Lover of the long haul

Multisport Mecca - - Front Page - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­wards@apn.com.au

DARK­NESS, quiet roads and peace from the daily hus­tle and bus­tle. The Sun­shine Coast is a dif­fer­ent place at 2am.

Most peo­ple are tucked in bed or just re­turn­ing home from late nights out, but 59-year-old Peter Bi­gaila is usu­ally just get­ting started.

Dur­ing peak train­ing pe­ri­ods he’ll climb aboard his moun­tain bike and cover 300–350km in one ses­sion.

That drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion is what has taken him to a 24-hour en­duro world cham­pi­onship age group vic­tory and a swag of other ti­tles.

His lat­est was achieved near New­cas­tle last month in the Jet-Black 24Hr at Awaba MTB in the Ol­ney State For­est.

He fin­ished third over­all and first in the 50–59 men af­ter com­plet­ing 28 laps of the 10km loop (which in­cluded 200m of ver­ti­cal each cir­cuit) in the al­lot­ted 24 hours – that was 13 laps ahead of sec­ond place in his age group.

Last Fe­bru­ary, Peter claimed the 55–59 world ti­tle at Ro­torua, New Zealand, where he was also 30th male over­all.

From there the self-em­ployed car­pen­ter went on to win the Merida 24Hr event at Hid­den Vale, where he won the elite cat­e­gory by a lap.

The for­mat is sim­ple: 24 hours to ride as many laps of the des­ig­nated course as pos­si­ble.

Rid­ers can rest for as long as they like, but those who take pro­longed breaks have lit­tle chance of win­ning.

“You al­ways get tough patches in a race. You have to ex­pect at least one or two laps where you don’t feel so good and want to stop. But then you get an­other wind and away you go again,” Peter said.

“It’s the same for ev­ery­one be­cause it’s a long time out on the bike. You don’t know when it is go­ing to hit you, but it usu­ally hits me some­where be­tween 18 and 20 hours when I get a re­ally flat feel­ing.”

Dur­ing prepa­ra­tions for a

24-hour race Peter will get se­ri­ous for a fo­cussed 12-week stint.

Aboard his Gi­ant An­them in train­ing, and a BMC Fourstroke in races, he’ll cover be­tween 600–700km a week – with an aver­age speed of 4.5 hours per 100km with a com­bi­na­tion of road and trail rid­ing.

“Most weeks I train five days a week and have two days off,” Peter said.

“Dur­ing the week I try and do be­tween 100 and 125km ev­ery ride. Which is all hilly. I go around the back of Maple­ton and Maleny.

“Satur­day is usu­ally a long ride, and they start out from 130 to 160 and I build all the way up two weeks out from a race to any­where up to 300 to 350km.

“Sun­day is a easy day which is about 80 or 90km ride.

“I fig­ure I’m rac­ing on a moun­tain bike, I may as well train on a moun­tain bike.

“I in­cor­po­rate a fair bit on the road to where there are bush trails.

“If I was do­ing a 250km ride, I’d go from here (Ma­roochy­dore) to Wooroi, do 30–40km in there, head back out on the road to Cooroy, Eu­mundi, go out the back to­ward Ke­nil­worth and up through the dirt roads through Obi Obi and drop back down into Nam­bour and maybe do a cou­ple of laps of Park­lands and head home.

“I’ll have an idea of what I want to do when I head out, but the plan can change depend­ing on where I feel like go­ing.”

Rid­ing bikes has been a part of Peter’s life since he was a school­boy. Orig­i­nally on a road bike, he was about to pur­sue rac­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in Eu­rope as a young­ster be­fore fall­ing in love, hav­ing a fam­ily, and stay­ing in Aus­tralia.

He later started triathlon while throw­ing some moun­tain bik­ing in the train­ing mix, but a plan­tar fasci­itis in­jury from run­ning saw him aban­don the tri-sport about 15 years ago in favour of rid­ing.

Wife Donna is also a keen rider (but not quite as en­thu­si­as­tic as Peter), and their chil­dren are also cy­clists.

“You get out in the bush and you are away from the cars among the trees. It’s nice and peace­ful, it’s just great,” Peter said.

“It’s a bit of a chal­lenge too. You go on the road and you are just fol­low­ing a white line, but go out in the bush and it’s up and down, sand, hills and sin­gle­track.

“Com­pared to a rid­ing on the road, it’s like ap­ples and or­anges.

“It takes a a few years to get your skill level up but it’s great fun.”

The train­ing load will build again as he pre­pares for the next Hid­den Vale event on April 8–9.

Then six weeks af­ter he will look to de­fend his world cham­pi­onship crown in Italy from June 2–3.

The race will be staged at Fi­nale Lig­ure, which is in the cen­tre of the Ital­ian Riviera, be­tween the green of the moun­tains and the blue of the Mediter­ranean Sea.

The se­cret to stay­ing fit and healthy? Peter keeps it sim­ple with a good diet of fruit, veg­eta­bles and meat.

“You have to eat re­ally well. You have to put the right fuel into your body,” Peter said.

“Lots of rest, the rest is key to train­ing... if you don’t re­cover you start go­ing back­wards. If you are feel­ing a bit tired one week you just need to back off a lit­tle bit.

“I know my body and I cater each week how I am feel­ing and how I am go­ing.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Ma­roochy­dore moun­tain biker Peter Bi­gaila.

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