Armidale is set to host the WEMBO Asia/Pacific Solo 24 Hour MTB Championships this November, in the lead up to the WEMBO World 24 Hour Solo MTB Championships next year.
This year’s 24 hour event is expected to draw 50 riders, while the coinciding UNE 12 Hours in the Piney race will attract 300. The longer race will see riders lapping around a set track, potentially racking up over 400km.
Anyone can participate if they feel themselves capable, New England Mountain Bikers president Peter Hosking says.
“To pull it off, you need to get your nutrition right, your clothing right, your fitness right,” Peter says. “It’s a planning achievement, plus an incredible endurance achievement.”
“That said, it is not so technical that people couldn’t work up to it. We won’t be putting on a very technical course, to ensure the event is inclusive and suitable for 24 hours of continuous riding.”
New England High Country secured itself as the destination of the 24 hour events through its proven performance at previous national events and newly developed world-class tracks and facilities (including the refurbished University of New England complex).
However, there is always room for improvement and the Asia/Pacific event this year will help the organisers make refinements for the 2020 World event, Peter says.
Outdoor caught up with seven-time 24 hour world champion, Jason English, to hear his take on the upcoming Armidale events and 24 hour racing in general.
“I’m intrigued to see the track they put in place,” Jason said. “There’s a great opportunity to do the Asia/Pacific this year, given it will hopefully be a similar track for 2020.”
“Preparation includes spending a whole stack of time on the bike, and looking for seven or twelve hour races that you can use as an opportunity to practise nutrition and different kitting strategies, get used to tracks and fine-tune your performance.”
“During races, some people will go really hard from the start. They’ll try to build a bit of a buffer. A gap of about 20 minutes is the ideal situation, but when you’ve got five or six riders who are all similar fitness you might find that by six o’clock in the morning you’ve still got three or fours riders vying for it.”
Jason also mentioned the significant role the support teams of riders play at 24 hour events – “I actually get the easy job” – and how, given the fact that riders, by necessity, work at a lower intensity than during other types of racing, they have the opportunity to be more social while on the track.
The 24 hour race will commence at 12pm on Saturday November 9, concluding at 12pm on Sunday November 10. Riders participating in the UNE 12 Hours in the Piney will complete six hours from 12pm Saturday, then restart at 6am the following morning, such that the events conclude at the same time.