Monday, May 4, 2015

2014 WEMBO 24Hour Solo World Championships - Fort William, Scottland


Any 24hr event takes lots of effort and preparation in the lead up. To be competitive at the world level involves a ridiculous amounts of training and sacrifice to ensure personal best performance.
I was asked how my chances were leading up in regards to my physical preparation. I was feeling fit. I snuck in a 200+km ride a week out and felt great even at the end. The only limiting factor was my RSI in my wrist that developed during the Scott 24hr at the end of September. I had some anti-inflammatory medication that I had started on but then stopped taking as it made me want to sleep all day which isn't useful when teaching students.
The other painful process in the lead up involved restricting my caffeine intake. Unlike previous attempts I managed the week without a headache!
Transportation to the event was another mission. I finished work on the Thursday afternoon and arrived at the race venue around 5pm on the Friday. It might have been helpful to do a lap around the track to check lines, but I was keen to just eat and get some sleep!
My favourite part of the lead up to a 24hr race is the increase in carbohydrate consumption. Thanks to the Qantas Lounge on the way over and the breakfast buffet at our hotel on the morning of the event, I had no trouble with this. Normally breakfast on race day would be a moderate sized meal, but I couldn't pass up a cooked breakfast and then didn't need to eat anything solid until around 5pm that night during the race!

The event

The race started on the bike with riders rolling past bag pipers with a lead motor bike for the first few hundred meters. As the motor bike pulled off to the side everyone seemed to take off. The first lap was modified to start with a climb of 250m vertical gain but it didn't really split the field. I though I was going too hard and I was already a couple of minutes down by the top of the first climb. The first couple of laps I felt as though I was sitting just inside the top half of the field. After lap 3 I had ridden past quite a few riders and was 5mins down on the lead. The following lap I unknowingly took the lead, still thinking there were riders up the road. After chasing nobody for a few more laps I was informed of my position and settled down my pace as I started to really enjoy the track. It had heaps of variety, slow muddy sections with slippery roots, technical rock gardens, fast fire road, steep sweeping corners and high speed switchback berms. The course had around 430vm per lap which is much more that I am use to hence my conservative and sensible start. I knew the hills would take a toll on my legs so I made an effort to spin easier gears when possible.
The night seemed to kick in early and by 5.30pm it was dark enough to need both lights on.
I normally reserve caffeine gels until around 9pm when I start to feel sleepy but by the same time I had almost eaten the 12 I had packed. I almost did the first third of the race purely on gels. I continued taking a caffeine gel around the hour mark and this kept me feeling alert all night.
Somewhere around midnight I was ahead by almost 30mins so I just settled into a comfortable rhythm as I tried to nurse my wrist on the technical downhills without losing too much time. I really enjoyed the track and I found some good lines that helped me maintain speed. I think the track was a great length for the amount of riders. It didn't feel too quiet on the track and hold ups were only minimal. As I kept lapping in the early morning, I was getting consistent feedback that I was around 30mins ahead. Then with 3-4 hours to go I was informed I had lost 13 minutes in a lap and I now only had a 12 minute lead. I was a little confused but looked to increase my speed to ensure I maintained a small buffer. I decided to get a second opinion regarding spits and I was informed that my buffer had shrunk down to 14mins and I was loosing a couple of minutes per lap. I did some maths, settled down and managed to finish a little before the 24hrs were up as Anthony White (2nd place) couldn't have made it out on an additional lap to my current.

Post event

The race continued for my parents and I as we rushed away from presentation to the airport so I could be back at work for Tuesday. And it was a nail biter. If there was a Strava segment from the International Terminal to Domestic at Sydney airport, I would have got the KOM for sure!

People to thank...

Firstly to G8 Performance for coming on board as a major sponsor.
The Merida Big 99 bikes were once again flawless with no mechanical issues at all!
A massive thanks to CORC and WEMBO for assisting me to attend this race. The chance to defend has been great and a race that attracts 23 different countries is a world championship event.
No Fuss put on a straight forward event. From a riders point of view it seemed to run smoothly.
My parents were great in the pits along with Trevor Creighton who provided all the required mechanical support.
Jen's parents for looking after Jen and the kids back in Australia.
All the crew on Facebook that kept the encouragement flowing.
Lloyd and Darcy from Gordon Street Cycles for having my bikes dialed in before the event.
Bikesportz for having the Santini Clothing arrive into Scotland in time for the event. They also provided the required warm gear, the new superlight Z1 Lazer helmet and amazing Northwave Shoes.
Adidas Eyewear for the new yellow bling glasses.
The Continental X-King tyres were perfect for the mudish conditions.
Shotz Nutrition kept me fueled during the event as I focused on the caffeine gels and electrolyte tabs.
Jet Black Products expressed a couple of brand new Nite Rider lights for the event and rotors just in case...
Shimano provided enough brake pads to keep my bikes equipped even for harsher conditions.
Macarthur Drafting and Percival Property for the support in getting me to this race and more!
Port Sports and Spinal for getting my wrist back into condition for the race and for now further treatment to get it sorted for the next event.

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