Without knowing how my body would react to any sort of activity, I though that I could at least be prepared for the competition, of which 200 entrants had braved the start. Jess Douglas, the reigning 24hr Solo World Champion, is tough to beat at the best of times and I wasn't sure if her name on the start list made me apprehensive of the pressure to race against her, or pleased at the thought of some company in the first few hours.. It turned out to be a pleasant mixture of both. Having a wheel to follow is under-rated, not to mention Jess' flowing riding style, and it seemed that she would continuously turn my negative words to something positive before I even finished my sentences! As she continued to chat away, I became quiet. Perhaps she didn't realise that I was beginning to suffer behind her...
At about the two hour mark the bodily pain I used to feel when I started MTB'ing three years ago was resounding. My forearms, wrists, shoulders and lower back began to hurt and I wondered if this is what the casual rider feels when they attempt something like a 6hr when under-done? At this point I wished I had bought my TREK Top Fuel 9.9 (Dually) with me to ease the wrath of the beaten track. At the end of the fourth lap Jess' tempo began to hurt me, and I dropped off briefly before chasing back on. I knew the longer I held her for, the less time I would have to spend on my own. I could finally feel my legs on the fifth lap, and really battled to keep with her through to transition, where I stopped, ate, drank, and gave in to everything for the remainder of the day.
My mind and body had gone into shutdown. Not a shutdown relating to nutrition or hydration, but simply my body remembering that it wasn't prepared for this sort of prolonged effort today. I suppose you can only expect so much from a cog when it hasn't been turned in a while, although I had fed the cog plenty of oil while in America! It was timely at this point in the race that I caught up with two life-long friends, Darren Spiteri and Shaun Cattanach. I grew up with these guys in sport and have known them for more than 10 years, and was excited to spend my final three hours in their company. We talked, laughed, crashed and walked together and I remembered what it was like to focus on the presence of friends as opposed to the countdown of the clock...
In the end I still managed to finish second behind Jess, and we all got to go home with these amazing hand crafted trophies, made and designed by local Lenny Van Berkel from left over bike parts. I was a little disappointed that I didn't finish first or third though as my trophy was the only one who's top didn't spin; that's the child in me coming out again! Can't wait for next year :)
In other Moroni's news, Chris Hamilton finished his first 6hr race in 7th, Jarrod in 8th and Peter Casey in 9th. Ev was fifth in Solo Women, while in the Triples 40+, Peter Moroni, Keith Hamilton and John Harvey were also fifth.
Results: Blores Hill 6hr
Garmin: Peta Mullens
Photos: Courtesy of Gippsland MTB Club
Media: Courtesy of Russ Mullo