Silver Lining

Longer than usual. This is 24 hour racing ya know!

Watching a race unfold that you have imagined yourself competing in for 15 months is a slightly surreal feeling. When I first found out that the WEMBO World 24 Hour Solo Championships were being held in Canberra, I wanted to be there. Not just to make the startline. To contest for the title. Some would consider that a little foolhardy, having never done a 24 hour solo event in my life before. But, I was confident we could do it. Some would consider that a little overconfident, having never done a 24 hour solo event in my life before. But, they didn't know how much we were putting into it. What we lacked in experience, we would make up for in preparation.

While reading "Better Than Winning" by Ben Gathercole (a book we picked up in Canberra - it's in the shops there cos he's a local lad - that I'd highly recommend reading), I came across a sentence that really resonated for me.

"All the professional coaches out there have a few things in common: a work ethic and a passion for their sport like no other."

A big chunk of the silver medal I won just over a week ago, was earned by my support crew and in particular my coach. She has an incredible work ethic and truck loads of passion for mountain biking. It's incredible to think back to the initial goal setting we did for 2013. How invested we both were on getting everything dialled. To make me able to ride as far as I possibly could in 24 hours. In the hope that, on that day, my best was better than anyone else's best.

Part of the preparation was learning as much as possible about 24 hour racing. A decent place for me to start to get a grip on what was involved (equipped with cuppa tea in hand) were the blogs of the current World Champions. Until race day in Canberra, I had never seen Jason English, but I'd heard a lot (and read a lot, fuelled by tea) about him. The guy is known as one of the best ultra-endurance athletes ever. Watching him fly by at various intervals in the race, I could see why. He never looked stretched! He just kept knocking out lap after lap, incredibly consistently and with enough poise to "check in" with fellow racers and chat about how their own races were going. Bad ass racer and all round nice guy.

Flick back to pre-race, I came across this on Jase's blog and took great inspiration from it. Particularly, after the mutual respect I had felt at the pointy end of some of the races leading up to the race on Aussie soil.

"I was asked if I would be disappointed if I didn't win the National Champs for the 5th time in a row. I was convinced I wouldn't be as I had prepared well for the race. If someone was to beat me then they too must have worked hard and would be a deserving winner."

Epic battles create deserving winners. Canberra was my third epic battle of this season. In fact, I've almost had one for each season of the season!

Autumn was a ding dong affair with fellow World 24 Hour Solo Champs competitor, Erin Greene. Erin is a bad ass who never gives in. I'm more stubborn than most. The end result was a gruelling women's race taken to the 25th hour of racing, in which the leading two riders overall were both chicks. We were the only riders to go out for a sixteenth lap. And we both did it cos we knew the other one would.

Winter was exchanged temporarily for a Northern hemisphere summer. It was deliberately planned that way and sadly only lasted three weeks. Coach decided the way to improve my technical riding was to do some racing on technical terrain. Canada is the best place in the world for that so we made the trip to British Columbia Bike Race. Wendy Simms is a bad ass who never gives in (there's a pattern emerging). The end result was a gruelling women's stage race, where I raced every day like a single day XCO hit out in the fight for a stage win. That week ranks as my most favourite week of racing a bicycle in my life ever. I was pulling out my best riding. And a heap of Canadians loved it that I rocked it on a Hard Eddie.

Spring. The big daddy of race days, World 24 Hour Solo Champs. Probably the best value for money race you'll ever ride. As long as you finish. You guessed it...Jess Douglas is a bad ass who never gives in. There were several other bad ass chicks on the start line, including Erin. We'd anticipated Erin and Jess would be out the front at the start. I was pleased to be in their company. We were shredding the trails and on the opening lap caught a heap of the fellas on the descent. It was all going as I'd imagined. I guess that was the surreal bit. It was like something I'd imagined was unfolding in front of me.

Then something that I'd not imagined unfolded. Suddenly, on lap three, it felt hot. Really, really hot. I'd started to notice it on the climb and figured it would get better once we started descending again. It didn't. The last time I felt that weak on the bike was that sixteenth lap in Rotorua, racing against Erin. I looked down at my Garmin, "2:31:something". WTF? Another 21 and a half hours feeling like this? I was ready to bang out. Pizza and an early night seemed like a much more sensible option. I backed off the pace to survive. And inevitably got caught. Leading bunch to sixth in half a lap. My race was unravelling. This was definitely not what I had imagined.

In the pits I had a whinge. My crew told me I'd come right. Just keep going. We'll get you right. I kept going. It took 3 hours to come right, but it did happen. I still don't quite know how those guys kept me going. Or how I kept myself going. And I have never ever felt so glad to see the sunset while riding.

The best thing about 24 hour racing is that tomorrow's another day. You can have a rubbish day the first, then a flyer the next and it all counts. Before heading to Canberra, I'd spoken to Jenn O'Connor Patterson, bad ass kiwi chick who I'd raced against in the motherland. By "raced against" I actually mean I could still see her just after the gun had gone (but not much longer after that). I'd like to think I'd give her a bit better run for her money nowadays (at least for a few more minutes, particularly now she has retired). She was fast on the XCO circuit and struck me as one tough cookie, which I'd always attributed to her clocking up a heap of 24 hour victories and a silver medal at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline in Canmore before smashing the shorter stuff. Anyhow, I figured she'd know what she was talking about.

Back to the race report. I felt awesome. It got hot. I didn't feel awesome anymore. I suffered. The sun went down. Then, I spent all night in some state of mantra. Jenn had recommended repeating a couple of affirmations at the same point each lap. My mantra soon changed from something pre-determined that probably sounded nice while I was stretching in the sunshine during a taper week to, "I'm not leaving without a medal to match my f***ing shoes". I don't even know what made me think about it. I'd bought myself a new pair of Sidi Dragons to race in in Aussie mainly cos the last time I raced in my old ones, I lost a toenail. They were bronze and black. They looked awesome. And a medal to match my shoes meant a spot on the podium. That was the absolute least I would settle for. Apparently, sometime around 1am I came flying into the pit saying, "I'm not leaving without a medal to match my f***ing shoes" and only Lisa had a clue what I was on about.

Generally speaking, gaps are quick to open and slow to close in 24 hour racing. Unless something happens to the person in front of you, like a mechanical failure or bodily malfunction, your opposition can keep rolling along at a decent pace. Jenn had warned me about it and Erin had already taught me about it. It took me hours to close the gap to 5th place. Back to the mantra. More food. Add another mantra, "food is your fuel". I spent the night entrenched in the idea of fuelling my body to the best of my ability so I could close the gaps in the morning. By dawn I would feel strong, the air would still be cool, and I could smash it to the end. And I wasn't leaving without a medal to match my f***ing shoes.

A mate of mine, Iain, had asked me to ride the dawn lap for him. Apparently, it's his favourite time to be out on his bike. It's my favourite time to be in bed, so I figured some extra motivation would be perfect. It worked wonders. My nocturnal pastime of saying stuff about medals and shoes with an expletive or two coupled with awesome fuelling and riding a lap for a mate, resulted in my 4th fastest lap time of the race! It was the first sub hour lap anyone in the women's elite field had clocked for a very long time. I'd been on the bike for 18 hours. I started to feel awesome again.

The rest is kind of a blur. I stuck it in the big ring and kept it there for the last 99 kilometres of a 384 kilometre race. I concentrated on riding as hard as I could. I knew I was catching people. I also knew I was running out of time. I couldn't believe it, but I actually wanted more time on the clock! Catching Liz Smith in the closing stages of the race got me to a medal position to match my shoes. Eliza Kwan wasn't far ahead. I caught her too. Jess held me off admirably. I reckon, common to all sports, is the fact that champions are those who are able to demonstrate resilience when under pressure. Jess she sure did that.

So, we went to win and didn't. But we came close. I can't say I'm disappointed. Like Jase said on his blog, I'd worked hard and was beaten by a deserving winner who had also worked hard. The way I rode that last six hours of racing isn't something I'll forget in a hurry. I guess the real silver lining from all three epic battles this season wasn't in the colour of the medal, but in discovering a whole heap of tenacity. I'm pretty sure it's here to stay.

Penulis : Unknown ~ Sebuah blog yang menyediakan berbagai macam informasi

Artikel Silver Lining ini dipublish oleh Unknown pada hari Tuesday, 22 October 2013. Semoga artikel ini dapat bermanfaat.Terimakasih atas kunjungan Anda silahkan tinggalkan komentar.sudah ada 2 komentar: di postingan Silver Lining


  1. Brilliant Kim!! was following your progress from the UK, inspired!

  2. A cracking write up from your race and well done on your result! I could feel the emotion, which you captured brilliantly. Tenacity, resilience and grit all key traits that I've worked on this year in the run up to WEMBO! It was my first 24hr, solo or in a team and like you said, its not something that's easy to forget quickly! I'm still buzzing from it, and trying to come up with a way to head 'home' from Australia for next years WEMBO race.