Some 1402 riders and a few support people. Lots of bike pr0n around the place.
If you feel the need for numbers here are some results.
However my team consisted of 4 guys. Myself riding a Giant HT (Mish Mash of
equipment), Ray Giddins riding a KHS Team ST 2001 Model, David Baldwin riding
a KHS Team ST 2002 Model, Aaron Broughton riding a Cannondale F600 2001
model. The team name is "Troy Invades a Veranda".
David and Ray competed in the pairs category last year until Dave wrecked his
wrist in a crash and they decided to pull out. At the time David was doing
laps about 5 minutes faster then Ray on average. Ray has however put on a fair
amount of bike fitness since, he rode the 12 hour solo quite respectably. (and
will soon spend 9 months bike touring through South America, so when he gets
back he will have a damn impressive base built up).
Anyway on to the race. I arrived friday morning around 7am to scope out the camping area and work out where to place tents. I found the Six Pack guys setting up had a chat then headed off the the Pickle at ANU for the post mtb ride breakfast (though I didn't do the friday morning ride this week, tapering and all that). Throughout the day I set up some tents, and Dave and I set up a large marquee (thankyou to the ACT Rogaining Association). Friday night I visited the race site again and wandered around meeting people and soaking up the atmosphere. Even by this time the venue was hopping and everyone (racers and friends supporting them) was getting psyched up keen for the race.
On Saturday morning I was running late deciding to have an extra hour's sleep as I may be thankful for it later on. Trying to get all the mattresses, gear and people to the site I was jogging up to the race site from where I parked as the riders briefing was supposed to be starting. I had been kind of planning on doing the first lap (no one else really wanted to do it) but as I was a bit ruffled and I was still waiting for some parts from Phantom; Dave volunteered to do the first lap. (He can run better at least, and as it turns out ride faster after 24 hours than the rest of us).
I rang Tyno asking if Kerry had appeared yet, he said he wouldn't be there before midday at the earliest. Oh well I can ride without the parts he was bringing down... shifting was unpleasant but worked (I needed jockey wheels for my somewhat unusual (SRAM ESP 7 '97) derailleur). We got Dave ready and lined up in the madness that was the start and Aaron and I hung around to take photos. The race started, and I am pretty sure I could see riders inside the dust cloud, after the dust settled Aaron and I headed down to the tail end of Fyshwick (I had to say it) to get some more photos when the riders reappeared.
I went wandering to find the mtb-oz hang out, I found Jaymz and he took me over there. Met Paul, Jen, Tim, Glennnnnn, others (Dave@ was out on a lap but I had a look at his night time wheels). Learned Kerry was unlikely to show up before 2pm. I thought the southside brownshirts camp (nearby) was neat, Love the "EFRD Free Zone" signs. I decided to keep wandering.
Before the race there was a bit of wondering going on as to who we would be in close competition with. We had thought we might be able to fight it out with the "Bruised Buttocks" team as they had guys we rode with often already. Alas Daniel put in many fast laps the other guys were not able to lap as fast consistently and started to fall behind by the time it got dark.
I ended up riding 4th for our team, so I went out for a lap a bit before 3pm. It was damn hot, I love Canberra partly because I like cold weather. Oh well time to get on with the lap. The course was a lot emptier by this time and really not so bad to ride. I caught some guys on the first few single tracks, however they got way ahead up the climb and I didn't see them again. Once at the top of the climb the fun begins. Personally I kind of liked skyline, yeah it was hard, but fun. I was very disappointed that the organisers had taken the top off the fun little jump on skyline, I suppose they have to cater for the masses. The drop to paintball had been getting messy for a long while so I was used to the braking bumps. Still a heap of fun.
Cruised past the marshals at half way (how good was their cheering every time you went past! Mikey noticed the guy there said a new thing to him every single time he passed him throughout the event, very impressive) and got on up to the single track drop back down past fairy glen. I felt pretty slow and funny on this section on this lap, fortunately later in the event the track seemed to improve or something and it felt better and was more fun in my later laps.
Finishing off on the very fun tricky dick, back track, kuhmos loop was fun, though different to normal as there were so many people to pass. Got back to transition handed the baton onto Dave and went to die somewhere quietly (see photo). I have to admit I don't remember much of what I did around the event site when I was not out riding, and I probably don't really remember much of what I did while out riding. Must be something to do with the sleep deprivation thing.
I tracked Kerry down around 5pm, he had just come in from his first lap. He had been out there talking on his mobile phone while riding a lap. His team captain suggested confiscating his phone from then on. Dave@ or Glennnnn or someone let slip that they had sent sms messages to Kerry asking for stickers while he was on the lap. My next lap started around 6:30pm, just as it was getting dark enough to actually need lights. I used lights on the first few single tracks, stealthied the hill climb and then used lights the rest of the lap. I was a lot happier with how I felt on this lap than the previous one, and getting in only a minute slower for a night lap than my first lap was good.
Highlights from the rest of the night would be, my 2:30am lap. This was my longest lap of the event, 1 hour 2 minutes something. I started and realised I had no helmet light, it was unplugged, so after Fyshwick I stopped and plugged it in. I was wearing far too much clothing and sweated a lot. Just before the Start of tricky dick I stopped and gave directions back to the race site to someone who had broken their rear derailleur. In tricky dick passing the people who got past me when I stopped, I made a silly mistake and came off the track crashing into some tree branches. I got back on and felt fine, my helmet light was crooked but I didn't want to waste more time fixing it so I finished my lap. When I got back I found I had a new scar on my cheek courtesy of the face meets tree moment, wheeee battle scars. Since the weekend people have wandered up and asked me... "So did you do the 24 hour race... oh yes I can see you did!" Though I don't think I quite have the mindset of Michael Loughlin (Wagga guy on the Sugar Dogs team) who it seems does not enjoy an mtb ride unless he breaks some body part during it (talk to him about his recent rides, it really is eye opening).
Around 5am Ray had been looking at the results sheets and noticed we were in 11th place, about 5 minutes behind the 10th place team. He started telling us to look out for the riders in that team and see if we passed them on a lap or saw them in transition. Ray decided (and we all tended to agree) that it may be worth hauling these guys in if we could as 10th sounds a lot better than 11th. After another a few more laps they were still about 5 minutes ahead of us and we thought we may not be able to catch them.
With Ray suggesting we up the pace we started to work at that a bit. At one point around 7:30am Ray worked out they had almost 13 minutes on us. I had just come in with my first daylight sunday lap at 58 minutes and Ray told me I made 3 minutes up on the guy from the other team. Then Dave went out for a 7:30am lap and did it in 53 minutes, way to go Dave almost got them now.
This raised our spirits somewhat, giving us someone to compete with (even if they may not have realised they were now in a competition). After we worked out the previous evening that the competition between ourselves and "Bruised Buttocks" was not going to be close after all we felt we may lose out on the joy of close competition such as that between Mikey's Gadget/Six Pack/Whatever team and Jim's Team OAF (though team members on both sides of that divide may want to argue the use of the word "close" there). On the subject of that competition this year. I still wonder why Mikey didn't cheat when he realised they were about 20 minutes behind and simply send DeathMarch out on 4 laps in a row (I heard this was suggested). You could even disguise him, Put Al's red mont jacket on him, bandage his wrist like MikeB's, Get him to squat down a bit to be more Allan's height. The conversation between Jim and Mikey... really Jim that is Allan, or Al or MikeB it isn't Richard. Why is he riding an Ethos? oh umm Bought it last week didn't you Al/Allan/Mike?
Ray and Aaron then put in some very impressive laps, Ray on 56 minutes somehting and Aaron on 55 minutes something. At this point we were about 3 minutes ahead of the team and in 10th place when I went out for my last lap. On my sixth and final lap I lost a few minutes as I cramped up climbing up from the bottom of Kuhmo's and had to get off the bike, stretch a bit, then walk a bit. I got back to transition around 11:29am Hoping I had not cost us 10th place. I looked at my lap time on the screen and it was 1:01 or something. Aaron said the riders from the other team had come through, about 2 minutes before me, damn. Anyway all ended well as Dave pulled another blinder out of the bag and did a 54 minute lap coming in just after 12:25pm to finish the race.
So we all had a really good race, lots of fun. We finished 10th out of 95 or so teams in our category, which we all thought was a pretty good effort. I turned out I was the slowest person on the team (maybe I should become a tri geek... nah don't think I could do that) but we kept pretty consistent on the whole. Looking forward to next year, we can go get Troy and invade a veranda again maybe.