Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Post 24hr blues, Big Dog's and working out what comes next

It’s been a month now since winning Bontrager Twentyfour 12 24hr, initial recovery went well, I rode into work on the Tuesday after the race, but took the week easy, as my right foot was numb. The weekend after I rode a bit more, feet was numb, my heart would top out at 140bpm and calf wasn’t right. My calf got progressively worse, dull pins & needles was all I felt in my foot, another weekend past and my calf was still buggered, but I could pedal in circles again, ish. Went to the Physio, I had neural tension, which was stopping the nerve running across my calf properly, exercises prescribed, after a few days it felt a ton better. Good job, I had a Big Dog to race…..

I love Brighton Big Dog 6hr, it’s a great event, this was my 4th year in a row, and it was going to be dry again, yay! I was racing mixed pairs with Natasha Barry, a nice change for me, but involved riding FAST!. First lap was disappointing, some tape was missing, I had dropped off the front pack and missed a turn, we corrected our mistake only to get caught up in backmarker riders who were having a staggeringly good first lap……few minutes dropped, down to Natasha. We had a good few single laps, swapping between 3rd/4th, I did one double lap to get a buffer on 3rd, the fast laps were taking it out of me, but I wanted 3rd! I Rode our last lap, battling cramp but I’d past our 3rd place competition at the start of the lap, so we were home and dry. We got a few great prizes, and people stayed for the prize giving, which was nice.

I’ve not any big races booked for the rest of the year, I won’t be racing WEMBO 24hr World Champs, Bontrager took a lot out of me, both physically and mentally and I’m lacking the commitment needed to repeat the training required to do myself justice, and due to the high personal financial cost and my own race mentality I won’t race just to take part, it’s just not that kind of race.  

So what is next? I’m glad I scratched the 24hr itch and it went so well, I’m not sure yet whether I will commit to another any time soon. I had my second experience of triathlons recently, I wasn’t racing, just fussing, but I can see the appeal, especially Xterra, that looked a blast! But my swimming is woeful so I’m promising nothing. Next race for me is my road race debut, my form is iffy but I’ve a higher suffering threshold now, just need some legs back.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Bontrager Twentyfour12- 24hours solo

Ever since I got into endurance racing i've wanted to try a 24hour solo race, I've read enough blogs by the best in the business and it seemed to be the natural step up in my racing, i've done around ten 12hour solo racers, and I know i can cope with them well, how much harder can twice the length be!?

both bikes prepped with 1 x 11
My whole season has been working towards Bontrager Twentyfour12, i've purposely avoided racing too much, held back racing any other long races this year, instead I have spent my weekends and evenings building up to racing for 24 hours. Working with Francesca Bennett my coach we have added far more core workout and gym work, spending two lunchtimes a week specifically working on my core and leg strength, to help in those latter hours of the race.

We arrived in plymouth on friday lunchtime, meeting up with Scott Swalling and Nic, we rode a quick practice lap, I liked the course, it suited me, a few long climbs and enough single track to keep it fun, 7.7 miles and 700feet of climbing per lap

Saturday morning arrived, I was very nervous, we all knew it was going to be hot, so it was key in the morning to take on as much fluid as I could. I went through my usual pre race rituals, porridge, muller rice, milkshake & the toilet, several times. Dad went and waited on the start line with my bike, this gave me and extra 15minutes in the shade, still drinking!

The start was fine, I knew there was no point rushing! as Rob Lee used to tell me, you only have so many bullets, don't waste the magazine at the start. I settled into a good position within the top 10 of 24 solo, lapping steady, drinking a 750ml bottle of Torq Vanilla pod and one Torq gel a lap, making sure I took on enough units. My average heart rate was low and I was keeping cool, this was going well. Over the next few laps my lap times were consistent, within 30seconds. I caught Matt Jones who I had been worried about prior to the race, he had been struggling with the heat but had been lapping in front off me. I continued swapping positions with Russ from Traverse Bikes, but he slowly dropped back.

I swapped onto my chinese bike after 5 hours, not feeling confident in my Lefty fork, the first 8hours went quickly and It wasn't long before I was told to put on lights, I swapped helmets on my next lap, but still kept my light off, knowing the dusk is better with natural light.

Before long it was dark, but warm, I added merino arm warmers and kept tapping out the laps, I spoke to a few 12hour racers who were almost finished, but I was now leading, it was mine to lose, but I was going into my unknown now, I had never ridden a bike for this long before.
flying night stop
The night went surprising quickly, I kept occupied and consistent, I had a bottle of Torq recovery and a few caffeine gels, these helped but I still felt great.......

As the sun came up you would be forgiven for thinking the race was almost over, but there was  6 hours left, thats a long race in itself! I kept the pedals turning, I was over a lap clear now, having lapped Matt Jones during the night, but a bad lap and I could still loose the race. 
230miles and 23hrs15 later, WINNER
attack of the grey mist
Trophy from BeerBabe Upcycling
I had a bit of a wobble at 8am, after I'd ridden the previous lap thinking it was 10am, bugger! luckily it didn't effect me too badly. I met up with Martin Smith, he was going through a low point having raced the team 12hour before starting the torchbearer 12hour race, we rallied each other, but eventually he rode off. Luckily it was almost 2 hours to go, and  was going to win, the last 2 laps were hard, my feet had long since gone numb, and my hands were feeling sore due to the braking bumps on all the technical descents. I passed my pit for the last time, confident I had done enough to stay in front, even if matt took it right to the wire. I crossed the start line, so happy but broken, only my supporters knew I had won as it was only 11:10am, but I wasn't going round again for the sake of it!
amazing what a shower can do!
Well done to Matt and Alex

Now what am I doing? dabble in some road racing if my feet come back to life. Decide finally on whether to try and get to WEMBO 24hr World Champs in Fort William