Friday, 27 November 2015

How to Tackle The Munga

The numbers.

CP1 219 (219) 1099m WP's 70, 140

CP2 395 (176) 591m WP's 277, 337

CP3 585 (190) 886m WP's 457, 522

CP4 801 (216) 1306m WP's 657, 728

CP5 1020 (219) 1963m WP's 873, 947

END 1090 (70) 630m WP 1060

1090 km's is a long way and it will take a long time to ride it. I imagine the average speed during large parts of the ride will be 20 km/h or more for some riders. The winning time will probably be somewhere between 55 and 60 hours. That includes time off the bike. Remember, this is a single stage race; once the clock starts it only stops when you cross the finish line.

Support stations are spread far apart, pretty much dotted either side of 200 km's. The distance between water points is something like 60 to 70 km's. For some races 60 to 70 km's is the length of a day's stage and there will be a number of hydration stations positioned along the way.

The race starts at midday and the first stage is 219 km's long. A huge days ride. The front riders are going to take almost 9 hours to get there. That's 9pm. The back markers will be crawling in after midnight. What happens then? The next support station is 176 km's up the road. Do you stuff food down your throat and hop back on your bike or do you catch some shut eye? Imagine yourself 12 hours into a race, the first 6 hours done in blistering heat, eyeing a soft warm comfortable bed with one eye and trying not to look out the door into the darkness beyond with the other. What do you do? Shower and bed or back on the bike to face a 8 to 10 hour trek to the next chance of food and a bed? All of a sudden the bed looks rather inviting. After all a few hours sleep will regenerate you and help you cross the landscape a little faster so it is probably the obvious choice. Or is it?

Apart from a few racing snakes most riders will spend similar times on their bikes. The differentiator is how much time is spent off the bike — How much time spent at water points, check points, pampering (bike and body), and sleep.

Then you need to consider fatigue and the effects of riding tired. Perhaps a few hours sleep will result in increased speed and better mental facility allowing a rider to make up for the time spent regenerating.

At the end of the day I think it comes down to the individual and how they function best. Fatigue and lack of sleep does slow one down. But by how much? If fatigue sucks 5 km/h out of your moving speed, how long will it take to make that up if you stop and sleep for 4 hours. Let's imagine a rider averages 20 km/h when adequately rested and only 15 km/h when fatigued. Riders A + B arrive at a checkpoint together. Rider A pushes through at 15 km/h and Rider B gets 4 hours rest. When B gets going, A is 60 km's ahead. In the 3 hours it takes B to cover the 60 km's at 20 km/h, rider A is still 45 km's ahead. The 4 hour rest translates into 12 hours to catch the rider who didn't stop. That's a long time! And 5 km's faster per hour is a lot faster. The rider who can keep at it the longest without slowing to a crawl might have a serious advantage.

It is going to be interesting to see the different strategies in play. I suspect strategies may well change as the reality of the distances and conditions become evident.

No comments: