Ground Effect 12hr Day-Nighter, New Zealand 2006

Tired but satisfied today after achieving my first win of the year yesterday in the Ground Effect 12hr Day Nighter. My mate Cameron had suggested entering it some weeks ago, at which point it seemed like a good idea.... But since his shop was sponsoring me, there was no backing out, despite the weather turning distinctly chilly in the last week or so. Fortunately, race day up in Hamner Springs dawned bright and sunny, and we were blessed with perfect race temperatures (it topped out at 25 degrees) and a fast, dry course. The event had attracted quite a large field, with 29 solo men, 9 solo women, and 130 teams. This meant 168 riders on the start line, which I was fairly apprehensive about, especially when the planned wide open start line was moved back to a narrower section followed directly by a downhill.... But everyone seemed to take the organiser's instructions to take it easy off the line to heart, and we got underway without trouble at 10am. Shirley was my able support crew for the day, and I had told her beforehand that my plan was to go hard off the start to get clear, then to keep the pressure on until I had a lap on second place, which I reckoned would take six or seven hours on the 9km course. Having basically rested up during the preceeding week, my legs felt great, and I tore off up the first climb, chasing after the fast team riders. I came through the first lap safely in the top ten overall, and first solo. The second lap I settled into a nice rythmn, riding to heartrate, no problem. But then on the third lap I got a shock when two soloists caught and passed me! I quickly hopped on the wheels, and rode a lap with them, thinking that this could be an interesting tatical event over twelve hours.... But then at the top of the climb on the fourth lap, I lead into the singletrack, and when the others got slightly held up by some traffic, I put a bit of a surge on. Through the finish I had about 30 seconds on them, so I figured I would try doing a lap hard to see if I could get away - working on the 'out of sight, out of mind' rule that if they couldn't see me they wouldn't know what pace I was riding at. Which worked well. And in fact I found that 'hard' pace quite comfortable, so just carried on. My first 17 laps were all around 26 minutes. Shirley was giving me time splits to second place, and it gradually lengthened out, until I finally caught second for a lap as I started my 18th lap, a couple of minutes before 7 hours. So now I could relax a little, but I was still feeling fine, so kept motoring. We had to have lights on the bikes for laps starting after 5:30pm, so I had a few minutes stop while I faffed around strapping on the battery pack (cheers for the loan Andi!). I was starting to struggle a bit now, feeling a bit sick and unable to eat - a common complaint from ingesting so much energy drink and gels for so long. As usual it just came down to mental tenacity for the last four hours, and I was gradually counting down the laps. My times got dramatically slower, more to do with actually stopping in the pits than slowing down that much, although that was certainly a factor! Finally I was able to call it a day with 11:30 on the clock and 25 laps completed. Second and third came in just behind me, but both a lap down.