Capital Punishment postponed!? Unprecedented weather conditions in Canberra had forced a reschedule of the lead up event to the Mont! Well what were the Mont trails going to be like!? These were the thoughts going through my head as I drove out to meet Macca to start the long drive to Canberra with just a tinge of trepidation. I mean why leave the trails of Melrose when they are just starting to look good and ride so well! Hey, 14 hours with Macca in the van was hardly appealing either?!!
Across the Hay plane we went to the tune of Maccas’ youth in England. Over a full Murray River and then further down the track until 2 lanes became 1 and the Murrumbidgee threatened!
In all truth we probably wouldn’t have slept in Hay if it was light when we arrived or maybe if either one of us was a little more media savvy!? But there we were, mouth agape on Friday morning as the Murrumbidgee lapped just inches away from the tops of the levee, the whole town had been advised to evacuate by the SES and there’s Macca and I having breaky on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. I mean talk about piss in the eye of the tiger!
On arrival to Canberra it was windy and fine, perfect for drying out the track, Macca and I turned in our slowest lap for the weekend, a very cruisie 2hrs on the 18+km track, 80% of which was single track, noice. Carbo loading and then an early ish night.
Race day dawned another beautifully fine day with more wind, more drying wind! So in the end we started in dusty conditions. I drew the short straw and was forced to do the run in the traditional le mons start; 500m later I was blown! Forget the 21km extended ride lap I was about to stumble around!! 1hr and 9mins later it was all over and Stu was on track for what was to be the fastest lap of our little group; 54mins which was never repeated in the proceeding 22 hours.
The familiar patterns of your traditional 24hr race started to slowly unravel, each rider trying to out do the last, finish the lap, sit down, refuel, recover and do it all again! Discussions of what is the best food, pizza vs baked spud? Where are we situated in our category, now we know this what do we want achieve? Top 20 finish, is that realistic?….so it goes on.
Night laps are the most crucial in a 24hr race, there is always a performance drop but if you can keep churning out top draw laps you can really make up some time. This is at least true when it comes to the bottom end of the table. So now the night laps begin and slowly but surely the track gets clearer and clearer, congestion is no longer an issue! But those that are still racing are in the top of the table and just happen to be our main rivals!
Conversation has almost ceased now, there is just the look, perhaps even dread. This is the Douglas Mawson moment. Enthusiasm has left the track, there is only grit and determination here now, where is Wayne Bennett when you need him?! Cometh the man cometh the hour. Everyone is still putting in and there is only a small percentage drop from everyone which is as expected. I put in a half lap in the dark after my light dies mid lap! Right on dawn, there I am stranded in the dark; I quietly stalk an innocent rider and jump on his wheel. I push him all the way home; a full 10km and only lose a couple of minutes compared to my previous night lap.
Dawn is cold and cloudy, after a 4 degree night the day is struggling to get past lukewarm and so is our team, but in true Douglas Mawson style we battle on epitomised by the diving finish Stu performs on the final sub 60minute lap, all for 18th place! A true team of battlers, not a rockstar amongst ‘em
Traffic mayhem begins, can you imagine 2800 plus riders trying to leave via 1 gate all suffering from major exhaustion??! Some time later we are winging our way back across the sodden Hay plane, no trophies, no bling just a couple of quietly satisfied blokes who had given there all and finished inside the top 20.