Red Bull Bushrangers 12hr SOLO fun time at Jubberland

Red Bull Bushrangers 12hr MTB Enduro at Jubberland, Castlemaine, September 26th 2015. 


The short notice of the 12hr race held an appeal for me in many aspects.
I had been methodically training since my return from Italy at the start of June.
With already eleven weeks of training and progression and the aim to turn up to the Aussie national 24hr solo champs on October 10th & 11th the timing of this event was almost perfect.

It was decided that a good 12hr hit out on the mountain bike would serve well as a big load training day with much to observe, learn and test out.

The crew at Red Bull put on a party and threw in a hugely discounted $10 entry fee.
Any course set out at Jubberland, a private property near Castlemaine, is going to be tough.  It is technical with tight rocky climbs and many rocky steps and drops to contend with.  On the up side, a lap regardless of the actual time it took, went fast, for there was a lot of thinking and concentration to engage in.  This kind of course excites me and on race day it didn't disappoint. 

Norm and I arrived just before 9am, set up the marquee and got prepped to start racing.
No reccy lap, not even a warm up and I almost forgot to test the bikes out before going to the start line.
Today I had no idea if I there were other solo females or what was going on, but in the end the grand plan was to focus on racing me, see what I would come up against as far as my inner self was concerned and precisely where was my race form physically and mentally as well as how Norm and I would deal with each under as the race wore on.

At 10am the race started, the sun was out, no need for arm warmers or a thermal top, all was warming up.  The beginning of the first lap was up a dirt road and down onto a double track that was fast, and dusty.  It took us straight into single track.  

I personally love it when we hit the trails, the lines form, order starts to naturally form as the flurry of the first five minutes settles. 
The first lap was to be repeated for approximately 2hrs, it was around 8.5km long, slightly less technical and of course faster.  As always, heart rate was up, twitchiness up, ability to drink non existent, ability to talk also sub optimal and then Lap 1 was done.  About a 35 minute lap for me and no dramas, passing people and being passed myself.  

It never surprises me how quick that first 2 hours does go.

By the second lap, I was drinking, the day was warming up and from then on each lap my bottle was empty and I was constantly thirsty.  Norm gave me little bits of food to eat each lap and we were soon onto the middle lap, 12km long and for 8hrs of the race we lapped around this course.

I can safely say, and did repeat this to many on the day including organiser Allister Payne, that this was indeed the hardest 12hr course I had done.
As the course changed, so did the number of pinch climbs and steep rocky drop descents as well as a revisit to some old parts of Jubberland that I had raced in years gone past.

The heat of the day really took its toll around 2:30pm for me, with my laps slowing and my legs feeling numb leaving my heart rate to drop considerably.  I described it as my radiator overheating and I just had to ease up for it to work again and drink lots.  


I was not the only one to describe this during the middle of the race, most of us were feeling the heat and intensity of the course.  My default reaction to this was to accept it and know it would pass. 
Through experience I understood it was not possible for me to feel awesome right now, but to keep pedalling, to keep engaged, to go as hard as I could even when I thought I wasn’t to just do it anyway for if I allow myself to say, “Jess you are riding crap, so slow, gee you are hurting aren't you, just ease up eh?”, then what chance have I got of at least giving it a go and seeing if I cant convince myself otherwise right?

I had other riders around me to remind me of my pace, including Fraser Marshall whom I passed in the mid afternoon. He and I are great for each other, able to pace and push to get a better result. 
As I passed him, he hung on and we rode within about 10-15 meters of each other for about a lap.
I am not sure if the sun started to lose its heat or the pressure paid off but I found that extra oomph and as we went through transition again I just jumped on the chance to gain another 10 meters on Fraser. 
It was going to fun if he would hang on and do the same, but that was it, with that move I was gone and had to start chasing other wheels instead of being chased down.

In that lap I felt awesome.
There was no pain.
My legs were powerful.
My mind engaged.
My body pain free. 
When this happens I have a rule, “Do not hold back,  just go with it for it too shall pass.”

As the sun dipped, my energy soared through the roof and it made Norm very excited to see me smash myself silly.
I felt amazing for about 5 hours.  I mean, no back ache, no feeling of cramping, no leg soreness, no brain fade, no “ I wish this was finished”, just plain brilliant.

This is where I will let you in on how magic it felt to be out on the course from around 5:30pm - 7:30pm and beyond.

The sun was dipping with the golden glow starting to shimmer its way through the native bushland we were racing on.  At this point I know I am truly blessed to be alive, I feel ‘at one’ with the world and my purpose.  Riding my bike seems to bring out the best in me, my thoughts become visions for the future, solutions to challenges, leaving me feeling energised from deep in my soul.  Its pretty spiritual but I am certain that I am not alone.

As the sunset wore on, the intensity of the oranges turned into a deep red sky.  The horizon could have been mistaken for a glowing roaring bushfire coming our way.  Many times I wanted to stop and take a photo and pop it straight onto Instagram right there and then, but I kept riding and cached it in my memory.

And as the sun set in the west, the moon rose in the east.  It was almost a full moon and gave the impression that were were riding the course with a massive flood light above us.   Again I was gobsmacked at my blessing of being on my bike experiencing natures rhythm at its best, and it was like I had ridden my bike into alignment with the sun and the moon.

I was pumping. 
Norm was stoked.
I loved riding my bike.
It was hard, but I was loving it.

At around three hours to go, I came across Tobias who was helping Jason Archer with a flat. I offered my Co2 and pump, made sure all was good and continued riding.  Here we were, 1st and 2nd male solo and 1st female solo making sure we were all good.  This is one of the many reasons racing the mountain bike is so fun, the people, the support and care we have for each other.  

Now it wouldn't be normal of me to not think about my future on this lap now that I handed over my tools but then I reminded myself that the puncture Gods would look over me.

Hahaha! I then hit a rock and heard sealant leaking from my tyre.  Very slowly, so I kept pedalling and every now and again it would seal, then it would unseal.  I nursed it back to transition and swapped it over - all good. Phew.
Jason Archer made it back too, but little did I know he had another mechanical later on in the race.

We started the shortest of the three laps, about 4.5km long and around 14 minutes for me to complete a lap.
Funnily enough, doing a short lap was tough.  The first 3 or 4 I smashed out fast, then realised this is going to go on a bit, I think I would rather be sent out on a big lap and only have 2 or 3 to finish off. 

Just like I told myself at the start, 12 hours goes fast. There is little time to waste and tomorrow will be here before you know it. 
Just ride, just do your best, have no regrets and enjoy each pedal stroke that you are gifted with.

…and so it was true, 12 hours came and went and I was done, presentations done, smiles all round and a drive home to bed.

I won the womens Solo category with 20 laps, which incidently put me in 3rd solo mens too.

Norm had a ball and we even took Maxie boy who I could hear barking support sometimes for the first five minutes of each lap I went out on.

As much as it hurts doing these races I can only liken them to deep meditation or a rite of passage.  The clarity of the suffering doesn't come easy, you have to ride into it and only then do you find yourself.  You see how lucky you are, how wonderful life is, how brilliant riding your bike is, how precious time really is and how quickly it does go.

So when people ask me how do I actually ‘race’ these events, it is me I am racing with, even if there is a competitor that I would like to beat, in essence I can only win if I am in tune with myself and when this happens, regardless of the result, I feel I have won. 

In less than 2 weeks now I will be racing the Australian Solo 24hr MTB championships at Mt Stromlo alongside the annual Scott 24hr.  

There are 3 world champ jerseys in my wardrobe, but I only have 2 aussie champ ones and at 42 it would be pretty special to pull of the win, so thats my plan.  Of course I cannot control my competition, so the race is never won until the end…and so thats my commitment to be there until the end.

Some stats from the 12hr race on the weekend.

  • I drank approx 12 litres made up of:
  • Torq energy powder - 1 small scoop
  • Hi5 grapefruit caffeine tablet x 1
  • Coconut water x 60ml
  • Red Bull x 30ml
  • Water - to fill up the 650ml bidon 

I knew I would not want to eat much so needed more carbs and better hydration from drinking.
With coconut water in the mix I have found that I must use my drink better for I never feel like going to the toilet and I have done last years 24hr at the Scott with the same result. 

  • I ate about 5 dates with cashew butter. 
  • 4 bits of white bread with peanut butter and a couple with vegemite. 
  • Some raspberry liquorice.
  • 2 Peach fruit cups and juice.
  • 2 cans of red bull- some straight and some with water over the period of the race.
  • Pureed baby food fruit mix in a squeeze tube(apples with oats)
  • 1/2 a bonk bar
  • 1 torq gel

My Shimano XTR Di2 was already 1 bar down on the battery console upon starting.
Since the race it lost one more bar, with 3 out of 5 to go.
I have also ridden another 30 km since the race on single track.  

The song that was in my head like on a repeat was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Downtown and the line that kept popping up and I would sing and giggle at was,
“If I only had one helmet I would give it to you, give it to you.
Cruising down Broadway, girl, what a wonderful view, wonderful view.
There's layers to this shit player, tiramisu, tiramisu”