Hidden Vale 24 hour solo race Easter 2018 - Reflection

Summary

21 laps

328km

5711 meters 

24hr 19 min

1st solo female

4th overall solo (men and women) (1st place 23 laps, 2nd place 21 laps, 3rd place 21 laps - in 24 hrs 17)

2 laps down on male leader - former world 24-hour champion Jason English 

16km laps

1x fall after hitting a tree

I'm going to start this reflection a little differently by starting with the elements which could have been improved upon as so much came together for me for this race and actually went as it should have done.

The major thing which stands out for me is logs on left-hand corners which I'm having loads of problems with especially in the dark and when I get tired. For the first 10 hours, I rode the log but after that was too physically tired to lift the front wheel up. The solution is to get some more lessons with JR and focus on this element. Also to work on arm strength. 

Again as in the Nationals, there was too much time spent stopped which desperately needs a solution to and needs to be cut down. 5 minutes of course time was spent leaving the course to go to the porta-toilet. 5 minutes was spent in the pits just before dark as I had just caught myself from having a serious bonk which included heat stress I was surprised I got back to the pits but then ingested loads of pizza, sweets, coke a cola, cake and whatever else I could eat very quickly and had a gallon of water. 5 minutes towards the end was spent changing shorts and jersey as I couldn’t sit on my seat any longer along the seams of the shorts I was getting severe friction burns. 5 minutes was spent dazed when I hit a tree and had to pick up the momentum again. 2 minutes was spent waiting for an old friend on the second the last lap as we rode the laps together. 2 minutes was spent on the top of the hill searching in vain for more food which I didn’t find. 2 minutes was spent hesitating going down the steep trail again in the dark just on semi light in the morning. 2 minutes fixing lights. 1 minute each lap changing water bottles, collecting food. lubing chain, putting sunscreen on and chamois cream - total stopping in total was probably around  41 minutes which was an improvement on Nationals.

So how did I go about meeting my objectives:

Objective 1

Good prep pre-race, diet plan, organisation, brief husband, camping equipment

Met? 

80% met - I forgot the strap for the exposure lights which I meant I ran them on a lower setting to ensure they didn’t run out (I've been riding on this setting anyway but at times could have done with more light) I need to trial this. I forgot the floor pump but I did have the pressure gauge which I was careful not to let too much air out of the tires in case I couldn’t re-pump them up. Tom was well briefed and had the plan as he gets more practice at this it will get smoothe. This is the first time Tom had worked like this for the whole 24 hours and he only went to sleep for 50 minutes. I camped there the Friday evening without Tom and Hayley so I could be prepared for their return sat morning before the race. The food plan worked well, however, I need to ensure I am eating the energy bars. The infinite worked well and didn’t cause any problems.

Objective 2

Good warm up for 20 minutes, have Garmin ready, ensure the bike is working optimally, be on time

Met? 

80% met - on warm-up i realised the gears were not as smooth as they could be it seemed to be better with the clutch off the derailleur and it took a while for the new running gear to settle in just before the start I turned the clutch back on which meant the gears weren’t changing smoothly I then forgot to tell Tom every lap to turn it back off. I was at the top of the road in the middle of the warm-up playing with the Garmin settings when I realised it was 5 minutes to the start I then had to dart back off around 1km to get to the start on time.

Objective 3

Start - Start quickly, avoid the carnage, ride smoothly, get to the single track in an optimal position don’t start at the back just because I am doing a solo 24 hour get in amongst the front runners and race hard

Met? 

100% met - I started towards the front and got a good start even avoiding the carnage there were at least 3-4 people who hit the ground within the first few seconds after the start with good reflexes I just managed to miss them. I was behind Jodie Willett who was very closely following her male partner, they slowed right down I passed them then they put a sprint on and passed me. I had already decided I didn’t have the faintest interest in what she was up to I had my race plan and I was going to follow it no matter where I ended up placing. I rode the first 1/2 lap really well and got into the zone quickly.

Objective 4

12-6 pm in day-light hours and whilst the course was in a good condition and I was feeling good, sprint where possible, start eating and drinking consistently aim for around 100km

Met?

60% met as the laps could have been a little more consistent. I started fast and managed 100km in just over 6 hours I had to ease back as it was around 36 degrees with near 90% humidity I was starting to suffer from a degree of heat stress and was feeling very sick and shaky. An older guy rode with me for a bit making sure I was OK. I made it back to the pits and stood over my bike eating and drinking as much as possible I managed to bring it back from the brink of disaster and then push onwards - the guy at the end came over and said on the course he had seen me go down-hill a couple of times and that I must be  a phenomenal athlete to bring it back from there and Tom must be very proud of me. The timings were a little slower than Tom had anticipated and he admitted afterward he thought I had blown it.

Objective 5

6pm-6am repeat the mantra smooth is fast over the night laps, keep pushing hard, flow, even pedaling. 

Met?

90% achieved consistency with lap times could have been improved and hitting the tree in the dark really didn’t help. I surprised myself how fast I was able to go during the night and maintain it throughout. I found a very magical place out on track in my own head and I was absolutely loving it - the pictures either show me grinning or grimacing in pain - funny I didn’t feel the pain on the way around. I scared myself a little towards the end of the night as I was reaching exhaustion and there's a lot of places on track where things could go very wrong very quickly one of the tracks I had nearly come unstuck and gone down the dip shot up the other side and nearly went straight off the embankment at the end of the night I hesitated so it got a little light. The lights worked really well but will need to try the additional battery as a little lighter would be better. Between the times of 7 pm - 12 am i just thought to myself this is no different than the exercise my coach had set me to ride at this time and it’s not hard. This was the same as 3.30am - 6 am as I had done this recently. If my mind wandered too much I tried to think of the meditation work I had been doing and bought myself back to the present moment. I thought to myself how grateful I was to have the support and the opportunity to be out there in the first place.

Objective 6

6 am - end pick up the pace, eat, drink, head down and keep going

Met?

50% achieved. This part of the race still needs work as I slowed down too much, lost focus, came out of the zone and really struggled to push through and complete this part. Tom was shouting encouragement at me. It didn’t help that my shorts had given me friction burns along the sit bones due to the seams and I couldn’t sit down on the saddle. On the second to last lap I was struggling a little and ended up walking up the rock garden when an old friend came up behind me so I ended up riding that lap in a little slower with him just to keep going I was very determined to finish the 300km which I had come to hidden vale to do. I came back off that one at 11 am then went I’ve got to go back out as it would only be a 23-hour race, not a 24 hour and I’d regret not completing it. I finished the lap well and even managed to sprint the last 200 meters.

Objective 7

Come back with nothing, leave everything on the race track, no regrets on Monday morning

Met?

100% achieved I came in dropped my bike and collapsed to the ground I was disorientated, in pain and very dizzy nearly passing out. Hayley and Tom came straight over but then Tom had to leave Hayley with me to go and buy me cold water. Hayley was jumping on me, screaming, running off and all I could do was crawl after her. I made it back to our tent and sat down. We then had to go to prize giving (i managed to have a shower) I was half-way there and collapsed again was unable to move, Tom was by the car so a lady I didn’t know came and helped me with Hayley and then half carried me over to presentations, then my stomach gave up and had massive stomach cramps. After presentations Tom wanted me to help with the pack up, trailer, car, bikes etc I was useless and ended up sitting in the car with Hayley. I really wasn’t very well. This part needs work so I don’t worry about it and have to conserve energy throughout the race. At Nationals we will be staying the Sunday night. I will prob arrange for Tom to leave food and water somewhere and keep Hayley away with him for the first 30 minutes to let me get my breath.

Overall I was very very happy with how I went however I know I can go further I know I can! The little engine that thought she could and did! 

2 phrases which are on repeat in my head:


Strong as an ox stubborn as a bore

Reach for the stars you may just get there