Saturday, May 3, 2008

Merida 24hr - 1st Mens Open Solo

19-20 April:

What a weekend. First off-road ride for my new wheels, first race, first place mens open solo - 369km.

My day started early to help the crew set-up the Tajmahootchie - thanks to the SES and Bigfella for organising this. My TransOz cycle epic partner was up for this race. It was a non-serious race for Brad with little training, but I was pleased he got to meet a lot of the MTB dirt crew I'd told him about.

Off for a warm-up lap to test my new hardtail - it's first off-road ride (without helmet - doh!)

With some more regular training of late, I felt stronger on the hills but if anything this made me unsure of a race pace strategy. I went out slow from the start, but my patience didn't last long. On the first exposed ridge (just b4 the first summit) I blasted past a string of riders. Now with some clear space ahead of me, I could settle to a comfortable speed. All the elite and fast team riders were already out of sight.

Into the 2nd lap, Jeff Toohey starts talking from behind me; he'd had to attend to a pedal in his first TA. I can't remember when we grouped with Craig Storey, but the 3 of us completed a few laps together before Jeff left Craig and I behind at TA once and for all. Another couple laps with Craig, and then Craig disappeared behind me. I later found out this was a mechanical which ended his race. All on my lonesome now, I didn't see any more of my solo competitors till the 9hr mark when Jeff got a lap up on me. Nearly 23 laps (203km) up at the 12 hour mark, but at this point energy started to wane. Some more nutrition lessons to learn - hmm! It was a slow and steady decline for me from this point, but with my competition seemingly dropping like flies (Jeff Toohey current world No.3 was out with suspected food poisoning and no it wasn't me - lol), there would be no stopping. Plenty of time to rest at the finish (where I also coughed up a lung due to dust inhalation)!

Since Jeff retired, I had a comfortable buffer on Tim Ferris & Ross Uhlmann, but appreciated the updates and support from all friends and MTB dirt crew for the entire race. All the support really does help us solo riders go out for "just one more". I really enjoyed so many chats with other friendly riders during this race. It's always great to see so many people going out to achieve their own personal goals. The weather was spot on. Overcast so not too hot, and just a perfect amount of rain at the perfect time. AWESOME!

As always thanks very much to the event promoters, sponsors and volunteers for helping out. I feel so lucky to have so many great events to choose from:

All the goss and photos from the MTB Dirt crew:


Peter Ford from Cycle Sports News summed up the race:

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