North Californian town Weaverville hosts this years World Solo 24hour Championships put together by WEMBO. It will be the second time I’ve competed after last year’s champs slightly more conveniently taking place in Fort William. The No Fuss team put on an excellent event so there will be a lot to live up to from the folk across the pond. Here is a little clip from my last lap featuring TV celebs no less, there is also an excellent preview by Santa Cruz here.
I’m amazingly lucky to be heading across there and have scheduled a total of 3 weeks to tour California in a motorhome (or RV to get the lingo right) with my wife and chief pit crew Sarah. Getting set for a 24 hour race is always pretty stressful so adding on top the logistics of getting there from a few thousand miles away makes things a bit more interesting! Bike wise I’m actually surprisingly well prepped in advance with no last minute panic next day deliveries scheduled (as yet). Thanks to Roll for the Soul getting the bikes all prepped and M Steel Cycles for sorting me out with such excellent steeds. I’m pretty lucky to be rocking two very similar 24 hour racing machines. Details of my main ride are here
Essentially for me it’s a balance between lightweight and comfort which I seem to have got fairly spot on with these. A test run was passed with flying colours at the extremely tough European Championships course in Finale Ligure. Both bikes being flawless leaving me to focus on hauling my ass round the course a mere 40 odd times!
The bikes will be shipped across in a couple of plush bike bags a very helpful chap from Bike Science in Bristol has loaned me. However to keep the travel bill down we’re taking the two bikes as our main luggage so hand luggage only for clothing! Top tip though, get yourself some vac pack bags so you can stuff loads in a small bag, worked at treat for us and saves the £110 per bag excess luggage charge.
Having limited space makes things somewhat easier on the packing in that I’ll just have to buy anything I need on race day but with neutral tech support on site and some trade team style setups I’m sure friendly neighbours will be happy to help with any major mechanicals.
I’ll also be pitting with singlespeed ‘machine’ Steve Day looking to take the win in the singlespeed category so combined with his family we should have a decent little pit area to keep us both pedalling.
As for the race itself the organisers put together a really cool video to give you a flavour. I think it will be very different from Fort William which was extremely rough on the body. The course goes straight up a 20 minute or so fireroad climb so those long zone 3 hill repeats will come in handy. Along a flatish section of ridge before a long and gradual descent with a few short kicks thrown in. The descent looks like swoopy fun but it won’t have the same technicality of the Witch’s trail at Fort William. This is a bit of a shame as it’s these sections that I tend to make up some time on but I think some flatout speed through flowing singletrack should see me right.
Another contrast will be the weather. In Scotland many suffered with the damp and cold conditions which we won’t be seeing in California with daytime temperatures in the late 20’s but dropping down under 10 for night time where I’ll be booming some serious lumens with a raft of super Exposure Lights. The changing temperature will provide a bit of a challenge in terms of kit choice but I’ve got lots of Tenn Outdoor gear to take across to give me lots of layer options. Although I’m not a big fan of the heat after some successful pre Finale24 heat acclimatisation I’ve followed a similar routine for Weaverville, coupled with a week in the heat before the race should mean I’ll cope just fine.
As for strategy, I’ve been working on getting faster this year taking on a coach for some advice and hope to move up the ranks from my 17th place overall finish in Scotland. As ever though I’ll be riding my own race and looking to finish strong as usual to pick up any stragglers. I see pacing for a 24 hour race in a similar way to which my Dad explained putting in golf once, you’ve got to feel and visualise the distance to the hole (or in this case finish line), measure the effort based on that. I try and ride as hard as I think I can sustain for 24 hours, simple as that really. This is only possible with kit that works and a sound and well tested fuelling strategy. Keeping it simple in the food department really helps my stomach take the inevitable hammering so I tend to stick to just Torq energy products with the occasional banana and mouthfuls of soup and/or rice pudding. Oh and some bog standard tea to help settle the stomach and provide a bit of caffeine.
So I’m aiming for a top 10 elite finish which is pretty ambitious given the likes of U.S rippers Josh Tostado and Kelly Magelky lining up with Jason Miles looking to be the best placed Brit, pushing for the top step. And that’s even before world dominating Jason English gets thrown in to the mix.
The town of Weaverville has already been welcoming to riders coming from afar and we’ll be hosted by a local family who are one of many that have very generously offered to house competitors. This brings a real family feel to the event and we look forward to hearing more about the area from them.
The scales say race weight is close, the legs feel good, the head is in the right place. I’m all set.