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24 Hour World Championships Race Report 2008

Posted by fenner on July 30, 2008

Well now that the swollen legs have started to recover everything has started to settle down it’s time for the race report.

 Pit lane 2nd lap

Pit lane 2nd lap

The race started in awesome conditions with temps in the mid 20’s. The gun went off and the World 24 Hour Champs started with the classic sprint running start with a 400m loop back to transition to collect the bikes and a starting loop that saw the field drop down into town and back up to the Nordic Centre. As usual the pace was fast from the start and an initial selection was made with Willo, Claxers, English, Toohey and myself amongst Tinker and Kelly. This lead group was moving fast and with my power meter on board I was holding around 340 – 440 watts! I was a little concerned and Willo also commented on how his heart rate was through the roof. I was sure that the guys couldn’t hold this sort of pace and after the first climb it settled a little. Through first halfway feed our group was well clear and we all settled in.

Transition

Transition

I can only say that what happened next has never happened to me before in such a long race and that is that I don’t remember much of it!!!! Yes after 7 hours the rain and storms came, but I didn’t really feel it or take it in. I have never been so focused and totally in the moment before. I continued to focus on my race, internally focusing and not focusing on the riders in front or behind. I sort of remember Simon from Total Rush giving me time checks and positions but the battle was to be won inside my head as much as on the trails. The night was amazing super muddy and very technical on the rooty descents and slogs up the climbs, riders were dropping out left right and center and I managed to complete very consistent laps time after time. As morning came and the light filtered through the trees I first became aware that I was up into 3rd and closing on Jason in 2nd place. I continued to ride my own race and with about 4 hour to go gained 2nd place coming through transition. I then had my only bad spell of the race as Jason came back up to me and attacked opening up a 15 minute advantage in one lap. I again internalised and fought back with a last lap effort that brought me to within 6 minute of Jason. Willo was in a class of his own and rode the most amazing race well done mate you were awesome. I have analysed the time differences and will hatch a plan of attack for  next year. Well done to all the Aussies we dominated the World Champs and showed that the Aussie Enduro scene is the best on the Planet. Katrin you are a super star, Troy you da man, Fellows good on ya bro and Craig your effort and dedication paid off again for the 3rd time in a row.

Mud mud mud

Mud mud mud

Stats for the race. Average power 178 Watts (Normalised 220), 16 laps x 20km with 35,000ft of climbing. 18,000 cals. 2 x bikes changed every lap with new pads and cables in the race. No stops longer than to put on Knee warmers (no toilet stops ;o( (but a very smelly pair of shorts)

I would like to thank my sponsors Total Rush, HIGH5, SKINS, Hid Technologies, Oz Riders. Without your help and support it would not be possible for me to do what I do, special thanks to Simon and Jen from Total Rush. Simon came out to Canada to support me and I thank you for that mate you are a star. Thanks to all the support from my local club South Coast United Mountainbike (SCUM) Your rock. And last but not least thanks to my long suffering wife Sally. I love you babe and with out you I couldn’t have done any of it.

Done

Done

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Aussie Aussie Aussie

 

Cheers all

Fenz

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The Science of Racing

Posted by fenner on April 7, 2008

The Science of Racing (Using your Noggin)

I have over the past few months spouted the various advantages of using a power meter. Using power and analysing the data from races and training will lead to improvements in performance no doubt about it. The data that we get from the races themselves can often be the most useful to us to really get an idea of what is needed and when, or what went wrong and when. More often than not it is not always the strongest and fittest rider that win the race, tactics and pacing are major contributors to success and this is why you often see older riders taking the wins.

Andrew Coggan writes in his book Training and Racing with power:-

A power meter can also help you determine when you are using too much energy in a race. Could it be that you are pedalling too much? From thousands of power meter race files that have been analysed, it has been shown that the winners are the riders that do not pedal as much as the rest of the peloton. How can this be? Well the best racers usually sit in the pack, watch, wait and hide from the wind, conserving energy. These aren’t the guys who are out the front of the pack driving the pace for hours on end. The winners are the ones who pedal less than the rest, but when they do pedal, watch out, because they pedal harder than the rest of the pack.

I will repeat that sentence because it is so important to successful racing.

The winners are the ones who pedal less than the rest, but when they do pedal, watch out, because they pedal harder than the rest of the pack.

Again to get the real data and the amount of time spent not pedalling a power meter is needed.

In the book “The Science of Riding Faster” by Edmund R Burke PhD, Jeffrey P Broker gives the following example to outline just how much pedalling a pro/elite rider completes in a stage of the 1991 Tour DuPont.

 

Cycle Power Watts Percent of Ride Cycle Velocity (mph) Percent of Ride

0 – 120

51%

0 – 7.5

3%

120 – 240

17%

7.5 – 15.0

15%

240 – 360

23%

15 – 22.5

19%

360 – 480

4%

22.5 – 30

30%

480 – 600

1%

30 – 42.5

21%

Recorded for one rider in a 3 – hour, 37 minute stage race (1991 Tour Dupont)

This chart clearly shows that a massive percentage of time is spent a low power outputs 51% from 0 – 12watts. Ok so this is all very well but how do we do it?

All riders new to road racing go through the period of smashing it off the front and doing all the chasing only to be dropped when the race really starts. This can often lead to frustration and loss of motivation. I have found in Australia especially, that without the standardised points system adopted in England for instance where a rider starts as a 4th cat and by virtue of points gained in races moves up to a 1st cat and elite rider if they are good enough, that often talented riders jump straight in at the deep end. They often end up riding against seasoned riders that hang them out to dry, and but for the most genetically gifted most get smashed. This can often lead to subsequent poor moral and lack of motivation. I am a firm believer that success breeds success and that winning can become a habit. This habit can be started in the lesser categories and subsequently continued in the higher categories.  I believe ego and peer pressure often moves riders up the ladder before the trade has been learnt. Also it is important for newer racers to stand up for themselves in the peloton; you don’t have to go through just because the local gun shouts at you to! That being said if you can do it do it, but don’t do more than you have to, you can be sure that they won’t.

For some this will be telling them how to suck eggs for others give it a go, try to sit in instead of doing all the work, try sitting on the wheel of the local gun rider and see how he races? Don’t sit on him the whole race and come off his wheel for the win straight off or you will make no friends but just observe and learn. You day and time will come just be patient.

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24 Hour National Solo Championships 2008

Posted by fenner on March 25, 2008

Well the race has now come and gone and it’s time to recover and reflect on what could have been. I finished the race in 4th overall, with a gold medal in my age group, not the position I had gone to get but as is always the way with 24 hour races there is a lot that can happen in 24 hours. I am in a philosophical mood at the moment and am quite happy that I did my best and that I was I the race for over 12 hours of what I can only describe as being the fastest most full on 12 hours I have ever been involved in. When things don’t go according to plan it can often lead to our best learning and I believe that this will be the case this year. I am now in the process of dissecting every bit of the race piece by piece to better understand where I can make gains for the Worlds later in the year.

Just Before The Start

The race took off from the get go with XC type speeds with averages of over 21km/h. I wanted to be in the race so I covered the early move from John Claxton (Giant), Joel Donney (Giant) and Jason English (BMC). It took a few laps but I began to gradually pull them back and I worked with Troy Bailey (BMC) to do so. As soon as we were on Claxton attacked and took off, the rest of us let him go thinking that he was simply going to blow later in the event, such was the speed at which he attacked. For the next 2 – 3 hours the race was a bit of a yo yo with all of us swapping off from 3rd to 5th place and maintaining a high tempo. With Claxton starting to make a bit of a gap Jason took off in pursuit and bridged the gap to Claxton. These two riders were about to begin one of the best races that I have ever been witness to as for around 12 hours the continually swapped turns, attacked each other and chased each other down. Quite simply 24 hour racing was taken to the next level.

Early In The Race

With 12 hours done I was feeling strong in 3rd place and had a good lead of over 15 minutes, and then the lights went out!!!!! On the backside of the course I suffered a battery failure. I always carry a small petzil headlight and so I limped back and lost around 10 – 15 minutes. Battery changed I got back on it. Dan Mackay was now much closer and so I made a big effort, a big mistake. I hit a bad spell at around 2 am and it just kept going on and on. Usually a bad spell comes and goes so I struggled on. It didn’t end and by 4 am I was in the box, tapping out 34 – 36 minute laps with enforced breaks stretching a couple of laps out to 41 minutes. It was game over and into damage limitation time. Jason and Claxton were still at it and smashing each other, Dan was being super consistent having not got involved in the early race. Joel and Troy were out of it with the early pace basically closing the lid on their race this year.

Chasing Troy

I started to rally a bit as the daylight approached then the lights went out again! @$#^@*!(. I limped home and lost another 10 – 15 minutes and my capacity to deal with the setbacks. I struggled on for the remainder of the race and sat out the last hour as I was not going to catch Dan. At this stage of a 24 hour I would rather look after myself and start to mentally regroup, rather than continue to smash myself for the sake of 2 or 3 more laps on the results sheet.

The Top 5

I would like to thank everyone for their help and support leading up to the Nationals. Sally my wife was outstanding in the pits never getting any sleep and looking after me so well. Josh and Nick were also outstanding in their support thanks guys you rock.

I would like to thank my great sponsors Simon and Jen at Total Rush; my 2008 S-Works Epic was simply superb and never missed a beat throughout the race. The Specialized Fast Track LK tires were awesome as well, rolling super fast and gripping like a limpet on the loose dusty Majura dirt. A big thanks to John Hill at Fastgear and HIGH5, the 4:1 energy source is quite simply the best tasting easiest to drink energy product on the market. Combined with the gels and bars my feeding was the best yet. Daniel at HID technologies was let down by his battery supplier so I didn’t receive my new units, this lead to one of the batteries failing and unfortunately it got put back in the mix with a burn time of 2.5 hours instead of the usual 5 hours. The rest of the time the HIDS cranked out the Lumens and lit up the track allowing me to complete super fast night laps. Finally I would like to say a great big thanks to my newest sponsor Skins. Their gradient compression garments reduced muscle fatigue in my upper body throughout the race and I never once suffered a sore back or arms (a first for me). It is now Tuesday and I have been wearing the full travel and recovery longs and sports skins long sleeve since the race and I was able to do a 2 hour ride today and I feel ok, I have no soreness in any part of my body period!

So now it is all about a easy week and then the build for the World Championships. I am looking forward to riding full time and not having to work 60 – 70 hour a week, I only need to improve a few percent and I will be in the reckoning. Stay tuned for all the training updates and race reports in the coming months.

Fenners race stats

Distance, 42 laps (400km).

Total Kcal, 17217 Kcal (Polar)

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MTB National Championships Stromlo 2008

Posted by fenner on January 31, 2008

 This year the National Champs were again held at the fantastic Stromlo venue in Canberra. With the rain over the past few months and all the extra work that has been done by the CORC club the trails were in good nick with a promised climbers course with good technical downhills, I was fully frothing at the prospect of the weekends racing.

mk230_l6955.jpg

Picture Taken at The Scott 24 Hour National Championships 2007

As I turn 38 this year I was down to race the Vet’s category for the XC race and Elite for the short course. Last year Paul Rowney smashed me in the XC and I came in second, this year with my functional threshold up by around 20 watts and my power to weight touching 5.2 watts/kg I was confident of being up there and in with a chance of winning. The build up was great this year with the Jayco Bay Crits coming at just the right time to really bring on the peak I was as I have all ready said frothing and raring to go.

The Vets race was going to be 4 laps which going by lap times would be around 1 hour 45 mins and with temps due to hit 30 plus degrees hydration and nutrition were also going to play an important part in the race. Having been racing the young guns all season I was actually looking forward to 1 less lap and the initial speed of the young whipper snappers.

I should know better by now the gun went and the hammer went down, I was cranking it off the front and the first section of fire road climb (on the start loop) was tough. Warren Burgess (KOM) who always starts fast came by with Tim Bateman (Wheeler) close behind. I jumped aboard and welcomed the help into the wind on the open sections. Warren was going well but I felt very comfortable and bided my time. I was planning to attack on the final small pinch before the descent, however, Tim fluffed a technical section on the climb and Warren made a small gap which I couldn’t shut down before the descent leaving me to have to rain it in on the downhill where I was looking to make a good gap before the next climb. The opportunity didn’t arrive until the last section of single track before the start finish area so I flew by and quickly gapped Warren for a 15 second lead going into lap 2. I was feeling really strong on lap 2 and increased the lead to around 45 seconds by lap 3 and actually thought I had the race in the bag. Then The Phil Orr factor came into view as I switch backed up the climb. I had never raced Phil and really had not expected anyone real me in as quick as he did. He rode up to m back wheel and attacked hard, I just couldn’t respond to his attack and had to settle into my race and try to close the gap back up to him on the remaining lap.  After passing the feed zone I felt as though I was closing the gap, but, it was not to be and it was another silver medal for the old Fenner.  I would like to offer big congratulations to Phil Orr as he rode a superb race and really showed his class in his first year in the Vets.

In the elite race it was a one man show with Chris Jongeward leading from start to finish in truly awesome style. Rohin Adams of Total Rush had a great race to finish 16th in the elite field well done mate a solid ride and good luck for the year and the Euro exploits.

I spent the night in a reflective mood but happy that I had ridden as hard as I could and had given my all, next up the short track.

The morning came around as a hot one and after a few early laps of the short track course and a warm up lap of the XC course I was ready for the start. The start positions were seeded according to the second laps fastest times from the day before, this meant I was in 17th position on the start line which was 3rd row. It was going to be tough to get through the field and into a good position before the first berm and little pinch single track climb. The gun went and the pace right from the off was full on, I was only able to make up a couple of spots before we all ground to a halt at the berm and again at the pinch climb. This was unfortunately game over for the top spots as the gap was made, is was now about moving up as best as possible and seeing where I could finish. I was feeling real strong picked riders off one by one. The short track course was amazing and a real buzz to race well done CORC. In the end Andrew Blair (Spearmans Giant) and I were ducking it out for the top 10. It was a great race and all that saw the event were shouting and hollering at the riders antics on the course. The Jonginator took the overall to add to his win in the elite XC with Paul V in second and Dylan in third.

And so now it’s all go for the National 24 Hour Champs on the Easter weekend, followed by the World Marathon Champs in Italy in June and the 24 Hour World Champs in Canmore Canada in July. It is exciting times and I will be going full time from April onwards so that I can prepare properly without having to work 70 hour weeks. We will see how it goes.

Once again thanks to my fantastic sponsors Total Rush Specialized, HIGH5 and Fast Gear without your support my racing would not be possible.

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The Jayco Bay Crits

Posted by fenner on January 18, 2008

The Jayco BayCrits 2008

Williamstown – Stage 1.

Well for 2008 Team Total Rush was fielding two teams in the Jayco Bay Crits.  For the first time five lucky riders were going to be lining up in the pro class alongside arguable the best criterium field seen in Australia.  The other five riders were going to be racing the always super competitive and equally tough A grade support race.   First round Williamstown.Conditions were good at the start of the first round in Williamstown.  The Total Rush guys warmed up around the course and spirits were high amongst all.  First to get off were the A grade support and with over one hundred starters and a tight challenging technical circuit, the pressure was on from the start.  The winner for the day was ex Total Rush rider and super gun Joel Pearson, who sprinted to a commanding victory.  Lining up on the Elite start line nerves were tense and looking around was a whose who of Australian Pro-cycling.  The likes of Stu O’Grady, Baden Cook, Mark Renshaw and nearly every other Pro made for a large lump in the throat.  Stupidly and naively, having raced for over twenty years, including racing in Belgium, I figured the Continental Pros would take it easy, not wanting to risk crashing or jeopodising their chances in the Tour Down Under and early season Pro Tour races.  What a plonker!  The gun went and the hammer went down.  Eighty riders, shoulder to shoulder, head to head rocketed towards the first 90 degree roundabout.  This dog eat dog, very aggressive style of racing was the style for the rest of the week.  With average speeds of up to 45 to 46 km per hour on tight criterium courses, there was no room for error and positioning was one of the major factors for still being in with a chance at the end. The first ten minutes at Williamstown my SRM power meter was showing up to 1200 Watt accelerations out of corners and repeatedly 700 to 900 Watts, these sorts of power outputs unfortunately were beyond a 24 ultra endurance mountain bike rider like me.  With a grimace on my face and pain in my legs, I got dropped, as did about 70 per cent of the field.  So it was time to regroup and talk with the crew as to how best to tackle the rest of the crits.  We were definitely out gunned and really this was to be expected, otherwise we would be fulltime professionals.  however, I was sure with the right course and right positioning in the pack we could get some finishes and actually take part in some of the racing. 

Port Arlington – Stage Two.

Conditions were tough on stage two with a strong headwind on the climb.  This was to prove decisive in both races with very small packs finishing Matt rode well in the support race finishing with the pack or what was left of it.  Joel Pearson winning again with a sprint finish.  The pros race was much the same with the pink train of Total Rush getting smashed along with most of the other riders. 

Stage Three – Geelong Hot Dog.

It was a hot dog alright – stinking hot, just like last year, 35 degrees with a light cross wind and large crowds.  The support race saw a few Total Rush riders having a much better time with Matt, Will and Skinny all riding well and doing their best to miss the multiple crashes that always seem to affect a large field on the super tight hot dog course.  In the Pro race the Rush boys faired a little better, with Brett managing a bit of a turn on the front and getting quite pally with Baden Cook.  Both Jake and myself managed to stay past the half an hour mark and if it wasn’t for a lot of dropped wheels, I’m sure we could have finished with the main pack, even though this had been lapped by the big dogs.  However, things were feeling better and our time would come. 

Botanical Gardens – Stage 4 long course.

With a slightly longer 2.4km circuit the racing was going to be a lot tighter with less people getting dropped in both the support and pro race.  In the support race Will finished well and strong within the top fifteen.  This was going to be the day where the more road based riders could shine and even the old Fenzmeister maybe able to get a result.  Things started real well and the pack rolled around for the first lap.  Jake, myself and Myles moved ourselves up towards the front of the main peloton.  As we approached the start finishing area I was just thinking of making an attack when a flash of pink went by me on the right.  Jake had had a pop and both Myles and myself moved on to the front of the Peloton for a little blocking.  Finally, the pink was seen at the front.  This was a start of a good race for the boys and we were never really out of the top twenty.  Only in the last few laps were a few of the lads tailed off.  I just missed the top ten or twelve riders who sprinted out for the overall victory.  Again, just losing a wheel on the final climb to the finish.  The Total Rush team was pretty stocked with the effort in round 4 and the pro race was run at an average speed of nearly 46km/h.  Over seven km/hr faster than the support race.  The peloton was smoking. 

Round 5 – Botanical Gardens short course.

This was to be a short and bitter day for all concerned.  After a fantastic Amy Gillet fund raising ride in the morning, both teams were smashed on the short course at the Botanical Gardens.  With only around 15 riders in each race something really should be done about the incredibly tight bumpy circuit that allows no room for anyone outside the top twenty in either field.  Lets hope next year this circuit is dropped. I would like to offer my apologies to the channel 10 cameraman who I bunny hopped over the central kerb at the start to aviod a crash and narrowly running into and taking out.

I would like to offer my thanks to Simon at Total Rush for the opportunity if racing the pro’s at the Jayco Bay Crits and I am sure the young guns learnt a great deal and with my valuable power data will be back next year with a few more watts in the engine room. 

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I love Racing

Posted by fenner on December 22, 2007

I love this time of year – building fitness and not having the pressure of priority races means that each race can be used as the stepping stone for the important goals of later in the season.  After getting 2nd in the NZO 12 hour a couple of weeks ago I felt fresh as a daisy and flew down tot Melbourne feeling pretty good about my chances of getting a result.  So with that in mind the Saturday morning loomed to a cool but sunny Melbourne day.  Having not had the time to pre-ride the course, it was going to be a case of suck it and see.  At ten o’clock the Le Mans dash for cash start saw riders scrabbling in the sand and sprinting the 200metres to their bikes.  This type of start is always tough for the solo competitors as it leaves their legs feeling a little dead for the first 15 – 20 minutes of the ride.  This occasion was no different and after the initial prologue section the race disappeared into the Werribee sand.   The first lap proved very interesting – the course was going to be incredibly tough, with four creek crossings and numerous steep off-camber pinch climbs really sorting the men out from the boys.  I was feeling good but was very conscious of the big efforts needed to climb each of the steep sections.  Four solo riders went up the road at a pace I deemed not sustainable for the full 12 hours.  With this in mind I settled in to my own rhythm.   By the half way stage I was feeling ok but was not making any in roads into Ben Randle’s lead, which hovered around the 15 minute mark – I was however, nutting out consistent laps and reeling in the other leading soloists.  Just on darkness I managed to catch James Maebus and attacked him hard hoping this would demoralise him and stop him responding to my attack.  This worked well and I quickly put 5 minutes into him in the subsequent lap.  I however had the feeling that I would pay for that effort later in the race.   Jen from Total Rush was looking after all my feeding and hydration and was doing a sterling job keeping me well fed and hydrated and informed as to the time difference between myself and Ben Randle.  Just after ten hours I started to feel the efforts of the last two weeks and really began to suffer.  The course was taking its toll.  Ben Randle was riding very, very well and at that point was looking unbeatable.  So with my position relatively secure I stopped for a hot cup of coffee and some chips before going out for my last lap. The race finished with another 2nd place and some very tired legs.  Maybe two 12 hour races in 2 consecutive weekends with a long week at work in between is pushing it. However, when I allow the freshness back to my legs I know I will reap the benefits of all this hardwork. This last weekend gone – saw Sally (my wife) competing in the local enduro as team Total Rush.  Racing in the pairs category against all the men we won all three events.  The 1hour, the 2 hour night ride and the 4 hour Sunday enduro.  Sally was ripping it up on her new Specialized Sa-fire with lap times that were faster than some of the elite women on her first ever mtb race.  The Sa-fire worked flawlessly and she noticed how light it was on the climbs and how predictable and reassuring it was on the descents.  Yet again Specialized have designed an awesome bit of kit. That’s all on the race scene until the Scott 24 hour when Sam Bach and myself will be gunning to win the pairs.  BRING IT ON!

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