Mont 24 MTB Race

6:40 pm Unknown 0 Comments

This is the highlight vid - report below:

A busy schedule meant I hadn't been able to cram in any extra MTB training in the last few weeks. The bike was still dusty from the Westerfolds adventures and I had run out of time. During my lunch break on Wednesday I wrote up my packing list and set to work as soon as I got home to assemble all the stuff I'd need for the adventure ahead.

I packed all the possible kit combinations I could think of, found all the bedding we could burrow under - if we got the chance to sleep, got the bike bits ready and charged the lights for the last time. After work on Thursday I packed the car and we hit the road to Rutherglen. It was great to see Tony's smiling face, even after a tornado literally flew through the area and half flooded his house while we were driving up.

After what seemed like the best sleep of my life, I woke up to the chirping of birds (not the usual traffic hum outside our apartment), had a hearty breakfast and coffee with Tony and we hit the road again. By this time mid-morning I was wishing that I had flown up. Boring roads, bad radio, nerves starting about the unknown race and event. Time ticked away and the GPS seemed to be taking us through Canberra and toward Goulburn. Thanks Apple Maps! We switched to Google Maps, and we were on location and in tent city at the Mont24.

First to arrive on our Thule premium camp site, we parked kitted up and were about to go for the practice lap roll when Kahill and Ansie rocked up. While they kitted up I went in search for a spare tube, tyre levers and saddle bag in the shops that had set up to cater for riders. I'd planned to put all of this in my jersey pockets, but I was setup for $25 and my loaner bike was good to go.

Strava course profile

First part of the trail was flat and easy - good for starting out and warming up. The next section after about 4kms started to flow downhill. I was a little cautious on this, but it ended up not being too technical. When we stopped to regroup Shane kept asking me what was up, Nothing! Just a lot to take in and remember going flat stick through the bush.

At about 10kms in the path crossed over/under each other and there was another fast section into a sharp right hand drop off that flowed onto a massive fire fire road/trail, a log technical climb for a few kms and then we were into the technical descent. This was switch backs, rocks, pine needles/leaf litter, bad camber, drop-off the side kinda stuff that I had hoped would not be part of the course. As a beginner/intermediate rider I knew that this would challenge me - and I would be the slowest of the group. After I got through that section, the guys waited up for me and it was another technical climb and flowing slightly technical descent back to transition (where you swap to the next rider).

When I got back, I knew I could do the course, but said there was a very unlikely chance of me doing the night laps with that descent. The team lead Scott, Stevie on support, and big boss Jacob had rocked up when we got back and started the base camp preparation. We munched some nachos, helped setup the site and then went to catch up and stay for a good night's sleep with our mates in Canberra.
We lived in these - All snuggly and warm.

Team issue Jersey - now we can spot our
team mates coming in for transition

Definitely felt more confident about the event, now we knew what the course was like, where we'd be camping and we'd see how it would all unfold the next day.

Out there again by 9:30am and got everything set-up and ready to go. Bed ready for later that night in the back of the Subaru, kit laid out and a baked potato for lunch from one of the great food stalls.
Out last pair of riders Jenny and Damian arrived close to roll out time, so Kahill was going to cover the first laps for us. We all went to the briefing and there were hundreds, possibly thousands of riders there (total of 3070 riders over the weekend) and it was a good reminder using a show of hands that for many this was their first MTB race, their first 24hr event and to be nice and talk while you're out there passing on the track.

Kahill went out, then Ansie and then me. With no warm up, I was glad the first part was easier to get back into the groove. We had re-inflated my shocks that morning and the bike was flowing nicely. On the first fast downhill one guy tries to overtake me, clips my handlebars (almost ditching it himself) and almost throws me off course, the 2 riders behind me give him an earful of screams and curses on my behalf and I take a few deep breaths to steady the nerves while racing on - hoping this wasn't to be an indication of how rough my first race was going to be.

Action Von - Photo: AuroraImages

I flew up the technical ascents and fire trails and tried not to tip-toe down the descents. Got back in 1:19:51 and handed the passport to Shane to carry on. Jenny and Damian were scheduled next and would take us through to the evening for the night laps. We had not set up a schedule and I was torn - sitting out night laps it would be a hard slog for the rest of the team. Ansie was going to go out again and I was still fresh after dinner, so I said that I'd setup my lights and try my first night lap. If it all went horribly wrong - all you can do is walk out of the course.
Stevie doing it all - flag bearer, bike holder, time keeper! 

Shane came back from his lap and I let him know that I was going to try a night lap. He was a little concerned and came with me to transition - but with awesome head and bar lights I rolled out at 10:45pm for my first night lap. I estimated with the team that it would take me 10 mins longer.

Active Lifestyle Catalogue? - Rocking it!  Photo: AuroraImages
Things looked different at night. I ride a bit at home on paths and commute through the city late on my road bike. I haven't used helmet mounted lights before - THEY ROCK! I did a slight adjustment to get them to focus on where I was looking and we were cooking with gas. Things were not as scary in the day, by this time the path had been swept wider by so many riders and passing was easier on the uphills and the downhills smoother from all the wheels, the technical descent section was still a challenge, but I just called out to those around me that I was "just going slow here" and by the time I realised I was coming into the transition section, I was elated! WoooHOOO! 1:21:54  I smashed my own expectations and the team were standing there with a Thule flag so I could find them in the night - I was PUMPED! Shane took over and zipped out onto the course to smash it up.

It was pretty late and I said that I could do another night lap with a bit of sleep. The next one was scheduled for 4am. With the rest of the camp asleep I tried to wind down and hydrate by the heater before slipping into the sleeping bag and cocooning in the Subie. I heard a rustle when Shane came in and got changed and then he woke me up when he came to cocoon in his sleeping bag beside me - somehow we had all stuffed up the schedule and he would need to do another night lap just before me in the morning... urgh! More broken sleep as I drifted off and woke up again to him shuffling out for his  crazy night lap at 3am.

I was up and started with the layers of lycra, it had cooled off and mist had rolled in. Right on schedule Shane rolled into transition and I grabbed the passport to do my next night lap. The pace of the riders was more measured, friendly and talkative than before. 40mins in on a section where you could choose your own adventure on either a raised path or low sweeping berm, my front wheel washed out on a tree root. The guy riding behind me who had been chatting to me stopped to help out. Tony "t-bone" Brown from Newcastle helped me back up and illuminated the troublemaking tree root, unfortunately my head light went out at that point and all I could do was swap the battery pack over and limp home.

I sent a quick txt to Shane to say i'd be 10mins late (it was damn cold if you were waiting at transition). Tony was an absolute gentleman and let me sit on his wheel back to Transition, waiting up when I got caught up, it was pretty hairy on the technical descent section but we were flying home. With a maaaaaaasive thank-you to Tony I gladly handed over to Ansie after a lap of 1:32:28. I didn't have any caffeine, but it was going to be hard to wind down. The fog had rolled in and I went in search of a hot shower at around 5:45am with a little lantern to guide me.
Zoom, day laps are FUN! Photo: AuroraImages
My next lap was 10am and my phone was dead flat. No alarm to set (I left a note on the schedule to wake me) I crawled back into the quiet of the car and cocooned into the warmth and instant sleep.

When I woke up, I felt like death - whole body aching, headache like I'd hit the tequila hard. Shane was preparing to leave for his morning lap and opened the back of the car up for me to breathe and wake up. I shuffled in my cocoon to the edge of the car and Stevie handed me a cup of coffee. Very much unlike a butterfly - I emerged from the cocoon to go watch Shane transition for his last lap. I didn't think I could do another lap, my leg was coming up with 2 lumps and aching.

Ben Battisson, one of the commentators from the Mont24 had heard about my adventures that night and asked me to stop by the transition area that morning. He interviewed me for the crowd where I told my story and thanked Tony again with a Thule t-shirt for him to collect. Ben gave me a smile and a prize to help me out with my next MTB race, a $250 set of lights to keep me on track for my next night ride!! YEAH!

Things had shuffled again with the ride order and it looked like Damian would be able to finish the race doing 2 consecutive laps after Shane.  Amazing! We all went to transition for his last lap and cheered him on!

In the mean time we had 2hrs to pack up the site and leave it like we found it - untouched. Everything packed away, we said our farewells and started the pilgrimage back to Victoria, work and road bikes.

This has been an amazing adventure outside of my comfort zone - but with a little help from my friends and sponsors, made it an easy transition.

Thanks to Deb Gardner for the extra Ayup lights (her's didn't go out).
Thanks to Nadine Crane for the loan of the bike - if you're looking for a good one, it's for sale!
Thanks x2 to Tony Reekman for the secret halfway house of respite.
Thanks to Thule Australia for inviting me along and taking care of me.

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