With Nick a little tired from the prologue dash for cash, Brad went out on the first lap and pulled a blistering time, sending me out in the top 20 overall, which turned out to be the sweetest deal I have had at one of these races, I was initially nervous about faster riders getting stuck behind me, as the entire field was coming up behind me, but half way up the mountain, no one had come and caught me, in fact, no one was around, it was awesome to have the course to myself!
The boys had decided that night laps were not what they wanted to do, so they rested me up and did double laps, so I had a nice break and got to catch up with friends and mill about, it was quite relaxed until about 5pm when I got to do another lap, by now though, the field had spread out and I was about to experience what the boys had been complaining about, extreme congestion.
In previous years this race had been on two 15km courses, meaning the 2500 riders were spread out over 30km. This year some genius decided the same event could be run on an 18km course. Sadly, they were wrong, it was so congested people were like ants crawling all over each other to get past. People were getting pushed out of the way and for those of us polite enough to wait for a safe place to pass, it was frustrating as hell. My lap time was 5 minutes slower for the same power down, all due to the congestion.
I finished my lap pretty annoyed but calmed down over some rice and tuna and a coke while Nick and Brad continued to smash out fast doubles to let me rest. Night came and it was my turn to pull my weight and do some laps while the others got some sleep. Nick came into camp looking pretty ill and said he felt like he was getting the flu, this was not good, he is after all, our fastest rider. Then we got news that we were in 6th place, having won by 2 laps last year, this was not where we expected to be in the field (pardon my confidence ;)). I wanted to throw in the towel to be honest, and Nick said he did too, none of us where having fun on the congested course and if we going to have a crappy time and come 6th, why bother?
Although I found the congestion frustrating, some other wannabe racers took that frustration out on other riders. I witness a couple of school age girls on the side of the track in tears having been pushed over by these clowns, and sadly, Kylie was also a victim of this same agression, with a bafoon overtaking her dangerously, without warning and getting it wrong, pushing her over and causing her to crash, breaking her wrist (Scaphoid). I hope the 2 seconds that guy saved of his lap time by not waiting for a safe place to pass was worth the weeks of rehab she will now have to endure.
Nick headed to bed and I jumped on my bike to knock out a triple lap, even though it seemed pointless at this stage. At night the congestion usually gets better at a 24, but at this race, it got worse, with people dragging brakes down the descents in fear (I assume) and huge 100 metre conga lines of riders forming, making over taking a futile exercise, so I just shut the pace down and cruised these laps out.
When I got back the guys had found out that the timing equipment used at this event had some major flaws, in that most teams had laps missing from their results, and we were no different. The system had dropped laps for us and that is why it showed us in 6th place, we were in fact winning by about 30 mins. When we approached timing to fix the problem, we were told "don't worry about it, we will fix the results by the end of the race, you don't need to know them accurately now"... to which I was dumb struck, jaw agape! How could we race if we had no idea where our competition was?!
Luckily we had a safe lead, so we just continued on our way, the boys doing a few laps, then me doing a double to give them another break, our lead was building and although we were frustrated with the inaccurate placings, I imagine the guys who were coming 2nd, but incorrectly shown as 1st in the results would have had a dissapointing shock when the results were finally corrected... by dawn we had built an hour lead on them and they would have never seen it coming.
With a safe lead it was time to shut the pace right down for me, but Nick and Brad were hell bent on smashing out fast laps, even more reason for me to turn it down some more as I wasn't keen to put in any more effort than needed :) So I headed out on my last lap in complete cruisy mode, chatting to other riders. I had gotten a top tip from Mr English that spinning your last lap is good for quick recovery and I was keen to follow his advice. Before long Olympian Dan McConnell rolled up behind me and I moved over to let him go, but he wasn't keen to pass, he too was spinning his last lap as they were in 6th in elite 4's, unable to catch 5th, so they were just rolling it to the finish too. So we rode together, it was pretty elating to be cruising around with an Olympian for my last lap and I got to follow him through some tricky sections and get some great lines before another Torq rider passed us up the final climb and Dan took off to chase him, leaving me in his dust ;)
In the end the boys had got us a solid lead so I could to do my cruisy night lap thing, it meant we got to run the race how we wanted; not the fastest way, but in a way that allowed us to each do the laps we wanted, when we wanted. It was pretty cool to have that flexability.
Sadly though, this race was for me "the day the music died", as my love affair with 24 hour racing has taken a bit of a bashing with appauling timing, violence on course and even our podium was screwed up (we were called up as 2nd place instead of 1st, and we were not the only team to have this happen either!). Catching up with all my awesome cycling mateys was the highlight of the weekend really, maybe next time I will just rock up without a bike and socialise ;)
Some stats for fun:
Team Result: 1st Place
Team Laps: 26
Team Distance: 462km
Team Ascent: 13,884vm
|Power vs Time: Good XC pace for my first two single laps, 80% power for the night triple and double laps, then shut down for the final lap with Dan. No surprises, lap times directly correlate to power|
|Heart Rate vs Time: Nice stable cadence, but slow HR fade that correlates with power loss and lap times getting long.|