It was back up to Canberra for yet another 24-hour event. But this time there was a difference. Mont 24 does not have a solo category, so I was blessed to be teamed up with fellow Kona Mt Buller Factory riders Cal Britten, Neil Van Der Ploeg and Ben Randall to ride in the Pro Fours category. Due to the team focus, the event was very competitive with many bike manufacturers trying to put together winning teams.
Neil was very quick in volunteering to ride first, the rolling start was perfect for the many speed demons trying to set blistering lap times around the tight, technical and rough Mt Majura course. Neil found the pace a bit too fast at the front riding a respectful first lap placing us in about sixteenth place. He handed off to Cal who was in fine form, who latter rode the second fastest laps of the entire race, moved us up to the pointy end of the field. Then it was up to me to ride fast; faster than I have in a long time. I can remember thinking as I pushed myself up the bumpy fire road climbs about half way around the course, what the hell have I got myself in for? I can’t sustain this pace for another 23 hours! My lap time showed to me I could ride a respectful pace, even if I am an endurance specialist who two weeks ago rode a solo 24. Ben rolled off last, on his first lap for his new sponsors, he flew around the tough Majura course with the style and flair he is renowned for.
We maintained this team order for the entire race, riding single laps until midnight trying our hardest to minimise the time lost to the two team who were able to pull away from us. This seemed to be the formula which would give us the best possible result. Team GU/Sram, consisting of Australia’s fastest MTB riders, showed the 1,400 riders and 2000+ spectators how it’s done.
Team Felt and ourselves had a tough battle for third place. This battle forced both teams to ride lap on, three off pretty much for the entire event. This formula, whilst the fastest way to compete, takes it’s toll on riders. We were unable to have a decent rest period for the entire event, whilst other teams gave themselves rests by riding double laps, we were pushing our bodies as hard as possible to give us the best chance possible. This tactic paid off as we all rode an extremely consistent race and were rewarded with a podium finish (3rd overall/3rd pro team).
I would like to send out a huge thanks to Ben Jones, Kona’s NSW sales rep. who cleaned and lubed all our bikes before each lap. He fought the desire to sleep to help the team perform to the best of our abilities.
Our support team consisting of Ben Jones and only Ben jones. He kept a close eye on our lap times:
Randall eating some of his huge bowl of pasta.
Neil had a ball, and rode very consistant all day, all night and all day again.