Thursday, July 30, 2009

World Solo Champs - 9th Place

Well, what can I say? 9th Elite Female in the World Solo Championships for 2009… Still great to be there, but a little way away from the result I had planned for or was expecting. It’s taken me a little bit of time to put this blog together because I spent the 24 hours after the race finished beating myself up about the result. You have all been so supportive and even to the extent that some of you have said you find me to be an inspiration, and for that reason, I felt it was important that I figure out for myself first of all the good stuff that came out of this weekend’s race and how I’m moving forward because being positive about a race and about your abilities is key to success… On the flip side, to back yourself so hard for a result and then to not achieve that result has been really tough for me to deal with.

Firstly, a little about the race… It was a hot afternoon, and we were called up to the start line of the race in our seeded order. I felt good… Nervous and hot, but good… The gun went off and we were off on our Le Mans start… 500m up over a hill or 2 and back to the bike. For those of you who don’t already know, running is not my forte (although I have been working on it), so I had dropped a little further back in the field. Not to worry, I had a full 24 hours to catch up that 20 or 30 metres. When I jumped on the bike and up the first hill, something didn’t feel quite right. I pushed it to the back of my mind, putting it down to pre-race nerves, until I reached the top of the first hill and was sick… On my first lap. I continued on, a little confused at why I was feeling so ordinary so early. I learned later that apparently the temperature had hit 36 degrees in the first couple of hours after the race start. I also had problems with my tire pressure on the first lap. We bled my brakes just before the start because I was having issues with my rear brake (not ideal) and the pump Haydz used must have had a faulty gauge, making them about 5-10psi too hard, so my bike was bouncing around the track like a ping pong ball until I stopped and let some air out. Second lap and I thought I was ready to settle in and peg back a couple of minutes… Not to be when my bottle cage snapped. I’d just done the hardest climb on the course and didn’t fancy going back down to my pit to get it fixed, so I just put the bottle in my back pocket. When it kept falling out, I had to stop for 5 minutes to try and fix it and came up with the ingenious solution of using the rubber band from around my spare tyre to hold the bottle cage together… Incidentally, this dodgy-fix actually lasted the full duration of the race (yes!!!).

Lap 3 and this time, I meant it… I was nearly coming dead last and was not pleased about it. Annoyances and illness out of the way, and a can of Go Fast in my tummy, I was ready to start reeling them in. I rode past my pit and yelled out at Haydn “how far in front is the next female?”. She was 4 minutes ahead. “Done!” I yelled back and took off in my big chain ring after her. I pegged her back on the first hill… Bang, bang, another two down. At the end of lap three I was coming 8th. Next lap, up to 6th, and the lap after, I reeled in another to pull my position back up to 5th place. This was more like it!!! I felt awesome. The tears welled up in my eyes while I rode thinking about my spot on the podium. But I knew, and Haydn knew, that I wasn’t eating enough. The heat was a real appetite suppressant and the course was quite technical, which made it difficult to find places to eat and drink on the bike. I had pre-determined places where I would drink and eat, but it was occasionally too tempting to catch someone or stay ahead of someone by caning it along a fire trail instead of settling down and taking a drink and some food.

I headed into my first night lap quite strong. The first night lap was always a test of how you would survive through to morning and for the first half of it, I felt good. It was dry and dusty and visibility was very poor as the lights reflected back off all the dust as it encroached on your lungs. Half way through the lap, I was sick again in a big way. It took me a good 10 minutes to manage to start moving again. Luckily I was near the half way feed zone, and I managed to grovel my way up the hill to Haydn. I felt better for having been sick, but the problem we were faced with now was trying to get my stomach to keep food down. It was just before midnight and I was on my hands and knees in the feedzone dry reaching and coughing up green globules of dust. This was not good half way through a 24 hour race… at the 20 hour mark, not too much of a problem, but I couldn’t do another 12 hours of racing without eating. What had I done wrong? Was it the heat? The dust? Had I gone too hard when I was trying to make up the time on my competitors? While I was in the feed zone, the girl in 6th place passed me…

I must have been there for at least half an hour. Haydn convinced me to get up and ride the rest of the lap so I could reach my pit area where we could try and get some food into me. We did this, and all the while I lost placing after placing. While I was in the pit, Tony Hogg (our fellow NZ team and pit mate)also came in. He was in first place and quite a substantial margin up on second place. We were both in a world of hurt.

I got on the bike a bit before Tony and headed out on a slow, arduous lap. About a quarter of the way through the lap, Tony came steaming past me again. He was back on! WOOHOO!!! I was a little surprised to come across Tony on the side of the trail, barely lucid with another rider holding him up waiting for the medics. He couldn’t stand up... I felt really gutted for him. He’d been riding so well.

The rest of the evening went slowly, but fairly uneventfully, but the above events of the 12 hour mark had a substantial effect on my ability to continue lapping at pace. Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to peg the deficit back and finished in 9th place. There’s a lot that has to go right for a 24 hour race to go your way, and it was a hard lesson to learn so far from home.

So, where to now??? Well, I have 9 days left in Canada and to do a bit of road tripping… This will, indeed, involve going riding (not training) in some very cool places, and I’ll be sure to tell you all about them. Upon my return to NZ, I’ll put together my race schedule for the next year and an events schedule, which will hopefully involve some more international events and obviously I will be seeking revenge against myself at next year’s 24 hour solo world champs. The Wednesday Nite Ride Series at Woodhill this year was a great success and I hope to do this again next year and also have some other very cool ideas up my sleeve. We will be looking for sponsorship/support for these events, so keep watching this space if you want to jump in and grab a piece of the action!

Peace out for now

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Race Update 14 hour mark

Got power to the laptop it was pretty hectic there for a while...Tony Hogg our other Kiwi crew member is battling hard for 1st place in elite men...yeah yeah

Megan just had her usual crash..we were hoping we had it under control for this race but the inevitable hit and she has dropped from 5th to 9th in one lap. She is in pretty bad shape but has just got back on her bike and once this slow lap gets out the way the sun will come up and she will get back into it. Nevermind... I'm doing ok by the way..I have lived this week on NZ time so iots still only 8.30pm for me even though its 2.30am, this way I can help her in her darkest hours...

Lap 6 down..up to 5th

Megan is up to 5th..about 20 minutes from 4th but looking very strong. Rebecca Rusch in 1st is only a few minutes behind lapping her..she's a bit of a legend so not much of a benchmark to work from. 2nd is still not thru so within Megan's 24 hour reach.
Megan is hollering so she must be ok :)

Lap 5 underway..

Lap 4 was back in form for Megan..looks like she is back. It was almost 15 minutes faster than Lap 3 which was 10 minutes faster than Lap 2 ...she also passed 2 maybe 3 girls...oh yeah bitches (that was from Megan haha) bad start is behind us...temperature is down to Low 20's thank christ for that..36degrees..thats just silly...

Heading out for lap 4

Alriiiight she is feeling good took 2.5 laps to get that spewy tummy sorted but you have to give it to the GOFAST I gave her ...she came round peaking..I'm still worried she's not eating enough but I think she has got the message...the rain is here and the temperature has dropped from the 36 degrees that was starting nto hurt even the top riders to about low 20's..rain is here too but can't see it being to dramatic..will help get rid of the dust..

Race is underway...1 hour 30mins

Ok Haydz here, race is underway...Meg had a shitty first lap with a stop already for a spew...grrr..nevermind we are underway anyway...will do my best to update here as much as poss. Over

Friday, July 24, 2009

Links to follow this weekend's World Champs race

Hey All!

Links to follow the race this weekend are...

AdrenalinLive Website
24WSC Twitter

My own twitter site will also be active and Haydz will update if and when he has time outside tending to my needs (I'm pretty high maintenance for him!)

Megan Dimozantos Twitter

Peace out for now!!!

Beary cool track... Run along now...

Today I had the pleasure of dragging Haydn's jetlagged ass around the course I will be riding for 24 hours over the weekend. The course has changed significantly overnight with the removal of the coal chutes, which means most riders will have only ridden the true course once or twice before the race.

We were lucky enough out on the trails today to come across a grizzly bear strolling across the course having a feed. He hung around for 15 minutes, then headed off towards the next bit of single track... Needless to say, we were a little cautious and nervous continuing on after seeing him.

Some food shopping and bike tuning and time to turn in for the evening... Registration and briefing tomorrow... 2 more sleeps...

Number 9 it is!!!!

Ha! Things do change aye? Luckily it happened so quickly... I was starting to get attached to number 8 ;)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lucky number 8 it is...

2 Days to go and feeling good!!!

I was stoked when I rode the course again today and put in a hot lap 5 mins faster than any lap I have done... And felt good at the end. Great way to finish my taper and then a massage and hot tub to freshen up the legs a bit. Bring it!!!

Caught up with Tony Hogg yesterday for a ride and dinner. Man, that dude is quick! I'm no slug on the bike, but he's gonna be one to watch.

Competitor list and pit allocations came out late this afternoon. Unless things change, I've picked up number 8 this year... I would like to say I resisted the urge to google my competitors, but the temptation was far too much. It could be a good thing or a bad thing that I can see the Women's field this year is very strong, and probably largely due to riders making the trip to try and strip Rebecca Rusch of her 2-year standing title. I am under no false pretences that this will be a tough race... 24 Hours is a long time and anything can happen... I'm going to ride the best race I can.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Exciting first blog! Canmore and World Champs prep

Thought it may be about time I set up a blog so you guys all know what’s going on with Megan and Riding.

As most of you would know, I’m currently in Canmore, Canada, awaiting the 24 Hour Solo Mountain Biking World Championships, and have been here for about a week now… Wow, bit of blogging to catch up on aye???

The flight from Auckland to Vancouver was actually pretty good, and for those of you who like travelling with your bikes to random destinations, I have to say that Air NZ have always been great to fly with and this was no exception. Off the plane at Calgary and shuttle along the Trans-Canada to Canmore, arriving there a mere 2 hours after my flight initially left Auckland (this time zone and date line thing really screws with your head)

First couple of days in Canmore I did quite a bit of exploring and “tootling” on the numerous trails along the riverside, and was stoked to find some amazing single track around the mountains across the other side of the highway around Cougar creek. Mount Grotto is host to a sweet little single track loop called the “Horseshoe Loop”. There’s tracks scattered all over the mountainside here and I’m pretty sure you could get lost in there for hours and have a great time. I may have been a little more inclined to wander if I’d been carrying bear spray with me. A few days later, I went exploring on the other side of the creek and found this awesome trail that was just this buffed, smooth single track climbing right up to the ridgeline, then there were little dipping corners carved into the mountainside that you could just fly into the berm and pop up the other side. It descended into some committing technical singletrack, then arrived on this meadowy ridge that overlooked the town of Canmore and the Rocky Mountains. Awesome! I think it’s really important when you visit somewhere new that you have a chat with the locals and not necessarily follow what’s in the trail guide or on the web. Generally, the best tracks are the local “secrets”, and I doubt I would’ve found these little gems on my own.

I spent those first couple of days in Canmore just spinning my legs out and adjusting to the time difference, altitude and heat. Temperatures have been between about 25 and 30 degrees most days, except yesterday morning when I had to wear arm and leg warmers in the icy shadow of the mountain around 7am. Canmore sits around 1400m above sea level… Enough to have you huffing and puffing up a climb or two for the first couple of days, and the sun rises about 5am and sets around 10.30pm… Fantastic for a 24 hour race (only 7 hours of darkness), but not so conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Third day I was up at the Nordic centre checking out the course for the race. NICE! Sweet, techy single track and some good solid climbs in there, too. I like it very much. It will be relentless at night. Still a bit breathless, cheers to the altitude, but having too much fun for it to bother me too much. Over the last couple of days, I’ve done a couple of laps of the course. The solo riders have a higher proportion of technical single track, being world champs. Probably the biggest talking point of the trail has been the Coal Chutes... Very aptly named. These steep li'l babies have been the source of frustration and fear for many riders scoping the trails. Not only are they a nice set of steep switchbacks, but they are actually made of coal, so have become a powdery, fast, crazy (ok, I'll use the word "uncontrolled") descent. Better still, being made of coal, if you happen to have a spill coming down here, everyone down solo alley will be able to tell from the coal shade of black covering you head to toe. Bring on the dark and coal chutes... There has been talk of the organisers removing it from the course... I vote no...

I’ve also had the privilege of coming across an elk, a tree squirrel, a deer (he was so cute!), and a bear (so cool!). The views are astounding, even out on the course… Everywhere you look is a postcard shot.

So, the bike has arrived in one piece, thanks to my Acoustic Motorbike bike case, Andy Pine from Go Fast has been awesome in organizing their Canadian counterparts to send me a rather generous supply for the race (thanks guys!), Haydn (the boss) from Woodhill Mountain Bike Park gets here tomorrow night and Chickenman from Bike 75 has been giving me mechanical advice via TXT. So, all I have left to do now is hang for Saturday…

I’m ready… Let’s see what Canada throws my way!

Watch this space for more details on where to follow the race.