The Mont24 is normally held in late March, but a last minute deluge that would have had Noah grinning resulted in the event being cancelled, then shifted to a late October time-slot. But didn’t the weather make amends on the second attempt! Nice and warm on track, a brief mid-race shower to settle some dust, and a mild night which had the track getting tackier and tackier before the sun dried it all out again. Although the Scott24 appears to be struggling (courtesy of the more demanding Stromlo venue, and the re-scheduled Mont wouldn't have helped), the Mont24 appears as popular as ever; with some 2800 riders alone camped at the venue.
The Soggies were represented by a 40s male team of 4 (Mike, Ham, GK and yours truly) and a (truly) mixed team of 6 (Sara, Nicki, Anita; Giles, Dave Longbottom and Ben). After mostly racing by myself this year it was nice to have the “band back together”, so to speak, and enjoy a more social outing. Soggy central was the same spot next to the dam we’ve used in previous years. Thanks to Giles, Sara, Mikey and Ben for getting there early and erecting the Taj.
Not only did the weather oblige but so did the course designers who conjured a nice 19 km loop, which, although a bit rooty and choppy in places, was generally flat and had a super last km descent chock-full of lips and pump features for those wanting to porpoise their way back to transition.
Ben and I had the dubious pleasure of rolling the first (very) dusty lap, which we cruised together – a nice opportunity to have a bit of a chat. But from thence on the loop seemed to cope nicely with the 600 riders max on track at any one time.
Also good to report that, unlike the last few years, no one had a nasty off or got banged up this year, although Giles was on hand to give assistance to another rider who had misjudged things a little. Nice one Giles. I made sure I got my crash out of the way pre-event, binning it on a greasy metal plate the day before whilst on my commute. At least this tempered ambitions of trying anything too experimental come race day. The only mechanical of note befell GK, flatting 4 km from home on his first outing.
Day became dusk became night. The team of 4 switched from the 1-2-3-4 rotation (completed twice) to the 1-2-1-2 strategy, to give riders 3 and 4 some down-time before they did the same. However, with Ham carrying a bit of a cold, The Riders Union held a strike and declared that “No one shalt ride between the hours of 2 and 4”. Well, I didn’t have the legs to keep circulating and cross that picket line, but I might as well have given that by the time I finished my late shift the shower trucks had run out of water. The lure of a hot shower was a big motivator for getting my pair of late nighters out of the way. Come to think of it though, the showers are always empty post midnight. Chalk that one up to a failing memory. Another motivator was having Brad McGee looking hungry rolling short circles at transition as I waited. No pressure. Before my second nighter it was brother Rod limbering up. In both cases I fully expected a McGee express to come barreling past. The syncopation was such that neither caught me. At least pizza was still being churned out, even when Mikey finished his late shift around 1:45 am.
Although the 3-4-3-4 rotation was a little delayed, true to word, the embargo was lifted and the quartet fired back into action come 4 am. This meant I was back on track around the 9 am mark for my 5th and last lap, with GK stepping in for Ham to tick our last lap for a total of 19.
In contrast, the mixed team of 6 was having none of this union clap-trap and soldiered on seamlessly through the night, embarrassing the show-pony quartet by netting 20 laps. This placed them high on the mixed team sextet leaderboard, against many teams consisting of “5 blokes and a chick”. Chapeau!
Congrats also to “Benny and the Jets”, comprising guys I regularly race against in the 7 hr series. They clocked 25 laps, just holding on to 3rd in the Masters 4s and coming 20th outright. They achieved this mostly as a team of three due to Ian having to pull the pin early due to the injury he sustained at last weeks Choc Foot. It was touch and go there for a while, the final gap only blowing out in the last few hours. They held on by only 6 minutes. What a nail biter. Fantastic racing!
Credit to the organisers for re-scheduling (presumably at a loss), then running such a great event. A smart move though, as I’m sure many will eagerly sign up again for another tilt at the format come late March 2015. Hopefully the Soggies (in their various forms) will also be partaking.