Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WEMBO - Singlespeeding at the 24hour solo world champs.

Many people asked me why I chose to singlespeed at the 2013 WEMBO24 Hour Solo World Champs and almost as many let me know they felt I should be racing elite.  Nice compliment.  I had my reasons.
Enroute to Canberra I pondered my entry choice.  SS24 solo.
This was my forth worlds.  I've raced elite.  I've raced age group.  I went up an age group this year.  Maybe I am in age denial - but I wanted to do something different. I knew there was tough competition.

This year has not been focused riding for me so I also knew I didn't have the form from previous years.  And yet - I knew I wanted to race and be part of the WEMBO patchwork.  Mostly I wanted to push myself, try something crazy.  Expand my capabilities as a cyclist.  Have another experience.

Well holy shit.  Singlespeeding for 24 hours is an "experience".

Here is how it went.
I arrived in Canberra on the Tuesday.  Plenty of time to settle in, sort out gear and pre-ride.  Bear had made good time driving down and met me at the airport - a welcome sight - no taxi!!!  Grateful!

The course was essentially the Scott red and blue lap and already well marked from the previous weekends racing so it wasn't hard.  I had only just got my race bikes built up a couple of weeks prior to the race - so this was some of the first real race pace riding.  Better late than never! Well ok, this is not the way to prepare but for me this year it's what I could manage so roll with it.

On the plus side the stable I had was primo!  The BOO (custom carbon and bamboo with a carbon lefty) got to meet Aussie trails - and handled them like a boss.  My Koiled Ti SimpleJack was so dialed in on the geometry stakes I now believe Shannon is one of the most underrated Bike Designers we have in our country.  That thing is so sweet.

SsimpleJack loving the rocks!
Pre-riding was fairly straight forward.  I knew the course, I've ridden it before.  For the first time I can say there was nothing I felt trepidation about riding - the general consensus is it was a pretty easy course technically.  Still plenty of places to hurt yourself if you lost concentration - but all in all a good start!  No pre-ride at Stromlo is complete without some selfies in the observatory. 

The burnout observatory on Stromlo - so cool, and yet a grim reminder.
Raring to go? My BOO was....
Prerides got done, food smashed, afternoon naps taken.  Got to meet and greet - highlight was getting to see Kelvin - a fellow employee who read a company newsletter and decided if I could, he could - and he did!!! You can read his story here Kelvins WEMBO story

Wasn't long until the rest of the crew rolled in.  Bear, who drove all my gear from Brisbane and back (!!!) was already in attendence.  He rides road with the Masters B crew and now has a bad case of singletrack-itis.  Ha hahahaa - there is no cure ! :)

Stef arrived straight from NSWIS training and managed to eat a whole pizza and two cheeseburgers on her drive- she is a promising track sprinting superstar who does pretty much the polar opposite to what I do on a bike.  Her legs are about as wide as my torso.  Shan also rolled in ready to take his place at the head of the pit team.  He is Koiled, and after Italy considered to be a mandatory part of my 24 hour recipe for success.

Shan spent hours making sure everything was perfect.
Stef needs to work on her killer face.  Far too smiley.
Mostly it was an awesome time with awesome people.  I know the job of support is a tough one.  It is straight up hard work and there is pressure to get it right and make the decisions for your rider.  It is also emotionally tough (understatement) to send your rider out time and again when they are broken.

Thank you.  My crew - you were awesome. Because of you I could race and have my experience.   I hope you got something out of what we did and you all deserve a little piece of the bronze medal! 

 Smashing the Luge Berms.  Fun at first, but hard to hold onto it later in the day!

 The race itself was a bit of a blur.  I rode through the first 10 hours without too many issues but after that I started to feel bad.  Really bad.  Weird bad. A new sort of deep fatigue that I find hard to describe - a new feeling of no energy.  I put it down to my lack of long rides and maybe my cheat fitness through strength training.  Had I changed the metabolic processes in my muscles?  Probably.  I think the majority of my riding was no longer than 2 - 3 hours.  I knew it wasn't enough and I'd have to pay - so I did.  It became clear somewhere in the evening - this was the hardest 24 hour I have ever done.

Top fashion points.  How good is the SUPACAZ tape? 
SS was brutal.  Hardtail was worse.  Every rock, rut and bump was microtearing my muscles and by about half way I hurt quite a lot in my everything.  Knicks and saddles that had been fine on a dually were definitely not fine on a hardtail.  But that's what 24hour riding is.  It is pain and punishment for a seemingly never-ending period and nothing but you and your will to endure.  It's called endurance for a reason.

Shannon and Bear prepping lights for the evening.
Most people won't realise that this was a huge ride for me.  Everything on nothing.  Checking out my strava history I'd been lucky to be getting in more than 100km a week this year.  About 25% of what I was riding on the previous year.  So taking into account I had effectively bought a water pistol to a gun fight, I am super proud of what I managed.  For the record, riding a 24hour solo on no fitness is stupid.

Dinner time - too smashed to eat and it was only 10pm(ish)

lonely midnight hours!

Western Wedgetail, fast and furious.  And rough.

Nearly done....

Pit Boss checking if I know what day it is... sure I do. IT'S RACE DAY.
So somewhere between 11 and 12pm on Sunday I rolled in and stepped off.  I finished behind the amazing Ms Frankie, and the awesome Bec Parkes.  Both these women have my utmost respect.  Having experienced an SS solo ride for myself I can certainly say I see these riders in a new light. 

So what is next?  Not sure.  Lots of road coming up with the Koiled Shebeasts and maybe I can hear bagpipes.  Too soon to say.  But I reckon I will be hearing them through the clicking of a derailleur should I choose to go!!!!  All those roots, shale and mud.... *shudder*

Everyone should take a minute to walk out to their geared duallys and tell them they love them.  I know I have.