The blog of Eric Sibly; focusing on mountain biking, .NET development for the Desktop, Smartphone and PocketPC.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Weekend Warrior 24hr Challenge...

This weekend, a mate (Fabian) and I teamed up for the Weekend Warrior 24hr Challenge at Kooralbyn Resort, Queensland. It was a very well run event, at a fantastic location - as it was at the resort - this meant that the resort facilities were available to the riders also. Although most chose to sleep in tents, some went for the soft option of a room (with a warm bed and shower – hmm, maybe they are the smart ones). There was a playground for the kids, proper toilet block, foods and drinks from the bar, all separated from the main complex bordering the golf course.

The course itself was, in a word, awesome! It was just under 10kms in length and had a good mix of trail type - some interesting single track, some sweet fast and rolling trails, some tough climbs, some technical switchbacks, and plenty of variety of terrain to keep it interesting. It was almost the perfect length, as it meant that you were out there anywhere from around 30-50 minutes depending on your ability; unlike the Mont which is now out to around 17km which results in some ridiculous lap times, especially where batteries for lights barely last that long.

We (Fabian, Angela and our two boys) hooked up with Hayden and Mike from Ashgrove Cycles who were riding solo. They had scored a top piece of real estate at one end of the start/finish straight, so that the riders would pass by before going into transition and would ride out again a minute or two later. They had erected a couple of sun shelters and there was an area behind for all our tents; so we shared all our kit and helped each other over the next 24+ hours.

The race ended up starting a bit late, so instead of setting off at 12 noon, it ended up being just before 12:30pm. It was the typical le-mans (run to bike) start. Fabian took a leisurely stroll to his bike (no point in injuring yourself before the race has even begun!), then set off on and completed our first lap. Then it was my turn – the main challenge was to not go out too hard and kill myself for later, so I paid very close attention to my heart rate to ensure I kept the max under 95%, and ignored the girls passing me (just let them go!), so when I finished up after 37 minutes I was felling pretty good. The only scare I had was at one of the tricky switchback climbs where I spun out and I almost ending up cramping my left calf.

It was time for Fabian to go again, but this time we decided that we would now complete two laps each before changing. He machined out another two laps and I was up again. The first of my two went well, and I completed it again in 37 minutes, so for the second I decided to step it up to see whether I could better the time. All was going well until about 3/4 through the lap when I washed out on one of the straights and crashed out on to the track stopping traffic for a little bit. In crashing, I ended up cramping the left calf and I was in excruciating pain until I could stretch it out, and I also had sprained my right thumb quite badly. The bike, however, was all good once I had re-straightened the handle bars and I limped it back home. My once great lap turned out to be a disappointing 40 minutes.

Once I got back, the calf was really sore and I had to get Ange to give me a massage to see if we make it a bit more comfortable. There was some improvement, but there was still some pain – the thumb, on the other hand (excuse the pun), hurt like hell especially given I would need to use it extensively to change gears. Once Fabian was done with his next two, it was pretty much dark so I had to set up the bike with lights for a couple of dark laps. When Fabian returned he mentioned he too had an off, something about running into a tree (turns out it must have smacked it pretty hard as he had some great grazing on his shoulder and thigh). [As an aside, the worst accident of the weekend went to some poor woman who apparently amputated her finger – how? I am not sure yet?]

The next two laps in the dark were hard work, the calf was sore and the thumb was damn sore – when I could I would use the other hand to change gears to give it a rest, and the constant jarring was also causing me some grief. I gritted it out and completed the two laps, the second with a small stop to change one of the batteries. They were around 46 and 47 minutes respectively.

Fabian then went out and completed another 2 laps, so at around 9pm we had completed 12 laps (Fabian 7 and me 5). It was time to call it a night; and we needed to recharge our batteries for the lights. I had a huge plate of pasta and hit the tent. Fabian did some bike repairs and went to bed later on. I woke up just before 4am and was back on the trail at around 4:15am. They were slow laps out in the cold, but also some of the most enjoyable. There is something special about riding at this time, and with the sun coming up as well, it was just the boost I needed to start the day. The calf was getting better; the thumb was still giving me grief. The lap times were 50 and 48 minutes respectively.

Fabian was off again just in time to not need any lights. As I ate breakfast, Ange found some pain killers which I quickly consumed, along with some V for that special pick me up, and a whole bunch of Herbalife supplements that Ange had been plugging all day. I was ready to go! The first of the two was great, my thumb pain was bearable and I could now use it at will. So, as the lap went on, the better I felt and the quicker I decided to go, and I finished at just over 38 minutes feeling on top of the world. All was going pretty well on the second until I chased one of those damn women who had been passing me the whole time (bloody six woman teams!), and then I basically bonked and felt like total crap - turning the legs over became a real chore. I came in at 42 minutes and pretty much collapsed. I think I had run out of energy, so it was a case of stockpiling all the high carb food I could muster before the next set with enough time to allow me to digest it.

Again, Fabian completed his two laps and I was up again. I was feeling a bit better, although still suffering the effects of the previous laps. The next two were largely uneventful and hurt more than the others, although I did manage to sprint out the last couple of minutes as I knew there was not enough time for me to complete another lap. The times were 45 and 42 minutes respectively. Fabian then completed one final lap and the 24 hours were up. Our team, “insert witty team name here” – yes, that is the team name - had completed 23 laps (Fabian 12 and me 11). We had finished a respectable 5th in our category (2 person: male).

To put our effort into perspective, the leading solo male, Andrew Bell, completed 40 laps (400 kms) by himself – unbelievable. He was so keen to do the 40 laps that he completed his 39th lap in 32 minutes so he would have enough time to go out and do one more – amazing. Also, in between circulating he entered the “track stand” competition – is this dude Superman?

In summary, I found the event exceedingly enjoyable, and overall more fun than the Mont 24 in Canberra (it has just gotten too big, and I certainly didn’t miss the -5 degrees Celsius overnight). Would I do it again, you bet ya. Time to step up the training – ah, I love this sport. As an aside, having a full suspension bike was the trick – the Yeti 575 was such a sweet ride. Finally, I think Two Wheel Promotions should be congratulated for their efforts in organizing the event and my wife did a wonderful job as support crew (thanks Ange).

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Beware the rip…

This Easter, the family went on a camping trip to the North Shore, which is just north of Noosa in Queensland. Some friends of ours own some land out there just on the beach. It was the hard-core style camping, no mod-cons, no showers or toilet blocks - grab a spade and dig a hole ;-) The beach was great apart from all the dickhead four wheel drivers who drive along the beach as if it is a motorway (some four year was hit by one further down the beach). We stayed in tents with about five other families, cooked on the camp fire, went surfing, rode bikes, played soccer – it was awesome.

The water was amazingly warm and we spent a lot of time swimming and playing around in the waves. At one point I was talking to some others in the surf and when I turned Caleb, our youngest who is six, had drifted down the beach and was caught in a rip and was slowly being dragged out to sea. His older brother who is eight was trying to swim after him to help but was also struggling. So I ended up having to swim over and pull Kyle back to make sure he was ok, then swim out to Caleb. It was just awful looking at Caleb’s face, as he had this look of total fear and helplessness as he was floating out – he did a remarkable job of keeping his head above the water (thank goodness for all those swimming lessons). I managed to swim out and grab hold of him and swim back to a point where I could stand and some others helped us in. In all, it was pretty darn scary and a reminder of how quickly things can go wrong.

Lesson learned: Make sure you keep an eye on the kids at all times, and make sure you check for rips ahead of times!