The course for the WEMBO Solo 24hr Championships has been announced, and it has spread around the racers who will be competing on it from the 12th to 13th of October, vying for the World Championship title.
Mt Stromlo has been used for XCO, DH, 24hr and XCM titles over the past years. This place has a huge variety of trails, and shouldn’t be a mystery for many. It just comes down to what combination of trails are used. Different combinations can make the difference between tight courses with minimal passing, or open courses with long pedalling descents. Or, courses that are technically and physically challenging like the 2012 Australian XCM Championship course, as designed by Andy Blair.
A few notable 24hr Solo racers gave their feedback on the course.
Andrew Hall: Sugoi-Cannondale
“The course on it’s own will suit any rider – including singlespeed and novice riders. Certainly riding it for 24 hours will be a challenge, but the challenge is more in riding the distance then negotiating the course. Although there is nothing technical or tricky in the course, there are lots of little line choices that can add up over a 24hr race.”
“The course does not modify my race strategy much. Certainly, I would have liked some more significant climbs and technical sections to test the brain at 3am, but at the end of the day the challenge is still to efficiently ride this course for the whole race.”
Matt Page: A-Cycling
“Having ridden in Stromlo several times now, I have got to know the trails well and I’m excited about the course. It seems to offer a few nice technical sections, although it is a shame that Pork Barrel and some of the other technical trails on the Northern side are not included. It doesn’t have a crazy amount of climbing so that will help me I think. It is quite similar to the 2012 Scott 24 course which I did well on.”
“I was indecisive about FS/HT but in the end I picked my Pivot Mach 429 Carbon and I’m happy that’s the right choice and parts of the course will be bumpy. Physically and technically I think it will be a serious challenge that will test everyone to the max!”
Cory Wallace: Kona Factory Racing
“As far as the course goes I think it is one of the best 24 hr courses around. It is a great all around course, although I think the climbs will be the decisive factor this year so I am focusing on showing up at the race lighter than usual. Technically I believe all the top riders are at the same level so that will be a non factor on a course of this nature.”
Wallace is having a brilliant year, winning the Maple Syrup jersey at the Canadian National XCM Championships and defending his win at the Mongolia Bike Challenge – he is currently at the Langkawi International MTB Challenge.
Ed McDonald: Target-Trek
“The course to me is characterised mainly by being fun and enjoyable – it’s the sort of course that is designed to ensure that the experience should be fairly enjoyable for the majority of riders and most riders should have motivation to keep pushing out lap after lap. Personally, I like that the course has a bit of climbing to it – this helps to select and opens the course up for aggressive riding or the ability to push the pace during certain sections.”
“I think the course will favour Jason English most because it’s almost entirely singletrack, and he has the ability to ride singletrack very smoothly and retain energy at fast or slow speeds, which has made him such a versatile rider across disciplines. Thinking back to the 2012 Scott 24hr and the 2010 Adrenaline race, the Australians were generally much smoother on the singletrack and faster on the descents. I think we’ll see the same again.”
“The question of whether a course is decisive or not is an interesting one. On courses that have been characterised as “easy” and without discriminators, sometimes enormous gaps have opened up. Conversely, at Easter we saw a very tight race on a fiendishly difficult course, which surprised everyone. I think that it is a mountain biker’s course, and it’ll produce good racing that can be enjoyed by the majority of the 300 participants – and that’s a good result overall!”
Jess Douglas: Liv/Giant
“The old 2010 World 24hr solo course was a great mix of technical single track that rewarded a strong yet flowing rider, it also rewarded the 50kg mountain goat with loads of fire road climbing out the back of the course. Personally I was just going to suck that up as I have about 12kg on that goat girl, however the singletrack such as Pork Barrell were my kind of strength.”
“The new 2013 WEMBO 24hr Champs course has just been released now and it really REALLY excites me. Over 24hrs many things can happen, the stronger faster rider can crash, their skills can fade with fatigue, the body takes a battering, nutrition is compromised due to such large amount of flowing single track and just generally this course engages the rider far more. This is a good thing! For me anyway – 3am sleep monsters are easier to keep at bay. The course rewards the person that can use the least amount of energy, brake less, flow more and crash less or none at all. As a now 40 year old, full time business owner working 50hrs a week and training 20hrs a week, this is the perfect course for me to use all my strengths, including my mind and patience. Looking forward to defending my dual world championship title in 2013.”
Not all feedback was positive, with another 24hr racer yearning for a truly decisive course:
“So, the Wembo course is a little disappointing. It is basic course, with no technical sections nor significant climbs. It is the sort of course you would expect to find at a club race, or a Rockytrail style event. Great for every level of rider, and very singlespeed friendly. The course is not of a “World Champs” standard. This is not to say it won’t be hard – any 24hr race is very hard, but this is meant to be “the hardest” 24hr.”
“A World Champs course should be something which makes the likes of Jason English and Ed McDonald go “gez, that looks tough … I hope I have prepared enough”. Whereas, this course is the same-old which we have all done 1000 times. Mt Stromlo offers many other tracks and routes which could have been brought together to make a course worthy of a World Champs event – falling back to just re-using the Scott course seems like a wasted opportunity.”
“Who is the target rider for our National (and similar) events. Do National events need to be singlespeed friendly? Do they need to be ridable by every rider competing? What is the anticipated completion ratio – 70% or riders? 90% of riders? Why not 20% of riders. Are race organisers setting “easy” courses to get rider numbers, thereby sacrificing the integrity of the race?”
Time will tell whether one rider or a small group can ride away from the others, or whether the constant load of a track that can be pedalled so much will wear some down faster than others. Who is your pick for the WEMBO title?