Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day Night Borer - 12 Hours of Riding, Eating and Threadbare Shorts...

I enjoyed my 12 hour race on Saturday. I felt strong and focused and I generally had a good time and achieved what I had set out to accomplish for the day, but I would stop short of calling it a "thriller"... Maybe the event organiser should consider re-naming the Day Night Thriller to more aptly describe the mere 4km course, comprising largely of firetrail and wide double-track, which I was lapping in about 12 minutes for the larger part of the day (52 times, might I add). Facetious comments aside, I had embarked upon this opportunity five weeks out from 24 hour solo world champs so I could get some valuable training in the legs, and so my new support crew could get some valuable training in the pits.
Having such a short lap meant that I would see my pit crew (the lovely Sarah Natac) quite regularly. Sarah has been so generous as to put her hand up to manage my support at world champs (possibly unaware of exactly what she was getting herself into!) so this was our opportunity to practice and get things right before the main event. Having such short laps meant that any blunders could be bypassed and then corrected on the next lap. In Canberra, where our laps will be between an hour and an hour and a half long, we won't have this opportunity. I also knew that having such a short course would test my resolve with regards to boredom-busting, which probably wasn't a bad thing.
The morning was relatively warm with a cool breeze. I had been a little nervous about the race for a couple of reasons, but mainly because I knew I wanted to hit the race at about 85%, considering the upcoming big event. Whether I could actually bring myself to do that, I was unsure. It's a weird feeling going into a race and not approaching it with everything you have. It seemed really wrong to me, but as the day wore on, it felt like it made more sense, and then even moreso again as I ventured into the week afterwards training-wise.

So we set off about 10am to ride a hideous number of loops. The shortness of the lap meant that congestion was ever-present and I found myself searching for other ways to say "on your right please" to break the monotony of passing rider after rider. As the race wore on, the passing became less, but I found myself a little disgusted at the lack of manners some riders displayed... Riding up behind another rider and screaming out "track" or "rider" or "right" really seemed quite inappropriate and rude to me, especially given the sort of event it was. You would have been forgiven on a number of occasions for thinking that Farmer Brown had put his sheep station up for grabs... Or maybe I'm just getting old and saying "please" and "thank you" has gone out of fashion.

There were a number of notable events and sights throughout the day that kept me amused. The lovely dresses donned by the Desperate Housewives team were always good value, and in particular, the striking red g-string that Raewyn Knight had obviously so carefully chosen from her top drawer that morning to wear on the outside of her lycra. There was the guy with the crocheted cupcake on his helmet and the team tent that had fabricated a rather large boombox out of a wheelie bin and were pelting bizarre dubstep tunes out onto the course... Every time I rode past, I felt like maybe I should have been high on some sort of illicit drugs, but I figured the respite from the usual race village tunes of Lady Gaga and Venga Boys was, in itself, a kind of high. I sang songs to myself and anyone else who would listen... Then there was the highlight of my day... The dude with the threadbare shorts... I vaguely remember the conversation I had with this guy and it went something like this... "Dude, you need a new pair of shorts, I can quite clearly see your entire crackal region"... "Well then don't look"... "Well, it's kinda like a trainwreck. I'm finding it difficult to avert my eyes". Every time he rode past me after that was cause for celebration... "Hey there! It's my buddy with the threadbare shorts!". I can only make the assumption he wasn't bothered by my observations because he didn't change into anything less revealing at any point throughout the day.

Then there was my support crew. Sarah did a great job for her first time on course with me. The short lap made monitoring food and drink intake cumbersome but she managed it well... She had fresh sandwiches ready for me and on the couple of occasions I got grumpy, she didn't flinch (I am genuinely sorry for those moments Sarah!). I'm well aware of the fact that I can be a bit of a handful to support. I suppose after years of doing these things, we develop our own unique little idiosyncrasies... For example, I can only feed with my right hand, sandwiches have to be made within 5 minutes of me eating them so the bread is still soft and squishy, whenever I have coke in my drink bottle, I have to take an antacid to stop it giving me heartburn and when I do lights on, I expect to be in and out of the pits in 30 seconds. There were a couple of occasions I remember on Saturday when I came in and Sarah wasn't quite ready for me, and I snapped "you're not ready for me? See you next lap", then rode off into the sunset. It was nice to have that option on this occasion, but like I mentioned earlier, it is something we won't have the luxury of at world champs, when every second you spend in the pits is valuable seconds you need to make back up while you are tired, hungry and sore. I was stoked we had the opportunity to iron out the creases before world champs.

I was stoked with how I rode throughout the day. You could have nearly set your watch to the consistency of my lap times. I felt strong and positive for the most part and I didn't bury myself, which was pretty important to me at this point in time. I ate and drank well and we have some logistical screws to tighten over the next few weeks, but that will all come together by then. I had both my bikes set up perfectly and neither one skipped a beat. Both the Ninja and Betty will make a fine entourage for my assault on Mt Stromlo in five weeks time. My new Stans Podium MMX wheels from Cycletech ran so smoothly and as cheesy as it sounds, I sincerely noticed the drop in weight from my other wheels (nearly 400gms of rotational mass!).

In the end, I knocked out about 220km in the 12 hours, a couple of laps behind Kim Hurst... I was really stoked to discover we had come second and third overall in the solo category respectively (only one guy beat the two of us!). I'm feeling really good and positive moving into my final few weeks of training before world champs and, most importantly, I'm looking forward to it!!!

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