MICHAEL Eyb said pacing himself sensibly will be the key to finishing the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation's (WEMBO) World Solo 24 Hour Championships at Mount Stromlo, near Canberra, this weekend.
It is the fifth time the mountain bike rider has ridden the course (the Scott Australian 24 Hour MTB Championships are also held there) and after failing to finish on his last attempt in 2011 due to a lack of training, is confident he'll cross the finish line this year.
As well as putting his body through the gruelling course, he has chosen to put his money where his mouth is and raise money for UNICEF.
Michael has been in training for the past 12 weeks, with his focus on building endurance, speed and power.
"I've been working on a lot of cardio and endurance," he said.
His training sessions have included rides of two to three hours, as well as 30 minute sprint sessions, 60 minute grinds on the road, and hill work.
His preparation has also included lead-up races, with the most recent being the seven-hour Single Track Mind race in Newcastle at the end of September.
He didn't win overall, but did win his category (single speeds).
Michael said his preparation for the Mount Stromlo course has been on target this year.
In 2011 when he pulled out only nine hours into the course, he'd hardly done any training.
Prior to that race he had also been in the army where, he explained, "they pay you to stay fit".
2011 was his first year out of the army.
"I hardly did any training and fell down spectacularly."
The race kicks off at midday and he decided to withdraw at 9pm.
"You normally find yourself fatigued at about seven in the morning but because I hadn't done any training it was only nine hours in."
He said the race is a massive mental game.
"In 2010 I put in heaps of training and I knew I'd be fine.
"This year is the same. I've done a bunch of training and a couple of lead-up races.
"You've got to battle your keenness to get out and be in front of the competition. It's very important to get the endurance out of it."
Michael has been riding mountain bikes since his late teens but wasn't competitive until 2007, five years after he joined the army.
"It came off the back of a challenge that our boss gave all of us."
Michael was working at the Kapooka recruitment training centre and the boss was concerned many of the staff were bigger than the recruits coming in, so arranged a Biggest Loser style weight loss competition.
"I lost a lot of weight and it motivated me to get on the bike."
He came out of the army in 2011 and returned to his hometown of Taree to discover the local mountain biking club.
Michael is a regular rider with the Manning Great Lakes Tip Riders (although for the past three months he has been training solo). When he decided to compete in the world's again, he was pretty satisfied he would have the motivation to train but wanted some added incentive so decided to do the race and raise money for UNICEF at the same time.
Coming from a charitable family, Michael has fund raised for various causes in the past.
He chose UNICEF this time based on the work they do assisting people around the world, including refugees and people displaced in their community.
While in the army's medical corp, Michael was sent to Banda Aceh in Indonesia when the tsunami hit and he saw first hand the devastation and despair that it caused, as well as the work UNICEF was doing.
"It's always struck me, if we've got the means to have leisure time ... why not spend it helping others?
"We have clean water, shelter and access to medicine ..."
According to UNICEF, $50 can provide health supplies to a child for one year.
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Michael is gearing up for the race but said it's important for him to temper the excitement and the expectation.
"If you expect too much you might fail spectacularly"
About 800 people will compete, including world champion Jason English from Port Macquarie, who will defend his title.
Michael's wife and three children (aged 12, 10 and six) as well as his mother-in-law will be there to support him, providing him with food and water while he's riding the course.
Following the ride he's heading to Sydney with his family.
Also a talented musician (and teacher for the Australian Children's Music Foundation program in the Manning), he will perform in the Australian Children's Music Foundation concert on Monday night.
To support Michael in his fundraising efforts you can 'like' his Facebook page, Mick's Ride for UNICEF, and make a donation on the Everyday Hero fundraising page https://give.everydayhero.com/au/mick-1.