Wembo – 24 hour Solo MTB World Championships


It had been lingering in the back of my mind for many years, and this year the urge to ride a solo 24 hour race became too strong to resist, and with the Wembo’s — World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation — 2013 World Championships being held in Australia @Stromlo it couldn’t be any easier to join in on the fun.

A combination of racing more endurance events then ever before in a single year and coming of the back of a category win in the Mongolia Bike Challenge I felt this was the one year I could attempt this ultimate riding endurance feat.

I managed to get, multi 24 hour racer, Libby on board to help me plan the event in the lead up and to be main support person during the race. Not having raced 24 hours solo before I found it hard to plan what food and drink I would want, like or be able to keep down to replenish the soon to be constantly depleting energy stores in my body.
With some guidance I opted to buy way more than I could ever eat and drink, with a variety of sweet, savoury, salty foods and drinks. The days leading up to the race were super busy at work so not too much time to think Wembo, but the last day it was all excitement and nerves, with last minute bike service @BikeCulture and setting up camp @Stromlo and purchasing some extra food… seeing I’d just gone through a few packets in the excitement.

The weather forecast was looking absolutely amazing with temperatures of 7 to 24 degrees and sunny. The list of riders who had entered was 270 big with many known names, from elite riders I’d heard about or even met at overseas events to local friends in all categories. There were 19 countries represented, although that may only have been about 20 riders…. hoping for them that this number grows over the year, this being the 2nd year that Wembo has run…. next year it is in Scotland, but I won’t be there unless I am supporting somebody else!

The lap around Stromlo was about 17km and was made up of most of a combination of the usual ‘red’ and ‘blue’ laps, i.e. one big climb up to the top, one big down hill and blue out & back. Some people had mentioned it was a soft course, but no matter how ‘soft’ it is after many many hours it still becomes harder and harder.

At midday Saturday 12th October the race started, with the Elite riders starting 10 ahead of the rest of the categories… woohoo, we had 10 minutes less to race :), then ride until Sunday midday or whenever you pull the pin.
When the rest of us rolled out I soon found myself on eventual age-group World Champions Gary James and Jason McAvoy’s wheels and tailed them for a lap and a half, until Gary up the pace and I finally realised “WTF am I doing!?” I was going faster than I had planned and let their wheels go, settling into a nice pace with plenty of company rolling around Stromlo.

The laps started rolling passed slowly but surely, most riders had their rear number attached showing their names which makes for easy conversation starter, I kept wondering how they all knew my name 🙂
All the time avoiding any timing, lap counting or race updates and feeling ok and everything was on track, of course from the supporters side of things, Libby, Aaron, Cameron and others it was a different story, they were noticing I wasn’t drinking and eating enough.. each time I came through the pit area the whole crowd of friends would force feed me anything that would give the vaguest hint of “yeah, I can eat that… I think”, I can’t tell you have important the pit crew was to get more laps out of me, my back was in a constant uncomfortable state and didn’t make riding as pleasurable as it can be… some pain killers and more food would give me some more time out on the bike.

Making it through the night with a couple of laps on James’ 26″ Stumpy for variety and setting some nice lap times ones jumping back onto my light weight Trek, but on lap 15 (ca. 4am) I hit the wall… BIG TIME… and my body was shutting down, no more eating, no more power, couldn’t stay on the tracks, sleepy…. “press the big red button now!!!!”. Rolling into the pit area 30 minutes slower than any other lap. I needed to sit and have help from anybody around, pep talks, warm clothes and food, then they managed to slowly get me through this very very dark zone… it’s a bit of a blur those few hours. If you were there thanks 🙂

The Sun rise, as always even in teams events, gives everybody a big boost and having regained energy I was talked in to riding some more. I felt like one of the elites passing all riders on the track, feeling fresh and energised. Managed to do two of those fresh laps, with the second reminding me I wasn’t as fresh as I though. Ok, that’s enough, the front guys are way off in the distance and it’s not getting any more comfortable…. I pressed the big red button…. EJECT! 17 laps and 289km done, now it was rest, showering and watching in ore the other riders that are still going around, some with less laps completed and others completing their 22+ laps. The overall winner, Jason English, completing 27 laps…wow!

A big thank you and hugs to Libby Adamson (mentor, main support), Aaron Coles (graveyard…no, funyard shift and a lift home), Brooke Rowlands (pit crew, pinching to keep me awake…ouch!), Cameron Darragh (pit crew, eve/night shift), Joe Andrews (spare lights, pit crew), James Hall (spare bike, pit crew and pre-race setup), Alex Ramsey (bike lights, friendly supporter), and all who showed their support with a quick or long visit…. not sure if I remember all but thanks to Mickey Munro-Mobbs & girls, Milly Brent (also supplied bike feeder bags, although they emptied by themselves during the bumps and jumps), Bec Thompson, Martin Worthy (some cross pit advice & fun), sorry if you waited to see me at the top of Mt.Stromlo on Sunday late morning 🙂 I had pulled the pin by then.

Seeing the Pizza shop that was @Stromlo during the Scott24 was not going to be there this weekend, so I had put the word out for pizza delivery and my dreams came true… can’t quite remember who did bring pizza’s but they were seriously appreciated!

Also thanks to Brent & crew from Bike Culture, for last minute service and the very very last minute (Saturday morning) complete front brake rebuild, plus a last hour brake bleed by the SRAM guys @Stromlo race village!
Bike Culture opened a new shop in Belconnen and it looks great… worth a quick visit if you’re in the area.

…. scratch this of my bucket list …. (I think)

bleeksie Wembo 2013

bleeksie Wembo 2013

bleeksie Wembo 2013

Full results at www.durt.com.au