RACING THE SCOTT 24 HOUR
After I had my hip surgery in June I was still feeling a little down and couldn’t figure out why, I was fixed what’s the problem? Conversations were had and we realised I didn’t have a goal. So in July I decided I would be competing in the Scott 24 Hour Australian Mountain Bike Championships to be held at Mt Stromlo on October 8/9th. That gave me 12 weeks after 5 months off the bike to get back in to the swing of things. I raced in 3 x 6-8hour enduro’s in that time and achieved some good results and began feeling strong on the bike. This is weird, I’ve had all this time off and I am training less than ever yet I am feeling strong. Was it because I was wanting to be out there racing, appreciating every moment I was out there, having let other niggling injuries fully heal and focusing on quality rather than quantity, listening to my body rather than sticking rigidly to a program. Perhaps a combination off all these factors led me to have a great race at the Scott. Somewhere in that time frame I changed my thinking. I wanted to RACE a 24 hour. My previous two 24’s I had RIDDEN, I wanted a greater challenge, I wanted to RACE and I wanted to win.
A race plan was put into place. Only 3 people- my support crew (Al, Loki and Dave) knew the plan and knew we were there to have a crack. The weekend prior had been a pretty busy one, we had gotten married and done quite a bit of walking around Melbourne. My hip had flared up and by Thursday when we were heading up to Canberra I was wondering whether I was actually going to be able to race. Smashing the anti-inflammatorys seemed to help my hip but massively upset my stomach. Opting to rest on the days leading up to the race rather than check out the blue lap which I had not ridden all I could do was hope my hip would hold up. The weather had been ordinary and we were all expected it to be a mud bath, excellent I thought as I know some people are mentally beaten before they step up to the line if it is raining. We set up our pit and waited until the clock struck 11.55 then it was go time.
The course would consist of 2 laps, a blue lap (14.5km) and a red lap (13.5km) coming into transition after each lap. Having ridden the red lap in the 7hr enduro 2 weeks prior I was looking forward to riding the blue lap and had a great time on it for the first 6 hours. However once the dark set in I found myself craving the red lap which was much less technical.
My race plan was to treat it as a long easy training ride, to get myself to 6am and then raise the tempo. The weather surprised us and sitting at the start line it was pretty hot. Race nerves must have gotten the better of me as I went abit nuts on the first couple of laps and Al kept telling me to ease up. I was sweating up a storm and worried I would pay the price through cramps later on. My friend Beth was following my wheel rather closely and over the next few hours I would be convinced I’d dropped her as she would be out of sight, only to come back in to transition to see her right behind me again. On the end of the first lap Phillipa came charging by me and was setting a blistering pace. All I could do was hope she would blow up during the night. I had gone in to total race mode in the beginning, worrying about where my competitors were, not talking to anyone and being totally focused. That only lasted a few hours, by about 7pm I realised I was there to have fun and loosened up a bit, largely thanks to having Brett Bellchambers ride behind me and having a chat I realised it was all about enjoying myself. (Hard not to when you see how much fun he is having out there) What will be will be I told myself and let myself enjoy the ride.
Unfortunately Beth came off and fractured her shoulder putting an end to her race, I have no doubt we would have pushed each other right until the end. Some wicked thunderstorms hit us and some rain, followed by some sunshine which thankfully dried out my kit. At 8pm I decided I would change my socks as they were still wet and I knew the temperature would drop significantly during the night. A couple of mouthfuls of porridge and I was back on the bike. The first 8 hours I was experiencing some stomach problems and had to stop twice to go the loo, cramping in my stomach I was hoping it wouldn’t last the entire race, thankfully it didn’t!
I was riding my new Anthem Advanced Carbon Dually and it did not miss a beat, I rode a few laps on my 2009 Anthem so Dave could keep my Advanced running clean and smooth. Having the 2 bikes worked a treat and I was able to fly through transition rather quickly. Generally when I rolled in, Al would have a strong carb drink (Hammer Perpetuem) and a Hammer Solid ready to eat, then I would grab a drink bottle off Loki and finally Dave would put some food for the lap in my jersey. This worked a treat and minimised time off the bike.
Al and Loki freezing in the pits!
Throughout the night myself and Liz Smith were swapping places and overtaking each other, I thought Phillipa was still charging out the front and we were in 2nd and 3rd. However I later found out Phillipa had stopped and I was actually battling it out for 1st. At 1.30am I started to feel very ordinary, it seemed everything was in slow motion and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and go to sleep. I had a very slow lap and the boys decided it was time to have a recharge at 2.30. They sat me down, fed me a bowl of gnocchi, cleaned the bike, massaged my neck and updated me on the race standings. Making sure I didn’t get too comfortable it was time to start on the caffeine. A no doze later and I was rearing to go. Al told me that at 6.30 I would have another 5 minute stop for some porridge and all I had to do was ride smart. At 6am I took the lead and the decision to keep riding was made, there would be no 5 minute porridge stop!
I seemed to feel better the longer the race went and at 9am I decided to increase the tempo and put in more effort up the climbs, then descend smartly easing up a bit making sure I didn’t have a stack. At 10am a rider came past calling track, I told her I would go to the left and there was room for her on the right. I didn’t however see the track sign and run straight into it. Luckily it just bruised my shoulder. I had known coming in to this race that it would be my upper body that would take a hammering and therefore got a bit of work done on my back and shoulders to make sure I could minimise fatigue in this area.
I kept increasing the gap as the morning wore on and by 11.30 I had a 45 minute lead, still not sure whether I needed to go out for another lap I made sure I had enough left in the tank to complete another lap. I crossed the line at 11.35 and tried to get confirmation about whether I had to head out again, it started to rain and I was hoping so badly I wouldn’t! Liz came up and told me she had stopped and that I didn’t have to head out again as I was already a lap up. The afternoon was a bit of a blur, it hadn’t sunk in at all and I was feeling pretty wrecked and hoping I wouldn’t stuff up the interviews or speeches. A massive thank you to Al, Dave and Loki- best support crew ever it really was a team effort. I reckon that it’s a harder job than riding!! Thanks to Giant for making such wicked bikes and helping me out, thanks to Ay-Up for providing such awesome lights that kept me going all night long, thanks to CORC and all the volunteers for putting on such a great event and for the TICKETS TO ITALY !!!! So looks like we are off to Italy to compete in the World Championships in May next year!!!
Lots of people ask me what I ate during the race so here is a bit of a list:
· White bread with nutella or vegemite
· Fruit cake
· Little muffins
· Hammer Gels
· Gnocchi with pasta sauce
· Couple of mouthfuls of Cinnamon porridge
· Couple of mouthfuls of creamed rice
· Hammer Solids (about 15 of them!)
· Hammer Bars
· Carmans Muesli Bars
· Pikelets with honey
· Nuun electrolyte tablet with Hammer Gel
· Hammer Heed
· Strong Hammer Perpetuem (small cup in transition)
· Strong Sustagen (after 12am small cups in transition)