Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Merida 24 hour.

Over the weekend I had the privilege of racing in the Merida 24 Hour mountain bike race. I was hoping to use the race to qualify for the world championships in Canberra this year but just couldn't pull the goods for that goal. While I am a little bummed about the result I am not really surprised given my lack of training and preparation for such a big undertaking.
Anyway, enough whining about how I could have done better and how I could have trained harder. I didn't. I did however get to ride a top track and even surprised myself with a few good laps. There is also the undeniable pleasure of hanging out with some mates and the camaraderie of your fellow racers asking you how you're travelling at 4am. Gold. By the way, I was travelling pretty badly.
The first couple of laps were really good. I got a great first lap and passed a few riders after taking it real easy off the line. I was almost last to leave as I couldn't really see the point in tearing off to only be caught in the mess of riders at the first corner. I rolled out and then hit the first climb a bit harder to pick up some places. All going well so far. Lap 2 was really a carbon copy of the first only that I had a clearer run in the single track and had a bit of fun railing the corners and bombing one or two sections. The sections through rock bottom and 007 were awesome but after 8 hours I was ready for some easy fire road. My arms and wrists were shattered and the dust was choking me. I had trouble seeing out of my left eye and under lights the trails became pretty scary. Nick had been filling me with food and coffee to keep me going up until this point and encouraging me to keep plugging out laps but my resolve failed at 8.30pm. I dropped my bundle big time and decided to get off and have a sleep. A hot shower and some food later I was tucked up in the sleeping bag quite comfortable. I didn't sleep much though.
The internal battle raging in my head kept me awake. I could have toughed it out and kept riding. I could have made a few more laps. My mental state was really fragile and it took a huge toll on my physical state with the prospect of more laps leaving me in a very dark place. I was struggling with every little climb and battling through the single track at night meant my lap times were going up faster than my emotional state was coming down. Finally at 2.30am I got up, put on the riding gear and went out for some more laps. I'm glad I did, but boy it hurt.
The dust had settled with the dew and I could see again through my left eye. I went out slowly to try and last through the morning until midday. I was a mile behind qualifying and had no real hope of getting back in the game. Each time I came around I would stop for a minute and eat a little and drink as I was finding it hard to eat on course. I had a chat to a few riders during those first two laps back and that was nice. It lifted my spirits quite a bit. As I came around for lap 3 Nick was waiting with coffee and some kind words. I thought he had been asleep but he said he had heard me slip out but had stayed in bed as he thought I was going for a comfort stop. The coffee was great and gave me a little bit more of a lift and saw me through that third lap quite nicely.
Really after that the whole thing became academic. I pumped out a couple more laps to total 15 for the race. This sat me in 10th in my age category and 46th overall out of 81 solo male competitors. Not good enough to qualify for the worlds but it just wasn't to be this time. The painful truth that my lack of preparation had meant I had not achieved my goal this time was a pretty bitter pill to swallow. It was made even worse by the fact that it was my mental strength and not my physical condition that let me down. I got to a point where I really did not want to complete any more laps and was happy to admit defeat. Oh well, back to the drawing board and lots more hours on the bike.


  1. Well done mate!
    Riding good laps on a hard track is what it's all about!
    Keep it up!

  2. Thanks mate. I am a little bummed still but there will other races. Next time!

  3. Well done Wingy. I was too afraid to even give it a go!

  4. You shouldnt beat yourself up so much mate. You put in an awesome effort considering the setbacks you have had recently.