Its with mixed emotions that I close the chapter of the World 24hr Solo Championships. I'll try take to heart the notion that its the journey that matters and the result is just that...a result. So starting with the journey, I did my first single speed race less than a year ago and have slowly been ramping up the distance since then. My first 24hr race was only about 9 weeks ago, and perhaps went a little too smoothly and my half baked training plan went pretty much to plan. There was even a tapering period :).
The WSC24 was like no other event I have done before. For starters there was qualification required(of sorts), a mandatory Pit Manager, lots of rules and no music players! This was 12th WSC24 which was to be held at Mt Stromlo, Canberra, the first time outside of North America. It was also my first interstate event, and a huge one at that. I drove down with Ben my Pit Manager on Thursday, with an overnight stay in Sydney, and short drive to Canberra on Friday morning for rider sign in. From there it was off to the mountain, to find our pit and see the course.
Riding this bridge was cool, having seen it on TV at various UCI events at Stromlo.
The course was AWESOME, especially for single speed, but it would be taxing after 24 hours and puncture potential. I did my test lap with 32/21 gearing and found it easy, but decided that it would be perfect in the long run. Tyres on the other hand was something I was unsure of. Light and fast, but possible punctures or heavy and tough but less chance of punctures.
"The Luge" was the highlight of each lap, and something to look forward to.
Friday afternoon was race briefing, hotel check-in and grocery shopping for race food. Friday night was pasta and then the airport to pick up Pit Manager 2, Andy.
I woke at 7am after a good nights sleep. As we approached Mt Stromlo, we could see the huge "Tent City" that had sprung up, and we arrived about 8:30 and started lugging the remaining gear to the pit which was a distance of some 500m. Note: Next time take a trolley. I decided on a change of tyres and Ben put a Race King on one front, and a Small Block 8 on the other. After comparing the bag on these tyres I decide the Small Block 8 would be less likely to get a side wall cut. With they tyres sorted and race numbers on, I was ready to race.
As is traditional, there was a Le Mans start, which is not fun in stiff shoes on bitumen. I got away mid pack, and pushed forward on the first fire trails. The single track was a bit of a stop start affair, but I passed a bunch of riders by taking the A Line on Western Wedgetail and had a free run through the Pork Barrel and then passed more riders on the fire trail sections to the top of the mountain and hit fun parts feeling fresh. I finished my bottle on the crit track as planned and the boys were ready in transition with another one and some food. With less traffic, the next lap was slightly faster and I passed a couple of SS riders. Nutrition and hydration were on target, and the next couple of laps were quite consistent up until it was time for lights.
I almost look like I know what I am doing.
The bike itself was OK, but I didn't really like the feel of my brakes and contemplated changing bikes. My forks too didn't quite feel right and we made some pressure adjustments to soften the ride, and I think we had just got the settings right. Tyres, pressures and gearing all felt perfect
It was on the 1st full night lap, that I hooked a bar-end while trying to squeeze past a rider walking the Pork Barrel. I went over the bars and landed heavily on my left side scraping my hip and bruising my calf. I guess that is the reason I don't usually run bar-ends, and probably will never run them again. I thought I would be able to ride it off, and felt OK on the ascent. The most pain came on the Skyline and the Luge, and by the time I was finishing the lap on the crit track, my left leg was almost useless. So after 9hr20min, 143km and 2960m climbing my WSC24 was over. It is the not finishing that annoys me more than where I finished or would have finished. Really the hard stuff was just begging, and apart from my bruised calf, I didn't feel like I had ridden for over 9hrs on Sunday. I was looking forward to pushing myself in to the dark places a 24hr race takes you.
To take some positives out of the event, I learned a lot about logistics and I also realised how important it is to try get the bike dialled in to the circuit and to understand my forks work and how to tune them. Brake pads too, should be bedded in prior to the event and even some spares in case a change is required. The speed differences of riders was also a surprise and while riders of the calibre of English and Fellows were always going to disappear in to the dusty distance, I was happy to hold my own against most others, so need to back myself more and get to the front at the start line. I was also still riding SS when even many of the geared bikes had resigned to walking the steep bits.
At least my injury was minor compared to some and I was able to ride the rest of the course, not like some. We saw one one guy with 2 broken arms and a busted AC joint.
My next event was to be the 6hr at Canungra, but with the amount of rain we have had this week, it is almost certain to be cancelled.
Click the image below to go to my set of rider photos.
The final results are available here