His name was Tim Corbett, someone who I had heard a little bit about, but never actually met the bloke before. Truth be it, he didn’t know a great deal about myself either and it probably wasn’t until about lap 3 or 4 on Saturday’s attempt did he realise what he had riding in his ‘Mini T’.
Where it all began…..
I’d spent a few years in the sport racing these things around street circuits in teams for anywhere between 6 to 24hours, navigating through traffic at high speeds, while maintaining to bring the vehicle back to the pits as unscathed as possible (crashing meant you lose time circulating laps, and can cause damage sometimes making the vehicle slower). Mind you, I had a crazy obsession with going as fast as possible, and with a few bets over the years with a great mate of mine Ned Volk, just to see who could go faster, I’ve always enjoyed these weekends away racing.
I dabbled in road cycling from time to time, and also went through some triathlon phases, but my ability to pace and produce large amounts of power on the bike for a long sustained period has always been my true strength.
From day dot though I always had issues fitting in these damn things though. I’m about 178cm tall, and with my founding team – Aurora Racing – they were normally more or less built to suit the average height of the guys in our team – being around 188-190cm ish. 10cm doesn’t seem too much, but you put the saddle of your seat up or down 10cm and try and ride it! I’d always managed to fit with the aide of foam padding, but I never truly got the opportunity to jump in a trike and think, this is perfect.
I was lucky enough to have a few connections through Aaron Stewart (Aurora Racing) and Tom Bastian (HP Racing) – who both had connections with Tim Corbett, who was looking around for a few guys who may be interested in having a crack at the 1hour attempt in his vehicle he designed and built – Mini T
Unfortunately in 2015 I was unavailable on the weekend they were having some attempts, so I let it slip for some time, hoping he might have more attempt opportunities to come. Tim made contact with me informing there would be another opportunity on the Easter Weekend – March 25th – 27th 2016 – and I was given the chance to have a crack. I was in!
Preparation for my hour attempt
To be completely honest, I had zero preparation for this attempt. I didn’t really put it on my radar til about 10 days out when I started to think things through in my head. I had backed off my cycling for about 4-5months as I had been doing a summer racing some triathlons, 2 half Ironman events, 1 Olympic Distance and a couple of shorter events. So I had been swimming and running a bit too! I had some really promising results, but I was struck down with a knee issue, preventing me from running for a few weeks, so I jumped back on the bike a little bit more to keep busy.
I was asked to race Wonthaggi 24hour, which was 1 week prior to event. This sounded like a good idea as we normally base our stints for around the 60-90min mark throughout the race. I never ever ride a trike apart from when I do these events, so by doing this race 1 week out, atleast I could get some good intensity training in a trike. I had done some light reading on the 1hour attempt with how much specific training Bobridge, Dennis and Wiggens had done and I had honestly had done no training for a maximum 1 hour attempt – was I already looking at failure?
I asked to start the race at Wonthaggi 24hour and use it as a bit of a mental preparation for the following weekend, as its quite important to understand the added stresses mentally and physically the body must endure in a ‘race’ scenario. You always have a slightly elevated heart rate and you somewhat start to doubt your ability and look to pass the starting position onto someone else on the day. I’m quite past all of that now due to a fair bit of experience in racing different types of races over the years, but I still needed to remind my system what was going to happen on the day in my 1hour attempt – both physically and mentally.
I ended up having an ‘ok’ start. I let the other front teams have a 2-3lap wonder at the start, while I settled into my 60-70min pace and soon passed them all. I still don’t understand why people go so hard at the start of an endurance race – I like to save my matches for when I really need to burn them!
Our team ended up having a top race at Wonthaggi and coming out with the victory. I happily had 4 stints – with nearly 4.5hrs at threshold intensity in a 24hr window- and my times were pretty good.
From the finish of my last stint, until my next training ride, I had a 32hour window to maximise my recovery. Monday was a complete day off. Tuesday I had a 3hour bunch ride with a short 20min threshold effort. Wednesday was my call it as you feel it day, which I decide what ride I’ll do depending on how I’m feeling as I roll down the road. Yep, 2hours light tempo – body was still a bit tired. Thursday was just a 1hour recovery ride as for some reason I was still feeling off – which just happens from time to time, but I called it and that was that.
Friday rolled around and the attempt was starting to dawn on me, I was excited but also somewhat nervous. I rolled out on the bike in the PM, as my attempt was dialed in for 5pm the following day and also just to give my body a slight bit of extra recovery before I do my regular blow out day. I normally tend to do a 1.5hr ride – with 4-5 5min steady state efforts at a ‘nice’ high wattage, without doing any damage to my system or legs, I always seem to race better after a slight bit of a hitout, rather than just an easy ride. My numbers were good, very good – but what did I need on the day?
The day of the attempt – Saturday 26th March 2016
Its 7am, I roll out of bed and go out and make my regular breakfast, sit down and watch the morning news. I relax for a little while afterwards before going and getting changed to roll out on my bike at 8am for my Beta Blocker ride, which by the time I’m off the bike then gives me a 8hr window until the start of my attempt. (My Beta Blocker ride I do helps cap my heart rate just a little for a race, to help prevent me from going too much in the red zone, yet the ride is light enough that it doesn’t do any damage to the muscles in my body).
8:30am – I feel good – I dance on the pedals and have a bit of a short thrash here and there, really opening up the lunges – maybe a bit too much. Sit back down, gentle now. This hour is going to test me – you need to save those matches!
8.45am – I’m on my way back home – my music stops playing in my headphones, I pull out my phone and I have a message from Tom Bastian informing me that Tim has pulled the pin on his 24hour attempt early and telling me I need to get there earlier if I wanted to still have a crack. “I’ll be there”. I throw my phone back in my back pocket and stomp it home – so much for saving those matches!
I get home and throw my bag together and everything in the car. I jump in the shower for 10seconds, throw my clothes on and jump in the car. Before I know it, I have my racing lines dialed going down the road in my car – but wait! I have just jumped off the bike and done zero recovery – no stretching, no food, no fluids – doh! This was not typical Kyle. But I have no time, I have to get there. I open my bag to find some fruit and some energy bars I’d pre packed. But this is not enough – luckily enough with my clever last minute thinking I detour through the local Mcdonalds and grab some high fat, yet somewhat nutritious food and start to calculate my timing in my head of what to eat and when – getting things nearly back on track.
Throughout the drive I’m pretty relaxed despite the last minute change of plans. I listen to some cool music in my car, put on cruise control and muster up a couple of stretches while driving- they still count, surely?
I arrive at The Ford Proving Ground…
11:45am – I’m here! I meet up with my good mate Ned Volk who is being my support guy for the attempt. He always has a good joke and makes the tense environment seem pretty funny! I asked him to come for this reason mainly, and because he also plans some attempts – but we won’t discuss that until another time.
We both sign some paperwork, get our cameras on our phones covered with stickers and get driven in to the track. It took me a few minutes to actually work out where the track was, and I was quickly scanning around everywhere, taking in as much visible knowledge as I could. I need to know this track well if I’m going to do anything special today!
As we arrive at the pit tents, I get out and the only thing I could notice was the vehicle sitting there. I look at it, and it seems to look back at me – I remember thinking in my head – ‘Hello Mini T. Well i’m ready, are you?’
I’d ridden the Mini T once before, for about 20minutes, when Tim came and we did some measuring and testing out different positions for myself, but this had been a while ago and I also needed to work out where to ride, which lines to pick, what was important to know about the surface of the track and a whole lot more. I was going to be going very fast, so I still needed to ensure some safety for myself.
Tim was completely unaware that I was a real chance at this today (he told me afterwards). Things weren’t 100%, there was no chain guard and we didn’t worry too much about my fit in the trike, my reach with my legs, or where my shoes were positioned in regards to the front screen. I basically just jumped in to his setup and convinced myself it was good to go! (Luckily, Tim and myself are roughly pretty close in height and leg length)
I asked him a whole heap of questions in a 5minute window, jumped in (to give you some idea of how tricky these smaller vehicles can be to get in- I’m 178cm and 70kg – I step onto the side and twist sideways and wiggle down the seat, cramming myself inside. Its snug, but it feels a great fit) and pushed off. I had 2 garmins – a Garmin 500 right infront of my eyes so I can see all relevant data – time, power, heart rate, distance, lap time and average power. I also have a Garmin 910 watch with 1 reading – speed!
I test everything out for about 3 laps, matching power to speed and checking out the track a little – yet nowhere near as much as I would have liked to! I come back in and Ned, Tim and myself have a 10minute debrief on the info I’m giving them. We calculate some numbers, with some other numbers, against some other numbers. I start to get a bit dizzy with all these numbers, thinking – ‘hey, guys, I have to ride after hearing all these numbers, can we take it easy for a few minutes?’
After a few more minutes I decide on the strategy that I’m going with. I’m a bit more of a slow starter, so if I just stick to my numbers – surely you 2 math heads can show me a board each lap I pass of the lap times I need to do, to atleast go close to the attempt? Yep – sorted.
I squeeze down gel number 1 of 4 and 5 minutes later I squeeze back in to Mini T – its go time!
My 1hour Attempt
I’m sitting there, contemplating a few final thoughts in my head. I’m relaxed, I’ve been in this position many times before, I have no expectations – but gee the beer and pizza tonight will taste just a bit sweeter if I go close to the attempt and show some signs of hope!
They tell me I am right to kick off and start whenever I like. Wait, what? Its never been like that in any race I’ve done before. Normally a gun shot, a siren or a peloton sprinting off up the road. I turn to Ned and ask for his humour one last time before complete switch on mode – “Can you sing me a song Ned?” – and without even getting to listen to him break into the chorus of the song, I click and Garmin and begin mashing at the pedals, this is it.
The starting lap was always my question mark while working out the calculations. If I go too hard at the start, it will cost me too much in the final 15-20minutes. But if I go too slow, I’ll be too far behind and chasing. We worked on a don’t crack 500watt theory and try and settle in straight away, let my legs do there thing – which is my common pacing strategy.
I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking for that opening lap, we knew I needed 3min 52.7sec per lap for 15.47 laps – but the first lap may be around 40secs slower – so I would need to make up that time lost on the remaining 14laps.
My strategy stuck to plan in someway – I didn’t break 500watts – but it took me that whole first lap to settle in to my wattage I was aiming at. I posted a 4.20 opening lap and I even blinked a few times at the laptime!
Heart rate – check. Power – check. This was it, 5minutes into the attempt – prepare yourself Kyle. My mind spoke to me – ‘This may feel easy, but its going to eat away at you, you are going to want to quit, give in – but you will not hear from you again until its over. Seeyou then’
3.38, 3.38, 3.37, 3.37 – I was absolutely destroying the times I needed – but I was in a position I didn’t want to be in. I’d come in slightly too hard, I hadn’t put myself in this position before and I didn’t want to fail. But it was too late, I was 20minutes in and the damage was done. I knew if I tried to back off I was done, I had to continue on at this pace, its just the way my body works.
While I was at the 25minute mark and not receiving anymore lap times on the board, it was like it was 6am of a 24hour race and noone in the pits cared anymore. I was beginning to question myself, I went past and yelled to get the lap time required – had I simply gone out too hard?
I was lapping – 3.37, 3,36, 3.38, 3.40, 3,37 – Nah I was fine!
I couldn’t seem to work it out at the time, but around the halfway mark onwards, the driveline seemed to jump each rotation of the cranks. I didn’t know if something was jammed, or if the chain was going to jump off, I just kept mashing on those pedals with everything I had – (my shoes were hitting on the front screen)
I got around to the 40minute mark – 2/3 done – I was in the home straight – come on Kyle, fight for 10 more minutes and you will be right there. The next 2 laps really tested me, the way I was laying out the power, the small window of slightly less wattage was getting smaller, and the agony of the larger power was really starting to hurt. I miss judged a few turns here and there and my speed would drop by 2km/h – dammit Kyle, focus!
I hit the 48 minute mark – the required lap time to beat the record had now blown out to 4.25 – Ha! I actually laughed in the trike and did my big thumbs up – whether they saw it or not – I was passing the pits at around 83-85km/h!
I took 2laps where I slightly backed off my power and my times dropped to 4.44-4.45 and it was enough for my system to recover and able me to finish strong! I dropped the lap times back down to 3.39-3.40 and crossed the start/finish line of the 16th lap with about 20-30seconds left of the 1hour and although I didn’t need to go full tilt for that entire final lap – I couldn’t leave anything left in the tank! As I did 1 more full lap and then crossed the line I stopped my Garmin 500 and it read – 1hour 2minutes 33seconds – 82.25km covered – giving me an average speed of 78.25km/h*
As I crossed the line, I stopped mashing on those pedals for the first time in nearly 63minutes – relief! I coasted for about 1k and the thoughts came rushing back into my mind – I suddenly couldn’t believe what I had just done! I started to pedal again – and dropped the chain – doh!
After seeing how long I could coast for and getting my breathe back, I soon realised I still had about 3k to coast to get back to pits – better try and get this chain back on! Unfortunately my footwork just wasn’t up to scratch and luckily Tim came around the track in the car to the rescue!
I climbed out of Mini T and I was able to stand – I actually felt ok – not that I could go again, but I had been more boxed than this before! Tim looked at me and squeezed me in his arms and this is really when in sunk in what I truly had achieved! I grabbed him back in a big bear hug and all I said – “I did it”
Tim managed to climb in head first and put the chain back on and I got back in for another few minutes to get it back to the pits. My body and system were ok! I opened the lid back at the pits and everyone was over the moon – I couldn’t be happier!
Lots of photos were taken over the next 10minutes or so, and I will wait for those to be released by that person who has permission to do so. What you will see in these photos is myself sitting in the vehicle, completely toast, yet feeling ok, with alot of mixed emotions – happiness, joy, relief and completion!
I was very glad Ned was there to help and witness the attempt, and I hope it gives him some hunger for some future attempts, as I know he loves a good epic challenge!
We sat around for a while and made some good chit chat, cracked some jokes, laughed and smiled alot, then packed everything up and headed home for showers.
We all met up later for pizza and beer – and yes it tasted even better than I had hoped!
I couldn’t thank all of the support, helpers and fans enough for all of their contributions into making my attempt achievable in the first place.
To Tim Corbett – you are an incredible man! The Mini T performed exceptionally well and it was honestly the most comfortable vehicle I have ridden, and the fastest 😉 I know it deserves some well given rest, but I know that with some proper training, tweeking and data analysis we have that big 80km/h to crack.
I am happy to announce that this is only the beginning of a new chapter for myself, and there will be some more record attempts to come. One day I would like to be the fastest man over the hour – even if I have to give a 2 wheeler a crack!
An Australian and World record with my name on it is something I had never dreamed of before – but I feel extremely grateful that I was given the chance to put my name to the record!
*we have calculated the length per the standard pro rata from my data, so 77.36km/h give or take a few meters, pending final ratification from OZHPV & WHPVA