Delirium 24hr Cycle Race - April 20-21st 2013

course preview24hr Delirium – Cycle Race

Cowaramup, Western Australia

Sat 20th – Sun 21st April 2013

I came to Western Australia on Thursday last week, knowing full well I had a 24hr road race to ride on the weekend.

I had talked about it, planned for it, spent loads of money getting here, had tantrums and fights with Norm about the hows and whats, and now I was here...and I was still just thinking, “yep, 24hrs on the road bike, not sure whats going to happen, not sure how its going to pan out, Norm, no matter how much we plan we have no script to run by, so lets just let it unfold!”

Seriously, I have done my fair share of 24hr Mountain bike races, its easy, the planning, you know where the course is, you train for that, you suss out transition and how you will do your feeds, you certainly know your competition a bit better, you have a plan with making a move on a climb or a technical piece of trail or a fun descent. You can bust your phoofer for 1hr and make a decent gap on the field if you are first female in the single track and leave loads of blokey blokes behind you that would be devo if they let a chick past 1hr into a race.

Ahhh...its all familiar, easy and has been done before, dress rehearsal not really needed.

But a road bike?
Focus? Tactics? Hardness? I mean hard, carbon bikes, carbon wheels, bitumen road, road position, not the upright MTB position.
3.7km laps? Feeding? My race plan?
Would I be cold? How soon would I get tired, bored, unmotivated, zoning out?

Norm and I discussed everything we could think of but I kept coming back to the same conclusion. Ok, we know I can race 24hrs, we know I can stay awake 24hrs, we know I am physically and mentally capable, so lets just “freestyle it” with a juxtaposition of 24hr mtb events and what we would learn over the course of the road event we were about to take on.

Here is how the story unfolds...

Its the theme of my life, living in the country, having to plan my days down to the enth degree to get stuff done to achieve great things.

Getting to W.A to do the Delirium 24hr race was just like everything else – a crazy amount of planning.

Wednesday night, our commitment to the Liv/giant – Ride to Port, K.I.D'S foundation was a fundraiser night in Carlton.
Arrive, eat and have fun, spend $$ and finish up at around 11pm.
Now to drive to airport, staying at Mantra hotel nearby, Norm woke up in the morning and drove back to Geelong for a 1hr training session with a group of managers on how to use the back end of a website.
Then Norm drove back to pick me up.

In the meantime I did a 1.5hr cardio session in the gym at the hotel, showered, dressed and packed ready to go.
Quick drive to airport, park and check in.
Our flight to Perth, fairly boring, though reminding myself that I am blessed to be bored with not much to do.
We arrived at Perth around 4:15pm, on Thursday, used the courtesy bus to our accommodation as we weren’t picking up camper until Friday.
Bikes unpacked, no damage, but we cant get dinner at the motel restaurant as its booked out (must be ok? Or there is nothing else?) so we get advised to order room service.
Its risky but hey its 9pm in Victoria, 7pm here and we are starving Marvin!
I am pleasantly surprised by my very impressive salad.
My sleep was bad that night – no thoughts, just tossing and turning all night long.

Friday finally arrives, a whole day to get the camper, buy some food, get to Cowaramup, ride the course, work out any issues on the bikes, eat and sleep in prep for Saturday.
This all went smoothly and all day feels like its going forever, not a bad thing and no hiccups along the way.

So far, we have spent $170 at hotel Wednesday night, $70 in parking, $700 donation to K.I.D.S foundation fundraiser, oh and Norm bought something at the auction for $220, $40 for food and drink at airport, $70 for meals Thursday night at motel, $190 accommodation in Perth, $600 for the camper Friday, $100 for groceries, $40 worth of coffees and associated trinkets at a great roaster called Antz Inya Pants, $170 at Cycle Buzz and thats about it so far.

A fair total of $2370 and that does not include the $700 return airfares.
Lets just round out the entire trip all included to around $3200.

Those that travel for racing know that there is little return on investment if you were to look at dollar for dollar, the return is hard to measure and its up to you – or me in this case, to convert experience into something that money cant buy.

Most importantly we are here. We are at our destination to achieve something that we know little about yet know that if we just show up, turn the pedals over, eat and drink, stay happy, ride through the night and tick all our boxes, then I have a chance of winning and finishing what we have set out to do.

This is my simple and methodical way of looking at things that are too big to fathom in one chunk.
I just devise a plan, a recipe so to speak, tick the boxes, allow for ad lib, have some fall back plans, let Norm know emotionally how I am doing, warn him on how “not” to talk to me just in case I crack the shits.

Saturday, RACE DAY, finally arrives, and again, it feels like I have forever. We have gained 2hrs and my body clock told me its 9:30am but its really 7:30am – Bonus!
So I made sure I took my time, 2 small breakfasts, preparing clothes, just going through the process. We had plenty of people come and say hi, good luck was casual, friendly and just like a mountain bike 24 really.

Just this time we weren’t worried about mud, or dust, or tyre choice or battery burn times.

The race...

I had no idea how fast the race would start out, what teams would do but I did understand it was my sole focus to find team riders that would keep my average speed up for the longest time possible.

As we lapped around in the 2nd main bunch with an average speed was around 37kmph, it soon become apparent I should have started with my back pockets full of food and 2 bottles on my bike.

Making the most of the daylight hours, the steady pace each lap for as long as I could.
When it finally came time to grab a bottle and food, I stuffed up, no musette either and me going way too fast. I totally stuffed up. Eventually this cost me losing a bunch when I finally got it right.

I cant remember when – but I was by myself for a very long time lapping around solo trying to find a bunch that was my pace. Most were too slow or too fast, my initial bunch was probably the only bunch worth staying in.

However, most people in solo category suffered this situation a few times throughout the night.
It was imperative to work with others, get them to sit up for you as you received a feed and repay the favour.

Eventually all my hard work started to show through a knee niggle. Something I wondered about prior to the race, as it gave me grief at the Wembo 24hr champs in Italy last year.

There were so many things I got angry over early on, the not knowing, the lack of this kind of racing left Norm and I a little under done with our preparation.
For one, messages were hard to get to me, as I had to slow down to hear, or for my message to be heard by Norm.

I can't say enough how important it was to be in a bunch, like any road race, the longer you can sit in and push out less watts yet maintain a higher speed than on your own, well its just going to equal a better result over 24hrs of continuous pedalling.

And so my error revealed my weakness, the knee niggle.
As the night arrived, maybe 11pm I started to falter at an attempt to get out of the saddle.
Leaving me seated for a heck of a long time dealing with the niggle trying my hardest to avoid acknowledging it, yet being as perfect as I could with my pedal stroke to extend my pain threshold.

At this stage I had no idea of the fact that there was a race going on between Joel Nicholson, the No.1 male solo (from Victoria too!) and myself. My focus was on going as fast as I could for as long as I could and see what transpired. When the pain came on for real, and I needed tough love, Norm started to let me know that I was coming first, but now Joel was up, but it was anyones.

All I could wonder was how on earth can I race another 12hrs with this knee pain with any power or ability to put in?

So it started, the ebb and flow of pain, trying to find solutions to deal with it, voltaren tablets, voltaren gel, tiger balm, mental strength, pedalling technique, on bike stretching, off bike resting for only 1 minute at a time and of course seriously dealing with sleep monsters from around 1am – 5am.

So the next 7 or so hours of darkness I repeated to myself, “its only pain, its only pain, its only pain”...for hours on end. Followed by a stretch, a bit of a tear, a big out loud cry of pain, and then I would come good for an hour. Oh those pain free laps when I could focus on my job of riding my bike. Yes, I told myself, welcome the pain, at least its keeping you awake. The thought of giving up never occurred, it was just a constant challenge for Norm and I to work out how to get me going round and round and round until I reached 700km and to make sure I did so by the 24th hour of the race.

We had great helpers from teams, solos that had more power than me, riders who I was previously passing like they were standing still were helping me! Then there were chit chats about everything from childbirth to teenage daughters.

Apart from the pain, the hardest thing was following a wheel at night, sitting behind a rider almost mesmerised by the speed of the road, corners coming up way to quick, bitumen passing underneath you with darkness gave a weird feeling of spatial awareness. Every now and again I relished a solo lap so I could snap myself out of the trance I was in.

Hot chocolate in my bidon was like true heaven, and I asked for it a few times.
We survived the night with zip lock bags with pumpkin risotto heated up in it, chew a corner off and squeeze it in my mouth.

Finally at 6am, I could see! No more sleep monsters, but still 5hrs to go. I tried to do sums, but its just impossible to get your brain to work and I just had to stop and talk it out with Norm, apart from being in pain and just needing to get off the bike.

Norm told me that I had to keep lapping, averaging 27kmph which was actually ok, just hurt like crazy on my knee and of course my 'bits'! As I couldn’t get out of the saddle much, a lot more chaffing went on that I had planned. But as I always say, I can deal with the pain of recovery tomorrow as today its race day.

More team riders helping me out and a massive kudos to Robert Commons and co. who really really kept me going by constantly talking to me and no matter what pain I was in, didn’t allow me to focus on it or try and solve it, just kept me pedalling. Norm had obviously worded them up nicely.

With what I was told – 5 laps to go before I'd hit 700, we tapped it out at 25-26kmph and just kept going, and on what I thought was my last lap, Norm told me, no I had one more on top of that, so what do you just keep pedalling. Yes I could have probably done another 2 or 3 but I got my goal – 700km and not giving up.

  • The result - 1st female. The biggest kms travelled in the 3 rd year of this event by a female.
  • 2nd SOLO rider overall, and breaking the male record covered as well.
  • 703km – 190 laps of 3.7km

What did I get from this race?

Something that I am learning quite quickly as I get older and wiser with life experience, and that is:
Set a Goal

Engage in the process

Follow the steps with planning and perseverance

Continue to proceed forth, no matter what obstacles pop up

Open up and allow the world to engage with you and avail yourself to opportunity

See answers not problems

...and just finish what you damn well set out to do!

Along the way, you will meet amazing people, visit magical places, feel life through living out the journey, living the good life that is laid out before you and realise that there is nothing to fear – NOTHING!

Far out people – I love life, I love what is given to me so freely...and I am SO LUCKY and BLESSED to be someone that just says, “yep ok, lets do it!”
Not only that, I have a best friend, Normie boy Douglas, that is also a life long partner in my story.

Congratulations to everyone that raced this event, and of course to the winner of the Solo's Joel Nicholson who smashed it out like it was a training ride.

Thanks to Brendon Morrison for the invite – I would never have known what I was missing out on.

Of course Giant Bikes, my best support of all. Shimano Aust for my marvellous shoes and componentry and in this race my carbon tubulars. Bike Box for my Schwalbe Ultremo HT tubulars.

Jet Black products for my Light n Motion 1700 lumen lights that I used on low low low!

Here is the event website if you want to read up more:

Event results:

in the camperOn the podiumBussleton PierDuring the nightBussleton BeachFinally finishedWith Norm post presentation