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Mont 24 Hour race report by Jan Lindsay


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By shumey - Posted on 04 November 2014

The Mont 24 Hour – 26th – 27th October 2014
Written by Janet Lindsay

The Event
The Mont is a 24 hour MTB race organised by Self Propelled Enterprises . Teams of four or six riders race a 19k single-track circuit in East Kowen Forest near Canberra. Teams with the most laps over the 24 hour period win.

The Team
Steve "The Machine Hume", Paul "The Muscle" Mower , Darren "Secret Weapon" Gardner and myself. We were riding in the Mixed Foursome over 40 category.

For the Gen Ys or those with a short attention span, a short summary:
Hot, dusty, live music in the forest, night laps, beautiful night sky. Serious riders, riders taking part for the trails and fun. Costumes, Dutch pancakes, Beer Garden, camping in a paddock. More dust. Pain, lack of sleep, grins hurtling down the last 1.5k of downhill into transition.

The Course
An 19k loop of single-track through East Kowen Forest. It wasn’t overly technical, but it was an energy sapping, twisty course requiring the rider to keep the power on the pedals the whole way. Very fun to ride if you’re not racing!

Details

We set up our team camp in the paddock on Friday afternoon amongst hundreds of other MTBers before heading off to motels for a decent sleep before the event. As it’s a 24 hour event you need a fair bit of gear to keep you comfortable throughout the race- a team shelter, camp chairs, table, cooking gear, loads of food, eskys and tents to nap in.

Steve arrived Saturday morning after an early drive from home. We registered and then planned team tactics. These amounted to doing our best and enjoying the event, although Steve had been checking out the opposition and was confident we might be able pull something off. Darren, having done one of these before, and who’d still come back for more, sorted us out with our transition tactics. Ie have a designated place to stand for the tag so we didn’t spend time searching for our next rider.

We decided to start out just riding laps in turn. I headed off first, the idea being that whoever went, it would be a slow lap until the field spread out. I lined up on the fire trail hill with hundreds of other riders in the blistering midday heat, a little queasiness in my belly and waited for the off. The start took us rolling through the event centre to the sound of hundreds of ringing cowbells which made a fun start. Inevitably there was a big blockage as we got to the first section of single track and all you could do was patiently inch forward until it was your turn. About 2/3rds of the first lap was an exercise in patience and the ability to ride slowly keeping your balance as you rode in a snake line dodging the odd rider who'd spilled or stalled.

Steve rode lap 2 and came in under the hour, Paul and Darren followed up with more of the same which was great going in the searing heat. I really enjoyed my lap 2 now that the field had spread out and there was room to manoeuvre. I got a bit over excited and took a spill when my rear wheel washed out on a very dusty corner. Fortunately I just suffered bruises and a dropped chain so I suppressed the urge to cry and jumped on again quickly and got round in 1:07.

Steve then pulled off the fastest lap of the day at 56:35 followed by Paul and Darren doing another speedy lap each, Darren’s being in the dark and just as quick as his previous daytime lap. So, by this time we’d kitted the bikes and helmets out with our super bright lights. A big thank you to all those that lent (and trusted) Paul and I with these expensive bits of kit.

We moved into night-time tactics with a change in order so we could each get a longer break for a bit of pillow time. Sleep was a little hard to come by with the body still buzzing from the riding and because of the general night time comings and goings of other teams. Steve and Darren gallantly took the graveyard shift riding through from 1am to just after 5am. Heroes! I picked up the dawn lap heading out in the dark for the last time and gradually watched the forest turn to colour around me. My head had been saying I was going to go out and ride as hard as I could on this lap as after all, I’d had a bit of a rest. My legs would just not comply though and every bit of effort saw me backing off to recover very soon after. The boys all said afterwards that they felt exactly the same thing which made me feel a little better. Hammering down the last descent in the early daylight into transition for the final time was a great feeling. I knew then that it was going to be my last lap and I could get some coffee and grub down me and just spectate for the rest of the event.

Paul, Darren and Steve did another lap each making a total of 5 laps each so far. Paul then valiantly mounted his steed for one final round – lap number 6 for him. At this point Steve checked the scoreboard again and we found out that we had 3 laps on the team behind us. We had easily secured second place in our category and we weren’t going to catch the leaders. With enormous relief, Steve and Darren realised that there was nothing at all to be gained by them heading out on another lap. The fact that Steve really did not want to do more riding on his MTB on sweet trails tells you how tired we all were by this stage! So we called it a day at 22 hours and 46 minutes after riding a total of 401k between us on the singletrack trails of Kowen Forest.

The Mont is a really well run event and was lots of fun to participate in. We all felt a great sense of achievement at the end of it, not just for the second place, although that was a nice bonus, but for having stretched ourselves and some of us for ticking off a number of firsts.

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