Finale Ligure on the beautiful Italian coast is host to the WEMBO European Solo 24hour Championships on May 22nd. Riders from across the continent including Blighty will line up to take on the course which for many has been labelled the best lap on the circuit.
Myself, Richard Dunnett of storming to 3rd place at WEMBO 24hr fame, along with his partner Alex Nichol – doing it for the ladies – and regular 24hr race traveller Andy Howett will be flying the British flag. Unfortunately some of the old guard will be saving themselves for a potential assault across the pond to California for the World Championships in October. This is a real shame as the likes of Ant White are always the benchmark and a good marker of your own progression I think. I’ve no idea what the rest of the field will be like as a start list hasn’t been published, so as ever I’ll be focusing on my own game plan from the off.
The course itself promises much, lots of short harsh climbs I’m told with some rocky and technical cliff-line descents to keep you on your toes, sounds good to me!
Finale24 also promises a chilled atmosphere with the solo race starting 24hours before the team event, much banter and heckling will be had amongst fellow buddies from Bristol who are doing the team event the next day.
I’m very fortunate this year to be able to attend both the Euro and World Champs, the latter being my main goal for the season. Training for me has tended to start a little later in the ‘cycle’ of the season due to previous target races being in October. This was in the hope that I wouldn’t be burnt out come July from smashing out intervals over the winter months.
Finale 24 has therefore come round pretty quick and I’m just at the point of feeling like I’m starting to get going before a big race is upon me! In my drive to again do the ‘right things’ training wise I’ve had some great long rides over winter to get in some base miles. The ‘Epic’ rides at Afan and Coed y Brenin were highlights and it was great to really enjoy plugging out some big rides with mates.
Training wise as I haven’t had a coach I’ve been seeking as much advice from fellow riders as I dare ask for. Everyone has a slightly different take but I’ve certainly picked up some really good pointers along the way. The time came though where finding the time to properly plan training whilst balancing work has become a bit tricky so I’ve recently enlisted the help of Jon Fearne at E3Coaching to steer my last couple of weeks before Finale and then help my assault on the worlds.
Last year my legs had a bit of a capitulation early in the year due to the increase in volume too quickly meaning some time off the bike. Over the winter I’ve introduced some basic leg strength/stability work which seems to have paid off as I feel I can much more easily turn a bigger gear on the climbs now. Weight loss is a constant battle for me but with the help of local Café Roll for the Soul in Bristol supporting me, I’ve been much more focused on nutrition which has helped shave off the winter excesses.
Finding time to get the hours in is a constant challenge and I’ve been fitting in as many early morning sessions as possible to leave evenings free for day to day life duties like putting your washing away! A challenge I’m sure 9-5 workers trying to train 15hours a week will identify with. How some people add children in to that equation I’ve no idea, respect to them! One big help has been moving to a job for the council so flexi time has been amazing to help fit in longer weekends away and cheeky afternoons outings on the bike.
I’ve managed to get some great companies helping me out this year, with some big international races to attend, having people who can help reduce some of the costs means I can get to more races. Thank you all!
So I’ll be sporting two similar bikes for the race, both Trek Carbon 29ers. The first being my bike from last season, a Superfly 9.8sl with shimano xt 2×10 drivechain and fox forks. My main bike is a real weapon, a Superfly 9.8×1 with 1×11 drivechain, USE carbon post and bars, some race ready carbon Speciazled Roval SL Wheels. Both bikes have the ergonomic hand saving ESI FIT XC grips and I’ll be lit up with Exposure lights of course for swift lighting changeovers, vital in 24hr racing. Tenn Outdoor are keeping me comfortable on the bike clothing wise whilst Torq are dealing with stomach comfort with their tasty and easily digestible offerings. Weldtite TF2 dry lube will be the order of the day for the dusty trails. I’ve also got a few secret tricks up my sleeve designed specifically for 24hour race situations including the legal use of a syringe!!
Many thanks to everyone that has helped me along the way this year. Now to hit the road!