Stromlo Forest will once again play host to the Scott 24 Hours Australian Mountain Bike Championships. The event kicks off on Saturday 13 October at midday and wraps-up the next day at noon. Stromlo Forest was the same location used to hold the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and will also hold the WEMBO World Solo 24 Hour Championships in October 2013.
The purpose-built park will play host this weekend to over 2000 cyclists competing in solo and teams categories with 2012 Australian 24-hour solo and world solo champion Jason English ready to defend his title. The Port Macquarie Physical Education high school teacher has been a dominant force at the Scott 24.
English has won the Male Solo category for the past five years but says that despite preparing well for the race during the school holidays, he’s unsure of how this weekend’s race will unfold given the high level of local and international competition.
"The regulars and getting faster. Throw [Canadian national solo 24 hour champion] Cory Wallace and [UK national solo 24 hour champion] Matt Paged into the mix and I think it’s going to be an interesting race," English told Cyclingnews.
Working full-time isn’t too much of a hindrance for English who uses his time wisely to ensure his endurance it topped-up to a level capable of riding non-stop for 24 hours at a time.
"In the school holidays I just go nuts. I’ve just come off two weeks of school holidays and I’ll do a 1,000km a week. Last week was just under 40 hours of training. So I just try and cram in as much as possible in the school holidays and work on intensity during the school term," he said.
This year’s race sees the return of the two-lap course; the red (12km) and a blue (14km) which means less rider congestion and a more fluid course. The figure-eight design brings the riders back to the transition zone at the end of their respective laps before handing over to a teammate to complete the other or continuing through to the next course.
"You are still going to see the track plenty of times. I think I’ll do about 430-440km. That’s pretty standard. The winner will likely do 450km. I think there will be quite a few people on the same lap by the end," English said.
London Olympian Dan McConnell will be racing the event in a six-person mixed team with his Anytime Fitness - Trek Mixed Bag squad while Rockstar Racing will look to post a serious challenge in the same category.
Team Elite GU lines up in the four-man category with former Garmin-Transitions rider Trent Lowe, who stepped away from the professional scene in 2010 and will be joined by former national cross country champion Sid Taberlay, this year’s Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro overall champion Andy Blair with under-19 national XC champion Ben Bradley filling the final spot.
A total of $100,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs across the various categories. Winners of the Solo Male and Solo Female title will also receive an economy air ticket to the value of $2,500 if they enter the WEMBO World Solo 24 Hour MTB Championships in October of 2013. Next year’s World Solo 24 is consequently being held in Stromlo.
Discovering the Crocodile Trophy
English added that while he would love to add another Scott 24 Hour title to his long list of results, it was the upcoming Crocodile Trophy that was his next big target. The demanding nine-day race will be the first time English has lined up in the event which begins in Cairns. The grueling 933km journey will finish up in the finishing stage in Cooktown.
"Matt, Corey and myself are also backing to do the Crocodile Trophy. It will be a matter of working out how hard to go at this 24-hour and hopefully recover for start the following weekend."
"I haven’t done it before so I’m not exactly sure what it entails, just lots of kilometres and backing up each day. It’s pretty full on from what I’ve heard," he told Cyclingnews.