World 24hr Solo Champs - Finale Ligure - Race start. Chapter 1

race start 

Where to start?
What do my readers want to know?
What can I tell you that you dont know already?
Perhaps I write a story “documentry style” - a blow by blow account of the race?

Here goes...

Chapter 1 – Before the race.

We arrived at the race village around 10:30am, the race started at 1pm.
It was cold, about 18 degrees with light drizzle, which I did not mind at all.
I spent the next hour visiting the portaloos – there goes 2kg!

I then got started on warming up the mind, preparing the body and getting some liquid carbs in, Torq recovery Strawberries & cream.
Listening to my Doof Doof mix on my ipod with Kickstarts by Example really hitting a spot in my adrenal glands.

I felt pretty relaxed, not focussed at all on the next 24hrs or who my competition was, just me, the trails, the bike, my support, the nutrition, the PLAN.

There is nothing more I can do at this stage to improve my chances, I've done it all.
Now the nerves are only there because the start is iminent but seems to be taking forever to arrive.



Norm asked me to take my bike for a spin, check the gears out, brakes, ride and spin, be happy and warm up a bit.

Tunes in the ear, kitted up, bike feeling fine, I am still a bit amazed that here I am in Italy, Finale Ligure, about to race a World solo 24hr MTB championship and I believe already that I am the winner.

I can see it, feel it, just need to ride it, but dont want to rush it, wanting the moment to last forever. Its like a taste in my mouth from some awesome meal that I just want to have again and not finish.

I promised myself that I would not take any moment for granted, that I would savour the experience and I am, its just too easy to feel this good.

The clouds are still covering the sun, but my back is warm with the glow of my inner peace and happiness.



Its 12:30pm, the race briefing is given in English and Italian.

Whilst I understood what I had to do to win, I also knew that I had my Normie “boy” Douglas at the helm looking after my every need and that he would tell me anything new that may pop up. He is pretty good at what he does, its a true gift to have a support crew like him.

Before too long it gets to that time when you know there is no turning back, its time to submit, time to just hand it over, you no longer have control, you have entered what you have signed up for and getting the start over and done with is the thing you want to get done and dusted asap.

Even though I try my hardest to settle my mind and body for what is to come, the nerves are there, butterflies in the pit of the stomach have me wishing for one last toilet stop.

I always say that 24hrs will pass regardless of how I manage my race, so just let it happen.

I think personally the best way for me to handle the race is to do ALL my preparation before the day and have played out my race in my head over and over, like a rehearsal. If I am well practised in my craft before performance day then I can easily ad lib with ease and any hiccups along the way are easily covered up and made up for.

We are all asked to line our bikes up “Le Mans style” and proceed to the start for a 150mt -200mt run. The countdown occurs in Italian then the final countdown in English and we were off. Elbows out, trying to run fast but more so just keeping your available space at all times. As I was running I thought, damn, I am in the big chain ring and within meters of grabbing my bike is the steep ramp up the stage, best I change gears as soon as I grab my bike. Whilst it cost me a couple of seconds, I got up the ramp no probs.

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I must say I wasnt really in a “prime” position and had to hustle myself forward in the pack. Some good runners I guess and pushy Euro's? It wasnt long before I was feeling comfortable, perhaps too comfortable but it was near impossible to pass in single track with 10 or so in front that eventually I passed further into the prologue lap. So it ended it up being Ricky Cotter from the UK & I and we were having a great time.

sportograf-27376632 lowresHappy times to come and feeling settled. At this stage I am already thinking of my game plan, watching, listening, tuning into any hints of weaknesses of my friendly opponent. I like Rickie, I admire her, we chat, riding like mates, but of course she wants to win and so do I. Its like a road race where you are the breakaway and help each other out, no attacking if the other mucks up but knowing the whole time that one of you is waiting for the pounce.

The start is probably the hardest part of the race, settling into a 6hr race pace is comforting, finding out who your competition is and being able to see her every move adds to the pure delight of racing this 24hr world solo champs.

...and so the race unfolds.