the rest of the lead bunch. I was then back in a small chase group that seemed to fluctuate in numbers as our paced often changed. I swapped onto my second bike around this stage and I was amazed at how good I felt with the different bike setup. Having my seat around 20mm further forwards meant I was far more comfy and was balancing out the use of my quads and hamstrings. I really started to enjoy this race with so much fun single track. I would guess that 90% of the track was single track. There was nowhere to really put the power down or you ended up on the brakes as there were so many corners.

Fairy lights! (Dan Mackay pic)

Once night kicked in I seemed to get a small gap as I tried to maintain a good pace in the dark. My motivation here to keep the pace on was to chase down Sam. I was beginning to question if I would catch him after a few hours of this solid pace. When I stopped for a battery change around 11pm I was told that Sam had actually pulled out of the race 3-4 hours earlier and I was in the lead! I kept lapping around at about the same pace and I was generating a 1-2 minute buffer each lap.

Dan Mackay pic
By early morning I had around a 20 minute gap which I was very happy about and I tried to settle into a comfortable pace. Around this time I also caught up to Mark who was sitting in 3rd and was trying to catch Ed in 2nd. I was pretty keen to see if Mark could do this so I rode around with him for a couple of laps before he backed the pace off. With around 3 hours to go Ed was 13 minutes up the road or around 25min behind me and I just rode to a pace to maintain this gap. Before I went out on my last lap I let 30psi out of my front forks and just enjoyed how well the 99 bikes soaked up the trails.

I need to thanks lots of people for making the race possible for me:

Darcy from Gordon Street Cylces in Port Macquarie spent hours swapping bits and pieces to get my bikes in race condition. All Jen had to do was oil the chain to keep these bikes going.

Kylie McAvoy for looking after Jen, Archie and myself not just for the 24hr race but before and after with some serious carbohydrate loading and recovery fuel!
Winners wheelie (Russ Baker pic)

JetBlack Products for sorting me with NiteRider Lights, Stans Wheels, Crank Bros pedals and cockpits.

Merida bikes - The new 99 bikes are amazing. I had them setup with 40% sag purely for comfort and they still accelerated like a hardtail. They felt really quick through the technical sections and I had far more confidence both downhill and on the rocky off-camber sections.

SRAM have also been working hard to ensure I have two bikes that are made up of the best components available. I had one of my XX forks set to 5" of travel and will be giving the other fork the same treatment!

Shotz caffeine gels were fantastic. They are my only source of caffeine for the race. If I am feeling tired during the race either from lack of energy or lack of sleep these things had me covered!
Podium Pic (Russ Baker)


  1. You should have phantom riders up the road to chase more often!

    Great job, good luck for Italy.

  2. It did work for this race!
    Thanks :)