Saturday, October 19, 2013

WEMBO 2013

Have been mulling over WEMBO for a couple of days now, so here we go.

The Plan
With any event it is good to have a plan, especially as a plan can be reflected on to better the next event. For WEMBO 2013 we used a modified plan that we had used for our successful 2010 WSC.

While I had good intentions on some quality block training it never came to fruition and was more sporadic, with a few good social rides and some racing thrown in. Six weeks out and issues effecting my body all year had settled down and we finally looked to my training from 2010. The idea was to make my body as efficient as possible, in the time available. Using Mark Fenner's FTP sessions and principals a six week plan was laid out. During these six weeks Sydney suffered from hot and windy weather and considering the conditions much of my FTP sessions were carried out indoors. This meant we could control the environment and left me to only worry about focusing on the session. Thankfully most sessions can be completed in an hour, where quality over quantity is the key, spin bike just aren't that fun (sorry Chops).

I still got out on my mountain bike for some fun to either razz around single-track or make some noise amongst a road bunch. It is important to keep it fun.
Throughout the year we have also been involved with many challenge-through-adversity situations giving myself insights, tools and much of the required mental preparation needed for racing a bike for 24hrs.

The Event
Pre-race is all about preparation and relaxation. For us it involved trying to get up as late as possible, very hard when your body clock is set to go off at 6am. Getting to Stromlo with sufficient time to arrange our pit/crew area. Hydrate, ablute, dress, chamois cream, sun cream and the nerves start to kick in. Roll around, high fives, good-lucks, all the time the commentators are trying to build the atmosphere and for a sobering minute before the start of the race we reflect on previous days accident.

The race
Initially I planned on two phases during the event, one being the cruise around for 18hrs and the second being the six hour race to the finish. This year there were clearly 3 phases.

Elite riders five minutes in.
Phase One
With the elite riders already ten minutes ahead we were released onto the Stromlo trail, there was a bit of a rush but I resisted and fell in beside Canberra local and in-race commentator Grantley. This phase initially consisted of me sussing out the trail, sorting the lines, soft pedalling and making the most of the flowing sections. Less braking equals less pedalling, and with a little wind on our backs I was managing to pump and roll an entire single-track section each lap, saving my legs for later use. It was close to the four hour mark when Ed, the leading Elite rider, passed us and seemed like an age till the other Elite contendors caught us.

Other highlights included a noisy dry chain, bike swap, a slow leaking rear tyre, stop and pump it up, bike swap followed by a further bike swap to the dually as the rocky, breaking rut filled course started taking its toll. My crew were now in a rhythm with my hourly needs and things were ticking along like clockwork. With lights on and I waited as long as possible before turning them on, we where off cruising into the night.

Phase Two
Around the 14-16th laps I was struggling physically, on the main climb my body was just wanting to sleep. I tried to counter this with caffeinated gels, which has worked before, but they didn't seem to have an effect. Thankfully hitting the top of the hill and the first downhill section adrenaline kicked in and the remainder of the lap didn't seem to be an issue. Still the falling asleep on the bike wasn't a great time and I was forced to step off multiple times during the climbs to refocus and eat. Through the haze of phase two I do remember plenty of offers by passing riders but I was fighting my own internal battle.

Phase Three
The final phase started when the sun peeked over the horizon and the dawn light reached across the sky and touched the mountain. It was like a switch in me, I felt instantly activated, focused and with raring to go. The turtle had become the hare. I came screaming into my pits, way ahead of time with demands of water and gels, my crew scrambled. I needed to know where I was sitting and my deficit to the next rider, transitioning through the pit area I heard there was a fair chunk of time to make up. Kicking a couple of gears the six hour sprint to the finish was on.
Over the few hours I felt I was on fire, there was nobody I couldn't catch. Every time I looked up the trail there was another possible target and I caught everyone I saw. The time gap to the next rider had dropped, quite significantly and my crew were hoping no one was going to notice. Making our way into the final few hours things were getting close, I got the "give-it-your-all" call and over these laps I surprised myself in passing many riders I thought I'd never see.

Reaching the final descent, only minutes till the finish and it was only empty trail that I could see. Popping the last few tabletops and rounding the 4X track I sprinted the last few hundred meters, after all it had been a race. Immediately after crossing the line I heard Sam Moffit's voice, Sam had been the rider I had been chasing for the last six hours. It had been a fine effort and Sam had managed to hold a two minute gap at the end of 24hrs of WEMBO.

Post-race at a 24hr is just as important as the racing and having experienced some bad post race effects I was keen to make right. My crew were on hand with a liquid protein meal replacement as I rolled the legs around for ten minutes. Heading to our pit area I was relieved to sit down for the first time in over 25hrs and finally tuck into a rice meal, mmm real food. There was still a queazy couple of moments while waiting for a shower, due to possible dehydration and over-exertion my body was having an attempt at shutting down. After removing a later or two of Stromlo dust it was back to rest and hydrate. Hopefully with a week of recovery rides and racing within a couple of weeks.

Thanks again to my support crew and Mark's crew for their help. Thanks to all those who have helped me this year to make it all happen. CORC and WEMBO for running a smooth event. Congratulations to Jason English and Jess Douglas our WEMBO Champions, not forgetting those who deserve an honourable mention by taking out the age group titles.

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