Well what a weekend.
24 hour racing is one of those things that I part love, part hate, part look forward to, part am petrified about. I always get excited about riding new tracks and big events, but the whole racing all night thing does leave me approaching the event with a degree of trepidation.
Mont 24 was no different. Up until about Thurs last week I was pretty ambivilent about it all - no packing or organising had been done, I was feeling a bit under the pump with work and study, and if it had all been cancelled at the last minute I don't think I would have cared.
But then Friday dawned, and I was like a kid on Xmas morning. Up early, organising and packing, and hit the road about 9:30am. Made Canberra about 1:30 ish, dropped Choppy home (she's stayed with us for the last fortnight after carpal tunnel surgery) and headed out to the course.
I love Sparrow Hill. Not the most beautiful place in the world - it is a pine forest after all - but the tracks are sublime, with not too much steep climbing, they reward smooth and efficient riding, and they are fun! I normally get a shiver run up my spine at the thought of riding through pine forest - after the BMC 100km race last year I was mentally and physically scarred for life after bashing the last 35km through rutted, rocky, rooty pines on a hardtail with a spasming back - but Sparrow is much, much better than that.
Camp set up - thanks to Lis for getting there early and pilfering a premium position! - we headed out for a practice lap to see what it's all about. The course was long - 18.5km, alot longer than any other 24 I had done, but quick, with my laps proving to come in around the 1 hour mark. The practice lap was dry and dusty, and I was a little apprehensive about racing the next 24 hours in a dust bowl. But that was soon to change.
As we completed the lap and headed back to camp, the organisers announced over the PA that a severe thunderstorm warning had been called, tie everything down! Dutifully we starting pegging and tying like there was no tomorrow, and with that completed, headed into town to get some dinner.
The storm arrived, and it was a doozy. We were sitting inside the restaurant, looking out, and it hit. Raining sideways, lightening, thunder, fire and brimstone. What were we going to find on our return to camp - and what sort of boggy nightmare would the track turn into?
I'll continue this post after work tonight...