24hr World Championships, Fort William blog.
From previous experiences when I’ve done nothing but either thrown up and/or fall asleep in a shower for an hour, the thought of having a sit down presentation meal with other competitors a few hours after a 24hr race seemed somewhat of an undertaking. The thought of a silent room filled with people half/fully asleep from riding for a whole day/supporting for a whole day munching half-heartedly on a nice meal, nursing a beer that we all needed but couldn’t stomach was all that I could imagine would happen.
Luckily I was wrong.
The presentation had a fizz to it, slightly less than a buzz but still some sort of electricity from everyone involved, regaling stories from the ordeal they’d all undertaken. Yes, people were knackered, that’s a given but the mind still wanted to take in the remains of what was an epic weekend. An Irish lad on our table who finished 9th in Elite, who I didn’t know but could only imagine looked about half the man he was some 24hrs previous had loads banter and a single-speeder who seemed okay despite no doubt turning himself inside out on the numerous long/steep climbs. I was all right too, amazing what a few hours rest could do and even had the energy to have a second attempt at stuff-stuff-in-small-car tetris. It had been a different story some 24hrs+ hours previous mind.
Tight shoulder blades, stiff back, twinges in my knees and right calf, hands that have already been pummelled and a hamstring sore enough to alter my pedalling style. All this is rattling around in my head as struggle to keep the front wheel where I want it on one of the numerous climbs – and it’s only 4hours into the 24. Bugger.
The mind is an amazing thing, as is the physical body, even more amazing when they’re playing ball together. For me, today they weren’t. I had prepared pretty well for WEMBO I thought, very consistent year after last year where supposedly I may have had to stop competing due to knee issues and had what I considered my best results (albeit in a much, much shorter discipline). Yes, opening a cycle repair shop a few weeks beforehand was less than ideal but still thought I was on for a good’un.
Alas, sometimes you’re the hammer, other times you’re the nail. From the start it was apparent a tapered steel body with a flat top was my shape for the day!
Don’t want to dwell on the negative too much that was a grinding slog, rather than a spirited slog, I was just happy I kept going. I could have stopped (and wanted to) at several points during the early part of the race but kept on going, soon (well about 14hrs in) I knew I would finish and the course was great, brutal but great. All the other competitors were great and luckily the weather also was pretty damn good.
I felt like I was still flying on the descents at the end, managed to climb every steep climb on the bike, just about always clear the technical, short ups, didn’t crash once, and like I say, kept going. Spent too much time in the pit but I never rested as such, more eating/stretching/faffing.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that nice stripy jumper in my category but it was the World Championships in a discipline I’ve not focused on in training, excuse or not, guess if I want to do well at something, train to do well at it. Simple and true. Plus the guy who’d won was mega strong and deserving, even if I was ‘on-it’ still would have been touch and go on whether I’d have been to overhaul him.
And a Silver medal at a World Championships shouldn’t be sniffed at too, sounds pretty cool at least 🙂 And simply taking part was mega. Riding around in circles on a great course, in a great location with the best in the world and all the other riders I’ve admired on the UK scene, some of which had came back to the discipline just for this event – AMAZING!
Beforehand, I was unsure on whether this would be my last 24solo and whether to focus on XC again next year when I move up to Expert but I can’t finish on a performance that I’m not happy with, I’ve learnt loads about myself in this race that I’ll use to help me in the next one, as there is defiantly going to be a next one (and probably more after that, I want a stripy jumper!).
P.S. Thanks to all the support I got, to my pit crew; Rhys and my car for not dying. 🙂