Sunday, May 29, 2011

Merida 24 hour - Hiddenvale

Every time someone asks how I train for a 24 hour, I just laugh – I’d never want to train for one of these! Again, I entered on a whim as I finally felt fit after the Cape Epic, the track sounded fun, and I looked forward to the social atmosphere. I love catching up with riders and seeing familiar faces I’d missed when racing away from home. Meeting new riders is also great, especially the local girls who have been hitting it up (and snapping at my heels!). Unfortunately Rachel Edwards, the race favourite, withdrew early after battling a virus all week. A big thanks to her partner though who was a great help during my night laps when my pit crew had too many beers and went to bed!

The distance of the race was not my biggest concern, it was the concept of staying awake all night. I get very sooky when I’m sleep deprived and have actually curled up in the backseats of a Tina Turner concert when my eyelids just wouldn’t stay open. A coffee addict, I restricted myself to one in the morning and saved the double espressos for the dark hours. With two ipods I had a soundtrack of some lounge trance for the early evening which was magical. Railing the singletrack with a 700 lumens Niterider, possums, a sugar glider and some Armin Van Buuren – it doesn’t get any better.

At midnight it was time for some banging house tunes, pizza and chocolate – anything to keep me happy and awake. The chocolate turned out to be a mistake, although a delicious one. 3am to 6am was the hardest time to keep going. It was 4 degrees, my arms were smashed and I was regretting wearing bib knicks. Trying to undress to go to the bathroom with jacket, arm warmers, light and ipod cables going everywhere and being slightly delirious – it must have been hilarious to watch.

Sunrise brought a temporary new lease on life and I cranked out a quickish lap fueled on fresh Arabica. By 8am I was 8 laps up on the next female and 3 laps up on the open man. After an earlier crash my derailleur cage was bent so I thankfully took the opportunity to retire despite the lovely race mechanic threatening to fix it.

Seeming to escape too much damage I noticed I was a bit ‘puffy’ in my hands and feet and developed a bit of a headache. It wasn’t until the next day I realized I had a mild case of hyponatraemia. I’d run out of Shotz electrolyte tablets and injested 8-10 litres of plain water during the race, stuffing up my sodium levels so my body cells started retaining water, including my brain cells, causing the stabbing pain in my skull. On a steady diet of vegemite and restricting my water intake, it resolved itself in a few days. This can be fatal so I learned, the hard way, not to half-arse my nutrition.

I can say that I actually ENJOYED the race, which is a bit concerning! Thanks to the Merida Flight Centre, For The Riders for the flawless bike prep, Niterider lights and Shotz nutrition. You all keep my wheels rolling!

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