FORREST mountain bike rider Jessica Douglas has reaffirmed her world solo 24-hour championship crown.
The 39-year-old completed 19 laps at the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation (WEMBO) overnight event in the picturesque Italian town of Finale Ligure on Sunday.
Douglas, who won the title in 2010, rode 326.04-kilometres in the coastal terrain to collect the convincing victory by almost an hour on second place.
Speaking with a husky voice from her Italian accommodation, Douglas told The Standard it was one of the toughest rides of her career.
“I’ve got so much dust in my throat from the race,” she laughed.
“It was totally different to worlds in 2010. My body suffered like it never has before.”
The mother-of-one maintained an online diary leading up to the event, tracking her training progress and mental preparation for the big day.
On the morning of the race, she wrote: “In all the excitement of it all, I do have to remind myself whether I be racing le Tour de France or the Wembo World solo 24hr champs in Finale Ligure, it is just a race where I have worked hard to be a contender.
“It’s a day in my life that I must cherish and remember with acute memories and really soak up every finite detail.
“Life is short, days go fast, opportunities to enrich one’s life are often taken for granted.
“Today I promise myself to not take my life, my opportunities, my talents, my passion and those that believe in me for granted.”
After a dual-language briefing, Douglas led off with a smile on her face.
The Forrest entrant and UK rider Rickie Cotter shot to the front.
Douglas’ first lap was clocked at 34 minutes and 33 seconds, closely followed by Cotter, 34.36.
Douglas then started to break away, opening a 14-minute lead.
With the support of husband Norm, Douglas battled on with several bike swaps and slowed her pace down a notch to take on food.
Riding through the night, Douglas had the brightest headlight.
“Daybreak is here. Now a quick six-hour sprint home,” Norm tweeted.
Cotter gained 30 seconds but Douglas still had a 45-minute buffer.
Douglas said the 18-kilometre figure-eight course was exhausting but she managed to appreciate her surrounds.
“There was a part in the race where I was definitely going to win but I had to keep riding,” she said.
“I was so close, yet so far.”
Douglas, who rode in the female elite category and was the only competitor to complete 19 laps.
The south-west Victorian claimed consecutive victories, as she won the world solo 24-hour championship in 2010 and there was no race held last year.