24 Hr World Solo Champs - Canmore, Alberta, Canada Aug 25th - 26th 2009

01 August 2009
Its easiest to just start at the beginning and let the story evolve naturally.
In 2007, I won the Kona 24hr Female Solo division and was seriously considering attending the World Solo Champs in 08.
With a change of employment, moving house and one hundred other distractions, 2008 become a year of consolidation rather than exploration.

After achieving a win at the Scott 24hr in October, I further extended my "love - hate" relationship with 24 Hour Endurance racing.
My dear husband Norm was right behind me all the way and he too was keen to see what I was capable of in this discipline of mountain biking.
We then went on to race a few local shorter enduros and won a handful along the way.
You could say that one gets to a stage of complacency of rocking up on race day, its just "same old..same old..."  Its always tough, but has a comforting familiarity about it.
This is where I made my best and worst mistake of 2008.

Having lived in the town of Forrest in Victoria for about 1 year by the time the Kona 24 hr came around, I was pretty lax about racing and winning this event in my home town.
I had after all won it last year, and now I was fitter, stronger, more skilled, and could win these races so long as I had my awesome support of Norm.
Upon reflection, November 2008 was a cracker of a month, I got ill, Norm and I worked out butts off and at the end of it all I was going to win this race.
For those reading this and wondering how a person can ride around for 24hrs on a mountain bike and think it must be tough...yeh, you are right, its tough, but you just cannot be successful without your support crew.
Norm is my main man, he knows me and has been my friend and husband for nearly 18 years.
Relationships aren't always smooth and by the time this race came about Norm and I were at polar ends of the earth from each other.
So as you may be able to guess, I did not win the race that was going to be so easy for me to win!(apparently).  Our good friend Jac Connell, was the strongest and most determined competitor that day and she well and truly deserved the win.
24 hour racing is not just about physical attributes, but so much more mental than you can ever imagine.
At the 18 hour mark, I was many laps ahead of my next opponent and I just quit.  I still don't know to this day why I was so adamant to not win.  Crazy!
The pain of throwing away a win was tough to live with and I felt like a failure for weeks.
However instead of seeking the comfort of my doona and quitting, I was grateful for the clean slate to work with.

December 2008 was the time I decided to aim for a win at the Australian Solo 24hr Championships in Canberra at Easter 2009.
If I could win this, I was definitely going to the World Solo champs in July 09.
I had learnt my lessons from the Kona 24 hr in 2008, so Norm and I went into the Aussie champs with a real plan and a solid relationship(most important).
A dream came true and we won...so the trip to Canada was well and truly underway.  I was also able to go with the knowledge that I had beaten a world class competitor in Katrin Van der Spiegel.  Katrin has been the benchmark for Australian women in 24 hour racing now for about 4 years.

With approximately 3 months to train, save and plan time was tight, but not impossible to dream for a win at the World Solo 24 hr Championships.
After a whole lot of work on and off the bike, some crazy work schedules, bringing up our 15 year old daughter, being a mum, wife, business owner amongst millions of other responsibilities...Norm and I were heading off to the World Solo 24hr Championships in Canmore, Alberta, Canada.

Norm and I arrived in Canmore on the 19th July, the weather warm and mountains everywhere.
My first thoughts were,"Gee, I could live here!"

Alicia Evans met us and took us for a bit of a tour. A Geelong girl, now calls Canmore home for as long as Canada will have her.
Adam and Kirstin showed up later in the day.  Our group was now ready to take on Canmore, get to know the town, the best coffee, the trails and the people.
I am not sure why I do 24hr races as I really really love my sleep.  I have never done shift work, and never want to!  I really struggled with jet lag and time differences.
The first night, we were out and about, it was 10pm and it was still light.  I think I got to bed at 1am.

The next day we started to mingle with the other Aussies here for the race.  Jason English was keen to smash anyone who would agree to go for a ride with him.
Trails galore skirt every inch of the town.  Cars give way to cyclists with total respect.  Riding on the wrong side was interesting and took a lot of concentration.
We took a trip to the supermarket and took twice as long to find what we were after. Everything is written in French and English.  Many foods that I get in Australia either don't exist or are a bit different here.
We found some crazy foods as well as abundant supplies of berries for very very cheap!

The week leading up to the race lasted what seemed forever. During the week we met many Aussies who live here in Canmore, including Jade who we met at the local bike shop.
He offered to help out with the race, supporting me Adam and Kirstin along with Norm.  So Norm was set up with Alicia and Jade.  Its amazing when you head overseas, open up your mind and be friendly and people are amazing!
Come Friday, we headed up for a bit of media and registration.  I could not believe I would be racing on Saturday!  One more sleep and we were going to be racing.
At this stage I had stopped being nervous, there was no use in worrying about my competition, I had to turn up with my own plan and stay internally focussed.  This was going to be one tough race.
The course was scattered with roots, rocks, climbing galore, technical downhills, and some pretty nasty bumpy trails.  24 hours of this was going to be testing enough!

Lets fast foward to Saturday morning.  Its hot, I am tired, but ready to race.  There is no delaying the inevitable. Time will pass, the race will start and before you know it, it will be over too!
At 11:30am we are being corralled into our seeded numbers and set up for the start of the race.  Not a great way to start a race, on your feet for 30 minutes standing around in the heat, in close proximity to 100's of riders!
The start of the race is a 500mt dusty and rocky run - Le Man's start.  We had to run to our bikes, and then that was the start of your lap.  Got on the bike with a HR of 165 and I don't think it went down for the first lap.
From here on, laps and time is a blur, however I do remember on the first lap I was in 3rd position and on the second lap I had progressed to 2nd place.  This changed a few times with Jari, the other American.  Rebecca was in first place, on the first lap she was already 4 minutes up.
I found out the next day that Rebecca's plan was to lap the womens field and then settle down.  It took her 12 hrs to do this.

As it got dark, I was in 3rd place, this was around 10:30pm.  I started to get tired.  Not in the way of fatigue in my legs, but tired, like gee I could sleep!
I had to give in to my first caffeine fix around midnight.  From then on, it was caffeine every lap.  Finding it hard to eat now, I was pretty much getting all my carbs through my hydration.
Norm kept telling me that Carena(who was in 4th place) was on fire and that I might want to speed up a bit.   But I just couldn't, and it was some time in the wee hours of the morning that Carena passed me.
This was my low point, I just felt like crap.  Mentally this was a terrible feeling to cope with, knowing that I was now out of contention for a podium finish.  All this way to Canada for 4th place???
I guess this feeling lasted for about 1hr and then then the light started to appear.  Morning brought new hope.  I could not come all this way and quit.  I got changed into a new kit and went out again to make the girls work hard for their positions.
4 laps later my race was over.  I finished on the same laps as 2nd and 3rd place which was some consolation and I felt like this was the biggest challenge that I had ever completed in my life so far.
I was even thinking that giving birth to my daughter, Saskia, which was a 36hr labour, was easier than this race.
I came here, gave it my best, learnt even more about myself, my motivation for these sorts of races and my commitment to those who believe in me.
My friends who care so much for me, I could never have kept going without there thoughts in the back of my head.
My sponsors who back me and totally believe that I am a good person to promote and use their products, I could never let them down!
My family, they just love me no matter what.
Norm and Saskia, the ones who live everyday with me, sacrifices made for me to race and be involved in this crazy sport.
So to all these people, I thank you for having faith in me.

The 24hr World Solo Championships are being held in Australia next year.  Thats my big plan for 2010.

Its now Friday- 31st July.  I am feeling pretty normal. We head back to Australia tomorrow.
Yesterday we got back on the bike and had a wonderful ride from Canmore to Banff and back.
Today I am heading out on one more ride with Alicia and then we are off for a BBQ with Jade and a hot tub!
I have really really enjoyed my time overseas.  2 weeks has lasted forever...now we are excited to be back home.

My sponsors to thank and I look forward to continuing working with you!
Torquay Cycling Factory - without Lorenzo and Leah, I would not be where I am today.
Giant Bikes - Darren & Jo - thanks for your support and awesome bikes.  The Giant Anthems killed the gruelling course.
SRAM / Rob Eva - Rob, your support in me is just amazing, you are such a generous person and have always helped me with my favourite SRAM gear.
JET Black Products - Trent & Matt, love you guys and your products.  24hr racing is made possible with great lights from NITE RIDER.  thanks for the use of spare lights and batteries.
TORQ Australia - Gen & Dean have been so supportive of me and our business MTBskills.com.au and continue to deliver great products to make racing nutrition so easy!
Unlimited Bicycles - Ken, thanks for helping us out with the Rotor rings, these are fantastic for 24hr racing,less fatigue, smoother pedaling!
Sports Medicine Massage - Bengt Carlson is forever helping out athletes with massage.  He has been massaging me for the last 4 years.
Bike Box - thanks Jess for helping me out with Schwalbe tyres.  I have found the Rocket Rons really awesome on the rocky and rooty terrain.  I love these tyres, great for technical terrain.

So thanks for reading, and I hope this has given an insight into my journey.  I'm not done with yet and as Norm reminded me, I'm still the 2009 Australian 24 hour champion with a Green and Gold jersey nobody can ever take away from me.  Bring on 2010!
Jess