His dust may well have settled at Ross Dam (Townsville) after his Solo 24hr mountain bike victory at the Hotrock24 (two wins in as many years), but Graham Grant's passion for 24hr racing is on the rise.
CYCLE FNQ: Why 24hr racing?
GG: It started last year (2015). A 24hr was always something I wanted to have a crack at, but logistically they've always been a nightmare as they're all down South ... until Townsville. I was a wreck at the end of it, but it was a hell of an experience. I enjoyed it.
CYCLE FNQ: 2015 was a convincing win for you. Can you tell us about your training since then?
GG: Yeah, last year's Hotrock24 was a good win. I didn't really know what to expect, and since then I have changed my training significantly; I've decreased my training volume, I use a power meter now, and I follow a program through Today's Plan. I can't believe how well it works! This year I was stronger, fitter and just better the whole race. I've also been working with Mitch Smith from Health Management Dieticians, who has been a massive help in getting my race nutrition plan dialled.
CYCLE FNQ: What do you think about for 24hrs? How do you stay focused and mentally motivated?
GG: I break the race and laps into segments; it might be 10min, or a specific climb, or a section of singletrack. Every time I complete one I tick it off. I'm also concentrating on my race plan - this year's plan was to go hard for the first 8-9hrs, try and get a lead, then control the pace. I'm also concentrating on my nutrition; eating and drinking. I was always getting time splits this year, so I was able to manage my race plan from there. My target was to be on 400km pace for 24hrs, and I think I was just above that. This year, I stopped at 21h50m because I was already three laps in-front of Second Place, and there was no way he could catch me. I was still feeling good and could have comfortably ridden another three laps until the clock stopped. All up I rode about 365km. The most difficult part of the race (mentally) was the period between 3am and sunrise.
* An 8hr event was also conducted alongside the 24hr. Graham's 8hr split put him 2nd overall in the 8hr. Amazing!
CYCLE FNQ: What changes (if any) do you make to your 24hr race bike?
GG: None really. I have an old saddle I have been using for a long time, a Fizik Arione road saddle. It's comfortable and I am used to it. I ride a Giant Anthem 27.5 duallie - at my age (45) you need a duallie. My setup is as I would normally ride it. I run Maxxis tyres; Ardent front and Ikon rear. I run my tyres at about 26/27psi front and 28/30psi rear - a little harder for Townsville's rocky course. The 27.5 wheel size really suits me too; it's light, easy to throw around and fast. I'm also running the original SRAM XX 1x11, with a 34T front chainring.
CYCLE FNQ: What's next on your race calendar?
GG: I'll take a few weeks off now, but my main focus for 2016 is the National 24hr Championship in Canberra on 8/9 October. Obviously, I'll race a few of the local events between now and then.
Graham would like to thank; his family for their around-the-clock support (his nine year-old son Flynn, was up 'til 4am handing him bottles and sandwiches, whilst his Wife Lesley and 12 year-old son Fletcher kept the day shift running like clockwork), Bicycle Centre and Nathan Jones for the bikes/mechanical support/clothing/accessories, Mitch Smith from Health Management Dieticians, and his Coach Gavin Scott.
* Photos re-printed with permission from Reflex Photography.