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My 24 Hour Jet Black Solo MTB Endurance Challenge by David Speering

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In the interest of sharing and caring I thought I’d put fingers to keyboard about an event that still haunts me, the 2012 Jet Black 24hr Solo at Mt Annan in Sydney and hopefully by putting this story out I’ll gain some closure from this event. At the age of 34 I was 110kg and struggled to tie my shoe laces without losing breath and walking to the mailbox was exercise, so after 4 years of cycling and racing I was still fairly clueless about hydration and nutrition when I lined up for the Jet Black 24hr Solo at Mt Annan, which was probably my 8th or 9th Solo 24hr. I love the heat, and Mt Annan at the end of November is always hot and humid. At Midday on Saturday when we started the temp was already well above 30 deg C and topped out about 38 deg C late in the afternoon, over night the temp dropped to the low 20s. On the Sunday the sun came out and by the time we finished at midday, the temperature was back in the mid 30s. This event was one of my key events for the year so I went fairly well prepared. People always say don’t try anything new in a key race, try things out beforehand either in training or in races that don’t really matter. Well, firstly I started with a new bike, I had about 90 minutes of riding time on it prior to the event. Secondly I had a completely new support crew, the Onya Bike lads supporting me here were also racing in a 6 man team so at the end of most laps it was someone different passing out the bottles. These lads were also chasing the overall win for the event so understandably they had their own priorities to focus on and given that most of them didn’t know they had a solo rider to support, they looked after me as best they could. The heat knocked a lot of people around, riders were dropping everywhere from the heat. First aid and the organisers were kept busy for the entire event looking after riders. With this in mind, I drank a lot of fluid, either water or electrolyte, somewhere between 2 – 2.5 litres per hour, roughly 60 litres in 24 hours.
I thought because it was hot I needed to drink more. I thought that when the hot and cold chills started it was due to the heat, so I should drink more. I thought because everyone else was dropping like flies from the heat I needed to drink more. My support crew was saying it’s hot you need to drink more so I did. It got to the point that I was urinating every 25-30 minutes and I drank even more. For about 3-4 days afterwards I had what I can only describe as Urinary Tract Fatigue, I had no bladder control at all. I’d get about a 10 second warning that I needed to pee and there was nothing I could do to stop it or control it. Because I’d spent no real time on setting up my new bike, it failed on me. The fork seized up after only a few hours and I rode 20+ hours getting beaten up by my bike. It was about 4-5 weeks after the event before my feet stopped hurting, it took a few months to get feeling back into my hands and in fact when I lined up at Easter in 2013 for the National 24hr Solo (4 months later) I still had issues with both hands. So what did I get right? This was my first time relying solely on gels for nutrition, Shotz gels, over 60 of them and they worked an absolute treat. I still managed to will the 24hr Solo single speed category and came in 3rd overall in the solo event.
I learnt what pain and suffering during a race is really about. There have been may races since then that I thought I was hurting in, but none have come close to this one. How did I move forward after this? Within a couple of days I had the first of what has been many conversations / emails / texts with Darryl Griffiths at Shotz Sports Nutrition. I vividly remember his absolute disbelief at the volume fluid consumed, Darryl lectured me quite heavily, quite passionately and extensively about hydration and just how wrong I had gotten it during this event. I didn’t need to drink more, the hot and cold chills were most likely due to over hydration, just because others needed to drink more didn’t mean I needed too. Now anyone who knows me knows that I really don’t like being lectured to, but I listened to Darryl. I listened because I was in bad shape, I listened because what I had been doing wasn’t working, I listened because what I was doing had hurt me badly. I still listen... David Speering 2016 Many thanks to David for his recollections of a massively challenging event and for his cautionary tale of the importance of good nutrition and hydration. If you would like to tell your cycling story simply contact us via Twitter or e-mail leisurecycling@outlook.com and we’ll share it with the world!