JetBlack 12 Hour 2015 Race Wrap Up

I’ll cut straight to the chase.  This year’s JetBlack 12 Hour race was a DNF.

I could list a heap of excuses as to why I didn’t finish but I’ll use just two:
1) In the 4 weeks leading up to the race I had ridden a total of 56km
2) In the 4 weeks leading up to the race I had a bout of bronchitis, laryngitis, mystery deathbed illness and had formed a habit of urinating blood quite often.

So anyway, I travelled six and a half hours through rain and hail to arrive at the beautiful James Estate Winery in Baerami NSW.  After a quick setup of my camping spot I settled in for a cold night and a hot meal with the Spin Cycle Clothing MTB Team and the Pedal 4 Pierce crew.

The rain cleared and we were in for a warm and sunny start for the race.  I donned the Soldier On Cycling kit for the final time in a race and made sure my bike was ready to roll.

JE12HR 2015 001
.:Legs Eleven:.
JE12HR 2015 002
.:Follow The Rainbow:.

After some deliberation over starting the race in a long sleeve or a short sleeve jersey I started the race with the guns on display. I headed off onto the grinding fire-road before entering the pristine James Estate singletrack.  The field spread itself out with the whippets at the front and the slow grinders at the back.  I found myself somewhere in the upper middle of the pack and set an easy pace for myself.

My easy pace idea was flawed from the start as I found my heart-rate sitting between 170-180bpm for my first two laps.  I pitted for a few minutes to have a quick feed and swap out my bidon before heading out again.  I was already feeling fatigued and I had been riding for a little over one hour.  My plan of taking it easy with plenty of stops, looked like it would need a few extended stops thrown in for good measure.  I headed out again a nice easy pace once again and watched as my heart-rate edged ever closer to my 185bpm maximum.

On my third lap leg cramps started to creep up on me.  It was very obvious that my lack of training and conditioning was going to rear its ugly head sooner rather than later.

.:Out on the trails:. Outer Image Collective
.:Out on the trails:.
Outer Image Collective

I was about three-quarters into my third lap when I came off my bike immediately after a fairly innocuous drop off thanks to my front wheel going one way and the rest of my bike wanting to have a nap on the dirt.  Despite what I thought after brushing myself off, my fall didn’t help my ongoing cramping issues.

.:Not the offending drop:. Outer Image Collective
.:Not the offending drop:.
Outer Image Collective

I pitted after my forth lap and headed out for a cramp/pain filled fifth lap.  Every little pinch climb and every time I stood out of the saddle caused my quads to seize up.  Getting to the end of this lap was difficult so I decided I would definitely have an extended rest/most likely retire from the race just shy of 4 hours on the bike.

.:Pushing, pushing:. Outer Image Collective
.:Pushing, pushing:.
Outer Image Collective

After hanging up my helmet, having a feed and getting changed; I spent the remainder of the 12 hour race taking photos of the event and helping Mrs Rocket Rolls pit crew for Rocket Rolls.

While my race didn’t go well it was great to see some great results from my friends in the Spin Cycle Clothing MTB Team and the Pedal 4 Pierce Crew!

.:Goodbye James Estate for 2015:.
.:Goodbye James Estate for 2015:.
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JetBlack 12 Hour 2014 Race Wrap Up

The JetBlack 12 Hour at James Estate Winery was the first road trip/short holiday that included our new addition, Celeste, tagging along.

I signed up for this race a number of months ago and before I knew I was heading to France with Team Soldier On to race in the Trois Etapes in August.

I’ve enjoyed the past few Rocky Trail events and this was guaranteed to be one of their best.  Martin and Juliane are amazing people that put on mountain bike events that are second to none.  So to say I was looking forward to riding around the James Estate Winery was an understatement.

But before I was able to ride the grinding fire-roads and flowing singletrack I had to move the family 550km north of Canberra; not an easy feat with a 5 week old.  Many pit stops followed with some roadside feeds; but finally we arrived at our cottage B&B near Denman.

JE12HR 2014 001
.:Kate got her own room:.

We spent Friday morning admiring the Hunter Valley before heading to James Estate Winery to register for the next days race.

JE12HR 2014 002
.:Not a bad view at James Estate:.
JE12HR 2014 005
.:The climb through the vineyard – suprisingly difficult:.
JE12HR 2014 006
.:Rider number 31:.

As we weren’t camping at the winery with the other Bermers; the offer to have dinner with the Hills down the road was too good to refuse.

JE12HR 2014 007
.:Better than camping food that’s for sure:.

The next day I prepared my bike, bottles and food and drove out to the event centre with family in tow.

JE12HR 2014 008
.:Mum & bub – errr polar bear:.
JE12HR 2014 009
.:Soldier On & The Berm together at another race:. (SPOILER: Two would finish, two would not)
JE12HR 2014 010
.:Last minute snuggles:.

The race started as planned, Chad in the front of the middle pack and a slow but steady start to warm up; and warm up I did.  Despite the single digit temperatures I was soon shedding my arm warmers and wishing I wasn’t wearing my knee warmers.

The initial fire-road was a grinding battle against sand, rolling resistance and a gradual incline into the singletrack.  The singletrack was a mix of sweeping tracks and flowing corners with so many drop-offs I lost count.  My normal aversion to A-Lines in races was soon overcome by the fact I missed the B-Lines each time and still managed to keep my bike rubber side down.

JE12HR 2014 019
.:Dusty and getting dustier:.

As I rounded my second lap of the 11.5km course I was suitably warmed up and feeling quite good.

JE12HR 2014 017
.:Transition:.

By my fourth lap I was feeling a great deal of discomfort in my left hip and upper glutes.  The same feeling I got during the Soldier On Training Camp at Tweed Heads.

JE12HR 2014 018
.:My pit crew:.

I headed out on my fifth lap knowing full well that it would be my last, my hip was starting to hurt and my lower back was well and truly seized up.  Every-time I left the saddle the pain grew more intense.  So I put my final effort into the final climb and descent into transition before calling it quits for another year.

JE12HR 2014 020
.:Long flowing golden locks in the breeze:.

At the end of the day I wasn’t disappointed with my effort, I knew full well I wasn’t going to give 100% due to what was at stake in the coming weeks with the Trois Etapes.  Instead I went on a holiday with my family and went for a little ride in between.


A huge congratulations to Bermers Alyssa (3rd place in Women’s Elites) and the Pedal 4 Pierce team (1st place in Mixed 4’s)

Capital Punishment 2014 Wrap Up

I made the decision to not race to my Garmin GPS at around the 25km mark.  Prior to the 2014 Capital Punishment I had been carefully monitoring my heart rate, average speed and split times during training rides and races.  Every time I got on a bicycle and started riding I would keep my eyes glued to that little LCD display that was telling me all the information I thought I needed to know while riding.  Sure, there is some data that is useful while riding, but the majority of what a GPS/cycling computer can offer is done in post ride analysis.

My preparation for this year’s 100km event was somewhat ideal; some long road rides leading up; but probably not enough mountain bike endurance riding in my legs at the same time.  Between December and February I had been training quite intensively for the Easter 24 Hour Solos.  Alas, the race was cancelled for a variety of reasons and my motivation to train came to an abrupt halt.  My 400km weeks dropped to 200-250km weeks; while not exactly a tiny amount of riding, it was a struggle to get the bike out of the garage some days.

Couple this with one of my more impressive (read painful) crashes at the AMB 100 and I had effectively misplaced my Flow.  I needed something to look forward to and that came in the form of a 100km marathon race taking in the best of Canberra’s single-track and a few killer climbs.  Plus this was my first race in the new Soldier On cycling kit so I was excited about that.  Last year’s Capital Punishment was my first 100km mountain bike race and I loved it.  I rode my own race and only felt fatigued in the last 10km when I had to stop for some explosive vomiting action before the final descent to the finish line.

This year I set a few goals:
1)  Finish the raceIn the past 4 months I had finished only three out of seven races due to crashes or mechanical issues
2)  Race my own raceIt sounds strange, but to race and ignore all the other riders is a sure fire way to understand what your body and bike are capable of on the track
3)  Beat last year’s timeWhat is the point of racing the same event again if you don’t want to improve?

So in the days leading up to the race I formulated my nutrition/hydration plan, prepped Kate the XTC and finally registered for the race the day before.  Alas my excitement was replaced by a sense of WTF?!  This year’s Capital Punishment was a little different to last years and indeed almost all other marathon races.  Usually you choose which starting wave you want to begin in, turn up and start riding.  The Cap organisers implemented a new seeding system that would allow you to nominate which starting wave you wanted to be in; but also required proof of a similar distance and time.

Not an unreasonable request by any means and to be honest a real step forward in trying to combat over seeding.  Last year I started in Wave 5 out of 9.  I finished in just over six hours and caught the tail end of Wave 3.  Not bad for my first ever 100km race, but during that race I had also stopped to help an injured rider for approximately 30 minutes.  In most timed races there is a “Good Samaritan Clause” in which time spent helping an injured rider is taken off your overall time.  No worries I thought, I sent an email off to the organisers and received a reply that this would be sorted in the coming weeks.

Fast forward to 2014’s online registration and I self seeded in Wave 4 based on last year’s time and some of the enduros I had done in between.  Eventually I was seeded in Wave 6, with 300+ other riders… WTF?! Indeed!

So I lined up in the first few rows of the grid within the stupidly large wave and rolled across the start line.  After a few kilometres of fast fire road the Speedy Gonzales’s of the group were huffing and puffing and dropping back; and then we entered the Kowen Forest single-track.  As always the Kowalski Brothers trails were in immaculate condition and daring every rider to push their limits.  Kowen quickly transitioned into Sparrow Hill and I was riding my favourite trails in reverse; an amazing experience.

CP14 006.:Start of the 2014 Capital Punishment 100km:.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Kowen Forest:.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Sparrow Hill:.

I had been riding for just under an hour by the time we went under the Kings Highway and back into Kowen Forest.  By this stage my wave had well and truly spread out and it was obvious that the majority of us in the front group had been under seeded as we were already passing Wave 5 riders.  As I rounded a corner just before Quadrophenia I misjudged my entry into a short bridge and watched as my XTC tumbled past me as I hit the dirt with my shoulder then my knee and finally my shoulder again.  From crash to back on track I doubt I spent more than 30 seconds off the bike, but it was enough to wake me up and raise the heart rate.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Kowen Forest:.

So with a sore shoulder, grazed forearm, grazed knee and a bruised ego; I set about reeling in the 5 or so riders that passed me after I crashed.  It was at this point I could clearly hear my heavy breathing and heart rate blasting in my ears.  My GPS was beeping at me as my heart rate had exceeded my ‘maximum’ of 180bpm and it was not dropping anytime soon.  As I approached the 25km marker sign I looked down at my sweat covered and dust encrusted GPS and pressed the ‘PAGE’ button.  Now all I could see was my elevation statistics, calories burned and the time.  I looked ahead and attacked the group that passed me just as a fire road climb appeared.

The next 20km’s was a blur of single-track, pine trees, fire road and climbs.  It was on the climbs that I found I was passing riders with different coloured race plates to mine; riders that had started one or two waves in front of me, some of who had started 20 minutes before me.  Clearly the seeding system was working fantastically!  My annoyance was soon replaced with surprise as I saw the 40km feed station appear after a hill and I realised I was well and truly ahead of my planned time at this point.  With the Sutton Forest section coming up with a few pinch climbs thrown in I knew I would be best served slowing to a comfortable pace and enjoying the race for the next several kilometres until I reached open fire road again.

And this is exactly what I did until I reached the Majura Military Training Area.  In hindsight I know I took it a little too easy on the Sutton Forest stretch but the fact I was able to walk without pain after the race tells me I made the right decision.  I pushed out a little on the fire roads and soon found myself crossing Majura Road and running a gauntlet of heavy construction vehicles to get over Mt Majura and into the untimed section for a refuel and slight rest.

By this stage last year I had walked two of the steeper pinch climbs in the Training Area and Mt Majura, this year I got out the saddle and pedalled my way up.  As I crossed the timing mat into the untimed section I was feeling pretty good but in dire need of a bottle change.  I rode briskly through the suburbs into Dickson and stopped at the second feed station.  Bermers Di, Ben and Maree were there with words of encouragement and after 15 minutes I turned around to see Bermer Alyssa pulling into the station behind me; wow, she was not mucking about!  I headed off to the start of the Black Mountain section and stopped to take advantage of some of what remained of the 55 minutes of un-timed section to have a bite to eat, nature stop and psych myself up for the next 30km that would be comprised of a lot more climbing.  Luckily I like climbing, I may not be the fastest climber but I have endurance and on long climbs I find I pass a lot of others that try to lead out early.

Black Mountain was fun; tough climbs up and loose sketchy descents down.  There was plenty of braking and skidding but by the time I was weaving through the cork plantation leading into the Arboretum I was still smiling.  Immediately after the cork trees disappeared the climb that almost made me swear last year came into view.  A long, loose and sometimes pinchy fire road that lead to a few shorter climbs.  I decided to attack this climb; I don’t know why, but something in my legs told me to do it.  I picked a gear and got out of the saddle and climbed.  Last year I walked most of this hill and this year I wanted to own it; albeit in my own slow and steady way.

The Arboretum was comprised of hot and dusty sections that lead into the Cotter Road tarmac section that took us into Mt Stromlo.  Last year this small stretch was difficult for me, I was running on near empty and it was a huge struggle to get my dual suspension Anthem, Zooey, to maintain any momentum.  The slow grinding climb this year was made slightly worse with a drive train that sounded like half of my bike was grinding against the bitumen.  As I entered Mt Stromlo’s first section of single track signalling I was nearing the last 12km of the race, my bottom bracket decided to start making life extremely difficult for me by partially seizing up.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:The National Arboretum:.

The free flowing tracks of Holden’s Creek and Fenceline were quick despite the horrible grinding noise coming from my bike; but it made the next 7km ascending the mountain terrible.  I had a choice of three gears in which my cranks would actually spin and allow me to continue moving forward.  I was out of the saddle most of the climb and by the time I reached the start of the Western Wedgetail and the welcome descent down the mountain my quads were burning.  I started the run home to the finish with a little tail whip (not my style but I figured why not) and hoped I wasn’t about to slow down any riders behind me.

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTB.:Mt Stromlo:.

Skyline lead into Luge then Old Duffy’s Decent and finally the final stretch onto the crit track.  I had been passed by one rider on Luge and decided I wasn’t going to let this Wave 4’er beat me (despite the fact he started the race a good 15min before me) and pedalled as fast as my body would let me.  I bunny hopped the finish line and pulled up with a mean cramp in my left hamstring from the final sprint.  I was met by my wife and the few Bermers that had started and finished before me.  I was spent, but I was extremely happy; even more so when I found out I had finished under 5 hours.

CP14 008 CP14 011.:Finished!:.

A huge thank you to my wife, the volunteers, fellow Bermers and the other riders for an amazing event.

New Soldier On Kit In Action

After a couple of weeks riding in the new Soldier On jersey and knicks combo around Canberra it was good to finally get them out to masses during the 2014 Capital Punishment on 15 March.

image.:Starting the race:.

image image.:Crossing the finish line:.

AMB 100 Marathon 2014 Wrap Up

There comes a time in every cyclist’s life where a crash will abruptly end ones race. The AMB 100 was the race that ended with me separated from Kate, beloved Giant XTC, laying in a heap on the jagged rocks of Mt Stromlo’s Slick Rock trail.

To fully explain what this race meant to me I have to write about some events via a short linear narrative.

In the weeks leading up to this race I was undecided which distance I wanted to ride. On offer were 33km, 66km, 100km and 100miles (160km). I knew I wasn’t going to settle at 33km as that distance and most of the race track was my favourite training loop of Mt Stromlo, put simply; why pay to race a loop I already ride quite comfortably? There was simply no challenge in riding it, combine this with 200+ other riders and I would be slower than when I ride solo at a controlled pace.

Ultimately I chose to race in the 66km category. My decision was based on my training program for the upcoming National MTB Easter 24 Hour Solo. It just wasn’t conducive for my end goal to smash a 100km or 160km ride out in the early stages of a program that was designed to build my endurance for a ride that would see me clock up anywhere between 350-400km in a 24 hour period. Combine this with the difficulty of Mt Stromlo’s trails and the usual February heatwave that hits Canberra; racing the longer distances would require a 3-4 day recovery period that would impede my training.

Luckily for me a few issues arose prior to this race including a bite from a Red Belly Black Snake and a persistent knee injury flare-up that cemented my choice of racing 66km was the best option. So in the days leading up to the race I monitored the weather with keen interest. Temperatures were expected in the high 30’s and a severe fire danger was expected to be announced on the Saturday. (Un)luckily for us riders, Mt Stromlo, doesn’t close when the fire danger reaches severe, it has to tick over to extreme; which is what riding in these projected temperatures was going to be – EXTREME!

I have a lot of faith in the race organisers Martin and Juliane Wistana from Rocky Trail Entertainment. While they are running a business, they have shown before that competitor safety and wellbeing is the most important concern for them on race days. So on Saturday evening an email was sent out telling us the next days race was going ahead as planned; albeit with an earlier start time and slightly shorter distance.

I prepared my bike and packed my car the night before as usual, went to bed early and headed out to Mt Stromlo before the sun had risen. I made it out there just as the first 100 mile riders were transitioning for their second lap of the course. Ed McDonald was the first rider to come down the mountain in the early morning light and regaled his story of cleaning up a kangaroo before heading off to ride up the mountain again. Bermers Jamie Ingram and Adam ‘Rocket’ Rolls soon followed and quickly ditched their lights, loaded up on food and fresh bidons and promptly left to tackle their second laps.

Soon after I registered for my race and changed into my riding kit. I was fairly confident before this race as I intended to just go out and enjoy the first lap and once the field spread out attack my first lap split time on the second. For me there was no other rider I was racing against; my only competitor was first lap Chad who I wanted to beat by at least 10 minutes.

image.:Ready to roll:.

We lined up for the mass start at 08:00 and headed down the tarmac and onto Fenceline for the first bit of singletrack. As expected the 200+ strong field bottlenecked almost instantly and a snails pace followed for the next 2-3km. A lesson learned for the organisers before next years race maybe? I hope so because riders promptly started having very low speed wash-outs and cleaning each other up. I witnessed two such crashes in front of me caused by an impatient younger rider who felt he needed to pass the conga line at the worst possible moment.

As I crested the top of the mountain and headed towards the start of Western Wedgetail I glanced down at my Garmin GPS and saw that my racing time was almost 12 minutes slower than my usual training loop on the same tracks; that is how congested the rider traffic had become. I sped down Wedgetail narrowly missing another rider running up the wrong directing looking for a pair of glasses and onto the Pork Barrel. In the first few metres of one of Mt Stomlo’s more technical trails I was dodging unbalanced riders who were unprepared for the rock gardens and drop offs that they were about to tackle.

Pork Barrel felt good under my tyres, I wasn’t fighting my bike and more often than not, I was taking the more technical A-line to pass the slower riders. For the first time in the race I was starting to feel my Flow. As I turned into Slick Rock a few riders had lost their nerve at the drop offs and sharp rocks that followed and were quickly pulling off to the side of the track to let a few of us pass unobstructed.

As I dropped of the back of my saddle and positioned myself for a rather large rock ledge to ride off I caught movement out of the corner of my right eye. The junior rider who had been so overconfident on the climbs had appeared from off the regular trail and was attempting to cut me off in what was to become and incredibly dangerous moment of stupidity.

He baulked at the drop and washed out onto the flat rocks below. Not wanting to crash into a barely 13 year old kid, I locked up my brakes and attempted to avoid him by hopping my bike to the right and off the track into the bushes. This did not work as I was still behind my saddle and hit a tree at full speed with my hip at the same time my front end lurched over the drop off and sent my bike tumbling forward. The sudden change of direction sent me over my bars and onto the rocks in front of the kid.

My elbow met the rocks with my entire body weight behind it. I rolled a small distance before the track levelled out and I was able to scramble onto my feet and recover my bike from the middle of the track. I crawled over to a piece of real estate that wasn’t an A, B or impromptu C-line and tried to work out if the immense pain shooting up my arm was due to a fracture in one of the bones. The kid got to his feet and continued riding while I gave his Father some advice on course etiquette and made him aware of his legal obligations as the guardian of a junior rider regarding any costs involved in repairing my body and/or bike.

It was at this point with a gaping hole in my elbow, a painful yet somehow numb arm that my race was over. I limped across to race director Martin and Bermer Andy S and made my way to the medic station a few hundred metres away. A quick review, patch up and arm sling later I was driven back to the event centre and called my wife on her birthday to come and take me to the hospital.

image.:Post crash:.

Before she arrived I packed my car with the help of Ben ‘Hollywood’ Hudson, handed over my car keys and soon departed for the Calvary Hospital Emergency Department; the second time in a month. It took a little over two hours to get seen by the medical staff and a fracture was quickly ruled out. With the aid of some local anaesthetic my elbow hole was scrubbed free of debris stitched up and I was sent home. A bruised bone, six stitches, a numb arm and a left hand unable to grasp properly is what I am left with 24 hours later. A reminder that even when my riding feels spot on someone else’s inattention/stupidity can quickly turn a good day into a very bad day.

image.:Waiting to get sewn up:.

To the little fella that caused me to crash I sincerely hope you have learnt a lesson, if not I hope that the only injuries you inflict in the future are to yourself you selfish little turd!

Thank you to the Rocky Trail team, especially Juliane and Martin for a great event and for helping me post-crash. Di and Ben for helping me out and driving my car home. Jason, Bel, Sarah and Kirsty for supporting me after the race and my Wife Carly – I’m sorry for ruining your birthday by riding, crashing and spending a few hours back in the ED!

Scott 25 Hour 2013 Wrap Up

I was really looking forward to the possibility of racing in the Scott 25 Hour after riding in The Mont earlier this year as part of a six-person team for The Berm.  It was a little difficult organising another Berm team for the Scott due to Mt Stromlo being the venue, the Scott being smack bang in the middle of the spring racing season and a week before the 24 Hour Solo World Championships.

A month out and it wasn’t looking like I would be donning the lycra and riding laps around Mt Stromlo until Adam “Rocket” Rolls threw me a lifeline needing a ringer for his team of four.  I jumped at the opportunity and would soon be riding with team Slow Spokes.

The Lead Up
I drove out to Mt Stromlo on Friday to set up my tent and check out the event centre.  The weather was forecast to be a perfect Canberra spring long weekend and the Mt Stromlo trails were in excellent condition.  My lead up training for the Scott had been less than ideal with a month spent off the bike and I was still dealing with the final stages of a chest infection.   I knew I wasn’t going to be posting super-fast times during the race; but was more than happy just to be riding.  When the whole team, Adam, Nigel, Dave and myself were all there we registered for the race and headed back home for a big dinner and good nights sleep in our own beds before a weekend of caffeine, junk food, no sleep and lots of riding.

S25H 09 S25H 11.:The Scott 25 Hour event centre:.

Day 1
I arrived at Mt Stromlo early on Saturday morning to find the entire area a hive of activity.  The venue was already in full swing with a heap of riders getting in some last minute practice before the course was closed.

We went about setting up our race HQ track-side; just up from transition and the event centre.

S25H 14.:Our race HQ:.
S25H 01.:Kate waiting for her race plate:.
S25H 05.:My home for the weekend:.

There was a little bit of hurry up and wait leading up to the 11am race start with some last minute bike maintenance, gear set-ups and race briefings beforehand.

S25H 16.:Team Slow Spokes Jersey:.

Once the rider’s brief was over Adam limbered up and got in place for his short sprint in the Le Mans start.

S25H 20 S25H 21.:The Le Mans start:.

Once Adam was on his way we sat down and worked out the order the rest of us were to ride.  I drew third rider and so began the confusion of which lap each of us would be riding on for the next 25 hours.  Lets get one thing straight, it isn’t a difficult concept by any means, there are two loops; the Red Loop and the Blue Loop.  We started on the Red Loop which meant Dave would be riding the Blue Loop after Adam finished the Red Loop and came through the transition point at the Blue Loop start point.

My first lap of the course was the Red Loop which was up the Mt Stromlo switchbacks and down the mountain via the bottom of the downhill track.  A few hours before the race start I discovered I had been practising on the wrong part of the course and had in fact never ridden the last 2km of the Red Loop before.  Not to be deterred I figured I’d just take it easy and learn that part of the course before I had to ride it in the dark later that night.

I took off out of transition and powered along the crit track into Fenceline and then into the switchbacks starting the ascent of Mt Stromlo.  I enjoy riding these tracks and soon found a nice rhythm all the way up and onto Western Wedgetail where I set my forks to ‘descend’ and took off down the hill towards Skyline and Luge.  Once I exited Luge I entered the part of the course I hadn’t seen yet.  I will never be a downhill rider based on one factor alone: self preservation.  I baulk at drop-off’s and very rarely launch my bike into the air on purpose.  So to be faced with multiple drop-off’s, jumps, and steep declines into sweeping berms; I was well and truly out of my comfort zone with my self preservation light blinking brightly in front of my eyes.

I made it to the bottom in one piece and quickly speed around the crit track into transition to send Nigel on his way out onto the Blue Loop.

I was feeling fairly good after my lap and tucked into a plate of dutch pancakes with ice cream to celebrate.  Nutrition and hydration are extremely important when riding and even more so when racing.  Everyone is different and has different dietary requirements.  A lot of riders eat fruit, especially bananas.  I can’t as I will vomit most fruit and I’m very allergic to the potassium in bananas.  Because of this I rely on a rotating hydration plan of water, protein drink and electrolyte drink.  I can hydrate for days prior to a race and be on top of my electrolytes during and still get cramps.  Whatever advice I am usually given about cramps is doesn’t help me as most ‘remedies’ will actually make it worse for me.  The only real thing that helps is a low electrolyte, high carbohydrate, high protein hydration/nutrition combo during and after each lap.

Soon I was off on my next laps; a loop of both the Red and Blue Loops.  Once again I made the ascent and descent of Mt Stromlo and rode into transition; but instead of tagging the next rider I made a sharp u-turn and headed out onto the long fire-road up to Blackberry Climb.  I had mistakenly thought this was to be the easy loop due to it not incorporating a fairly steep climbing section; but I was wrong.  Each track included an ascent of some sort and in comparison to the downhill section of the Red Loop there was very little time for free-wheeling at speed.

S25H 23.:Me riding down Double Dissolution (thanks to Brett for this awesome picture):.

After an hour and half rest it was time to put the lights on my bars and helmet and head out for my fourth individual and the team’s twelfth lap.  It was still light by the time I headed off but I needed the bar light on for the last 3km of the Blue Loop.  When I got back to our race HQ it had already cooled down dramatically it had now transitioned into night riding with a number of teams retiring for the night.

The Night
S25H 24
.:Transition at night:.

Night riding is a special experience for mountain bikers.  You can have your entire bar covered in lights and your riding will still be vastly different from your day riding.  I run a double bar light and single helmet light set-up that I use on low to medium setting when riding at night.  I find I can see more of the track detail with the lower settings than with my lights burning shadows onto the trees.  So as I headed out for my first night lap of the Blue Loop I was confident I knew the tracks well enough to stay out of trouble.  I was glad I had donned my knee warmers and long-sleeves as the temperature had dropped to single digits.  The lap itself was non-eventful as a large portion of the field was only riding during the daylight hours which opened up the course and allowed passing and being passed easy and a rarity.

I was able to get a couple of hours rest before my next ride; another double loop.  I emerged from my tent still wearing my long sleeves and now wearing my full length leg warmers to meet the now colder Canberra night.  This time it was the Blue Loop followed by the Red Loop.  The Blue Loop was almost a blur; I only saw four other riders and only one of these passed me and that was very late in the ride.  The Red Loop started off normally with the ascent followed by the descent towards Red Octane; the lower part of the downhill course.

It was at this point that my tiredness got the better of the me and I second guessed myself and switched which line I was to take at the drop-off.  Through-out the day I had taken the ‘A-line’ and hit the drop-off with speed and held it without any real issues.  Well at around 2am I turned right towards the ‘B-Line’ and missed the corner and experienced a front wheel washout that sent me onto my shoulder and halfway down the drop off before getting back up and heading back into transition.

S25H 25.:3am post double lap snack:.

I was lucky enough to draw the dawn lap of the Blue Loop for the start of Day 2.  I needed my lights on during the first few kilometres and then watched as the sky turned pink and the sun rose over Canberra.

S25H 26.:David B’s awesome photo at the end of the Blue Loop:.

Day 2
My second last lap was the Red Loop in what felt like stifling heat.  I pushed up the climbs trying to avoid what felt like cramping about to hit.  I alternated my position in the saddle to give my quads a slight rest before digging a little deeper to get up to Western Wedgetail in an attempt to make up some time on the downhill into transition.

sportograf-44002166_lowres.:Western Wedgetail:.

My final lap hurt; I won’t lie.  I had started to cramp up but was still keen to get my tenth lap under my belt to get over the 100km mark.  I took off for the Blue Loop as fast as my aching legs could take me.  I enjoyed this lap immensely and knowing that my wife was waiting for me in Race HQ I pushed out of the singletrack and onto the crit track as hard as I could.  When I finally got back to the rest of my team I had ridden a total of 111.5km.

S25H 30.:At that is the end of the Scott 25 Hour for me!:.

The Wrap Up
As a team, Slow Spokes completed 38 laps and covered 417.24km to finish 20th in our category and 74th overall.

I enjoyed riding in the Scott 25 Hour in 2013 immensely.  It was a fun and challenging experience; but it lacked a little something.  It didn’t have the vibe that the Mont 24 Hour had and because of that I found the motivation to keep peddling lacking at some points.  Would I do it again next year?… I believe so.

S25H 32

Training Week In Review – Week 11

A good training regime is broken down into many parts.  It’s not just the riding and strengthening of muscles that gets you fit; there’s nutrition, hydration, rest, and mental preparedness.

I try to find a balance with all of these things and pay particular attention to my nutrition; I am usually pretty disciplined with my meals and race preparation.  Anyone that has sat down and ate with me will know I eat a lot.  The average person consumes around 8’000kj daily; including approximately 300g of carbohydrates.  When I’m riding a lot I can consume more than double that amount; and if I’m including gym work at least 3 days a week I can sometimes triple the daily averages.  This is a good and bad thing.  I’m getting the fuel my body needs; but I’m also speeding up my already fast metabolism.  Because of this it’s very difficult for me to gain weight so I sit anywhere between 74-77kg.

Lately I’ve been eating a lot and not riding as much hoping this would help me put on some weight.  Having overcome a fairly serious muscle tear in my chest; I’ve started light weights again with the aim of building more upper body strength.  So far it’s working as my left shoulder/chest/neck feels really good after ditching the chest brace I’ve been wearing for the past 4 months.

This last week was a testing week more than anything else.  As I’m about to spend almost a month off the bike and out of training I didn’t want to smash myself into the ground.  Instead I spent the few days I had on the bike testing out a new nutrition/hydration mix and enjoying the brilliant Canberra weather.

At the JetBlack WSMTB 12hr, fellow Bermer Adam told me about his beverage mix of choice; Perpetuem.  We have similar sporting backgrounds in endurance running and cycling and have very similar body and fitness types.  I often get cramps when I ride long distances and increasing electrolytes doesn’t really help me.  After doing some research I discovered that while my hydration was pretty spot on, my nutrition was way out.  Ordinarily over an endurance race you rely on caffeinated energy gels and sugar snacks to keep you going.  Some people eat bananas, but considering I’m somewhat allergic to potassium; explosive diarrhoea and vomiting while riding makes bananas are a no-go.

I trialled Perpetuem over two different rides earlier this week.  All of the CORC XC races are short-course races where I’ll ride at maximum intensity anywhere between 10-20km.  This quickly saps my energy levels and I get very few opportunities to drink.  So on Monday I went for a short spin of Bruce Ridge where I rode short stints at maximum effort and tried the new bidon full of Perpetuem.  The drink itself is a milky, fuller mixture and is quite filling.  It’s more like a meal replacement drink without the dairy feel to it, however there was no after taste and I felt hydrated.  It passed the test for short-course.

On Tuesday I went for a longer endurance ride of Mt Stromlo.  52km of medium to high intensity riding on a beautiful sunny Canberra day.  It was a perfect opportunity to test out my hydration/nutrition for endurance rides.  While I was struggling a bit in my last few kilometres I was pretty happy with the plan I came up with and will certainly put it into effect during my next enduro; the Scott 25 Hour at Mt Stromlo.

BIKES 097.:A perfect Canberra day at Mt Stromlo:.

Wednesday was a difficult day to get back on the bike after the previous day’s ride.  My legs were tender and my lower back was a little tight.  But I headed out for an easy loop of Kowen Forest/Sparrow Hill.  Once I was weaving around the pine trees I started to push out.  All was going well until I hit Rolling Thunder and decided a good old fashioned Strava run was in order.  The track was surprisingly loose and I took a corner a little too fast.  Cue some heavy rear braking and then some sideways action and I was looking at tree coming towards me at speed.  All I could think of was “save the carbon bike” so I did my best Neo impersonation and put my hand out in defiance.  I hit the tree with my hand and ended up on the ground; body and bike intact.  It was at this point that I decided to end both my day and week on the bike.  With only a few days until my Wedding and a heart-racing close call already I thought it best not to tempt fate with any more time in the saddle.

Ride By
.:Don’t blink:.