Monday, October 30, 2017

Whaka 100 - I hate you, I don't think I will be able to ride in AUS ever again....





The Whaka 100 is the best marathon race in the world. I have ridden around the Redwoods MTB Park where the event is held but I couldn't design a loop that takes in all the best trails in the right direction.






The Logistics

I was surprised how easy it is to get to Rotorua from Newcastle. I simply jumped on the train with my bike boxed, swapped at Central and was off to the International Terminal.

On arriving in Auckland after midnight I regretted not brushing the bindies from my mtb tyres. The customs process took longer than I had hoped for....

I took the shuttle option to Rotorua and arrived just before 5am Saturday. At 7.30am I was building my bike up before riding to the Redwoods to run two mountain bike clinics.

The way home after the race was much easier. A 5.20pm flight out of Rotorua to Auckland had me in Sydney not long after 9pm. If I hadn't of slept past my train stop I could have been home by 2am Monday morning....

The MTB Clinics

Running clinics for this event was a real eye opener. It gave me an insight into the wide variety of riders who attempt this race. There were riders who initially weren't sure which pedal to drop when cornering while others were gravity experienced riders who had more skill than I!

I can see now why the course was designed well to have 'b line' options for those that weren't confident to attempt the more technical features.




The Shootout

Saturday afternoon was a 1.8km shootout. Riders were seeded with the predicted faster riders going off last. I was off second last but with my previous race being a 24 hour I wasn't planning or expecting to be half competitive! The 1.8km individual time trial started with a steady climb that I started out way too hard on. By the top I was feeling light headed and was glad to have pre-ridden the course in the skills clinics. I almost had all the lines dialed except for the spectacular final creek crossing that I later learnt had a nice jump line to avoid time lost smashing through the water. I snuck into a 5th overall less than 2 seconds off the leader.




The Race 

The race started fairly sensibly. I got to start on the front row so I just slid into the top few spots into the first single track. Everything felt quite calm until we hit the first few climbs and the race was really on. I spent a lot of time watching my heart rate in the mid to high 180's before I let the top few boys ride off.


This is one of the few marathons where there is limited benefit from drafting - on the fire roads you are normally heading up and on the single track you really want to have space to ride at your own pace. For this reason, perhaps I should have settled down earlier so my legs were fresher at the end of the race.

From around the 30-60km mark I rode with Tristan Haycock. I managed to sneak a bottle from his brother who was providing support via e-bike during the event. I rode around with a 2L Camelbak which helped me get through most of the race however I still had to stop a couple of times to fill up bottles. In hindsight, I would have been better to put a spare Camelbak in my mid bag drop, then it would have been just the one quick stop.

While the race course has a fair bit of climbing, the climbing is not unrewarded. For each fire road up there was a new fun and flowy downhill trail to explore. It was difficult to predict how hard to hit each corner. I kept expecting to need to use more brakes than what was necessary.




At the end of the race I missed catching 2nd place by less than 20 seconds. I put a post on Facebook suggesting that results are not so important when the trails are so good. It is a funny race when I think about how good the trails are - I kept forgetting that I was in a race. My pacing at times went out the window as the trails just encouraged me to pedal faster and hit the corners and doubles with more speed.

I have seriously found it hard to get out on the MTB now I am back in AUS. Nothing compares to the Whaka 100! #postNZlow




Monday, October 16, 2017

2017 Australian 24 Hour National Championships - Tips to Success

Training

Racing the National Champs has been my main focus since losing the title last year. With school holidays a couple of weeks before I had the chance to do some longer rides and play catch up. I have had less training time this year with new hours at a new job. For the last few weeks of school term I had the alarm going off at 3.30am so I could ride from 4-7am each morning. I found using a power meter made my training time far more effective as I could carefully monitor training load. I have Stages power meters on all my bikes for this purpose.

Tapering

In Canberra some generous people offered us their house while they were away. Arriving a few days before the race allowed us the chance to enjoy Canberra cycle-ways and allowed me the chance for a sneaky ride around Stromlo and Majura Pines before the race. This meant I had quite a few days of low intensity riding. I also tried tweaking my body clock by sleeping in as much as possible!

The Track

Photo: Russ Baker
The track had been reduced to around 9km with less climbing than had first been planned. I spent the first 6 hours of daylight testing which corners and sections I could avoid braking on. The track had a few really fun sections with small doubles, berms and fast and flowy sections. This wasn't always the case and some sections were painfully rough,


Support / Pit Crew






My team was made of my parents, Jen (who camped out with the kids) and Jason Moxham from Fizo Cycling. He was looking after a few riders and was available for mechanical issues during the race. I need to thank my parents for driving Jen and I back to Sydney so I could work on Monday.



The Bikes / XTR DI2

The course was quite lumpy and bumpy so I picked the XTR Pivot Mach 429 SL. There was no chance I was going to use a hardtail on such a rough course. These bikes have Shimano XTR DI2 which minimise the risk of repetitive strain injuries of the wrist and fingers.

The wheels and tyres

I used Stans NoTubes Valour Wheels with a WTB Ranger on the front and WTB Nine Line on the back. This combination was perfect for this course as I was able to hit the corners with more control than normal. The light weight wheels allow for easy acceleration out of corners.

Compression

On the start line I was heckled for wearing M2O socks however any compression on this course really prevented excess muscle soreness associated with trying to stablise the body and muscles when smashing the downhills. During the night I was putting on the arm warmers downhill just for the extra support rather than for the coolness of the night.

Shoes / Helmets

I had the choice between the top of the line super light, carbon North Wave Extreme Tech shoe or the cheaper North Wave Spike shoes (that retail for just over $100). As I hadn't really worn the carbon show in enough, I choose the Spike knowing it would have more flex allowing for a more comfortable ride while sacrificing only small power transfer gains associated with the carbon model. I have 2 Lazer Z1 helmets that I use for race with one setup with a light for the night.

Photo: Brett Clark
Glasses

I have been using the Adidas Zonyk Pro. These lenses are photochromatic so they get darker when needed. I have a daytime set which have a light tint that gets to a medium darkness and a clear set that go to a light tint when required. I would be interested in trying the Aero Pro version which drops the lower frame which would allow for better vision and perhaps a lighter set of glasses.




Cycle kit

Photo: Brett Clark
I chose to wear my Pivot race kit, I have been waiting on a custom Santini kit but that may not be ready until next year. I have been training in my Pivot kit so I knew what I was in for. I also gave the M2O compression socks a try. I know I will always race in them on longer events when the temp is relatively low. They provided great support for tired legs as the race went on.



Seat / Bars / Grips

Photo: Brett Clark
I use Mt Zoom bars which are super light and have a good 9 degree sweep which work well with my wrists. I have extra chunky foam ESI grips which work well to lesson the impact of the rough terrain. The seat I use is the light weight SL8 saddle from WTB which for a 149 gram seat is very comfortable.

Nutrition

Nutrition for me starts days before and doesn't end when the race does. I focus on a low fibre / high carbohydrate intake before the race for a couple of days leading up. On race morning I will have "fun" cereal and this time the ripoff Nutrigrain form Aldi was the choice. As I had eaten quite well in the days leading up I only had a banana sandwich 5 mins before the race started.

Photo: Brett Clark
During the race I carried a selection of GU products. My pockets were stuffed with Stroopwafels, Chews, a gel flask filled with Salted Caramel and assortment of Gel flavours to keep things interesting. To replace electrolytes I ran Gu Tabs in my bottles during the day and swapped to GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules during the night. This combination seems to be working quite well.



Camelbak have been very generous supplying me with enough podium bottles to prevent my support crew from doing too many refill trips. While the laps weren't long enough to need a Camelbak Pack I will be using one next week at the Whaka 100 held near Rotura.

Lights

I have been using NiteRider Lights for the past 10 years and these things have improved significantly. I have the 1800 Race on my bars and run them on 200 lumens which last a full 12 hours. I use the lightweight MiNewt  Pro 770 on the helmet also on low. The 1800 provides a really good wide beam and the MiNewt has a more focused and brighter light.

Massage / recovery

I have been lucky to have Di from Your Massage Therapist work on my recovery with massage and stretching. This has made a significant difference however, I need to develop a more frequent relationship with my foam roller.

Financial support

I need to thank Percival Property (Port Macquarie) for assisting me to attend this race.Their assistance has helped me out with the costs of travel to this race and that of entry.

CORC and WEMBO

A big thanks need to go to CORC for running this event and WEMBO for providing me with a good incentive to race towards. I'm stoked to  win so I can wear the green and gold National Champion Jersey in Scotland for 2018.











Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 24hr world titles -finale Ligurie, Italy

My focus race of the year has been the WEMBO 24hr, however, this year has been a little different for me. I have put together a little race report and then the logistics I had to consider when really trying to have a good attempt at this event.

The race

The race seemed to go great from the start. I took a sensible approach from the gong and ran the start 2km feeling like I was holding back. I aimed to be in a position where I wasn't going to get held up too much come the first single track and that almost was the case. My position was pretty good except the race loop rejoined the run loop where there was a crazy traffic jam allowing for any advantage I had to be quickly absorbed.



I rode in a pretty controlled manner for the first lap letting the faster riders take off and I rode around with Josh Tostado. I was really happy with his pace, however, he had forgotten his ankle timing chip and I didn't see him again until after he stopped to get that sorted. Cory Wallace joined me within a few minutes of the second lap and we started to come across heaps of riders walking through this next lap.

I started the third lap with Cory and I found myself getting frustrated as he was able to sneak past some of the riders (who were walking most of the track) and got a clear gap. I started the fourth lap learning to be more vocal and with the same level of intensity managed to ride one of my faster laps. I started to settle into what felt like a maintainable pace and made an effort to really drink well as it felt pretty hot. I was taking on an electrolyte bottle through the pits and was drinking a plain water bottle at the half way checkpoint. This hydration strategy was working quite well but the sun and lack of sunscreen was starting to take a toll.



By 7 hours of racing I started to feel sick, like I was going to throw up. This isn't that uncommon for me during a race as I
often try nutritional challenges however, I wasn't being silly with food. I had bland / savoury options such as gnocchi, soup, noodles and white bread however, these weren't working that well to settle my guts. I eliminated the electrolyte tabs and went for the capsules but this mustn't have been the cause. I wasn't eating too many solids so I couldn't work out why I still had this sensation through the night. All I could do was back off the pace and try to just finish the event.

Night riding really only started after 9pm due to the extended hours of light in Italy. With a race starting at 10am that is a whole lot of sun in one go. It was probably a good thing to switch off race mode as night approached as it allowed me to keep sane dealing with mechanical issues rather than looking at trying to save time where possible.

Once the sun came up and with a couple of hours to go I managed to get some feedback from the Mt Zoom camp that I was in second position and a lap ahead. With no lap splits or feedback for the whole race it was great to know about that position. I had wondered if I was even within the top 10!

With 3 laps to go I managed to lose a Wahoo Element off the side of the track and spent 6-7 minutes looking for it with no luck. On my last lap I went back with my phone to connect with it but I couldn't find a way to get it to make a noise to help me track it. I could connect to it via bluetooth but had no way of finding it through the bush it decided to jump into.

Finishing the race I was pretty stoked to take a second. I'm a little disappointed I couldn't give Cory a good race to the line like in Rotorua. I may need to head to Scotland to have another go at it.

I've learnt lots in 24 hour racing and there isn't a race where I don't pick up a new strategy. This time I learnt about the harmful effects of sun exposure. I have never been sun burnt through a jersey until this race. It seems funny how I remembered to put on the camera before the race but not sunscreen.

This is how I approached training and life leading up to Worlds.

The pre-season base training

Normally I would do heaps of training over Jan and Feb through the school holidays. Before the NZ World Champs I was doing at least 1000km per week! With the race this year in June my training really started 3 months out. This allowed time to find a house, get sorted at a new job and a greater desire to wind up the training closer to June.

So how was I training for the worlds?


I looked for longer races and filled an action packed calendar into the 3 month leading up. The races I choose included the Otway 300, Convict 100 + the ride home, thunderbolt adventure and the Merida Flight Centre 24hr.

My typical training day

My typical day started with a 3.30am alarm, which gave enough time to ensure I was on the bike by 4am. I had to be home by 7am to get to work on time. I was getting home after work around 5pm which allowed for 30mins to hang out with kdis  before dinner, baths and bedtime. By the time the kids were in bed by 7.30ish I would get myself organised for work the next day and make sure the bike was ready before crawling into bed ideally before 9pm.

Something different - PT sessions

I was very fortunate to have a weekly personal trainer session with Andrew Gresham (POP) since February. Even though I was only doing this once I week I felt my core getting much stronger over the time which made my balance and control on the bike far easier.

Massage

Paul and Di from Your Massage Therapist sponsored me for the 2017 season and Di provided massage and support which really helped me in the build up to Italy. Recovery is such an important part of training that I often overlook.

Accommodation in Italy

While the multiple bike accommodation hotels, B&Bs etc looked like the obvious place to stay I booked just up the hill from Pietra Ligure.

Flights

Being a Velocity Gold Member, I flew with Etihad Airways just so I could use the Virgin Lounge along the way and this also allowed for some extra baggage. On the way over I managed to binge watch 5 movies. On the way back there were no movies just a deadline to get school reports finished!

Helmets

I've been very lucky to have Lazer helmets on board. I have been using their helmets since 2008. It is essential to have a light helmet for a 24hr and the Z1's are just that. Two are required, one for the day and one for the night which will have lights setup and ready to swap onto during the dark.

Tyres

I have been using WTB tyres for the past couple of years and the Nine Lines are a good balance between weight and durability. I really don't like the idea of stopping to fix a flat during a race. I have also used a variety of WTB tyres on my CX bike that I use in training.

Glasses

Adidas Eyerwear have been looking after me for quite a few years now. This year I managed to get hold of the Zonyk with 2 photo-chromatic lenses. My night glasses change from a completely clear VARIO lense while my day time glasses change from a very light purple tint to a darker tint. These glasses provide maximal protection without impact on vision. The Aero Pro model look like a winner.

Drive-train

I have had the privilege of using XTR for the past few years. This year the bikes got blinged up with DI2. My first go at using the electronic shifting was in Italy. I'm not sure I can use mechanical shifting again. The ease of just pressing a button and holding it in until the desired gear is reached is too easy! There is less chance of RSI related issues and the consistency of shifting just becomes fun!


Lights

I have been using NiteRider Lights since 2007 and they have changed heaps. My current setup involves a 1800 Race on my bars with a 4 cell battery and a Minewt on my helmet with a 2 cell battery in my back pocket. I run both lights on low which means the shadows help the rocks and roots etc show up more. By running them on low I only need to do one change of batteries through the night and this occurred through a mid-night bike swap.

Power meters

I have only had experience using Stages Power Meters and these things have been great. I actually have a power meter on every bike I own so I can carefully track TSS and determine if I need to train harder or longer. My numbers leading up to the worlds looked really good and I was hoping to capitalise on such good form (according to Today's Plan). By tracking these numbers I was able to make the most of the limited time I had to train. I was trying to get in 2.5 to 3hrs before work which meant starting as close to 4am as possible.

Wheels

Stans is also another long term brand I have been with from Race Golds, to Podiums and now I'm using carbon Valor Wheels on both of my race bikes. These wheels have been great, highly durable and require little effort to get them up to speed. If there is one upgrade worth getting it is wheels.

Handlebars

Mt Zoom were at the race and were able to bring me bars to lighten up my bikes. The My Zoom bars are extremely light but also durable. Matched with some ESI grips make these bars extremely comfortable. I use the 8 deg sweep flat bar which comes standard at 710mm.

Shoes

My North Wave Extreme Tech Shoes aren't only comfortable for the ride but also for the run. I wasn't too stressed about a 2km run from the start line.

Clothing

Santini have been looking after my clothing and just in case, I had their arm warmers, leg warmers, winter vest and a rain jacket packed. If there is one thing to get sorted for a 24hr event it is ensuring your seat, chamois and everything in between are comfortable!

Bikes

My first ride on the 2017 Pivot Mach 429 was in Italy. With boosted front and back wheels and 34mm forks these bikes surely can handle going fast. I'm glad I had two of these bikes packed. Finale is not a place for a fun hardtail ride.

Nutrition

I have been playing around with GU nutrition for the past couple of years. The variety of gels, waffles, electrolytes and chews help to keep things interesting. I also like the electrolyte capsule they have which work when nutrition goes bad and you need to try and eat and drink as plain as possible while still getting electrolyte down.

Bike Computer

I have been using the Wahoo element for the past couple of year and these have been great for 24hr racing with multiple bikes. I just pair the power meters before the race and it doesn't matter what bike you are on, the Wahoo finds your power meter and gets on with tracking stats. I'm just dissappointed to leave one in Italy, somewhere...

Percival Property

Percival Property have been managing our rental property for years and looked after the sale of our house in Port Macquarie. The team at Percival have been looking after the local junior state road competition but were also able to help me out with some of the expenses associated with racing this year.

Leichts Tyres and Auto

Leichts have been looking after my car with servicing and tyres while in Port Macquarie. This has been a great cost saver and one I have missed and really appreciated since moving to Newcastle.

Pit support

My original pit support was going to include Jen, Jason Moxham and perhaps my parents. The accommodation was booked for everyone to come over, however, with buying a house a couple of weeks before the event this trip slid a few spots down on the financial priority list. I was very fortunate to have Jason Moxham come across with me to help work on bikes and negotiate the Italian roads, and kerbs etc...

Images are By: 24h Of Finale