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The Mont 24hr - Jet Cycles Mixed 6

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By Antsonline - Posted on 26 March 2012

Re: This ride meeting: 
The Mont 24 hrs Race 2012
Jet Cycles
Position (Overall): 
Position (Category): 

Its been 3yrs since I last raced a '24', and I realised then that if I was ever to do one again, it would be with friends, and with a purpose.

The Mont 2012 loomed and as I was now part of the new Jet Racing MTB team, I thought it would be time to return.
As is typical with a 24, and a 6 person team, its hard to get everyone committed and turn up on time. Through no fault of their own team members and 'ring-ins' fell by the way-side.

The core of the team remained. Myself, Kyle 'my head hurts - can you do my double for me' Ward, Jarrod 'in a past life I was a Mountain Biker' Adams, and Euan 'what is there left to break that hasn’t been broken' McNair.
We were due to be joined by Jayden Ward - aka 'trackstand' - but last weekend he ruptured his ACL - a good excuse. Garry Millburn has also been spotted on an MTB recently, but he's not quite ready to turn a pedal in anger since his accident. There were others due to join us who couldn’t make it, so we reached out further and secured some 'friends of the team' talent.
Its nice when you can call on Australia's leading female MTB rider - Jenny Fay - and ask her for a favour. She was not on Rockstar duties that weekend, so was able to ride with us. Thanks to Rockstar for the release!
Another nice surprise, is when a friend of yours is an ex-national Junior Downhiller, but is now riding for a continental road team. Dan 'the mo' Bonello was happy to ride with us too - on a borrowed bike of Jennys he had never ridden.

So there we were. Ant, Kyle, Dan, Jarrod, Euan, Jenny. A motley crew if ever there was one. Bikes were loaded, and off we set. 5.45am on Saturday.
The Mixed 6 category is always a challenge as the big sponsored teams put their big guns out to race. We were against the might of Merida, Stevens bikes, as well as a number of other very hot teams. We just wanted to get in there and race hard.

The first lap duties fell to Kyle. Lap one starts with a Le Mans style run to the bike, and given Kyle fancies himself as a runner, we thought he could have a crack. We know he rides an MTB fast, but he certainly runs well too - he was about the first rider up to the bike area and off he flew, joined by ex-Olympian Sid Taberlay, National XC Series Champ Andy Blair, Stevens hot-shot Andrew Arthur, as well as Canberra specialist Mark Tupalski. It would be an our before we saw them again, so what better way to warm up than to teach Euan how to ride an MTB?

Euan and I rode around the car park once (that’s more than enough!) and I told him how to break, sorry, I mean brake. He was nervous, but I was worse. Its tough being in a team. Your speed affects other people! Normally, if I'm slow, its only me that has to be upset.
I went to the transition, and waited for Kyle. First rider in was Tupalski - to everyone's surprise. Then came Blair - a full minute back! Then, together, came Kyle and Arthur. Jet Cycles and Stevens Bikes. Locked in battle.
Kyle tagged me, and said 'don’t push the first 1/3rd of the lap' - I said ok, and promptly sprinted off way too hard!

After about 10meters, I had dropped the Stevens rider. Ha-ha. That was that dealt with. I realised I now had no one I could see in front of me, and no one behind me likely to push things other than Adrian Jackson from Merida who was chasing. It was horrible, I rode the whole thing without knowing either whether I was going well or not, and also not knowing the course. Very lonely, and by Christ it hurt!

I finished my lap with no crashes (a personal achievement recently) and tagged our next rider - Dan. He flew off. I checked the timing board for my ride. It turns out that I went ok, with the 2nd fastest lap of the day - just under 49mins. Blind. Must have been the bike. Unlike Lance and Trek, my relationship with Specialized is very much 'all about the bike'.

Dan rode very well to a 52min lap, and then tagged Jenny. As usual, Jenny hammered out a very solid lap, and tagged one of our first 'unknowns' - Jarrod. Accomplished Triathlete sure, but what would he be like on an MTB? It turns out that he was very good indeed. Jarrod nailed the lap in pretty much the same time as Jenny. Excellent.
Final rider on the rotation was Euan. Jarrod tagged him and he rode off into the unknown. Legs bristling with fitness and muscle, but the MTB handling skills of Bambi (sorry bud!).
I was reckoning on a 1hr 5min lap from Euan. We had a little sweep stake back at the camp-site about it. I lost.
Euan showed us that grit and determination more than makes up for technical deficiency, with a 58min lap. Very good work. He had a few cuts, but its not a race without a bit of claret!

From that point on, we were in a real race. We knew we were pretty close to the front, and just cycled through our riders doing a variety of double and single lap efforts.. Disaster struck when I punctured and lost a good 15mins on my 3rd lap. I felt awful for the team, but that’s racing. It was bound to happen to one of us.

Into the darkness of night, and the cold of Canberra. It was freezing, and through the night the team rotated through their laps with perfect accuracy. Everyone got out of the sleeping bags in time to warm-up for their next effort.
Throughout the night, we were all kept entertained by DJ Jayden who selected music to keep us motivated, and an excellent selection of sledges and general trash talk to keep our feet firmly on the ground.
The boy needs a stage a microphone and he'll be a stand-up comedian.

At 4am my alarm went off. I was due to take over from Euan at about 4.30am. I warmed up (figuratively - as it was still 4 degrees) and went to transition. Euan rode an excellent 65min 'night' lap. However, when he rolled it, I noticed his front wheel was bent like a Pringle. "Crash did you mate?" I asked. "Yeah - not sure where it was, its all dark out there and looks the same" was his response. To ride that fast, with a wheel that was literally rubbing on each fork leg as it rotated, in the dark, on your first ever MTB ride…... I nominate it for ride of the weekend.

Having done my night lap, the sun started rising and we worked how things were looking for the overall result. We had lost a bit of time overnight (Merida did have the World 24hr Champion riding their night laps for them) so the win was out of the question unless they punctured. We were in 2nd place, although Stevens bikes had gotten very close…
Dan had hurt his back during the night laps, so the last four riders to go were Jarrod, followed by me, followed by Jenny, and then Kyle to finish. We all had it give every last bit.
Jarrod ripped a lap, and tagged to me. I had a very clean lap with everyone moving out of the way as I called 'TRAAAAACCCCKKKK" from behind so managed something around a 51min, I tagged Jenny and she set off with purpose. No drama there, and she tagged Kyle who proceeded to ride his fastest lap of the event - as our very last effort. The only way to finish!

Kyle crossed the line and we had closed a bit to Merida, but also extended on Stevens. We had come 2nd in the Mixed 6, with a team of mates.
Back at the campsite, scenes of unbridled joy ensued. Jayden even managed a one hand, one leg track-stand for about 1 minute.

We collected our prize, and certainly looked the best on the podium - even if it was on the 2nd step.

I want to personally thank Mark Newton and Jet Cycles, for the support and the bike for Euan (we'll sort a new wheel). All of the team (other than Jenny and Dan) rode Specialized Epic 29ers. There was no other bike for the race. It felt like cheating. Thanks to Jayden for keeping us all fed and watered. Despite his constant banter, he was a great help when it mattered - cleaning bikes, cooking pasta, ignoring the washing up etc.
Thanks also to Mark (Mr. Ward / Kyle and Jaydens dad) and his mates for letting us share his excellent campsite and tent 'village'.

We'll be back. Another 24 is in the plans. Next time we'll have a little more planning, a bit more experience, and perhaps even a bit more luck. We certainly wont have more fun though. Not possible.

Photos, and video coming shortly………..

ps's picture

Just trying to reconcile your post from 2 days before the event with the 2nd fastest lap and 5th overall. Still trying to fly under the radar are we?

btw you guys may not have noticed but Jet Racing was up to second overall after Jenny's lap so you only dropped down the list when the triathlon guys took over.

Antsonline's picture

Its funny how things turn out. My lap time was a bit of a surprise, but shows my training is working in prep for the marathons.
Same with Jennys - she will be hard to beat this year.

Yeah - we were 2nd overall, and frankly we did consider reducing the amount of laps we would give to the others - but we werent there to win, we were there to race as a team. We did that and our result was great given our collective lack of 24hr experience.

Back on the Ergo's at Jet tonight. No rest for the wicked....

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