A Fantastic Effort at the 2016 Merida 24hr
It was a brilliant weekend at the Spicers Hiddenvale Resort in Grandchester QLD. Partly cloudy with temperatures on the warm side of 30 The Merida 24hr (and 4hr) race began at noon with a mass start of over 500 participants, music and the countdown blaring, and smoke machines squirting dry ice vapour over the starting line. The following 24hrs (or 4hrs) would become a combination of endurance and concentration as there were quite a few sketchy parts of the course that caused damage to both bikes and riders. After a short first lap the the race was on in earnest with the 4hr riders turning up the pressure and 24hr riders settling in for the long haul.
Fine bull dust was the theme of the course with riders coming out covered head to tyre after only a few laps. While there was less elevation that previous years the new course made up for it by adding various technical challenges to each climb and sweeping descents with features to catch the weary rider off guard. Overall the tracks were enjoyed by most and proved to be a lot faster with sub-hour average lap times at the pointy end of the field.
In what seemed to be no time at all the 4hr race was over and things started to quiet down as evening came. The smell of a hundred grills mixed up with a mobile pizza oven filled the air which must have been torture for the solo riders scooting through the pits stopping long enough to scoff down some carbs and electrolytes in a mechanical fashion while listening to the live results of the nearest competitors. Later it was well into the night with the banter of the teams dying down as riders depleted their energy as each took turns tackling what had become a new course at night. During the early mornings everything drew quiet with only the occasional disturbance as the brave riders continued through the night while many others took well earned rest.
6:30am clicked over and the commentator started barking the latest results over the PA to the thumping beats of the background music that surrounded the race organiser and timing tents. The air was once again saturated with the smells of breakfast which was more demoralising than the dinner smells all those hours ago. Crews were shuffling around the pits with coffee in hand either waiting for their rider to come in to assist or to change over for the next team member. Soon the field was alive again with many reconsidering their positions and either going back out for more laps or simply keeping the cranks turning to maintain their position that they built up after >19hrs of gruelling single track.
Mid-morning saw temperatures rise and the breeze only slight. Many riders caked with dust during the night began to sweat creating a muddy film over their exposed limbs and faces. Motivation for that one last lap was scarce and everyone was pitching in to keep them going as the race could be won or lost on that single loop. Eventually the magic hour drew near and things were slowly being decided for the 24hr race as the riders came in.
Pete was a whole lap and one hour ahead – thankful that he didn’t have to go back out again to secure his victory. Pete rode a solid race and kept a relentless pace that paid off with a solid lead and overall win. Kirsty and Toby kept together spurring each other on lap after lap. Susie kept up a great solo effort and kept up the encouragement of the other riders. Corrine, Sonja and Royce smashing the 4hr race with good results.
A phenomenal race by Pete Bigaila who won the overall solo 24hr place at the Merida 24hr clocking up 23 laps in 23:04:53, one lap and almost one hour ahead of second place.
- Kirsty Bigaila scored 2nd place her her category (24hr)
- Susie Hume placed 4th in category (24hr)
- Toby Reavely placed 14th in category (24hr)
- Corrine Dolan placed 6th in category (4hr)
- Sonja Wilson placed 13th in category (4hr)
- Royce Vandeleur placed 4th in category (4hr)
All results can be found at: http://my2.raceresult.com/52415/results#
Special thanks to Donna Bigaila, Julie Pearson, Paul Hume, Kerry Pascoe and Mr Dolan for their excellent mechanical, nutritional and morale support.
Video of the race start can be found at: https://goo.gl/photos/y87BPrzHBwhDAWih7