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








Friday, November 4, 2016

2016 Whaka 100 - Rotorua

The Whaka 100 had been on my wish list for years. The Redwoods, on the outskirts of Rotorua have the world's best single track. I have only ridden parts of the forest. I thought the best way to see everything is to ride everything and that's what Nduro Events set out to achieve through the design of the Whaka100. The other objective was to make this one of the hardest marathon events. I think they achieved both objectives. It's not often it takes me more than 5hr 30m for a marathon!

My adventure started on Friday afternoon after school. I arrived into Auckland International Airport at 11:30pm, picked up a hire car around 12:15am and arrived at the Holiday Inn Rotorua around 3am. After a few hours of sleep, food shopping and bike building it was time to hit the trails. I managed to miss the 'seeding' as I arrived half way through the scheduled time. I should have registered at 2pm rather than turning up at 3:30pm thinking that seeding would run the whole time until 5pm.
I managed to sneak in a loop of the last 10km before briefing where riders were allocated a start position based on their performance in this sprint event.

After the seeded riders were called up I managed to secure a place on the 3rd or 4th row. This wouldn't normally be a problem in a marathon in Australia as there is normally fireroad for the first few kms for people to sort positions. To justify having seeding there was very limited overtaking for the first 6-7km. Next year I wont be skipping the seeding!

The first 6-7km of single track seemed very familiar as lots was used in the 24 Hour World Champs earlier it the year. I had to be patient riding behind a train of riders as I considered how much time the leaders would have been putting into me. Once the first firetrail appeared I put on the pace. I knew I was probably riding too hard at this stage however I managed to bridge across to the top group of 5-6 riders. I couldn't believe I had caught back up.

Heading up the first good climb the group dropped back to 5 of us. I still felt ok but the top couple of riders were starting to push harder. Once we hit familiar single track that I had ridden multiple times during my last race here, I felt I was struggling to ride well. I just didn't feel confident cornering but despite this I was not losing too much time to the riders with me. It wasn't until a guy on a hardtail caught me on a downhill section of single track that I really felt like I was struggling!

After the first KOM I was a few minutes down on the top 3 and a had a little gap on the riders behind. I kept the pace on and I was feeling pretty good. My hydration strategy involved taking a 1.5L camelbak and a drink bottle to fill up at the half way point. Normally over 2L would have been fine racing a marathon. It was around the 65km mark that I started to feel really confident on the trails. This was possibly because I backed off the pace a little as I aimed to conserve fluid but I started really leaning the bike right over. I started having heaps of fun hitting burms as hard as I could while trying to make little tabletops and doubles. I was really having a great time! Positions didn't seem important as I focused more on pushing my limits on the single track. That is until I rode into 3rd place at the start of the 2nd and final KOM around the 60km mark.

By 70km I had completely run out of fluid but just pushed through to the 75km mark fighting off cramps and backing off the pace as I anticipated there would be a drink refill at this 'tech zone'. I managed to get a refill and could see the leaders were only 3 minutes up the road at this point. One drink bottle wasn't enough at this point of the race, playing catchup on hydration is never good. By 85km I had drunk this replacement bottle as I rode up the last significant climb of the race. As I bombed down 'X Buns' onto 'Be Rude Not 2' I was sure I was following the orange 100km course marking. That is until part way down this section I could see the 50km and 10km marking but no 100km markings. Each intersection thereafter had only the 50km and 10km markings, so I looked for an exit and rode back up to the top of 'Be Rude Not 2'. While I knew I could follow the 50km course and get home, I wanted to make sure I rode the entire 100km course. The marshals at this point convinced me I was on track, so I filled my bottle again and got to ride 'Be Rude Not 2' twice! I wasn't stressed at all, this section of course is awesome! Once I hit the last 10km of course I had a permanent smile implanted. The bike felt like it would handle any speed I sent it around the flowy corners. It was great to ride this last section of track the day before and see how much better I was riding it a second time after 90km of cornering practice!

Coming across the line I was surprised to have still held onto 3rd place. I have already started working on plans for coming back next year. Ideally travelling with a group to make it as easy as possible for international riders to attend this event. Hopefully there will be enough riders keen to share a minibus.

Highlights - Getting to ride the world's best single track, getting to learn how to ride single track, being able to maintain I high heart rate and having Tim, the event organisor pass me a bottle and clean my glasses and the half way feed!

What I would do different - Drop another Camelbak at the bag drop / 50km section, make sure I make the seeding, allow more time to get to the airport and spend some more time riding the Redwoods!

Thanks to Nduro for the invite over, I'm so glad I made the trip. Thanks Dan for providing the company on the way over. It was great to have the Pivot Mach429SL for this course. While a hardtail may have been faster on the climbs, I was having far more fun on the downhills!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2016 24hr Solo Australian National Champs

It has taken a while to put together a race report for the Scott 24hr. I guess this is the first year I wasn't super excited to be racing it. I made the decision to race in the Hero MTB Himalaya in the weeks leading up knowing that it could affect my performance. I wasn't sure exactly how it would. I thought I could come back super light and ready to climb from dodgy food or super fit from the altitude and climbing.








As the race started I felt the pace was quite comfortable. As I lapped around with Ed McDonald for the first 5-6 hours I felt good. I was having fun with his company and was enjoying riding the Stromlo Trails. The course had been been closed most of the week and a modified course was being run due to the amount of rain Canberra had taken. Even though I only ride Stromlo once or twice a year, the course felt very familiar.





It was interesting riding with a heart rate monitor for this race. There was one moment early on when I turned to Ed and told him that one of us was in trouble. Riding at a solid pace up the first climb my heart rate was just sitting around 130bpm. Normally at the same power output I would have been doing closer to 170bpm. Later on in the race when I did aim for a harder lap the max heart rate I could hit was 166bpm. I should have been closer to 185bpm.



I'm not sure if these two factors played a part but there was a moment when I was a few minutes ahead of Ed around the 6-7hr mark that I wasn't sure I was able to finish the event. It is hard to describe how I felt. It was like I had a 100km training ride scheduled. I felt like I had around 3km to go and was just going to finish up early because I felt too busted to ride around the block to hit 100km.










I was a little surprised how busted I felt at this point. I was eating well, my pacing felt comfortable, all I can put it down to is the effect of altitude. While the days were short in India and the climbing wasn't ridiculous the altitude really made me work each day and the sustained power was significant.








From that moment at the 6-7hr mark I was wondering if this is when other riders would normally pull out of a 24hr. I had no desire to continue, and I had no ability to be competitive. I just turned the pace off and watched my 3 min lead turn into a 3 min deficit in just 1 lap!

It felt different now riding Stromlo without feeling like I was racing. It was possibly a good thing as I had several technical and mechanical issues that normally would have caused me great stress. I just dealt with the issues knowing that loosing time really wasn't a concern.









Riding through the night I was starting to fall asleep early, possible due to the lack of adrenaline or lack of caffeine intake! I'm not sure how I use to do the night without caffeine. Either way, it still didn't seem long before the sun was up and the 6 + 6 riders provided company for the last part of the race.

It was great to look back and see the lap times and how consistent Ed was. It's about time he had the perfect race. A perfect race is a rare thing in 24hr racing. There is usually always an issue associated with pitting, lighting, tyres, forks, bike setup, nutrition or a crash. I really wanted to be the person to hand Ed the green and gold jersey on the podium. He rode so well for it! Next time I'll aim to make him work for it again, as long as India doesn't get in the way!