I love the night...Chapter 3

nightlap1After I had secured that little 2 minute buffer, Rickie and I continued to battle but this time alone, knowing inately that we had to ride everything as the other person would be doing this too. Precious seconds turning into minutes would be lost or perhaps gained if we could ride everything on every part of the trail.

There were sections such as the long grind with loose dirt on the hurty ½ of the lap where I promised myself to ride this beyond midnight, my first walking lap was 1:00am and after that I rode it the next 3 laps angry that I gave in to my mind doing deals with me. By sunrise it was a given, walk ¾ up and get back on, the hoof marks from people walking had really churned up the soil and my right knee was starting to hurt.

After 6pm, when I had well and truly put a gap between us, another 3 laps were completed before I really needed to put my lights on.

nightclimbJet Black Products recently set me up with a great set of 1400 lumen Light & Motion Light sets, 3 in fact with loads of spare batteries.

One stayed on my spare helmet the whole time which I ended up being able to run at ½ power they were that good. This gives 5 hours of burn time!

Coupled with the same light head on my handlebars, also at ½ power I was so confident in my ability to see the trail.

With 9 hours of night riding to be done, whilst a little shorter in time than most Aussie 24hrs, is still a long time to manage your vision and take on extra weight.

The batteries & light heads added another 1.2kg to my riding weight during the night. Mainly held in the batteries themselves, the light head was barely noticeable on my helmet.

transitionnightWith my trusty set up I completed 6 laps under lights. Night laps always take a little longer, it feels different to ask the body to go at the same intensity, yes you are starting to fatigue, but you can no longer see where the end of a climb finishes, I seem to settle into an accountable meditive state. By that I mean I dont zone out but I complete a lap astounded that it went so quick or that I thought that hill was longer etc...Pedal strokes turn into laps, which turn into battery changes and then into losing count of how many laps I had even done...or even worse...how many more do I have to do?

rockyoutcropnightThere were no hiccups for us during the night laps. I deliberatly pulled up for every pit stop overnight. Norm checking my batteries, giving me some hot pasta or risotto, getting recovery shake into me, some caffeine, big teaspoons of nutella right off the spoon thanks to Sarah for that! This also added to the time increase in these laps, but for me this time, I wanted to finish with energy and recover quicker. Hold my lead now, keep my spirits high, give my body the fuel and nutrients it needs. There is no rush for me in this race. Patience and perfect riding, no crashes, no mishaps, ride as much as I can for as long as I can & then win as a result of the above.

The last world championships in 2010 held in Canberra, Australia, I felt differently, it felt like a fight, it felt more edgy and more urgent...just like I guess I should feel when trying to win my first big race!

As Ricky and I lapped around, she was doing great on the lap section I disliked and I was doing better on the other part, so by the time we were half way through the race my lead of 45 mins did not alter too much.

I cant speak for Ricky but during this time I had lapped all the other solo females and with no disrespect to their efforts, this is always a comforting time in a race.

On the note of other riders in the female solo category, I have not mentioned any other names as for me, I just listened to what Norm told me each lap, “Ricky is 30 mins down, daylight to 3rd.” No idea who was 3rd, 4th or otherwise. In fact apart from Ricky and Megan I had no idea who my competition even was. I did wonder why Norm did not keep me in the loop, I wanted to ask, but by the time I got into transition each lap I forgot.

Its funny how you have over 1 hour to think and prepare questions or requests for your pit crew only to come in, eat, drink, change batteries or bike and youre off again – within 5 minutes I would remember what I wanted to ask and think, damn...next time I MUST remember to ask and in the next 1.5hrs I would forget again.

People ask me often, what do you think of whilst racing?

Well especially at night when there is no vistas to look at, no people to see ahead and chase, everything is quiet and there is not a great deal going on in the mind, just processes. 24Hrs of process driven thoughts.

  • Am I drinking enough?

  • What gear am I in, could I go harder should I go easier?

  • How long is it taking to get to this section from transition?

  • Can I ride this section smoother?

  • Get off the brakes!

  • Ride this section and reward yourself with being world champion at the end.

  • Yes, its that horrible rocky climb again, YOU can ride it, its your mind that wants to walk. When you walk it, you will do so with your head down, it will take longer, you will feel disappointed...SO RIDE IT!

  • How many laps have I done? (no idea!)...How many laps have I got to do before its the end?

  • Who believes in me, who wished me well?

  • Norm loves me, I am so lucky.

  • I have good bikes, good lights, good support, I am blessed.

  • Winning this race is amazing but it cant beat the reality that I am riding this 24hr world championship, here in Italy, I am alive and life is just unbelieveably amazing...I am so blessed.

  • Thank you God for giving me these hard jobs to do, you believe in me so I will complete this as I know there are amazing things you want me to do for this world through my mountain bike racing.

  • Oh no – not this crappy hill again – uurrggghhh! Ok, get out of the saddle then and smash it quick. Hills hurt – yes, but if you do them quicker they hurt for a shorter time.

….and it goes on and on....

...and at 5:00am I start doing the deals with myself, my crew...how many more laps will I do, how many more times will I do that nasty climb, how many?

There is one more lap to do with lights on and then I can take them off. Thats an extra 1.2kgs of weight off my bike and vision back.

It feels like a fresh change of clothes but my knee is hurting, its a tight ITB for sure, I can feel the nerve twinging almost giving me a dead leg from ankle to knee now, I can feel pain but I also cant feel any power.

lightsoffdawnlapDay time, Day 2...its time to bring this baby home, which is soooo much easier said than done at the time.

The devil on my shoulder is now strong, she begins to mess with my process driven mind and is trying ever so hard to sabotage my best efforts and so we begin the internal battle – to finish.