Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby Rik on Thu 22/Oct/15 7:54pm

No one said endurance events are easy, but if there's one thing that stands out head-and-shoulders above all other factors that can make the task easier, it's your competition rooting for you. All because of a little orange tag, a tag that when I first saw I didn’t even know what it was or even how it worked.

I had most of the car packed the night before. All I needed to do in the morning was get changed, throw the bike on the rack and go. A cruisey twenty minute drive to Mcleans Island, picked a pitch and set up the pit area ready for the day. Vorb central was open for business.

I trotted off to get my race pack and free bidon, I love free bidons. I don’t think I could ever have enough of them in the house. Now is a good time to mention the pits set up that he Blue dog team have built in the field. First you have all the vital infrastructure, signing-on tent and various other vendors pedalling their wares, massages, food, caffeine and bike bits should you encounter a mishap. Then there is all the other stuff to make the event ‘special’, course crossovers, course demarcations to separate the 12 and 6 hour classes. Not forgetting the awesomely fun to ride ‘spiral of inspiration’ a double spiral that winds you in tighter and tighter to the centre then back out again. Complete with an overhead gallery for the audience to heckle, I mean shout encouragement from.

So back to the race pack. The first thing that dropped out was a little orange strip of paper. What do I do with this I thought, It didn’t fit around the seat stem or the bar, what am I meant to do with this thing. It's only when a man is defeated at a mental problem solving task that he will resort to reading the instructions. Sure enough the instructions on the front of the race pack told me to attach it to a seat rail.

It would turn out that this little slip of orange paper would be the thing that would separate myself and the other owners of this tiny badge of honour out from the rest of the field, signifying “Solo” entry and orange for 12 hour.

In countless low moments out on course a few acknowledging words like “good effort solo” from passing riders really helped lift the spirits and cadence. I’m so grateful to the competition for their support, riders of all classes took the time to either encourage or express wonder at my stupidity. Infact it may have been the class winner who took the time to shout words of encouragement on every single one of the many times he lapped me.

But what about the start? I lined up towards the rear of the nearly 2000 rider strong field. I had no delusions of competitive pace on the first lap. Infact the slower riders may hold me up and help keep my heart rate down to my planned max of 160 bpm.
The start was a rolling one behind a pace buggy and although it may have been faster at the head of the race, it was pretty easy going where I was. Into the first section of single track everything ground to a halt. Further ahead a rider was standing mid-trail waving his arms protecting another downed rider and with blood all over the trail it didn’t look good. What a crappy start to the race for that poor guy.

My race strategy was to do two laps and pit for a feed for as long as I could manage then drop to a pit stop every lap till the end.

The track itself has so many different sections, but all quite “flowey” and all corners are banked so you can carry a lot of speed into them. And when you can’t afford the energy to power out of them, linked sections of corners provide even more flow at a constant tempo.

Early in the first lap I hooked up with Marcus a fellow Breveteer and 12 hour soloist. He was setting a pretty good pace the company was good and I was happy to follow his wheel. Halfway round the second lap he pulled off to adjust his seat height. I finished the lap of, jumped into the pits and fair threw a ham sandwich down my throat. Looking at the GPS trace you can’t even see that stop in the data.

Into the second session of two (12 km) laps, I was starting to get worried, had I set off too fast, could I make the distance. I also struggling to mentally segment the event into digestible parts. Then in a Disney Esque storyline Marcus appeared on my back wheel. His off-hand comment about the fact he’s was feeling pretty upbeat because he was almost at the one third mark. That really helped ⅓(4 hours) ½(6 hours) ⅔(8 Hours) Nightfall(10 hours) and the finish (12 hours). With each slice achieved an extra reward in the form of extra rest or edible treat to look forward to.

4pm - Half way, and time for (a late) lunch. Chores first, a quick squirt of lube on the chain, then after a gloriously opulent 20 minutes (I know, I wasn't taking this racing business seriously enough) I was off again.

The first lap after lunch was by far the most enjoyable of the day. With (relatively) fresh legs, zipping through the woods at a constant speed regardless of radius is great fun. Together with the game of ‘NO COMFORT BRAKING’ you have to shout it to yourself, because it is oh so instinctual to just dab tiny little squeeze on the lever going into a corner, but every Joule I put into heating the brake disc I have to take out of my legs to get the speed back coming out of the corner. People ask me what the hell I think about when I’m stuck in the saddle all day. It’s these kind of trivial mental arithmetic questions. Which takes up a surprising long time when you lose count because a rapidly approaching tree has appeared in your consciousness.


Taken at 6:30pm, they say every photo tells a story and what those photos shows is the fresh faced stupidity of a goldfish that has absolutely no recollection of the misery inflicted on itself during the last circulation of the bowl. Had the photo been taken 100m away, before my rest stop, I suspect it might have shown a very different story.

AND doesn't the spray on tan I've got going on on my face, and arms (and bike and shoes) look pretty good.

Riding in the evening sun is always special and as the shadows began to grow as long at my laps time. My mood was swinging up, The end was in sight, in fact at this stage, I only had to make it to dusk. Then I could rest, fit the lights and then complete a little (2 hour) night race. Then just when you think you’ve got it all under control. Boom, it came out of nowhere. Half way around lap 12 ‘The Bonk’ lept out from behind a tree, slapped me right in the chops then ran off giggling, presumably to find another victim. My legs just stopped, I had hit the wall, I pulled over to the side, slumped over the bars and fumbled in my back pocket for food. That was enough to get me back to the pits, where I could fuel up and fit lights.

I love riding at night, everything just feels so much faster. That was exactly what my actual 10kph average needed. I wasn’t actually fast, but more importantly I felt fast, fact I was feeling so good I started contemplating a double stint. But not wanting to blow up again, I thought I’d better stop at the pits to fill up.

The plan had always been to do two laps in the dark. But looking at the clock and my last lap time, the numbers just didn’t add up. I would never get around another lap before the 10pm cutoff, any further lap would have been void. So job done. Race complete. 170(ish) kilometre in one day, which is a new mountainbiking PB for me by some considerable margin.

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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby Claude on Thu 22/Oct/15 9:35pm

Good report Rik and well done for lasting the time out. A big day out! (tick that off)
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby DogsBollocks on Thu 22/Oct/15 9:48pm

Hey ! That's me behind you checking the squish on my rigid SS :blush: Must have been puffed ..........
Great effort man, well done.
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby UK_Exile on Fri 23/Oct/15 1:08pm

Nice job. Well done.
Back for another 12hr solo next year? Or is it still to early to ask that question..........
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby Sims on Fri 23/Oct/15 4:57pm

Great Scott! 170kms!
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby Rik on Sat 24/Oct/15 8:35pm

UK_Exile wrote:Nice job. Well done.
Back for another 12hr solo next year? Or is it still to early to ask that question..........
In a heart beat. It was great fun. It's basically riding your bike for a day. You can't get much better than that.
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""Cities are becoming more rational again, after the folly of car-centric planning," Colville-Andersen"
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby mfw on Sat 24/Oct/15 9:49pm

Great report Rik, and well done :thumbsup:
So, the best way to avoid post event blues is to start planning the next one, any clues?, or do you need suggestions :D
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby slowMTB on Sun 25/Oct/15 10:23am

Well done! Top effort and great write up :thumbsup:
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby RHR_Rob on Wed 28/Oct/15 7:13pm

Try the Naseby 12hr - that will toughen you up.
i accidently ended up doing it a few years back after my team bailed one by one in the week before and i decided to switch on race day as i was already set up in the camp and couldnt get out anyway. it was quite enjoyable in a perverse sort of way, yes there is more up and down but a lot of the ST is downhill so you can free wheel it.
At the end i was as knackerd as i have ever been - i am talking totally drained, but some of my last laps were amongst the fastest when the wife was saying 'go on the guy in front is only 2 mins ahead'. i had a number of short 3-4 min breaks during the day and T at about 6pm for 15-20min
Finished 4th in the end think i did about 170k - would i do it again? no i wouldnt plan to do one but if it fell into my lap i would probly give it a crack.
and i can now say i have done a 12hr solo :-)

PS the hardest thing was the bloody start run - so i was in the last half before we even started.
PPS when i have done Mac I 6 hr i prefere to go off as if i am doing a single lap so you dont get slow trafic then ease up after a lap.
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Re: Mcleans 12 Hour Solo Race Report

Postby noel_whiteside on Thu 29/Oct/15 8:12am

I'd recommend the Tekapo 10 hour. We've done it the past couple of years and really enjoy. Real fun course, quite up and down (I got 1700m and 147kms riding) and nowhere near as busy as the McCleans 12 hour.
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