The 10th Anniversary of the ever popular Bontrager 24/12 was held over a weekend of typical British summertime weather – sunshine and showers biblical downpours! 24 hour riders in particular had to battle through some testing conditions on a tough course with 200m+ of climbing per lap.
We set up camp on Friday night after just missing a solid day of rain that left those arriving early to the campsite pondering whether to go out for a practice lap or keeping their bike nice and shiny. After all they would have 12 or 24 hours to get a feel for the course. It’s always great to meet up with seldom seen fellow racing buddies to recall memories of past races and chat about future plans. That for me is always a highlight of any weekend long event so Friday night was spent catching up with fellow riders with the obvious topic of conversation, how long will it take for the course to dry out on Saturday given the significantly improved forecast.
I’d entered the 12 hour solo event this year following last year’s 24hr self torture session in the extreme heat (read about that one here) was optimistic for a decent result knowing that I’d enjoyed the course last year. The 18+ cat was fairly well loaded at the sharp end with messers Penning and Dunnett bound to be smashing the rest of us to pieces as turned out to be the case.
The course took in some of the classic Newnham Park sections including the super fun Cottage Return descent that always left you wondering how much faster you could hit it next time round. Of course the ‘Clif Climb’ up a tarmac then rough track was the bane of many a tired set of legs. This year a short section of newly cut trail was added before the long climb which involved a pretty tricky couple of muddy corners. This meant by the time you hit the climb energy levels had already been a bit sapped so riders appeared static at times (as I’m sure many actually were) when looking up the hill. There were plenty more challenges on the course like picking your line through increasingly slippy rooty singletrack or keeping momentum across energy sapping rocky fire roads.
My race didn’t really go quite to plan. I’m still not entirely sure on the reason but I just felt really flat from the off, lacking energy and as a result motivation at times. I was hovering around 3rd position in category for the first couple of hours but then felt my energy leaving me. No cramping or anything like that from pushing too hard from the off, just a weird empty feeling that really annoyed me as I started slipping back down the order. Chris Thompson stalked me like an increasingly wounded animal for a couple of laps before putting me out of my misery about four hours in to go on to a strong 3rd place ride. I lost another place and then just kept plugging away as best I could motivate myself to. Very unusually for me I wanted to quit from about 3 hours in, not enjoying it at all which was very unlike my usual outlook during races. The course was ace fun and all my kit was functioning perfectly so no excuses there. I even managed to sneak a quick race tune from Simon at Loco Tuning (thanks again!) the night before to help soften my Sid forks that somehow seem a lot less forgiving than my fox 32’s.
Caffeine gels didn’t even seem to make a difference which for a one cup of tea a day guy usually means rocket fuel to the legs. The usual excitement of putting on the lights wasn’t there either. I had a bit of a stomach bug the previous weekend and had felt a bit tired all week so that could have been a factor but who knows. Either way I’ve never felt like just curling up in a ball and going to sleep mid race before! Perhaps that’s just all I could do on the day which was enough for 5th in Category and top 10 solo 12 hr overall which isn’t bad but I can’t help feeling disappointed after all the training I’ve been putting in. I guess that’s just the way it can go sometimes. To save my computer being hacked by fellow competitors and receiving wild claims about consuming too much energy enhancing pizza I’m taking the policy of openly publicising my data….ha
Here’s the link to the file: http://tpks.ws/3WJI
After the race and a hot shower and a bit of a dodgy ‘burrito’ I couldn’t get any sleep, doh. The rain came in bucket loads and the Torchbearer and 24hr riders were treated to some pretty epic conditions. I walked round with the dog for a while helping out riders where I could with words of encouragement or the wipe of mud from bikes and eyes. I really enjoyed seeing the pits from the other side as I’ve never supported anyone at a race before so it was a bit of an insight to the toughness of those who aren’t pedalling.
Overall a cracking event once again. It was mostly smoothly run apart from some timing issues which I was made aware of. One of my laps wasn’t originally recorded and this also happened to few other competitors making it difficult to track progress. A friend of mine Jason Hynd who went on to win the 12 hour solo vet cat thought he was 1 lap and 20 mins in the lead but luckily went out for an additional lap at the end just to be on the safe side. Good job he did as by the time they had corrected the timings after the race he had only won by 3 minutes! Also in his cat for a period none of the names matched the rider numbers making it difficult for pit crews to feed back to riders. Timing issues aside though, judging by the rate of sell out, this event could soon rival Mountain Mayhem as the biggest out there.
Anyway enough of the self pity, onwards now to a couple of shorter endurance races before the big one in October, the world 24 hour champs.
Here are the results from the top of the 12hour race. Big up Rich Dunnett for yet again pulling off his party piece of some end of race blistering laps to snatch the win from Richard Penning.
A very strong ride from Jason Hynd saw him take the vets with by what turned out to be a slim margin due to timing errors not showing up second place in the listings until the last lap! Good job he didn’t slow down too much! Jason Miles took the 24hour win to add to his collection (how many is that now???!!!).
Thanks as always to my brilliant sponsors and supporters for keeping me going.