Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2015 WEMBO Solo World Championships - Weaverville, CA

Photo Cred: Russ Baker
The WEMBO 24Hr Solo World Champs have been the focus of my year. When people asked if I was looking forward to my trip to the USA I wasn't too sure. As I was going over for just four days it wasn't really a holiday as two of those days were traveling and the others were racing. When completing the immigration form I really found it hard to tick the box stating that my purpose for travel was leisure as I really only had one purpose for my trip.

Arriving late Thursday night into Weaverville we met out wonderful hosts and I was asleep around 10 pm. I woke up at 10am and was confident I had shaken jet lag. After building bikes it was time for an easy lap around the track. After a single lap I was confident I would struggle in this race. The lap started with a 25-30min fire road climb with sections that were so steep I could barely push the 1 X 11 gearing I had brought. The second part of the track was 95% downhill and wasn't really technical. I felt the downhill would be pretty much ridden at the same speed by all of the top riders as it was so smooth.
Photo Cred: Russ Baker

After making an effort to carbohydrate load and ensure I was well hydrated I decided to stay up to 11pm on Friday night which helped me sleep in until 8am. Race morning was pretty standard and I thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of low fibre, high carb breakfast cereals available in the US. 

The race started with a neutral section behind a lead out from a Mustang (a very classic US muscle car) and a couple of mounted police. The race turned serious once we hit the first fire road and it was as if we were racing to get to a single track first. The pace that was being pushed was just silly. I had the plan on keeping my heart rate under 170bpm and power under 300w however, there were several riders that seemed to be pushing much harder than that. For the first 5mins I was part of a fair sized group however, once the climb really started everyone seemed to do their own thing. I rode the hill with my mate and experienced 24 hour racer Cory Wallace from Canada who has done enough of these races to take a more sensible approach. Tinker, Josh and Kelly didn't seem to have this same approach.

Photo Cred: Russ Baker
Sitting on the top of the first climb was a neutral feed station and was the point on the first lap where I worked with a few of the guys to chase down a couple of riders that had done the climb ahead of us. I made an effort to hit the the single track first as the gradient started heading down as the first part was brand new track which was super loose and dusty. This track had never seen rain however, with some moisture and some time bedding in, it should have plenty of flow and should be a fun section. The next part of track was my favourite as it followed the creek with some really fun undulations and blind corners that required little pedaling if any. There was often photographers setup on one of the key corners which, if overshot, would lead to a huge plunge into the creek. There was pretty much no passing opportunities during these first sections of track which was not often a problem due to the similar skill level of riders on the downhills and the long lap spreading riders out. 

The down hill had two sections divided by another fire road and drink station. The second downhill section required a fair bit of pedaling which took me a few laps to really get all the corners dialed in so I could start carrying more speed which helped me ride more efficiently. I took it a bit easier for the last part of the first lap so I would have a few people to do the climb with. I made it through transition half a minute faster than Cory who soon caught me on the first climb. I started to develop a little patten riding with him. I would generally make it down the hill half a minute faster which meant I got a much needed head start out onto the climb. After a few laps we were given lap splits and apparently we were down 15-20 minutes. Talking about the gap with Cory, we decided that people either had their splits wrong or that the guys off the front would blow up at some stage soon and quite likely will not be able to finish the event. A gap of 1-2 min on us per lap would have been reasonable but putting 5-6 minutes per lap clearly meant they were working pretty hard.

Photo Cred: Russ Baker
It wasn't until 9-10hrs into the event that Cory and I caught up to the leader. At the 14 hour mark the US, AUS and CAN national champions were riding around together. A couple of hours later it was just Cory and I. Before day break I was riding by myself and was gaining a lead of at least 5-10 minutes per lap. As I went out for my second last lap I apparently had close to a 30 min lead so I took it pretty easy. I spent the lap taking it as easy as possible talking to other riders and checking out the feed zones. When I got back to transition to start another lap Jason was concerned the boys fighting for 2nd and 3rd were also due in soon and suggested I get a move on. I busted out a fairly hard lap however I was worried I was at times pushing it too hard and was at risk of cramping due to the increased intensity on fatigues muscles. Rolling across the line it turned out that the other riders didn't do an additional lap and I had a good clear win.  

I have heaps of people to thank for making this race possible...

Firstly Jason Moxham for not only flying over with me, sharing the car driving but also providing the mechanical support and feeds during the race. There were no problems at all. Super fast transitions really made the difference.

Our hosts were fantastic, thanks Noreen and Don for your hospitality!

Photo Cred: Russ Baker
Thanks to Pivot Bikes, Stans Wheels and Continental Tyres. It was great to see the Elite Female winner, Sonja Looney, shared some sponsors.

Thanks to Shimano Australia for helping me make my bikes a 1 X setup. 

Thanks Dad for letting me borrow your bike again!

Thanks Jen for looking after our kids while I go off racing overseas and thanks to Jen's parents for helping Jen!


  1. Had to have a wee laugh at this "...... enjoyed the wide range of low fibre, high carb breakfast cereals available in the US........"

    Once again, well done Jason, great ride and then to back it up again a week later in Aus is truly astonishing.

  2. I was amazed at the breakfast cereals marketed at kids. It was ridiculous! Thanks