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So a few weeks ago a few mates had a team member pull out of this event and asked if anyone was keen, I thought it sounded like fun so put my hand up. I haven't done any mountain biking before (except as a kid when we used to bash about the bush if that counts) so borrowed a bike and lights and was set to go for the 24 hour race, 6 man team at the botanical gardens at Mt Annan. I had one quick ride to get used to the bike before the event and then in the morning did one lap with the team mates to check out the course. What an awesome course, I don't know what other races are like but it was so much fun. It is almost 10km, 90% single track, extremely windey (heaps of switchbacks) all up and down, no major climbs but there is never time to rest either. I never even took a water bottle with me because there is nowhere where there's even time to reach down to take a drink.
With 6 riders we decided we'd do one lap each during the day, then during the night ABABAB/CDCDCD/EFEFEF. Each lap was about 30 minutes so you would just go and smash it out then recover - repeat. From the first lap I realised this sort of race has very little in common with road racing. You're pretty much just doing a 10km time trial. Even though there were >500 riders traffic wasn't really a problem out on the course, I was a bit worried beforehand how overtaking would happen on the single track but passing people wasn't really an issue, everyone was very courteous, very different from road!
I smashed out my first two laps in 28 minutes each, the best laps of the team and comparable with some of the pros so I was pretty happy with that. My next laps were in the dark and that was a different story. My first night lap started off ok, but it seemed my lights were deteriorating and I was having a very hard time seeing what was coming up. I was really struggling by the end of the first night lap and wasn't looking forward to the next two. I was overtaken for the first time in that lap and I couldn't see how the guy who overtook me was able to take the technical sections so fast with lights that looked comparable to mine. Before the 2nd lap I got cleaned my sunnies, and BAM! I could see again! All along it was my sunnies that had fogged up without me realising, the lights were then SO much better! I enjoyed the next 2 laps a lot more, even though my power was dropping, my skill level was rising on each lap with the experience I gained on each lap (nothing like learning on the job!). My night laps were about 5 minutes slower than my day laps.
By now it was 3am and I had about 3.5 hours until my next turn so tried to get some sleep, but even though I was pretty smashed I found it hard to get to sleep with my heart rate still high. I probably only got about 2 hours sleep. I had a bit of breakfast and headed out again. Was glad it was light again but wasn't feeling so good, just low on energy now. That lap was faster than the night laps but not by a lot. I got back and my girlfriend who was camping with the team had cooked some awesome bacon and eggs, I was so glad to have them. Ate a fair bit and began to feel a whole lot better. Our team calculated that if we did some quick laps we'd be able to finish at 11:55, so the last rider would be able to get out before midday (cut off time) and we'd be able to get that extra lap in. So the pressure was on on my last lap not to stuff up. I was feeling great on that last lap and did another good time and we got that extra lap in.
Our team ended up getting 2nd in our category (24 hour 6 man team) so we were pretty stoked with that. Out of all 172 teams we were 7th.
It was an awesome experience, today my body feels far more destroyed than it ever has after a road race. My whole upper body tired/aching, it doesn't normally get this sort of work out! It was an extremely well run event too, the organisation was really good.
You will be hooked now. I did my first one in 2003 and have only missed 2 years since then. If you can get on a team for the Mont you will have even more fun. The laps there are longer too.
Indeed! Sounds like you've been snared by the dirty side ... and talk about jumping in at the deep end - a 24!
I'm in a 6-man Brady Bunch team (Dads and sons) for the Mont, can't wait! Was a hoot last year, especially the night laps.
On one lap I must have traded places with this girl about 6 times - I got past her on the climbs only to get stuck behind a numpty stalling on an obstacle, or I'd mistake a dustpile for a berm and slither off the track in a cloud of dust ... and then watch her cruise past In the end I was too embarassed to pass her again and just followed her the last 500m into transition.
Great photo of you, by the way - that's a keeper. There's a bunch more, including that one of you, here: https://picasaweb.google.com/1164441484 ... edwebsite#
Last edited by trailgumby on Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Yeah I'm pretty hooked!Only problem is $$$ for a bike, having to ride/drive to get to the ride, cleaning your bike after every ride, going through lube like there's no tomorrow etc - road riding is a bit simpler! But when you're out there - sure is fun.
Get a rigid SS. Ride it, put it away, pull it out ride it again. No cleaning needed ever
Yep, the bike cleaning thing can get a bit old, but with some appropriately selected bike cleaning brushes, a soft spray hose nozzle, some car wash detergent and an old car chamois it's done in less than 15 minutes.
I select soft spray to do the bike overall, but hard spray over the chain as I spin it backwards through the stream to get rid of surface grit (need to be careful to not to point the hard spray at any bearings). Then a wipe over to dry off bike and chain before a 5 minute ride around the block.
For the chain I run three in rotation on each bike (2 bikes = six chains) to maximise drive-train life, and I use Purple Extreme lube. Depending on conditions I tend to swap chains for a clean one every 2-3 rides.
I just spend 2 euros at the car wash after each ride.. High pressure sparkle!.
Philip you have such a mtb'ers build you should take it up!.
Haha I'm not sure, I think I'd have to get a fair bit more upper body strength, it really took it out of me. By the end of it was struggling to lift the wheel over obstacles on climbs. Most of the fast guys definitely had bigger arms than me!
Got some more good photos from the event:
One thing I forgot to mention were my two night time stacks. On my 2nd night time lap I was going along a fairly nondescript part of the track, not technical or anything, when BAM! I was on the ground. I wasn't sure what happened, just picked up the bike and kept going. On the next lap I was approaching the same place and was thinking "hey this is where I stacked it last lap" and BAM I was on the ground again! Couldn't believe it, exactly same spot! Didn't do any damage, just a bit perplexed as to what had happened. My next day lap I figured it out - it seems that at night with lights you don't really get much depth perception of the track - it just looked flat to me - but in the day I could see there was a big dip in the middle of the track where the left part was low and the right part was high, in the night I was just riding in the middle so the front wheel was just washing out when I got there! It's the kind of thing you would subconsciously avoid during the day but at night you don't even see it!
I wouldn't worry about the body building. It's technique that will get you further than more upper body. Less lifting, more balancing and letting the bike do the work. Oh and thinking more about the controls - every shot with you under brakes has both hands working on the levers which is rarely necessary and will lose you momentum. It's bloody hard to do but managing braking is one of the keys to going fast. When you manage it....let me know!!
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
Yeah I definitely noticed that braking into the corners was the key, especially on a track like that where there's so many switchbacks. On my first two laps I was going extremely hot into corners, pretty much coming to a stop and then having to accelerate out again. My last lap was nearly 2 minutes slower than my first (~30 minutes, first was 28), I obviously wasn't nearly as fresh, but I was riding FAR smoother, I'd learnt to slow down a whole lot more before the corners then keep a faster pace through them, so everything was much smoother and I didn't have to accelerate from nearly stopped. If only I'd had the power of my first laps with the skills that I'd learnt throughout the race of my last, I reckon I could have gone a minute or two faster.
Move the brake master cylinders inboard. Only one finger on the brakes = less fatigue, more control.
Upper body strength and timing will come with time on the bike.
I went for a short ride up the street last night to mail a letter. Hopping the front over the driveway (almost flat tyre ) was *hard* and uncomfortable. I have a ways to go yet to return to my pre-crash glory
Good photos Phillip. One thing I noticed though..... you wear a white shirt on left hand corners and a red one on right handers. Mate, a lot of time wasted there surely.
My first mtn bike ride for months a while ago resulted in a seriously stiff and battered upper body. I'd not realised (maybe because I'm a carpenter) how much work our upper bodies do ona mtn bike.
That said, I agree with the others comments i.e. the body strength doesn't matter a lot.
I think the timing of the body movement is the only real important bit. I.e. lofting the wheel exactly at the right moment, etc.
It will come with time and practice.
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