The Scott 24 hour Solo, 2012
“Podium shy but still on a high” – by Katie Chancellor
Flashback to about 12:45 am last Sunday morning: rolling into the pits, mud slathered, gel smeared, glasses fogging up, limbs aching and sharp pains doing figure eights of the gut. There’s a brick of 900 lumens on my head pushing into my neck, beaming into the eyes of my support dudes who I see appearing from the shadows, thank god, blinded but somehow still smiling and waving. What’s wrong with them!? They’re so happy. They’ll let me stop. They’ll understand…They’re going to tell me I can rest, lie down, I’ve done enough. This is bloody ridiculous Katie, you’re exhausted, its way past bed time…
“That’s it guys!!! I’m out! I’m over it. Don’t touch me!!” I growl like some big footed wilder beast rolling into civilisation for the first time. Be warned, right now those who dare enter into my sphere do so at their peril. Like a mud caked, pain wracked she-woman of steaming negativity I enter what is otherwise known in 24 hour racing as “the dog hour.” I hear many people get at least one, maybe not the super pros or experienced elite, but for us new comers I understand they’re basically a rite of passage. My support dudes advance unafraid with the courage of frontline troops, perfectly armed for this moment. “BAAHHHH Don’t touch me!!! Don’t touch me!!! Get away!!!” I holler in my wilder beast ways, clambering off my bike and tossing it to one side, waving my arms and venturing into the pit, limbs flailing. The icy wet grass over there has never looked so damned comfy! I promptly stop, drop and curl into foetal position in the corner of the tent, with one arm outstretched as a barrier to keep the guys at bay: “I’M OVER IT SCOTTY!!” I yell… yet alas, he advances…
“Hey Katie..” he whispers almost childlike, happily, squatting down over me and dangling a ham and cheese toasty in my face. “Hey Katie…look what I’ve got! Look! Hot food! + Guess what….coffee!!!” …. I uncurl slightly and grab his outstretched hand while he pulls me up: “I’m over it Scotty…” I moan, calming down…Troy throws a blanket over my shoulders giving them a massage, cracking some kind of joke that makes me laugh…Simon hands me a bottle of chocolatey Optimizer smiling, “This’ll make you feel better!” and Toddy offers me his waterproof socks: “I’ve got two pairs! Seriously! Two pairs!!” I stand and look at them all surrounding me smiling, supporting me. For every pained statement I make, they have a positive (usually in the form of a crude joke). For every doubt, fear and heartache, they seem to have an answer. Next thing I know, they’ve completely cleaned my bike, re-stocked my pockets with goodies, swapped battery packs, polished my glasses and god forbid, lathered denco-rub on my neck (Toddy, was that you?!) Suddenly as if by magic, I am winding back into the red lap feeling pretty damned good. The time? 1:03am…
There were plenty more unguarded moments like this that I am sure are etched forever on the caffeinated retinas of my poor night crew. As a wise cousin once said, there will be highs and lows, peaks and troughs, good times and bad…that’s right people, there were some pretty Zen moments in the Kt Chancellor pit that night.
Looking back, I think that’s the great thing about these 24’s; they force you to be in the moment for what it is. No guts, no glory; or something like that.
Flashback to looking down at your wheel and seeing the track is bathed in white light, and little black spiders scurry across out of your way.
Then you’re back, riding past the same bog hole full of frogs at night, and they croak the same weird tune every lap.
Next you’re rolling into transition and it feels like coming home, like you’re some lost adventurer on a never-ending journey – until you’re not. You’re surrounded, cameras flashing, ushered to the deck chair, plonked down, pit crew leap into action: “scull this, eat that, spit that out, put that down, don’t eat that! Yep, doing great, now get outta here!” Meanwhile I’m more interested at staring at the fairy lights above the tent as they blur into cool colours, like red laps and blue laps all merging into one.
Then you’re back on the bike half choking on an interesting combo of nutella sandwich, pizza shapes and lime gel: well that was noice, different, unusual.. I guess sometimes in life you’ve just gotta bight off more than you can chew. “We’ll see you soon!” the support crew call, clapping, cheering, pushing you back out into the ruts that await you, armed with energy bars, fresh layers and everything you need to conquer whatever lies ahead. They run along next to you, giving you every ounce of support they can. So how can you not keep going?
Then there’s the rush of energy flying down the descents, the encouraging chats out on course with other riders, or how about that magic rainbow that arches over the trail horizon as you catapult from the luge. Although that could have just been my imagination 😉
And of course, I love dawn…
It’s edging on 5 am and you think the sky is getting a bit lighter, just fading ever so slightly. But maybe you’re seeing things, imagining things, (like sausage dogs, bushrangers or tree branches that come to life).. Maybe you’re also talking out loud like a crazy lady to poor unsuspecting team riders asking if the sky really is getting pink, and if so, how amazing is that! Can you bloody believe it!?
An hour later and you find yourself spinning up the side of a switch back hill climb, looking across to that silvery pink horizon where the stars have long faded…then it happens. The sun moves below the cloud lining, exploding out and soaking the whole mountain side in gold light. I remember laughing out loud when the sun hit me, completely awestruck by the beauty of nature. As if reborn, I felt blown away at the chance to experience it in such an incredibly awesome way as this. The excitement (enhanced by a mix of no doze, delirium and deep heat fumes) lasted about a good sixty seconds. Then the clouds rolled over, the extreme aches set back in, fumes of another kind became apparent and I was harshly reminded that a good oh, I dunno, five hours of enduro riding lingered between now and the finish line.
So, overall, the Scott 24 hour for me was an incredible experience of living in the moment; reminding me why I love this sport so much. It was my third 24 hour race and although I missed out on the podium this time, I was pushed by the ultra-amazing solo women and my super power support crew to a whole new threshold of possibility, and then some.
It was as always for us Chancellors, a huge family affair, bringing together my Mum, Dad, Cousins, Brothers, Partners, Friends, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles…all there for each other through the great times, the good times, and the explosively shit times 😉 (Sorry Sam)…
A massive thankyou to LIV/GIANT, CORC, Scotty, Troy, Toddy, Simon and all my seriously awesome family, friends and supporters.
We’ll see you next time!