Here at Curve we love it when people embark on a personal mission and work tirelessly to achieve their goals. Success doesn't have to result in fame or fortune. End-game success in our favourite missions results in little more than the personal satisfaction pulling off something tough and out of the ordinary. We're lucky to support Tobias Lestrell who is on a mission to take down the world 24 hour solo MTB championship in Rotorua in February 2016. Tobias is an experienced cyclist and has had phenomenal success in the 6 hour format of late. He's relatively inexperienced in the 24 hour solo game though. The recent Australian 24hr solo MTB championships were a good opportunity to gain some valuable race experience. Here's what Tobias had to say about his race...
I had a pretty awesome weekend in Canberra for the Australian 24h Championships. This was only my second ever 24h race, and the field was very strong, and headed by six time World Champ and all round general legend Jason English. The course was really good with at least 90% of world class single track! Even the climbs are fun there as they twist and wind their way up the mountain, and then you are rewarded by an amazing descent each lap, with berms, jumps and great flow.
My race started well, and already on the first lap I had a 1:30 lead and I felt like I was holding back. Anyway given the level of the field I thought I had better back off a bit more, so after about 3.5 hours Jason and Andrew Lloyd caught up to me. Then on lap 7 Jason and I dropped Andrew on the climb. Later that lap I burped a tyre due to a clumsy landing from an A-line with Jason on my heels. I had to stop a couple of times to fill up with air so at the end of that lap I was back in third place. We settled into a steady pace and the three of us lapped fairly consistently but all riding alone. Then on lap 13 I had some bad luck and got a puncture (cut in the sidewall right next to the rim). My repair job was not successful, so after a few CO2 attempts I decided to just ride the rest of the lap (about 4 km from the top of Luge) back to transition on my rim basically with a flat tyre as the only protection, through berms, over jumps and countless break-bumps and plenty of rocks. The reason I even considered this is because I have full faith in my Curve carbon rims and I almost made it all the way there, but my overly optimistic pace through a dip a few hundred meters from the pits saw it finally give way and the tyre came off. Pretty impressed by that performance from a lightweight XC rim! Anyway onto the other bike for a few laps as my pit crew dealt with the issue, and I was glad I had brought a spare wheel set just in case.
At this point I was about 12 min off the lead but there was still 16 hours to go, so I kept chasing and hoping to catch the leaders again, and by the start of lap 17 I had caught Jason, and Andrew was still in front by a couple of minutes. On the next lap Andrew had a lengthy stop and we were back in the lead again. Jason and I rode together chatting away and having a great time, until the start of the climb on lap 20 when he happily let me go as he thought my climbing pace was too high and so I backed off a fraction too, but still I managed to increase the lead to almost 10 minutes by 2am. That's when I started feeling a little bit empty and from then on I had very little energy. At the time I thought it was just a temporary slower patch but the real problem that I did not realize was that I had eaten too little right from the start and that had finally caught up with me. In hindsight I should have stopped then and there and taken a longer refueling stop to help my chances for later on, but instead I just carried on thinking that I'd come good later anyway. Esther (my wife and support crew) had told me to eat more for hours, but I was not thinking straight and did not obey orders as I was too busy racing. So at 5am Jason caught me again and at that point I felt pretty average to be honest. He seemed fresh as a daisy. From then on my race turned into a very hard slog. I was feeling pretty empty and I had trouble seeing how I could keep going for another 7 hours! I had to dig very deep to stay focussed and tried my best to ignore the overwhelming pain in my hands, bum and lower back.
I have never ever suffered that badly in a race before ever! With a few hours to go I heard that Ed McDonald was coming at me but there was nothing I could do to increase my pace to respond. So on the last lap he passed me like I was standing still, but at least I knew that third place was safe then, so I stopped at the top of the hill and chatted to a couple of other solo racers that were having a break there. We then rode the sweet downhill bit together pulling sweet jumps and whips happily ignoring blistered hands and general aches and soreness all over, to end the race on a good note.
So all up third place. I have to be very happy with all things considered! I learned a lot and will be back stronger. Thanks to all the guys that help me out these days #giantbikesaus #lifeofbikes #curvecycling #torqaustralia #motionneverstop #schwalbeaus #tunede . A massive thanks to my family and all the people that helped out in the pits! These things require a strong team!
A big congratulations to Tobias for his efforts in pushing on through adversity. Definitely a big learning experience. One thing Tobias will learn in 24hr racing is that at times he is just the hardware while his pit crew is the software! They will know what to do when the rider's mind starts to crumble. We should also mention Jason English's crazy effort in this event. While he won this race, he also won the 24 hr solo MTB worlds one week earlier on the other side of the planet - truly an amazing effort.
That said, like Neo in the Matrix, we think Tobias could be "The One" in the 24hr format. He's learning fast, he's motivated, he's training hard, he's got the support of a strong team and loving family and with a bit more experience in this format he'll be extremely dangerous. Will he be able to give Jason English strong competition in the worlds next year? We certainly think so.