With an incredible history of the most demanding conditions in 24hr racing the 2012 JetBlack Sydney 24hr was on and off my radar leading up to the event. I didn't really want to ride it, especially solo, but the trail offers enough fun to do in a team, if you don't have to ride "to much".
And so it was, a week out from the event and Shane Taylor and I started to scrounge around for team-mates, was it to late to find some keen riders to share the burden with?
Thankfully quite a few names came to mind and we began the task of locking them in. Some had better offers, including some sort of roadie ride in Victoria, but we persisted, not so much down the list , more like across, where the riders aren't ranked, they are just outside our initial scope. Thankfully we found a couple of unsuspecting comrades and the issue of ironing out the logistics became priority, we didn't want 4 3x3 shades and no chairs. Also, what was with the weather forecast, fine and forty, this was going to be a hell of a ride.
So it was we arrived at Mt Annan Botanical Gardens already warmed up with just the task of locating team-mates and setting up a suitable camp for the next 24hrs or so. Initially it was bad new on arrival, Shane Taylor had mechanical car issues and had decided to turn back in fear of not being able to return at all. We went from a rock solid elite four man to a "do we ride as three in a four category". The great event organisers RockTrail Entertainment knew of our predicament and made it easy, a category swap to the elite three man, we were happy.
Mark got us off to a very good start and Kurt went out as second man. We were putting in some solid laps and were already leading the category. It was hot, very hot and we had a plan in place for this type of conditions with a half shell kiddies pool, 20kg ice blocks, water and cool towels. With data out of the AIS saying ice vests could make a difference, it was my aim to keep the team as cool as possible.
As we hit the night and lit up our Ay-Ups it didn't cool down much. We pressed on and were building quite a buffer to the other three man teams. It probably helped being camped next to the Onya team, their enthusiasm and consistent low twenty minute laps seemed to be infectious.
Out the other side of the night laps Kurt had finally managed a couple of clean laps without a stack and our buffer had risen to four laps. Mark remained steady and mechanical free. I was loving the downtime between smacking out the teams fastest laps.
We reached the final hours of the race, I headed out on what I thought was going to be my last double lap. I caught up with Nigel from Pedal 4 Pierce who was just finishing up an epic ride of his own, Jindy to Syd via Bathurst with a 24hr in a pairs team. It was a pretty fast lap for me but I had left enough in the tank for my final lap of the double. Nigel's team-mate Craig from Flow had put the hammer down catching me before the singletrack, it was on. I punched hard through the singletrack gaining distance on the downhill and Craig would pull me back in during the climbs. We duelled through to the return stretch where Craig moved into the lead, I struggled to hold his wheel. In the final section the rubber band broke, Craig stomped away, I looked back only to recognise some of the riders from the old Bernard Team, gaining. It was time to bite the handlebars, again.
Our all ADF team, we had a representative from each service, called it at 22:59:59 well clear of the other teams in our category, happy in the knowledge this might be our only chance to finish early and still take the top step.
It was a great way to round out the year, thanks to RockyTrail Entertainment for putting on such a great event and all the other competitors for making the event such fun.
|ADCC Team - First Elite Team of Three|
Team-mate Mark Astley's 24hr blog.