All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

24hrs of Exposure - Race report

Often when writing a race report I try to be upbeat if it went wrong or down play it a bit if it goes well.  Well this one may be a little odd as it was going well and then went complete ares up in no time at all.

Coming into the 24hrs of Exposure I was confident of one thing, I am very strong on the bike now for endurance racing I have put in the time on the bike and looked after any niggles in the body as soon as they arise.  So I was confident coming into the race of doing well, not cocky though.  Too much can go wrong in a 24hr to ever be cocky or to ever have a favorite coming into one.

After arriving Friday night, relaxing a bit and catching up with Phil, Shaggy, Mel, and Matt, Nik and I headed to bed.  In the morning, we would sort the pit a bit more, Phil and I did recce loop of the track at a casual pace and thought it to be Ok.  I made a gear change to the singles going from 32/20 ratio to a 32/18 ratio as the course wasn't too steep or had any big climbs, until the rain came down this was a good choice, although was changed by Shaggy as the rain changed the game later on.

So after milling around for a bit, 12 o'clock approached and we were soon off and Phil and I found ourselves lapping comfortably at the same speed, so I settled in for the long haul.  As the hours ticked by, positions changed, the lap times settled down a bit and I certainly found my rhythm.  Although I did get caught up a couple of times for a few minutes in mini battles with other riders, it was mainly to keep a fluid rhythm on the single, I did remain settled and calm.

More laps ticked by and I had a good strategy for the heavier or slippery climbs, I was refueling well and keeping my stops to a minimum.  Phil and I would lose contact then join up again as we rode our own races and as per normal everyone encouraged each other along.

As I pushed on I felt strong, calm and just kept to my own race plan. Soon it was lights on as the sun started to set, this is the time I love riding into the night is fantastic.  As I ride so much at night to train, I always looked forward to this phase of a 24hr.

Lights on and some more food in and I was off, same tempo cheery and still smiling.  Phil and I again synced up on course and saw an amazing sunset as we crossed through some of the thinner parts of the forest.  We lost contact through a slippery of camber section as his fat tyres gripped the surface and the guy in between us refused to let me pass. Oh well, I passed the next climb.

I was starting to feel the cold as I finished the lap and could see the rain clouds rolling in. I stopped, ate a bit more, got my leg warmers and a waterproof on as the clouds dropped every millimeter of their payload.  As the rain eased I headed out, even a little happier know it was dark and wet.  I had asked Nik and Shaggy to change my gear ratio back to 32/20 as the course hadn't really dried out and now I was spinning a little easier.

This nest lap went as well as the others and I felt quite good, but was still feeling cold, so decided I would stop again and change my baselayer, jersey and arm warmers for a base layer and light jacket. As I rolled in the team swung into motion, Shaggy changed garmin and lights from Toad to Tonka and Nik grabbed my dry clothes as I ate some more.

In a few minutes it was time to hit the course again, I felt focused, but apparently seemed elsewhere.  But it didn't take much to get me back on the bike, I was feeling good despite a little cold.  But the dry clothes will fix that, right.

I headed off down the course and in about 300m's, I blacked out for a second, I woke up veering sideways.  I fired in a couple of caffeine gels and continued on.  A few minutes later the same thing again.  I put some more food in an entire Mule Bar, backed off a little but kept going.  I kept having these black outs.  I slowed a bit more, to the point it was quicker and certainly safer to walk.

I walked about a mile, having eaten and drunk a bit more hoping this would pass.  But it continued, by the time I got to the next marshal I was a mess.  I don't think I made much sense to the marshal, as he had to ask me if I want to quit.  I said "yes".  He kept me there for a few minutes then sent me down the road to the next marshal, he checked I was alright and sent on to the next one and then it was direct to the event village.

I made it back to the pit, where Shaggy and Nik, were surprised to see me, but concerned about me. I dropped the bike and collapsed on the ground.  I recall them both talking to me, but not what they were saying.  I think I just kept saying "no", which was probably the wrong answer.  After sometime, Nik managed to sort me and some gear out and stick me in a shower.  I think I was in there for sometime. Even after the shower and more food I was very wobble, not terribly lucid and just wanted to go to bed.

In the morning I was still feeling terrible, but did my best to cheer those on, still racing from the stability of a chair in our pit and wrapped in lots of clothes feeling a bit cold and exhausted still. Soon the other started to wake up and I thanked them for their help and support and congratulated Phil and a great ride and 2nd in the Fatbike category.

Slowly as the morning wore on I became more lucid, but still felt like I had raced an entire 24hr, not just 10hrs of it.  A few days later I still feel exhausted, but my legs, arms and shoulders feel as if they have one nothing.  Which is unusual even a few days after a hard 4hr race.

I had to abandon two 24hrs last year, but the reason where clear in those.  One I was only 10 weeks back from a serious back injury and the other was due to tearing a bunch of tendons in my left wrist.  This was different, we worked out I had eaten and drunk well.  I am pretty confident I changed before the cold would cause any issues as I wasn't shivering and I had managed to avoid the drenching rain.  So the body shutting down in the manner and at the speed it did is a slight mystery as I don't feel ill.  The only conclusion that makes any sense is purely the fact that Nik and I have both been so busy for the past few months that I truly ignored how much this would take out of me.  Apparently a hell of a lot and when the body says enough is enough, it means it and you can't argue.

There was a lot of good, how strong I felt on the bike and how easier everything felt, the food we had I wanted to eat and continued to do so.  The bikes ran very well and a complete overhaul is wise in the weeks leading up to a big race as it boosts your confidence in you machines and makes pit management a bit easier.  Staying on the bike when pitting if you have no reason to get off works really well.  For the rest I year I can get back to enjoying cycling as I have a massive base now and this should take some stress of and give me more time for rest.

Massive thanks to Nik and Shaggy for keeping me going and being supportive. Thanks to Phil for some company and encouragement on course. :)  Mel, Katie, Paul H, Les and everyone who offers us lunatics encouragement and support.

Thanks to Cyclework, Weldtite and Alpkit for your support and I promise the season will improve.

Thanks to SIP Events, for another great event and all you staff for their great help.

Matt Carr, tell us a joke. ;)

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