Entries have just opened for the 2015 edition of the Mont 24h Race. If you’re inspired to give it a crack, get in fast!
Whether you’re a relative new-comer to the sport or a seasoned racer, nothing says ‘mountain bike challenge’ quite like a 24-hour event. Beyond a test of fitness and skill, the 24 hour challenge is a show of endurance and racing tactics. Just ask some 2,910 riders who recently competed in the annual Canberra MONT 24h…
We gave Ged Stenhouse from sponsor RSM Bird Cameron a chance for some well-deserved shut-eye before getting the low-down on this ripper event.
2,910 riders? That’s a lot of event participants
Yes – this is the largest mountain bike event in Australia. This year we saw 510 teams and 2,910 riders get on board. So that’s 525 on the track at once. Teams are broken down into six members or four members; open age group, 40 and over etc. – there’s a category for everyone! This year’s lap ran for 19km.
Tell us about the course itself
The event first started out at Sparrow Hill past Queanbeyan, but has since moved to East Kowen Forest. It’s a cross-country track that’s mainly single trails versus fire roads. There’s a combination of good solid hill climbs and fast flowing downhill runs mixed in with some hairpin bends and ramps.
There are other technical features such as narrow and elevated bridges, large jumps etc., but there’s an A and B line option at each, making it accessible for all levels.
What about conditions during the 24h – what did Mother Nature deliver this year?
We pretty much experienced almost four seasons in a day; we even got a brief storm that came from nowhere on Saturday afternoon. We had to contend with cold and dust during the night along with some very tired eyes well into the morning, when both the dust and heat built up again.
Dust was in fact a significant challenge – we found ourselves constantly having maintain the condition of our bikes due to the impact of it on and in our running gear, even after just one lap.
What about ‘race village’ – can you paint us a picture
It’s brilliantly set-up. There’s a huge camping ground full of tents and food outlets set up around transition area. There is live music and performances throughout the 24 hours, including deep into the course itself. It’s fantastic – you’ll be out riding in the wee hours and suddenly you come across a band performing in the middle of the forest. There’s also a great mix of participants as well as supporters, who come in waves throughout. It’s a great buzz.
You mention food outlets. How do you manage your carbohydrates and fluids during such a huge endurance event like this?
The food outlets mean there’s plenty of diversity for meals during the 24 hours, so there’s no need to be exclusively on gels the whole time. Participants have to nourish themselves so you really need to plan this carefully. When it comes to fluid intake, you need to get this in during your ‘off-time’ as well. Sure you can maybe grab a sip of fluid whilst on the few fire roads, but when you’re tackling the single track features and it’s the middle of the night, you just can’t afford to grab the bottle – it’s all eyes and focus on the road ahead. So it becomes especially important to plan around this.
So planning is key for food and drink. What about race tactics?
We found ourselves constantly changing and reassessing our tactics throughout the 24 hours.
Strategy is really important – you’re looking at what other teams do but also factoring how your own riders feel and how they’re faring. During the race we made a decision to split our team of four into pairs. We found this worked better for us as the laps slow down if you’re doing a double on your own.
You can go in with a game plan but you’re going to have to be flexible and realise decisions are constantly made, as are changes. All that said I’ve got to say this is ultimately a really fun event. Participants are really nice to each other out on the course and it’s a great vibe. We weren’t racing for cattle stations!
Sure you can be fit as a fiddle but when it comes to 24h events, you have to have endurance. How did you train for this?
I probably shouldn’t mention here that I am mainly a road rider. I probably also shouldn’t mention that I only did one lap of the track before the event, should I?
RSM Bird Cameron got involved five or six years ago because some of the younger – and fitter – lads in the office are fairly avid mountain bike riders. They got us older blokes involved. So yes, I personally was roped in but it’s a top event and our firm gets behind it 100%.
Whether you’re a road rider or a mountain biker, it’s all about just getting kilometres in the legs when preparing for something like this.
And the burning question – how did you go?
Well, our goal was to finish in the top ten of our category. We hit the 23 lap mark and came tenth so we were happy with that!