The first 6hrs...a race in itself. Chapter 2


After Ricky & I settled into our race, we lapped together, sometimes I would be at the front sometimes she would.

As I would come through transition, I would always take a few moments to pick up food or drink, it seemed that Ricky would gain about 20-30 seconds in this time. I never worried about it, as I would be on her wheel before long keeping my same pace. I was very concious of expending more energy than I needed. Patience. Not to worry at all – let Ricky do her thing knowing that I had a plan that I needed to stick to. I was confident of this every meter of every lap.

The course went through transition twice, the laps in total were over an hour long from the word go for us. This was with fresh legs and rideable track.
The first part of the lap was out on harder packed limestone cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea.


The view had to be looked at even if only momentarily each lap. The water is sapphire blue and still.

There are several sections in this lap that mess with your mind and several that give you so much love that you forget that the next bit coming up requires 100% effort. Whilst this makes for tough riding and mentally taxing, the brainwashing effect that occurs is just what is needed to smash this lap out nice and quick. It was always the lap I did not mind, or should I say looked forward to.

jessrickyhurtOn the climbs Ricky was pounding down on the pedals, she was really smacking them, it was good for me, as my climbing legs were non existent today so I would just keep in contact with her back wheel as best I could. Then we would hit the descents and I was back on her wheel. It was perfect. Keeping my heart rate and efforts just off limit then recovering nicely on the downs instead of attacking.

bermsectionWe would hit the bermed section on the return to transition and if Ricky was ahead it was the magic spot where I would have some fun and catch back up again ready for the 2nd half of the lap which had far less desireable characteristics about it.

Our transition area was tough for a normal run through, too short, bumpy ground, straight into a down ramp where you needed both hands on the handlebars. To make it more difficult Norm was trying to do everything by himself in this short 5 meter section. I had to stop to do safe and relaxed bottle swap overs and grab some food. It was only 15 – 20 seconds and it probably was good in this early part of the race. For every moment I was resting my opponent was riding. Sure I may have been able to pull away never know, but this was my 2nd child, the relaxed approach to winning a World championship. Patience and Planning and putting in effort only when effort is needed.

I did suggest that Norm may need to employ the services of a 2nd helper which he eventually did in Sarah O'Callaghan.

The next part of the lap started out very very fun, tight twisty single track, flow flow flow, I enjoyed this in the wet, at night, when I was tired and even on my last 2 laps I was smashing it through here.

The ground surface was loose dirt with roots that helped bring your back wheel around, little drops that you could launch off, the kind of fun any mountain biker looks for in a ride or race.

This trail had my bearings totally off kilter every time, really not having any idea where I was at any moment and normally I can feel a loop or a right hander turning south, but no, I was just passively following trails not caring until I popped back out to transition.

Amongst the lefts and the rights, ups and downs, we entered sections of private property, cutting through farms, camping grounds and who knows what and there was a dog hanging out on the road on lap 1 and 2 that I was sure would get pummelled but no, cute little toy dog was quite content sitting in the middle of this said road.

On this hellish lap, much fun was still to be had with trails etched into the hill side, reminding me of euro style world cup XCO races I have watched, fairly techie for a solo 24hr course. A beautful rocky outcrop had to be negotiated too, with a steep descent on the other side but with a view to sheild any discomfort momentarily.

I can honestly say that this lap had a section of trail that had even Jason English deciding on occasion to walk. It was a nasty steep grade climb that was freshly whipper snipped into the hillside. As footsteps overtook tyre marks on the track it became even harder to ride. I timed it (to take my mind off the effort and to reassure myself it was worth doing) and it took only 1 min to ride, about 1 ½ to 2 mins to walk and even going in my easiest gear in my 2 x 10 it was a climb that had me putting in 100% everytime. Ricky and I rode it every lap we did together.

After this section the track was still a maze of up a double track, turn right into a fast downhill, up a double track – repeat. I lost count of how many of these we had to do but I knew when I had 2 more to do before transition. The last one was the nastiest and was a grind, actually it was single track but it did not really wind up, it just went straight up then turned right into the magic formula of down.

bestrockypicjessThis half of the lap was the bit that took the longest in time. It was the toughest on the body and really played with my mind. Post race and during the race as well, many riders were very open to explaiming their displeasure of having to finish off their lap with this piece of work.

As I sit here and type I have the timing sheet in front of me and can easily relive each lap.

Lap 1, Proglogue lap which is the nasty one that I just desribed. Jess 34:33. Ricky 34:36

Lap 2, Full lap of all of the above. Ricky and I now settle in and find our place in the race, passing many who started ahead of us still, no one passing us as yet. Watching Ricky climb, I decide to settle in behind her good form focusing on saving energy. Looking for signs of weakness early, making mental notes constantly like a nurse checking vital signs on a patient every hour. Tick boxes are being created. Looking for spots to drink every lap too.
Jess 1:05:26. Ricky 1:05:25

Lap 3, Still lapping well, I was really enjoying myself now. Ricky is having a ball too. Life is good. Bike is good, trails are awesome. Really settled and feeling comfortable. Watching for her strengths and weaknesses. Ricky smashing out all climbs, me conservative but finding lots of recovery in descending. No sign of any fatigue in Ricky, she is still chirpy and a good talker too! (thanks Ricky) I am seeing that for no extra effort I am catching her as the trail points down. Seeing massive efforts being put in on climbs by Ricky, I figure if she can win it doing this, then well done, but not sure its possible for 24hrs yet confident I can keep this pace going over and over and over again.
Jess 1:07:33. Ricky 1:07:10

Lap 4, Repeat the same but this time I am seeing that Ricky only gains 2 meters on each long climb, not 10 or 15 as she was previously, seeing lots of upper body movement, pulling on handlebars, stomping on pedals. braking whilst behind her on descents, maybe its time to get in front on a few more descents and test the waters. Ok...I am pulling away a little so no need to put in on these climbs, let Ricky do her thing and the time will come soon enough.
Jess 1:08:27. Ricky 1:08:27

Lap 5, Again, we lap around as before. No talking now. Just a few words, passing people who we are lapping already. I take the front a lot more this time and make the effort to be in front before the final descent into the berms and ride on the rivet a bit here, really having a crack at the 30+ bermed corners to see what comes of it.
I arrive at transition, no Ricky, where is she? I have dropped her.
Jess 1:09:14. Ricky 1:09:37

Lap 6, That renewed energy you get when you make a move in a race, the defining moment. Oh wow, did I just have a massive boost of energy! Smiling on the inside, finding the flow, popping it into the big dog, getting out of the saddle – badah boom! Had to be careful not to bust myself a new backside, but still feeling the adrenaline rush of a subtle well planned attack taking place. Enjoying the control.
The easiest and most fun lap I did all race.
Jess 1:10:03 Ricky 1:12:02

We are nearly 6 hours into the race now, this is where I really feel good and I know I can win, for sure, 100% and its the part in the race that I live for. The mental images come flooding into my mind, the ones that I had rehearsed over and over. I cant wait until night time, I love the night.