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Pique n' Your Interest

24 hours of maintaining pain

I now have very little skin left on the inside of my legs.

This is the result of a loose seat and just generally being grossly unprepared for last weekend’s 24 Hours of Adrenalin race.

I did my best to be prepared – I asked lots of questions – but a 24-hour race is something that you really have to do once before you know what’s going on (particularly if you don’t do Loonie races because rugby training is also on Thursdays).

But I’m not here to talk up the details of my race (although I must say the highlight for me happened when my light faded out at the start of a lap around 2 a.m. I lost count how many times I went flying off my bike into the woods on that lap).

No, I want to talk about the amazing ability of the body to adapt to whatever the mind wants it to adapt to.

And the fact that when you’re competing, particularly in endurance events, age is nothing, attitude is everything.

To demonstrate my point I’ll use my teammates and I’ll start with our designated leader, the Pique’s production manager, John Blok.

The first point that should be made clear about the Blokmeister is that he’s 50 years old (a year shy of twice my age).

The week before he did the 24-hour race, he was in Penticton with his wife, Grace, doing the Ironman, and this week he’s doing the Samurai race.

I know if I completed an Ironman, the week after I’d be keen to do absolutely nothing, but instead the Blokmeister was out there, with scores of other keen Whistlerites, pedalling his bike over roots, rocks and up hills.

John did five laps of the 15 km circuit but I will remember the Blokmeister’s effort by his first lap.

The first lap was the longest because competitors had to complete a short run for the Le Mans start and then a prologue circuit before starting on the race lap.

Most of the solo 24-hour riders came in ahead of everyone else but right in the middle of the first pack was the Blokmeister at one hour and four minutes. Sensational stuff.

The other male who stood out in the Pique’s two teams was a guy that could pass as the Blockmeister’s brother, Scott Brunning.

At 47, Brunning is another embarrassingly fit middle-aged dude who is as keen as a 17 year old at a barn dance full of cougars.

Brunning only got better as the race went along, averaging 50-something-minute laps, but it was his fifth and last lap that stood out.

The Pique entered two teams in the race and in the second team only one rider had to complete a fifth lap.

Teams have a running order but after 23 hours of racing when there’s an extra lap to do, it’s up to whoever’s feeling the best to do it.

Not only did Brunning happily volunteer to do a fifth lap; he went out there trying to beat his best time of 55 minutes (he also really wanted to "beat Stu", the rangy New Zealander who was turning in 50-54 minute laps).

Every rider who raced in the 24-hour race would have a story to tell but there is one more member of the Pique team that deserves a mention. Her name is Hilary Hendriks.

Hendriks gets a mention because she’s a 36-year-old mother of two who had never raced in a 24-hour race before and she smoked me on the last lap.

She raced like Jimmy played the guitar – fast and smooth.

Yeah, I had a busted seat and she only beat me by 10 seconds but blah, blah, blah – I was smoked by a mother. (That was a hard phrase to write.)

I know there is a glut of freakish female riders in Whistler but still, I think I was about nine years old the last time I was beaten by a women, that I didn’t want to be beaten by, in a race.

To make matters a little more excruciating after the race she rode up the hill to parking lot eight – I could hardly walk up that dam hill.

I’ll finish this column with a list of things I didn’t have that might be helpful should you be thinking of competing as a team in a 24-hour race.

If you’re thinking of going solo for 24-hours then you’re crazy and the only advice I have is you will need a solid pit crew to keep you going.

Bike shorts/pants (My gym shorts were okay and then my seat broke and it was all over. I’ve only just retrieved my underpants).

A solid but light cross-country bike (a downhill bike won’t do) that you’ve ridden before the race. (I’ve found that the heavier and/or more inexperienced you are the more helpful it is to have some added suspension.)

A complete repair kit including all-purpose tool, spare tubes, pump, spare chain etc… then make sure you know how to use all the things you have in your repair kit!

Learn how to ride with clip-on shoes.

Lots of food that you can eat cold, and energy bars/drinks and something to boil some water and/or cook with. Some vitamin pills also help.

Somebody to bring you at least one warm, carbohydrate-loaded meal.

Two pairs of long johns (one for when you’re trying to sleep and one for when you’re riding during the night) and a riding jacket – warm, but breathable.

Liquid-heat or tiger balm to rub on your lower back and other sore bits before you ride.

A car to sleep in OR a big/soft mattress and a tent that you can easily erect on gravel (like a dome tent) and a hammer with strong tent pegs.

A spare light for your bike or a headlamp just in case the one you’ve hired or brought from home fails during a lap.

You don’t need to bring:

Material to keep you occupied because when you’re not riding because you’re either sleeping, eating, drinking or engaging in small talk and/or cheering whoever else is about to go and ride.

Post Script

: For all you ex-pat Aussies out there, it’s federal election time. The Liberals, Labor, Greens, Democrats and the rest, go at it on Oct. 9. Look up the Australian Electoral Commission Web site – www.aec.gov.au – or the Australian High Commission in Ottawa at www.ahc-ottawa.org/elections/ – for voting information.



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