The Mont 24 – Riding through the night

(The Mont is a 24 hour mountain bike race in the Kowan State Forrest just outside Canberra. You can only enter teams of 4 or 6, with riders racing in relay; a lap at a time depending on rider strength and endurance. Our team – Stoneage Romeos entered in Mixed fours – was made up of Deb Chambers [Wandiligong], Warren Appleby [Wandiligong], Brian John [Smiths Gully] and me [Box Hill… and Porepunkah whenever I can manage it]. The course was a 20km bush trail on about 90 percent winding single track. 1hr laps, at an average speed of 20kph were fast for the course. We raced a lap at a time with no doubles… completing 6 laps each in the 24hrs; Deb coming in on the last lap at about 25 minutes after gate close.)

Recharging-001Every once in a while you have one of those experiences you know will stay with you forever.

This 24 hour mountain bike race was one of those; not just for the racing and the results, but for the company, the weather, the camping and the pain. There’s definitely a package effect.

I remember lying in my warm tent, relatively comfortable but for strong DOMS, anticipating the more intense pain to come; guaranteed to arrive a very short distance into my next night lap. My alarm was set for 1:45am in order for me to transition with BJ at 2.

“Seriously?”, I ask myself, “You’re going to get up out of a warm tent, on a cold Canberra night, to jump on your mountain bike and ride through the bush on a winding dirt single track?!”

“Well… yes”, I tell myself. “And it’s gunna be grouse.”

And it was.

Three of my six laps were in the dark at 9.55pm, 2.00am, and 6:15am, It’s amazing how you can pin it with lights if you’re in the zone; hitting a trail on your third, fourth and fifth laps after already having good practice in full daylight. It’s the first time I’ve actually raced with lights and it was just unreal. The middle of the night; the middle of the bush; shredding on the Superfly – thanks to Cycleworks Box Hill.

Life is good.

It was so fantastic to spend the time with good friends from Bright – doing what we love doing. Thanks for inviting me onto your team Wazza and thanks everyone from Bright for the fantastic company and continuous encouragement.

Another great thing about this kind of racing is that everyone goes with their own goals in mind; to complete a certain number of laps (Wayne Hildred did 8! [160km]), to get around in a certain time, simply to get right around! To ride through the night, to get the most sleep or to have the most nervous wee’s (I think I won that one). There were some who rode it on unicycles and there was Team Amps, each member of which had only one leg. And whatever your goals, you’re welcome to try and will be congratulated when you achieve.

Just quietly, this shits all over road racing… sorry 6am-ers 😉 … or if you like, it’s just a lot different.

And it’s certainly no less competitive and this race had some of the fastest riders in Australia; champions from way-back as well as ones who are quite current.

2013_Mont_24_Google_Chrome_26032013_101138_PMMy team went with one goal in mind and I was reminded of that – and the associated pressure – by many of my Bright mates on many occasions. Thanks guys!

We were there to win and nothing else would suffice. Despite that pressure, I was pretty confident of the podium in the mixed fours. With Deb Chambers as your girl-rider you’re starting in a pretty good place; and Wazza, Beej and I are not too shabby either! But when the results come out and you’re sitting on the front page in a race with 539 teams… you feel pretty damn good (above screenshot… at the bottom of the list… but we’re there).

First by three laps in mixed fours (smashed it!), 10th out of all teams of four (any gender any age) and 20th overall out of 539 teams. We were grinners.

Yep… it was one of those experiences.

I will never forget it and I’ll be scrambling to get there again… year after year for as long as I can ride a bike on single track… in the dark… in pain… with lights… what a package!


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