Preparing for the Scott 24hr – race weekend

Words by Kath Bicknell

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to drive past Stromlo Forest Park during the Scott 24 Hour weekend, you can’t help but marvel at the sprawling tent city on display. Seeing this set up from a distance is one of the best things about being late for the event. But it’s probably the only good thing about being late. If you turn up after midday it’ll be another 24 hours until your team are all standing together in the one place. That can be a long time if your preparation is as reliable as your punctuality.

One more sleep to go

A 24 hour, by nature is a fairly sleepless event. Avoid loosing even more by kicking things off the day before.  By bedtime on Friday you want to have a clear idea about any team logistics for the weekend, and you want to have taken care of any of your own as well.

A lot of time can be lost on race day just getting to the race track and setting up camp. If you and your team are snappy on email, collect a full set of signatures on any regulation race waivers so one member of your crew can rock up at rego prepared. No signatures, no rego, and no time gains either as you’ll rack up a huge mobile phone bill and a few kays on foot trying to track everyone down.

For the reasons above, it’s also good to have a meeting point for Saturday morning. This might be a time and un-missable place you all agree to gather before setting up a campsite. If someone has claimed a campsite early, then clear directions and obvious landmarks should be communicated to the rest of the team so finding each other is easy. It’s a good idea to ask if there’s a drop-off area for all your gear nearby or if someone has a trolley so you don’t throw your back out carrying supplies to the tent before the hard stuff even begins.

Have a chat with your team about a lap strategy before the race starts as well. It’s comforting to know ahead of time who’s going to begin and who’s next off the mark. In a large team the regular relay format works quite well for night laps, but in a smaller team playing with the order can mean better quality riding due to better quality sleep.

In terms of your individual needs have a think about how much eating, sleeping and clothing you intend to get through over the weekend. Check the event website to find out about any food available at the race and bring a few things to share with others as the constant snacking at these things means they’ll probably have something you wouldn’t mind munching on too.

Consider packing the car on Friday night so you can leave first thing on Saturday morning. This allows more time for setting up and catching up before midday when the first lap begins.

The full 24

 Once the riding gets underway the most important things are quick transitions, eating well between laps, sleeping when you get a chance, and enjoying the riding. Eating and sleeping are the easy parts, but rocky transitions and bad lap experiences are where it can all come undone.

The transition area is usually surrounded by a whole heap of activity making it a good, fun place to be. Use a watch, and a pen if you need it, to keep your wits about you so you know when your teammates are due in from a lap and what time the last rider went out.

Turn up a few minutes early in case someone’s had a scorcher and bring a mate with you if the rider coming in is likely to forget what time they arrived. If the temperature gets cool take a jacket with you for warmth while you wait and throw it at the incoming rider so they don’t catch a chill on their way back to the team camp. Keep track of lap times where everyone can see them so good transitions don’t rely on word of mouth alone.

Most riders come back from a lap with a smile so big and excited tales to match. But every now and then there’s a horror story. Most equipment malfunctions are avoidable if you’ve looked after your goods and have a pocket full of spares. Any more catastrophic equipment failures are part of the drama of racing. But no one has time for riders with bad attitudes out on the track.

Treat other riders how you would like to be treated too. This is an important thing to remember when riders of different speeds and strengths are sharing the trail. If being overtaken makes you feel nervous, try to stick to one side of the track and keep your line smooth. Let the rider behind you know when the space ahead is free of obstacles that they might run into if they go a little wide.

Overtakers might pick a line ahead that the front rider hasn’t identified first. Race etiquette states they should communicate clearly from behind and that they know better than to pass in a way that ruins riding for someone else.

Summing up

Clear communication between riders is one of the most important things for a good 24. Knowing what to expect makes all of this a little easier and helps with knowing what to do so you’re prepared for a great weekend as well. Get packed, get organised and get ready to ride. Come midday on Sunday take a moment to look at all the people who’ve gone through the journey as well.