Jess Douglas

Scott 24hr 2014 - chapter 2

03 October 2014

As we drove from our accommodation to Mt Stromlo I found it really challenging to connect my current existence in the world right now with the fact that in a couple of hours I would be racing a 24hr, for 24 hours!

Again, I had this familiar feeling with being pregnant and suddenly realising that I was going to give birth, for real. This baby inside me was going to be outside of me via giving birth – brain overload! No more thinking, I was just going to let nature take its course.

This is how I felt on the Saturday of the race, I had been here before but today I felt disjointed, not thinking at all about what 24hrs was going to be like this time.
It probably had something to do with the lead up, being extremely busy and what I would call highly stressed!

People even exclaimed that Norm and I looked so relaxed. There was no point being otherwise, all I had to do was exactly what I had done before. Stay strong minded, be nice to Norm, be process driven and aim to win. 

10495333 10153164814878154 1718230420406468472 oAfter we were feeling settled and ready to go, I went in search of the CORC Liv team that Claire Whiteman had put together. A great bunch of women, most racing a 24hr for the first time.

I do find that spending a bit of time with others prior to a big race gives me some nerve free moments, calming in fact.

I headed back for one last toilet break, and now ready to go with 25 mins spare.

Oh the nerves, I always just want the first hour to pass, just to find the legs, to find your position in the race and settle in.

In the race briefing we found out the good news that we were not going to be doing the Le mans start, only the teams and we would start 5 mins before the field.
But...we were riding up the longish gradual climb of an access road instead of Fenceline single track. Oh this was going to hurt!

It was a warm day, sunshine with blue skies, perfect spring weather, it may have been 22 degrees?
When we we let off at 11:55am, and rode up the fire road, I was roasting already.

Legs were hurting, breathing was laboured, I could not kick into another level. I had to keep it easier than I wanted and use this lap to sit just there, just under my vomit zone.
Cockatoo Switchbacks is normally a flat climb and feels awesome, today it hurt.

In fact, it all hurt, until I got to the top.

My head space is saying, “Shit Jess, this hurts...how can you do this for 24hrs?”, but my experience is overriding this niggle and saying,”It may take 2-4 hours for you to warm up to this Jess, its cool, just keep riding, stay on that edge, drink, eat, ride hard-ish, descend harder, stay in front, and enjoy.” 

It was really challenging to eat, really hard to drink too. I felt nauseous for maybe 4-5hours until the sun started going down. Thats when I felt much better and really enjoyed my drinking again.

I never really enjoyed eating all race.

From the first lap I was only a little way in front of my next competitor, Kate Penglase, I could see her on a corner as I had passed that spot, and so I just kept putting in on the exits of corners, pulling away meter by meter. I knew that I was better at descending than Kate, so needed to get the gap on the climb so I could improve the buffer more on the descent. First few laps I could see Kate coming in over the pipe as I was heading off the Crit track, then I no longer saw her so put in harder on the climb, even though it felt like I was crawling, I knew if I told myself to pedal harder I would have to put in time, even if it was 20 second increase on Kate, out of sight is out of mind. 

With this to concentrate on, I was constantly amazed that I would find myself up the top of each climb again in what felt like a matter of a few short moments. The worst place of the entire course for climbing was coming out of the gully in Slant 6. I so hated that section, so even though it hurt, I just counted, 1, 2, 3 etc...and would normally be out of the climb in 100 pedal strokes.

I wished I had tested out the A line gap jump on the descent of slant 6, but kept choosing to take the b line on the left.

Nearing on darkness I saw Kris Nicholls and crew setting up the lights at the Wombat Junction and then there were tunes too. This really gave me and everyone else something to look forward to each lap, I cant stress how much happiness I felt riding through this magic land all night long.

From the top of Wombat Juntion there was only fun to be had on Breakout and whilst Muck Raker was a “pain in the arse”, it gave relief with Old Duffy Descent which was the final 'yahoo' of the course.
Early on, happy to back side each table top, it was a land of internal whoops going on.

And so the laps went on like this, climb as hard as you can even though its not hard really, my legs felt weak and tired, my brain felt alive and wired. So I used my mind over my body.
I would break the climbs into sections.

  • Fenceline – tick
  • Cockatoo Switchbacks – tick
  • YUK fire trail between CS and Bluegums – tick
  • Bobby Pin climb – tick
  • ABC Switchbacks (yuk 2) – tick
  • City View (6 uphilly bumps before fireroad always counted) – tick
  • Red rock Lookout (erghhh, this was a grind, total grind!) - tick
  • Tall Trees – last hoorah – tick

Thats 8 climb sections that I dealt with for 27 laps.
After that it was happy happy joy joy all the way back home (except for the Slant 6 grind).

As night grew dark, my happiness bloomed and I recall feeling fast and pain free, this always happens, and I know it doesnt last all night but I take it whilst I can, passing people who were passing me in the late afternoon.

I was drinking well and coping ok with food.
I tried to imagine what I would really like to eat and all I could come up with was a cup of black tea with two sugars. So I told Norm to have that waiting for me next lap.

My focus for the most part of day 1 was to ride a little faster, a little smoother and pull away from Kate 1% at a time. So it was a pleasure to have Norm tell me on a lap before midnight that I would pass Kate this lap. Of course you can imagine that this spurs one on a little more, so I grabbed 1% more out of the tank and hoped with each corner that I would find her there. It was not until the beginning of Luge that I found myself behind Kate and said a hello and made a pass.

From here on I knew I could win, I just had to deal with the 2nd half of the race and do it all again! 

I did not have any problems with sleep this time round, the course was that engaging there was no chance of losing focus. I started to do the sums before I could see the glow of the morning sunrise.

This is what every 24hr racer dreams of during the night, looking at the horizon and hoping that you will see it. Each lap, I am thinking that I will see the glow, hoping that the sun rises earlier than at home in Forrest, stoked that its not in October with Daylight Savings.

Finally at 5am I head out for a lap and start to see the glow. I can hear little sounds of birds chirping. Oh yeah...Its finally the morning!

My gift to myself is to stop at the start of City View and take up on offer the bench seat so kindly put there. I stop and give myself 60 seconds.

Quiet...

Birds chirping...

Sun eclipsing the horizon...

And thenn 2 riders pop up from the trail and its time to go.

1 minute, so rewarding, and so needed, but gone in a moment.

10505403 10152346976976003 398307663885848254 nNow I start to dream of getting these lights of my helmet and bike.
Maybe when I get back Norm can take them off I say to myself.
Silent fist pump in my head occurs – YESSSS!

When I came into transition on this lap, I did take my helmet light off and rode 1 more lap with light on handlebars.

Of course now its time to get the brain working out the amount of laps to be completed.
I was keen to finish early but this was not going to happen.

Even though I had lapped Kate, I had not lapped her twice. Just to be sure I upped the anti and did the next two laps a little quicker just to secure the win solidly.
Now I could get off the bike and have a little rest. I sat down and talked to Norm about how many more laps.

We agreed all I had to do now was one more.
My feet started to hurt and throb so I got off my seat and back on the bike.

No time to be in pain, cant let the body think the job is done yet and there in lies the issue with stopping for too long, you start to feel the pain – not ideal for 24hr racing. You need to be in the FIGHT mode the whole time, where your body procudes and excretes the hormones to block pain and allow you to keep going, the more stressful it is the less pain you feel. Which is why in a closer race where the pressure is really on, I have been able to dig deeper and do amazing things when it seems near impossible. 

On the last lap I got to spend a lot of time riding with Michael Schmitt, a young 19 year old that ended up coming 3rd in Male Elite. Was awesome to chat and ride, he stayed in front and even though on many sections would pull away, he held back, supporting me through my final lap. A really great young man. 

That final descent, wow...there is nothing more amazing than knowing you are there, done, no more to do, just go for it, enjoy, ride hard, smash it! And so I did. As best I could!
Arriving back around 11:15am I was not going out for another lap and had secured a win.

I still do not know what this race means for me, and I did not know then either.

Perhaps it was just some time out to stop rushing around with my life and all its responsibilities. Perhaps this was a time for ME, to enjoy life, to enjoy what I am good at, to enjoy being around some fantastic people and for Norm to force himself out of his never ending pile of work.

Perhaps is was a time to honour my Soxy boy, to remember that life is precious and enjoy each second of each day.

10687452 10152348257226003 1121164954393799847 oPerhaps it was about just being there, doing my thing for others, and it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with others, I got to spend time after the race chatting with Kate and Sophie, it was actually a beautiful thing to spend time with my competition.

...whatever the reason, today nearly 1 week later it has not revealed itself as yet.

I know this might sound all new age holistic airy fairy for some on how I choose to live and be the best person I can be.
We just never know what our purpose is to be on this day at this very moment and how our will actions evolve after our we have left our imprint.

10672397 930436920304110 2975172015681499245 n 1Racing for me is never about glory, its never about money, its never about winning althought these are all very enjoyable side products.

Racing is about the journey, always the journey, tapping into other peoples parallel journies and allowing my own path to evolve organically with how I tap into this with genuine interaction with others. 

True Purpose and The Journey is what drives me...success is just a bi-product.