On Easter Sunday I kicked back with a cooling cider in my hand and thought “ I wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world”. Yes, I could barely hold said cider after the pummeling my hands received in 150ks of the Hiddenvale trails. Not to mention the tenderness in the saddle-area which meant I was ‘kicking back’ in a most awkward manner. Dust was seeping out of my tear ducts and my apparent lack of kidney activity was slightly concerning. But here I was surrounded by kindred spirits who had not just voluntarily submitted to the punishment of a 24 hour race, but invited their families along to camp over the long weekend and watch their beloved’s physical and mental decline.
After winning the 24 Solo at Hiddenvale a few years ago I accepted the invitation (read: dare) from Luke Lucas to partner him in a mixed pair. Half the time, half the pain was the rationale which proved incorrect in the end. I’d say there is a threshold around 7 riding hours when you are experiencing all the discomfort that is humanly possible and any further riding maintains the status quo rather than exacerbating it. At least a solo effort keeps you occupied, whereas the alternate lap strategy we adopted left me with a whole hour to anticipate the agony…I mean look forward to the sweet trails. The allure of a scalding, cleansing shower is there, which, once taken, discourages the replacement of chamois on swollen cheeks and sweaty helmet on tired head.
Doing the team-thing is a hell of a lot more social though and I was adopted by two 4-person teams, the MAMILS and Sleepless In The Saddle who had a very professional setup and a ‘never say die’ spirit which saw them send a rider back out on course with only 18 seconds left in regulation time. Swapping stories, trash talking and fantasizing about post race food and beverage consumption – this is what 24 hour teams racing is about. The rest of the time was spent hanging out at Luke’s Kona team tent near the start line, waiting for the timing-chip toss. Our race plan was ‘fluid’ with our night laps going from 4-lap stints, to two, to three and finally to “I’ll see you sometime after 6am and good coffee”. Grabbing a few hours kip in the back of my Honda Jazz I fashioned a bed out of a sleeping bag, yoga mat and some rolled up clothes for a pillow. Possibly not a use the vehicle engineers considered when installing fold-flat seats.
We had accumulated a good lead meaning extra laps were unnecessary but it didn’t feel like a proper 24 hour without some laps in the morning. I was surprised at how good the legs felt climbing up the Escalator trail and thought I might have more in me. Unfortunately my hands, already feeling the hurt from a big week doling out massages, packed it in after 9 laps leaving Luke to smash out our final lap and claim victory.
Rock Bottom trail
Jungle Bean double shot soy lattes
Fried egg sandwich breakfast and the food tent lady with the gluten-free bread
Luke Lucas’ genuine excitement at standing on the top step in his fluorescent yellow podium shoes
Unforgiving XC grips
Running out of chamois cream at 7pm
The sighting of not one, but two snakes on track during the night laps
Just a fantastic event and am disappointed I didn’t bring my daughter as there were plenty of kids making use of the jumping castle, doing the kids race and just generally getting around the wide open spaces on their dirt bikes. More of it!
Thanks to sponsors: Giant Bikes, For The Riders, Ride Mechanic, Shotz, NS Dynamics, SRAM, Schwalbe & PCS Coaching.