Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pitchblack solo

Night races are just made for queensland at this time of year! It was 35'c while we were setting up and I was particularly grateful when the sun dropped down below the horizon to provide some relief. Gareth went for a pre-race lap on his dirt jump bike to 'see what kind of stuff you guys ride all night' and rode closer to my average lap time that I am ever likely to admit!! Animal! On a Giant STP.

Tailwind put on a great race - tshirts and bottles for all competitors. Big tent with TV and DVDs for kids. BBQs selling great burgers, and free brekkie for riders. And best of all, a tough track.

I have learned to love the track at OHV. I still remember the first inferno race. It blew my mind, and to me seemed incredibly and impossibly technical. I have slowly learned how to ride rough rocky terrain and not get blistered hands (hello death grip) and there is not too much there that gets the better of me now. I've definitely improved since sacrificing a helmet to the OHV gods in the early days (still finished the lap)...

I had a really enjoyable race. Both TR and Nick were soloing so often times I found I had company. I also made new lap buddies friends like Ky..... and received plenty of encouragement for Bozz and the Dog. After the over-crowded track at the Scott, OHV space was a welcome change.

Having just come back from China, I decided that my aim was to cruise. 10 laps was the goal. I cruised and managed 12 laps before knowing I was 3 laps up, that I could sit down and enjoy breakfast while watching riders come in from their last lap. Nice to finish what has been a MASSIVE year with a 1st and 132km of single under my belt.

Thanks to Jezza from Ride Inn for the mid-race tune up on the Ridley!!!

What's next?
A catch up with Coach Tapper from uTurn Fitness for program setting for 2010.
Steve has made me fitter and faster than ever before, and the plan for 2010 is to step it up.
Come ON!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

coming up.....

Next event is pitchblack - 12 hour enduro that runs all night long. I have been back in the saddle a few days a week and generally getting moving prior to the onslaught that will be my next uTurn program. Not really enough for a hardcore 12 hour solo, but I think I have a lap or two up my sleeve. Particularly exciting is that this will be a family affair with Gareth and Annabel heading out to camp and support me.... a rare treat.

Should be fun considering I am spending that week working in China. What can I say, I hope the hotel has a bike in the gym, no alcohol for me on the plane, lots of water, and neck to toe skins whenever I am not in a suit will be the order of the day.
Maybe the low oxygen atmosphere of the plane will give me the edge?!?!
Maybe the slight jet jag will work in my favour by perking me up right when everyone else is ready for sleep?!?!
Maybe it is going to hurt more than usual!
Maybe I can't wait!

EDIT: Rhino warns that apparently I get to expect several days of hacking coughs due to chinese pollution. Breathing. Over-rated.

Monday, November 2, 2009


This weekend saw the long weekend road ride reintroduced as I slowly work back into some semblance of training. We had to stop at this place along the corso for a group pic.... not only had these guys put a bunch of effort in to decorate, they really bought home the creepy theme with knee deep empties in the front yard, and the front door wide open to an otherwise silent house. Happy Halloween!

I figure if entries to the worlds are open, it is probably a clear sign to get my ass into gear. It's been great getting work done around the house, getting my job ramped up again with some major RFPs and generally being totally relaxed on weekends - but I am missing my bike. Things are warming up in Vegas and I need to get some riding under my belt before summer's heat well and truly arrives.

My main training buddy, TR, has finally figured out how to flip the switch in his head and is also on the same trajectory for October. Time to get serious.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

stromlo rocks.

The scott 24 was definitely worth the trip. I now understand how my bike buddy Pen spent every day riding there for a few weeks a christmas or two ago... the trails!!!!!

Great to meet the nightlightning crew and spend 24 hours alternating laps together. Very happy to have ended up in 4th considering we did the job with 5 riders. I have to say though, 6 man is a SOFT way of racing 24hours.. I didn't know what to do with all the down time. It almost seemed like a waste! Still, got some experience at Stromlo, found some new friends and most importantly found my 24hour mojo which had been MIA....

I was definitely not as fit - hardly surprising with no training or riding to speak of since August but I managed 5 of our team laps, and scored the dawn lap and the last lap!
I made some good lap buddies, including an ADFA rider who was happy to chat and then to challenge me to a sprint up the chute. Crowd PLEASERRRRR!!!!

I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Scott 24....

I am off to the Scott to race in a 6 man with the Night Lightning team.

Never met the guys - doesn't matter.
Not fit as I can be at the moment - doesn't matter.
Bike is not perfect at the moment - doesn't matter.
Busy with work at the moment - doesn't matter.
Only got 5 out of 6 for a 6 man team - doesn't matter.

What does matter is that I am looking forward to racing with a team, pushing myself hard and having a great time as we do the best we can together. I have rediscovered that little bit of excitement for riding which I temporarily misplaced after Canada. Keen AS!

Word is there were blizzard conditions which dumped 30cm of snow last night all through the alpine areas = one hell of a cold race coming up. Maybe I should start packing (note to self, WARM things, WARM things)!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Starting Over

I decided it is time to get back into things, and instead of saying 'no' to rides because I am unfit I decided to experiment with saying yes.

I thought I would ease into it with a ride with Matt.
On his SS.
To Lake Manchester.
In the Dark.
With another AYUP dude I had never met.

One of many creek crossings approaching the lake.

I think that qualifies as the DEEP end. I'd estimate it was close to 2000mtrs of climbing.
It hurt. I was slow. I was unable to push the gearing I normally would.
But it was also magic!

Check the white dots in this shot - we are being watched by the locals!

I love how trails are so different at night. I also love meeting new people when you are out for an adventure. Mark from AYUP came with Matt - and there is nothing like a hardcore ride to make yourself a new mate. He had a quality stack, similar to my wheel wash out on Laidleys. Hard man riding - dusted himself off (which took some doing), checked he remembered his name and then rode on. Respect.

I discovered that although I may not have the speed or fitness I had, I do still have the desire.
I even pulled an attack coming out of nebo on the Dog. It immediately put me deep in the locker without a key, but Jaman would have been proud!

I wonder what I will do for late night shopping next week ?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Ahhhh... the end of the season. A couple of months off to do all the things that slip through the cracks when daily life revolves around work, family and training with eyes on the Big Race.
I've really enjoyed sleeping in and spending time at home. I was tired when I got back from Canada, but 2 months later I can't really claim that as an excuse. I have noticed a disturbing trend developing.....

The trickle of ride invites has become a deluge of insistent friends pushing me to come ride. I am fearing an intervention is just around the corner if I don't separate from the couch sometime soon. The lycra is tighter, the hills are longer, and the legs weaker. The God of Bikes is definitely punishing me for me crimes as it appears Matt Dog has been assigned the case of my rehabilitation.

Now it is time to swap this
for this ....

The Scott, the TWP 24hr, pitch black.............. going from no ways to maybes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Worlds Race Report

Where to start?
Congrats to all the Australians, in particular Andy Fellows (3rd elite), Sean Bekkers (1st age group) and Karen Foat (7th Elite) who had time to chat and share their experiences with me.

Arrived in Canmore on Thursday and settled into our apartment. Accomodation was nice and the view out the window gave a hint of the hurt to come. Mountains, mountains and more mountains. Greg, a great friend, joined us from NY.

Friday was a full on day. Up early and straight out for a pre-ride. There were no course maps or info making it anyones guess if we were actually pre-riding the correct stuff. We took in two-thirds of the lap. We had already been out for well over an hour and I had a decision to make. Do I ride for longer - knowing it is the day before race day - and possibly undo any glycogen loading etc? Or do I call it and know I am tapering properly? Opted for the first one and left the last 4 kms as a mystery. Turns out most 'serious' contenders had been out riding the course for atleast a week prior. Lesson one: Be selfish. Should have planned to spend much more time at the race site, riding the course prior to the race rather than hanging out in Vancouver. Sean turned up that evening completing our 24 Worlds crew.

Registration was super quick, number 23 for me. The afternoon included a compulsory solo briefing - including 15 alarming minutes from the Park Ranger talking about the seriousness of the bear in the current area. Recommendation to carry bear spray and wear a bear bell. I had bought a bell as a joke - but onto the bike it went. No help against cougars though.... try not to think about it!

Race Day
No-one sleeps well the night before a race and race morning I struggled even to eat. I wanted to be at the pits, getting organised to take my mind off nerves. It was a battle to stay calm and I wanted the routine of set up to zen out with !!!

Setup was pretty straight forward. Sean and TR quickly worked out what was needed where, and Greg settled in to take photos and spectate at his first ever 24hour. The pit looked awesome and the atmosphere was insane. I was at THE WORLDS.

Before I knew it we were being called into the start line. I had managed to keep my nerves under control - but once we were lined up in seeded order and introduced individually to the roar of the crowd - there was no hope. We stood in the corral with music turned up to 11, and watched the giant race clock count down. More than one person had tears, it was so overwhelming.

The le mans start was brutal. A long, steep run over uneven ground in bike shoes. I was totally focused on keeping my ankles in one piece! Once on the bike I settled in, but was it hot - well over 30'c and a shock after our winter. I knew the heat would claim people and worked on my plan of 1.5litres down a lap and keeping it steady.

Here, in the very first lap, things got interesting for me. Another rider panicked on a U section of the course, and grabbed two handfuls of brakes and clipped out on the UP wall. I was right on her wheel, and her sudden random dismount left me nowhere to go except down. Hard. Back up and onto the bike. There was blood and it hurt, but it seemed to pedal fine so I put it out of my mind and kept riding. As I completed my first lap it dawned on me just how hard this course was going to be. It was technical. It was steep. Every metre had to be earned. I thought about Jaman's weak zen moped and tried to find the smooth lines. It worked here and there, but in general I just don't think they were there....

The laps added up and I settled into a reasonable rhythm.

I had told my pits no lap times, no positions - just riding... they did know though that I was picking up and making my way through the field. And I could tell from Sean (my brother) things were going well.

Come nightfall the course was suffering badly from the 1600 or so riders. What was difficult to start with was now full of ruts and holes that seemed to eat any momentum, and track that was breaking away and crumbling down the sides of super steep inclines. Lines that were tight earlier, seemed to require even more precision. Difficult in the day, insane in the dark.

Lap 5, I managed another crash. On one of the the narrow bits cut into a very steep hillside, something snagged my front wheel on a straight section I was shooting at speed. I had a split second to think 'NOOOOOOOOOOO' and I was riding over the edge. I can't tell you how I separated from my bike, but after I ran 'the check' and figured I was breathing and I could move ok, I found I was about 5 to 6 metres down a little cliffy hill, with my bike halfway between me and the track. My helmet had done it's job and I had cleared to massive logs to land in the soft moss found everywhere in Canadian forests. After scrambling hands and feet to regain my bike and then the course, I gathered myself and was off again. 50 metres down the trail, the medics were treating someone with a spinal. My support crew told me that there were at least 10 cancelled laps annouced - meaning the riders had withdrawn midlap; the course was starting to EAT people. I was badly shaken.

It reminded me that what we do is dangerous. There is risk. You can minimise it by knowing your abilities and never being too proud to get off and walk something that is beyond you. I truely hope that rider - whoever you are - is ok.

I broke my gear shifter in the crash, and it meant I was unable to properly use my bottom third of the cassette. I could get granny with a bit of skipping - but the next 3 up were no go. So it was sit and spin, or MASH like a demon. My crew informed me there was nothing they could do. It was very tempting to quit.

Lesson Two: Be selfish. Take 2 bikes. I did know this, but a) I only own one and b) flying with two bikes would have meant I could not take a bag. Next time I should tell my support crew to forgo their bike, and to carry another for me. I looked at hiring over there, but the shops told me they had nothing appropriate (and maybe they didn't want to hire for the race!). Most riders had two or three bikes there.

I continued on. Swapped out to a new helmet and got on with it. With a busted bike it did mean lots of walking - but even walking is moving forward. I completed 10 laps, and approximately 20'000' of climbing. I placed 10th in Elite. I did my best and left it all on the course.

I earned a beer. I can say I am 10th in the world. It is something I will remember forever.
What is next? Well, next year it is in Australia....... gets you thinking.....

Big thanks to -
  • Jack at Accenture for supporting me as my major sponsor.
  • Jezza at Ride Inn for keeping the wheels turning on my Ridley.
  • Steve Tapper at U-Turn Fitness for great training programs.
  • Sean, Steve and Greg for being the best support I could hope for.
    (Though I think you guys had way too much fun and are probably being talked about by anyone that observed you in action.)
  • Paul for uniform design (I still think I had the BEST kit there).
  • MattDog for the loan of his Mavics. And his AWESOME AYUPs.
  • Winner for the loan of his Stans Olympics.

  • Gareth for holding the fort at home and allowing me to follow my dream.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

WSC24 Pre Ride

This morning we headed up to the race HQ first thing. We found solo pit row.... race number 23 it is for me.

Then it was off to pre-ride the course. Wow.
So..... it is way different to home. The hills are steep, loose and go forever, and they are COVERED in unforgiving roots and rocks. A few bridges, a few tricky descents. All ridden. I am grateful I got out for a technical ride in Vancouver, as now this does not seem *quite* as tough. But it is still a good couple of notches up the 'freaking hard' tree. Majority single track, eating will be tough. upper body will hurt - but on the plus side I think the gooch will go well as there are not a lot of places you will sit in the saddle!!!

Registration was simple and quick. The rego pack is super generous - I got approximately 20 gels all in date (!), a beer glass, a water bottle, a mechs shirt and a towel. Sweet.

24 hours to go, and then 24 hours to GO!

Monday, July 20, 2009

blame canada......

This place is amazing.
it has been a busy start to the visit - Visits to Cove bikes, the warehouse for Banshee distribution and a taste of the north shore trails. Not only have Steve's cousins provided a lovely place to base ourselves, Chris is also a mad rider who acted as our great trail guide.

Makes you realise that our trails are so insanely groomed at home - everything here is rough and nearly every bike you see has twice the travel, front and back..... and I can see why!

Still 3 more days before we head to canmore!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To take or not to take, that is the question

Packing, I hate it.

And packing for an international 24 hour race is a logisitcal nightmare. Limitations on what you can carry means careful consideration needs to be given what you are going to put in the bag. This is at odds with 'being prepared' for just about anything - which is the usual going in position for a 24 hour race.

Throw into the mix a changeable climate like Canmore, that is warm one minute and SNOWING the next - and you will definitely need every bit of clothing you own....

Still there is always room for the mandatory 'lucky'.

And time to sneak out for a ride.

And time for a few finishing touches.

3 days and counting.

Monday, July 13, 2009

what are you made of?

You know they might be bigger
You know they might be faster
You know they might be better

You do it anyway.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

finishing it off....

Been a busy couple of weeks. Firstly headed out to Insomnia for some mud riding practice with a great 4 person mixed team - Black Sheep. Unfortunately Shan was down with the flu race morning, so we called in reinforcements. Who takes a call at 8.30am on race day and says yes??? Deefa.
Thanks Deef, you were a legend to step in on such short notice and as always bought the diesel engine and the air guitar. The Black Sheep placed 3rd while still managing a good nights sleep, and a lot of laughs. Our great placing was largely due to the super quick laps of this man.... Mick "the paperboy" Giess. Homemade mud guards and babypowder were his secret.
I got plenty of mud riding practice and also an idea of how my times are going. I am riding my best ever times in those technical conditions - I really am improving. Plenty of entries in the female fastest lap list and not too far down at all to find them... a new experience for me!
The training is slowing down, with more peak type sessions. It's giving me more time to think - I've had time to consider and be grateful for my supporters...like this one..

It can be easy to lose yourself in such a daunting race. For the experience to be stressful, unenjoyable, horrible, disappointing .... and wouldn't that be a WASTE. Time to remind myself that the race that is coming - that is the good bit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

hard work

You're doin it RIGHT !

Monday, June 22, 2009


The long ride this weekend called for something at race pace. A tough ask on top of all the intervals. I knew it was going to hurt because:
  1. walking up the stairs was enough to feeeeeeeeeel the burn
  2. I was on a 26' dually and my fellow racers were on 29er SS
  3. our chosen course was Mt Nebo and
  4. my fellow racers were MattDog and TR.

The day dawned beautifully. Or atleast I assume it did, you couldn't actually see it because of the rain PELTING down. Still, it was a dirt ride on fire road... no excuses. The plan was for a hard up and back. With the cafe closed it was pretty easy to check the gap between each of us, happy snap and then turn around and head for home, especially given the weather.

Strange thing is I didn't hurt as badly as I expected. At first I felt like death and my legs did hurt. But a few stupid bunny hops and few poorly timed and illogical attacks, plus a concerted attempt to find my groove had me cruising. Particularly enjoyed laying the hurt down on the way home, mostly on myself. :)

Can't wait for insomnia this weekend, smashed legs or not. Will be AWESOME.

Friday, June 19, 2009

finding the spirit of a great 24hour

I am getting through this week. 2 intensity sessions down, one to go. It is not as bad as it could be because I know for sure I am nearly there. Psychological theory tells us that motivation is stronger as the reward gets closer. No brainer I guess.... but race day is nearly here and that means it is easier to roll out the door.

Time to start thinking about my head. I truely believe 24 hours is as much about that, as your body and fitness. God, these races can hurt. and if you let your head get in the wrong place it can be insurmountable and it WILL end your race. before you know it you are pulling in for extended rests, or finding reasons to not ride. The reasons are always there, it is just whether or not you choose to focus on them.

my daughter had her first sports carnival this week. nothing like watching a bunch of 5 year olds just getting into 'the doing'; it is all you need. Also helps to have a kook dancing on the sidelines. Sean, TR - take note.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2.5 weeks of hurt

That is how my coach Steve has described my next 2.5 weeks.

Can someone tell me why is it whenever training gets hard, work also decides to get busy, school has things to attend and everything becomes chaotic? On the plus side I know this at time I am so very nearly there and it would seem the training really is working. I think I am fitter than I have ever been. I rode a nebo on the weekend, and didn't even notice the first of the two major climbs.... spent the last 3rd of the ride wondering where the other climb was - when I had already done it!!!! Encouraging. I remember only a couple of years ago when I had my first ride up south boundary.... I am sure there was walking involved.

Brekkie at Nebo - a great weekend event
I can see the otherside - once I get through these next few hurt weeks I will be almost into taper time for Canada. I cannot wait, it has been a hard slog. Taper will be when I will find the time to arrange, pick up and pack gear. Having travelled twice on planes to races this year means I know the drill and I feel confident.

In other news, friends are great!
One is rebuilding my bike - thanks Shannon.
One is loaning me something to ride in the meantime - thanks MattDog.
One is getting up to ride with me morning after morning after morning - thanks TR.
One is loaning me some spare wheels - thanks Winner.
EDIT: and ONE of them (the small one) designed my race jersey - thanks FLYguy.

A few are racing Insomnia with me for some 4-person fun (Mick, TR, and Shan!). Bring it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

44 Days

Time to get it together.

Start to set expectations at work that I won't be doing any extras for the next couple of months.
Start to create lists of what to take, what to buy, what to order.
Service the shocks.
Avoid anyone who is sick like the plague!!!
Much of the fitness work is done. Time to finish it off, and dial in the MTB skills. OHV it is.

Canada is coming.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Getting it done

So the last few weeks have been hectic, including a trip to Tokyo for work. Luckily, like my last trip it did line up with a recovery week - so a long ride squeezed in on a Friday night, plus few chunks on a stationary trainer did the job. I learned the lesson from my trip to London in february, if I felt too tired I did not force it - seems to have worked and I am swine flu free. Tokyo is the land of the bike. People ride them everywhere, and you can easily hire them.
Home on Friday, and the packed up to head for OHV for a weekend in the remote cabins with family. A great set up, but a 4wd is a must to get out to them.
Already plans are in the mix to return, for more than one night. We got a short ride in that featured many, many accompanying cows who ran ahead of us on the track - producing a dust cloud that was a great substitute for the first lap of most OHV races.

In other news, things are starting to come together for Canada which is just as well since it is ONLY 8 weeks away!!!! Bike bag tested. eLoad sourced. Flights and accomodation booked. Car hire booked. Most exicting of all, kit is here and it is looking sweet in black and pink... definitely looking the part which is 98% of being the part!
Canmore Race Kit modelled by TR Frank.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BMC100 - done.

Not too much racing going on for me this year, as training working and keeping a family together and happy leaves little idle time. The BMC 100 was on the calendar early since a group of good mates were headed down for some fun and I thought that sounded like a top option for my first 100km race experience. Did somebody say ROAD TRIP!!!!

Well, actually we flew. Plans were to test all the bike packing/travelling and also to get in a big hit of single track from a marathon that boasts 100% dirt and 80% single track. Only one dent from qantas and everything in working order. Big thanks to Shannon from Black Sheep for the loan of a rear brake. If only I could keep the hell off them I would be so much quicker!

Race morning arrived, and the plan was to ride the single track as best I could working on the things I know I suck at. Hearing people talk about 'heaps of northshore' and knowing it was wet I was freeeeeeaking out. Still race face on and time to sit in the car and freeeeeze waiting for the delayed race start!
race faces
Wasn't long till we were out lining up. I promptly lost TR in the starting corral but lined up nice and close to meg and addie. Bang - off. I forgot to put my garmin on, so no time, no distance, no HR. Just me. Which is actually how I have ridden my last few 24 hours. It can be cruel, but it also encourages you to find the zone and cruise. The single track was on us almost immediately, I struggled to find my flow. Plenty of people stalling and unclipping for no apparently reason reminded me to get further up the front next time.

Nutrition was hard with that much single track - and I had a couple of flat spots during the race due to stretching out the feeeeeed zones. Nothing a few gels won't fix! Wasn't long till I found my mojo and picked up the pace through the tight and twisty.
What a tough track..... max adventure certainly lived up to their promise of more single track than you could want, with plenty of obstacles thrown in too. Pushed myself to ride as much of it as possible - but not ashamed to admit the 5 metre high northshore over the gully was a walker! Not ideal to learn on, and the consequences of getting it wrong looked permanent!

Swapped the lead all day with Addie... and ended up with a 2nd place. That chick can rip the single track. 5km more firetrail and it may have been a different story.... but then that ain't mountain biking! Very pleased for my first marathon and looking forward to more.