Another June is upon us which means it’s time for another change to this Blog.
I have reshuffled and minimized the menus to incorporate categories, pages and posts. A fresh layout with some new headers and sidebars to emphasise a bigger focus on my public social media accounts has snuck in as well.
I’ve stopped being as active on Facebook lately so will be putting more time (hopefully) into this Blog.
What more can I say? My debut 24 hour solo ended with me laying in a defeated, exhausted, dehydrated and distraught mess. To say I am disappointed with the result is an understatement.
As I don’t have much riding to report on for this Race Wrap Up, I’m going to quote some numbers before I get into the nuts and bolts of the time I spent on the bike.
Kilometres ridden in the two months before the Scott: 1167.8km
Metres climbed in the two months before the Scott: 23’851m Time spent on the bike in the two months before the Scott: 56 hours 31 min Average body weight while riding during the Trois Etapes: 72.5kg Body weight 5 days prior to the Scott: 78.2kg
Body weight the morning of the Scott: 76.4kg
Body weight after retiring from the Scott: 71.2kg
Body weight 2 days after the Scott: 72.3kg
The Prep My preparation in the weeks leading up to this event was ideal. I was in the best shape of my cycling life, I was mentally prepared and my race plan was ready to go.
And then all my prep went down the drain. Three days before the race I started feeling sick. A feeling that rapidly evolved into a serious bout of diarrhoea and vomiting. I effectively stopped eating solids and concentrated on trying to stay hydrated.
On the Friday before the race I headed out to Mt Stromlo with my Father, and set up my marquee and tent for the weekend. I was lucky in that the twenty-four hours before the race start I was able to eat a proper meal without fear of having to find a toilet immediately.
On the morning of the race I woke up with my stomach churning, I felt hot and dizzy. After I tried to eat something for breakfast I found myself alternating between sitting on and kneeling in front of the toilet. Not a great start to my debut 24 hour solo racing career.
The Race The hours and minutes preceding a race are quite strange. I can range from jittery to anxious and calm before I even cross the start line. On this day I was somewhat anxious. I knew I was in a bad way physically before I even started pedalling, but I had invested too much time preparing not to start the race.
In the hour before the start I had vomited twice more and hadn’t eaten anything in the four hours since breakfast; which didn’t stay down. I’ll be honest, I didn’t stay around for much of the rider’s brief; by the time it reached the ten minute mark and the sponsors were well and truly lubricated with an excess of accolades, I headed back to my marquee to get changed and ready to ride.
This skipping of the rider’s brief meant I missed the announcement that the solo riders were starting first. After working this out I had about four minutes to get to the start line and begin what would become an excruciating experience in the saddle.
I started the race feeling relatively good to begin with. I kept my cadence high and my heart rate down for the first lap. I was being passed constantly, which for a 24 hour rider is apparently the norm. I was running a 32T chain ring and 11-34 cassette on the rear. I’ve never had any issues with this combo on steep climbs to date and was confident it would serve me well over this race.
The first lap was a brisk 43 minutes, a little bit faster than I intended by I still felt relatively all right considering the day’s leading up. I rode through transition and headed out onto my second lap. By the time I reached Bobby Pin Climb some 3km into the lap I was sweating profusely and feeling the urge to vomit. I kept grinding along and by the time I reached the start of Tall Trees I had pulled over and purged my stomach contents all over the ground next to me. This sudden and violent vomit fest enabled me to continue riding and reach transition for my third lap.
As I rolled into transition I stopped for a few minutes to swap out some bottles and check in with my support crew. I put on my long sleeve shirt and knee warmers and headed out again for what was to become another lap with another spew stop.
Laps four and five were similar with water being the only thing I was able to stomach without instantly retching and vomiting. As I descended down Breakout towards Old Duffy’s Descent, I knew my race was going to end very soon. Not five minutes later as I headed into the Crit Track I felt my stomach begin to cramp and I started to shiver uncontrollably.
I pulled into transition and got off my bike. I found a comfortable spot in my tent and laid down for the next 45 minutes and contemplated what was going to happen next. I had in my head that I could rest for a few hours and do a night lap or two, rest until morning and finish off with a few more laps before the 12pm cut off time.
My overly ambitious plan was also deeply flawed. There was to be no more riding. I was medically retired from the race just after the sun went down. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I was disappointed and I felt ashamed.
I had trained hard and had planned for this race. I had carried the reputation of Soldier On and it’s supporters on my back and had failed.
This won’t be the last time I attempt a 24 hour solo and it won’t be the last time I ride for Soldier On; but for now it’s time for me to get back on the bike and enjoy riding again for what it is for me. Recovery.
A huge thank you to everyone that sponsored me by donating to Soldier On.
An even bigger thank you to my Wife and Parents, friends, family and the Soldier On crew.
After a few days of being quite sick with a stomach bug and something resembling a head cold, things are starting to look up for me. I haven’t explosively purged my stomach contents in a little over 24 hours.
At this point there is no turning back for me. Too much time, money and effort has been invested into this race and a DNS is a lot worse than a DNF at this stage. So tomorrow at midday I’ll line up and start what will be a gruelling 24 hours on my bike that will threaten to break me physically and mentally.
I don’t expect to stand on the podium and I don’t expect to ride for the entire 24 hours. I’m not racing against the rest of the field, I’m not racing against the clock – I’m racing against myself and I’m racing for those that served this Nation and lost their battle with PTSD and depression to suicide.
The time has come for me to start my race day preparation for this weekend’s Scott 24 Hour. There isn’t anything more I can do for fitness wise for this ride so it’s safe to say my tapering has begun; no more high intensity rides up Mt Stromlo resulting in mid decent spews.
I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been physically in a number of years with most little niggling pre-existing injuries behaving themselves. I’ve managed to put on close to 5kg since returning from the Trois Etapes in France and can confidently say my roadie arms are strong enough to keep my face from smashing against my stem.
The next few days are going to be a battle to keep focused on the upcoming ride while not letting my highly intrusive work derail my mental preparation. I’ll spend the next couple of days ensuring my lights are ready and charged, my nutrition plan is sorted and of course my bike, Kate, is in tip-top form. I plan to set up my race HQ/camping area Friday afternoon with a not-so-early arrival at Mt Stromlo for the race on Saturday.
I have had a lot of support flow in from friends, family and far away supporters recently. I’m very grateful for everyone that has taken the time to send well-wishes and donate to Soldier On via my fundraising page.
Training – Week 2 – Backing Up A Big Week After riding 406.9km the week before I was keen to continue the big kilometres – but my quads had other ideas.
I needed to take it easy and was still finding my groove in the new training program. I mixed the week up with road riding on Sara and dirt commuting on Emma; this seemed to work and by mid week I was finding my rhythm and spending some much needed time in saddle.
Although I was still in a base-building phase in my training (basically just riding as much as I could handle) I decided to inject some heart-rate zone training into my program. This proved to be beneficial as I was starting to understand and put into practice the basic ideas of endurance training; something that I will need as second nature during the 24 hour solo.
.:Posing on the Centenary Trail:.
By the time I washed my bikes ready for the next week of riding I had chalked up 402.6km – another 400km week.
Training – Week 3 – A Heatwave Hits Canberra The weather forecast was not looking promising for a big week on the bike. Sure I could have just gotten on with it, but was riding in 40’C really worth it this early in my training program; no!
So I got up early and rode to work the long way before the heat kicked in. Having ridden over 800km in the previous two weeks I was finding it harder to ride for long distances. My knees were aching and my quads were sore to the touch. So I backed off a bit and finished up with 302.5km for the week.
.:47.5’C on the ride home was horrible:.
Training – Week 4 – #Winning The week started off with the aim of riding more on Kate the XTC. I intentionally kept within my ideal heart-rate zone in order to build endurance on the mountain bike. Surprisingly, riding at a slower pace with a consistent cadence and heart-rate you are are actually faster over longer distances. There is less recovery time needed as the higher intensity intervals are no longer there so you can just keep pedalling for as long as you want.
I kept to the bike paths early in the week to get my cadence and heart-rate dialled in before switching to dirt and putting the same principles into action. I quickly found my rhythm and was finding my new riding style a lot easier to manage and exactly what I would need in a few months time.
I took Friday off work and headed out to Mt Stromlo for a training ride with the focus on climbing and endurance. My aim of 50km was cut short at 35km after it started hailing and the trails became a mixture of mud and ball-bearing like grip.
.:Fenceline at Mt Stromlo:.
On Saturday I returned to Mt Stromlo and set off for a high intensity ride with a focus on climbing up the mountain with a red-zone heart-rate. The ride was going extremely well and I was enjoying the heavy sweating and throwing my bike around the trails with renewed confidence.
On my second lap of the course I was riding up Blackberry Climb when I met a Red Belly Black snake on the trail.
.:And that’s what a snakebite looks like:. .:Chilling at in the Calvary Hospital Emergency Department:.
Long story short: I was bitten but not envenomated by the little snake. It did however mean an enforced but not unwanted rest day off the bike.
At the end of my fourth week of training for the Easter 24 Hour Solo’s I rode 224.5km. While it is a smaller amount than previous weeks I achieved a lot of goals and learnt some valuable lessons on and off the bike.