Monday, October 28, 2013
Winning my age group at WEMBO has been my goal for the year. As with most people who trained all year for this, I didn't get the perfect preparation due to injuries. Instead of looking at this a negative, the positive was I didn't over train in my lead up.
My plan was very simple: race the two weekends leading up to WEMBO and lay down some good km during the weeks in between. First up was the Awaba 7hr, where I got to race with Canada and Holly in a mixed 3 team. This was an uber fun race - I got to lay down some fast laps & we all ended up getting the win. Everything was coming together nicely at this stage. I felt that with another week under the belt I would be ready for WEMBO.
The lead up...
Weekend before Wembo saw me race the Scott 25hr as part of a 6 person mixed team. This was the perfect place to get a feel for the WEMBO course because the Scott25hr used all the trails we would be racing on. Our team was made up of Jack, Cam, Holly, Trekky, Canada and myself... There were a few pinners in this bunch so I had to lay down some fast laps. Andy and Ethan were racing the 7plus 6 and managed to get 3rd against a very strong field. Our team had a solid race, but by morning the Onya bike team had done enough damage throughout the night to get away with the win. We ended up 2nd. Thanks go to my team mates - it was awesome fun. A massive thanks to Pete our team manger for all the support and bike maintenance during the race. We would have struggled without him.
WEMBO 24hr was finally here, so who were my support crew? I had good friends Richard and Mikey flying in from QLD; Holly (who ended up jumping in the deep end to race WEMBO herself, take out the under 23 title and still manage to look after me); and Pete - team manager, mechanic and legend at looking after solo riders. I have also had a huge amount of support during the year from my family, friends, team mates and sponsors - thanks heaps guys, it's much appreciated! We had an awesome set up right on the crit track and I spent the morning going through my usual motions of going over bikes, getting gear ready and sorting my food ect ect. Its very cool rocking up to a race and having the support of a team behind you. After a little warm up, it was down to the start line for the race. The elites got under way, and the wait seemed like a life time until our start.
My race plan was simple. I wanted to work pretty hard for the first 4hours and see who was keen to play. We got started, and it soon became apparent that a few peeps had the same plan. Last years winner Alexis Matthys was one of them. As it turned out we were swapping turns for the few km on the climb up to the observatory, and with a km or so to go before we hit the top I decided to push a little bit harder and see if I could get a gap leading into the first descent. This worked, until I hit the first corner and flatted. I was gutted. I couldn't believe it. I had raced the weekend before, had my lines dialled in, and still flatted on my first lap. I watched about 50 plus peeps cruise past and dropped a good ten minutes. I finally got my head back in the game: "Sean, you have 23.5 hrs to catch back up". I smashed back through the field for the rest of this lap. Quick bike change in pits and (thanks to my awesome crew) I was back out trying to get back to the leader. For the next few hours Alexis was smacken it, and to be honest I couldn't close the gap. At this stage of the game my crew were working really well and I came into pits not wasting too much time and rolling out with a lubed bike, food in the belly and a fresh bottle, really what more could a solo rider want? Ed was smacking the elite field up and Holly in her first ever solo24hr was turning heads. Meh, keep peddling damn it...
Darkness was coming. I love night riding, and I had it in the back of my head that if I had a shot at the jersey, night would be where I could put some hurt on. Just before dark I was greeted to another flat tyre... I have to admit - mentally I considered calling it a night and heading off to the pub. After a quick can of HTFU I rolled back into pits. Ed, after smacken the elite field, had pulled the pin due to health issues. It was around the 9pm mark when I rolled outta pits and I could hear a rider behind me pinning it... Boom! Holly was on my back wheel, and even after 9hrs I thought: Game On Holly.... This was probably the high point of the race for me, as we raced each other to every corner.
During the night I kept an eye over my shoulder for the ever-consistent Crummy, so you could imagine my surprise when I caught up to him! "Maybe I'm not rolling to bad?" I thought. After a quick chat, I kept lapping through the night just trying to hit my lines, not get another flat and hopefully catch Alexis up front. I'm not sure what time it was when I got the word from my crew that I had actually passed him, and was 2min in front. This was the break I was looking for. After a quick feed I went back out looking to put some hurt on. Another two laps and it was sunrise, Alexis had taken a break and I now had a 50min lead. My crew handed me fresh kit and heaps of food - now it was time to play the safer race.
The next few laps went really well and I was stopping for about 5min each lap, making sure I was fuelled up before rolling out for another lap. I carried this on until just after 12pm and was stoked to have a cold beer handed to me at the finish line, surrounded by all the peeps that supported me during the race.
Massive thankyou to Pete, Richard, Mikey and Holly for crewing and keeping me focused on the jersey. Thanks to my family and friends who have supported me throughout the year. A big thanks to my sponsors: Target Trek Racing Team, Trek Bikes, Ay Up Lights, Venture Cycles, Shotz Nutrition and Rubena Tyres. You guys make my goals a lot easier to achieve!
Big thanks to Crummy, always a strong competitor when I'm racing against him, and always keeps me looking over my shoulder. Thanks to Alexis for making me work (hard!) for the age-group win. Bellchambers, you're a freaking machine & awesome company. Congrats on the SS World Title. Last but not least - congrats to Jason for taking the overall win and covering nearly 450km to do it!
30-34 World Champ
Posted by Sean Bekkers at 3:21 AM