Scott 24 – run and done

12 10 2009

What a great event. What a fantastic vibe and a pleasure to be a part of.

In the wash up at the end of the race, it looks like I came 19th (solo field of approx 100 riders) and managed 16 laps. I was secretly hoping to do 300k’s and a top 30 finish. So if the course was 18-19k’s long, then i would be pretty darn close to meeting all my goals.

This morning I am extremely sore (mostly hamstrings) but nurofen is taking the edge off and keeping me functional. My hands are naturally curling like i have carpal tunnel syndrome and are making it all but impossible to type so appologies for any errors.

The friday before race start we travelled down from Newcastle. It was pouring rain as we left home and I was loading the car during breaks in the weather. It was also cold, very cold  – in short, things weren’t looking very promising. Thankfully the weather was spectacular for the race!

Dan aka Danbot aka Feltron RCR had left earlier than us and set up our marquee. We were in prime position. Directly next to ebuk and B-Rad who were in turn directly next to Jason English. Our marquee was jammed against a caravan and there was no-one around to clear it with so we hoped all would be well when we arrived the next day to meet our neighbours (it turned out that he was a really nice guy and added to the melting pot that was our little end of the camp ground).

Suse (aka the Mrs) and I unloaded the car, registered and headed off to a hotel for a good nights sleep. From past experience, quality sleep , camping and big event dynamics rarely meld successfully.

After a quality 10 hours sleep, we arrived on site at 10am and went about the preparations. The usual stuff like attaching race plates, checking tyre pressures, sorting all the boxes of equipment etc. Our pits were a hub of activity with 5 soloists all going about their race prep at once.

Before I really knew what was going on, we were on the start line. I seeded myself about 5-6 rows back (around 30th i guess) and the nervous wait for the starters gun began.

The start for the soloists shortcut a little of the track so that we could sort out our running positions before the horde of teams riders descended upon us. That was the theory, what really happened was the teams riders caught up to us right on the first bit of single trail. I was content to be doing slow consistent laps, so a log jam was the least of my worries but some of the wannabe racers amongst the teams were yelling and screaming and generally making dicks of themselves as they tried to win the race in the opening minutes.

Halfway through first lap, a rider binned it in front of me on a b-line (I hadn’t recce’d the course yet and was still scoping the A-lines) and one B-rad aka the weston one speed wheelman slipped past me so we spent the next half of the first lap as a social outing. Bombing the descents and cruising up the hills. The track was in great condition and the organizers had picked some extremely fun sections to include.

The first transition was good, Barely a pause as I changed bottles and scoffed a banana. Eye drops were instilled which was a key part of my plan as my eyes don’t deal well with fatigue, sweat and wind – 3 things that were going to be in abundance.

The next 3 or 4 laps were pretty un-memorable. I do recall feeling like shite far too early in the race. Suse was worrying as I wasn’t looking really crash hot either i.e it was apparent to people other than just me. The cold I had been nursing for the 2 weeks before the race had left me heavily congested. I could barely breathe and had to blow my nose dozens of times per lap. As a result i was loosing a deceptive amount of fluids. I had also misjudged the temperature decided to wear a thermal top under my jersey. Consequentially I was overheating and struggling far to early on.

With the thermal top gone, I started to come good. At the end of lap 5 I had organized to change bikes and take out the hardtail while Suse installed the lights on my bike and helmet. The hardtail was excellent on the climbs but I wasn’t enjoying it through the luge and pork barrels as they were starting to show a lot of wear with massive breaking ruts and exposed rocks everywhere. Consequentially my time on that bike was much slower and it was promptly shelved upon my return to the pits, never to be raced again.

It was dark sometime around 7pm and I needed to fire up the lights heading in on my 6th lap. On my 7th lap, the changeover to the night track commenced. I almost took a stack as I braked and started turning to follow the now obsolete and clearly bunted hairpin that headed down to pork barrels that was part of the day course. I had already become like a dairy cow following the path back to the milking sheds.

The night lap was a mixture of love and hate. The skyline section was magical, the link to the downhill track was interesting. The fire roads were even OK as they let traffic sort themselves out. The bumpy, rocky, technical section in the middle of the night lap was universally cursed. I swore at it every time as traffic would mount up at critcal points and I even stacked once as I wobbled and tipped over a big rock to become pinned under my bike. Thanks whoever it was that pulled the bike off me.

Never the less, I always thing that there needs to be sections of the track that you love to hate for it to be a good track. Otherwise you are probably riding on a cycle way.

I kept pottering around doing ever increasingly slower lap times. Somehow I was simultaneously alert but fatigued so I wasn’t feeling anywhere near as bad as I had been early in the race. The cooler conditions had eliminated heat as a source of fatigue however it represented a new problem. I would start to get cold after stopping for longer than a minute in transition. After two minutes I was shaking like a leaf.  This was compounded by the fact that it was slightly downhill for the next 500m or more after transition so you were traveling a high speeds (=wind) and no exertion to keep you warm.  I was shivering so much that I couldn’t keep the bike pointing straight any more. This was evidenced for all to see by the wild and erratic waggling of my bar light as I shook so hard. One of the riders behind me thought I was having some kind of mechanical – it was that vicious.

I had a few light dramas as a result of some failing cells in some of the battery packs that left me operating under almost candle like conditions on two different occasions. This was beginning to bug me and around 3 in the morning, I came in after a really bad lap with barely any light and some serious traffic congestion. I sat down and it seems that one of the wires on my battery holder was now shorting. My helmet light would go on then immediately off again. With all the switchbacks on the way down the hill, there was no way I could ride it with only a bar light.

So i sat about considering my options and proceeded to get colder and colder and colder. Before I really knew what was going on, Suse had me changing into warm clothes and curled up inside two sleeping bags wtih a space blanket covering me. I still shivered for another half an hour as I battled hypothermia. I was heart broken, I really wanted to keep riding but I was clearly in no state to do so.

I was also in no state to sleep either. With so much caffeine coursing through my system, I lay awake for hours. I think i fitfully nabbed about an hours broken sleep and then woke at dawn. Now I was stiff and sore. After a hot chocolate and some encouraging words from suse, I headed back out.

Since I had spent so much time napping, I was determined to make myself pay for being so soft, so I SMASHED the next lap. I don’t think I was passed by anyone the entire lap and as I came back to transition, my crew weren’t ready for me as I had been too quick. The real downside about that lap is that the lap time it showed was 5 hours since I had slept the first 4 hours of the lap.

After that, I calmed down a little and did some more sensible laps. I caught Dreggsy and had a chat for a while as his race had gone to the dogs when his lights were stuck on the side of the road in a broken down car his mate was driving.

On the second to last lap, I stumbled upon Danbot who was now clearly struggling. My arrival seemed to be just the shot in the arm that he needed. He found his third or fourth wind and despite me catching him, I was now struggling to hold his wheel – the man is a machine.  For the last lap and a bit, Dan and I rode together. Some conversation taking the edge off just how much we were suffering. It was getting really hot again and the track just seemed to be getting rougher and we both called it a day at 23.5 hours.

My incredible wife had already half loaded the car so a couple of quick trips to finish it off and we were on the road and home before dark. 12 hours of glorious sleep ensued.

A massive thanks to Suse, Bec, Dan, Brad, Scott and Michael for being personalities to bounce off and for making this whole ludicrous exercise a memory I will cherish.

Bring on next year!

Stick a fork in me: I am done!

Stick a fork in me: I am done!

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3 responses

12 10 2009
Michael

Hi

I was looking at rotorburn and figured some of the comments were from you guys – I was camped next door in the camper. It was nice to have some likeminded company around.

I really wanted to thank your wife for her encouraging words, especially early on when I had no support crew and through the night when I went all dizzy (gotta work out what that is about). Can you pass on my thanks – you had left when my lap finished.

I was well stoked with my result – it was as good as I had dared hope for.

Cheers mate

Michael

12 10 2009
BigSplashBear

Hey Pi11wizard,
Great result.
Man I am so sorry I didn’t catch up with you. I was in Solo Town supporting The Princess (aka Cameron Dalton) so he could ride out 15 laps. I wish I’da paid more attention to who was what and where.
Congrats on qualifying for Worlds.
Hypothermia – had the same thing happen to me in Mont 2005 at Kowen State Forest. Not a good thing but amazing how sunlight can make you feel.
Recovery well.
Bear – Out.

14 10 2009
Gary O'Neill

G’day Ross,
Well Done.
What a great effort.
24 hrs on a bloody bike seat. There should be an Olympic medal for that alone.

Cheers
Gary

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