Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunrise At Mount Stromlo - The WEMBO 24 hour Solo World Championships

Seeing the sunrise can be an emotional experience. For some, it might only happen once a year, stumbling home on New Years Day from a warehouse party whose recollection is already becoming hazy. For others it might be an almost daily experience, performing morning yoga in a majestic setting on the beaches of southern India.

For me, seeing a sunrise is infrequent and usually occurs after riding a mountain bike for 18 hours around Mount Stromlo in Canberra.

The first sighting of that dull orange glow on the horizon is enough to fill any 24 hour rider with excitement. The toughest part of the race will soon be behind you and it’s time to look forward to the warmth and excitement that a new day filled with sunshine has to offer. You can forget about lights, batteries and vampires and start to focus on coffee, sunglasses and snakes.

For the support crew, it also signals the conclusion of the toughest part of the race.

It can be very tempting to sneak off for a snooze during the quiet, cold hours of the night, particularly if there’s not much going on in the pit area and especially if your rider’s lap times are starting to drag out.

At least the dog is still awake! 
Photo: Russ Baker

At the WEMBO 24 hour Solo World Championships last weekend, my pit crew of DC, Turi, Kelly and Maj did a great job of keeping themselves entertained, spending a good deal of their time quizzing passing riders about broccoli and custard.

This is, of course, a homage to the famous ‘Broccoli & Custard’ feed station that sat out exposed to the elements for the entire duration of the 2010 24 hour Solo World Championships.
Apparently the unlikely combination of broccoli and custard is said to provide all the necessary nutritional needs for a rider attempting a 24 hour solo mountain bike event. A group of (most likely single-speed) mountain bikers took it upon themselves to set up this neutral feed station and it is still unknown as to whether any riders did avail themselves of the food and, if so, what was the digestive outcome.

Apart from my pit-row neighbour Andrew Howett from England, who was obviously well aware of the nutritional benefits of this particular gastronomic combination, my pit crew’s offer was met with little success.

Not to be deterred, they moved on from offering food handouts to trivia questions, which did seem to elicit a fairly decent response, as well as uncovering the rather controversial revelation that 24 hour Solo World Champion Jason English, despite being a teacher, does not know the capital of Portugal.

WEMBO founder and MTBA president Russ Baker was also put in the hotseat and had some interesting trivia of his own to offer.

But the measure of a truly committed support crew is something that only an impeccably-timed photograph can accurately catpure.
Support crew showing respect to their rider in the traditional fashion. 

These are just a few examples of the absolute hilarity that reigns at 24 hour events. Combined with the spiritual awakening that viewing a sunrise from the top of Mount Stromlo can evoke and you can see why 24 hour Solo Mountain Bike Racing enjoys such a passionate following.

See you at the next one!


  1. Still LOVE everything about your work!

  2. Can't believe your crew didn't come over the back of the pit lane and check out our Broccoli and Custard stand! It was small but tasty.