Best 24hr ever? It just may have been... the weather nature laid out for us was perfect with a few days of light rain before the event to keep the dust down, and then fine 17'C days for the event. The course was just magic, the most fun course we've had for one of these and the people were so friendly and couteous out on course.
Ash had travelled up from Mildura to pair with me in his first ever 24hr race and I had been training much less than last year, so the pressure to race was not on at all. We simply set out with no real plan, to do a few laps each and see what happened...
I did the start which was a mere 300m this year, on the bitchumen (or as I did it, on the grass next to the bitchumen :)) and then the solos, pairs, muskateers and fours went into the red lap, and the other bigger teams went into the Blue. It was a new way to start and it worked brilliantly, there was no congestion on the first lap, in previous years I had endured 8-10min delays at the switchbacks at the top of Kowen, but this time it was just all flow and the MTB peleton cruised to the top of the mountain with no delays.
I decided we should double lap, as would take around 90-120 minutes between change overs, allowing for a proper rest between efforts and a chance to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the event. Our first few laps went well, and between laps I was able to hang about with my wifes six man team, check out the event centre and catch up with mates in other teams, which was brilliant.
As night came the lights came on and the place was alive with little "glow worms" all over the park, the view from the top of the mountain looking down on it all was amazing!
Sadly a couple of things went wrong for my wifes team at this point, Dan, a very experienced rider came unstuck on the downhill in the red lap and broke his right hand going OTB. Most frustrating for him as he was registered in my team for the MONT in a fortnight. In typical happy-go-lucky-Dan form, he headed for hostpital to get a cast put on with a laugh, nothing gets this bloke down!
Latter in the night Brad started to complain of chest pain while breathing, so his Dad (also on their six man team) took him to hospital where he was diagnosed with pnuemonia! He had had the flu a couple of week before the event, and the bug was still there, waiting to strike. A few days later, still not getting better, he was admitted to hospital for over 8 days with the same renal problem Craig Gordon suffered at the 2007 World Solo Championships, basically his body was left a little worn out from the flu and the exertion of excerise caused muscle protein to break down and affect his kidneys, combine that problem with pnuemonia, and he was in for a long hospital visit :(
Andrew soldiered on for their team doing a double night lap, but by 4am, he had enough, leaving only 2 of the original six person team, Kylie and Nicole, to bring it home and finish for them, which they did well, but Nic suffered 3 flats on her final lap. I think their team was cursed or something! She finished with a smile though, so it's all good :)
As for us, by 11pm Ash was starting to tire, he came into transition still happy, but having had enough. We were in 9th place at this stage, not bad for a first time 24 effort for Ash, and I didn't want to pressure him to overdo the event and end up hating it. We were not there to race after all, so I suggested he hit the hay and get up at dawn and see how he felt, I grabbed some supplies and headed off for a planned set of two double laps. The red lap was all firing and fun, I was having a ball there, but the blue lap was starting to get a little painful, there were a few tricky rocks in some spots that knock you off when you are tired and unskilled like me, and by the time I had done two reds and a blue, I decided "to hell with it", my beautiful wife was asleep in the tent back at camp, so what the hell was I doing out here lapping! Not keen enough to hit up another blue lap, I rolled into transition ready to hit the hay, to my surprise Kylie was standing there waiting for me, pretty impressive considering it was 1'C and 3am! We had a cuddle and got a nice little sleep in the tent which was just awesome.
At dawn we got up to Andrew cooking us pancakes (the legend!) and had a think about where we were... Ash had had enough, I had too, I could have happily headed home at this point, but decided we should finish, I've never been DNF'd so I wasn't about to at this race!
With a Blue lap next on the list, I decided I wanted to finish with a hot red lap, to finish on an adrenalin high. So I waited until 90 mins before the new 11am optional finish time and headed out for a double lap, I pulled a 46min on the blue and a 42min on the red, it was awwwwwesome! I felt really strong and it was all pure fun! They were hardly stellar lap times compared to anyone else, but to me, they were fast and I felt great! The course had held up brilliantly and was still fantasic at the end of the race, making for a perfect end to a great race, I finished with a big grin!
In the end we came 12th out of 27 teams, which was amazing considering we stopped riding when we did. I am pretty stoked with that result!
Anyway, a stellar event that ran pefectly, kudos to CORC and APIS and thanks to Ash for making the trip from Mildura! Here's to another great one next year!...