Winter racing round up

Determined not to believe the hype that UK mountain biking is currently broken due to trails resembling the Somme I entered a couple of post xmas character building outings to toughen me up for greater challenges to come.

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UK conditions, sloppy…

First off was the ‘Frozen Devil’ run by Red Kite Events in Llanwrtyd Wells. The 3rd of January was the date so just after the turkey had digested and normally some off season time for me. This year though I needed to get back in the game early on in the winter so I spent the festive period boshing out some back to back miles including a 2 hour 6am  outing on christmas morning! This left my legs a bit fatigued (which was the whole point of course) and after picking up a cold just before the event I was planning to ‘survive’ rather than race. As it turned out once I’d warmed up in to it I found that the endurance engine kicked in and ended up coming in 5th rider back.

 

 

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Fastest section of the race

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Good views but the fields were horribly slow

The terrain was pretty tough going with freshly cut tracks in lumpy woodland not exactly providing much flow but there were some interesting ravine style climbs (with the amount of water coming down them!) and some fun steep wooded stuff thrown in as well. I fell off more times in an endurance race than the entire off last year put together, good fun though! It rained most of the day as standard of late but the pub and ride HQ provided some decent fodder afterwards. The course had been cut a bit short due to the conditions which was a little disappointing for the distance travelled from Bristol for the day but probably welcome by the masses who came back pretty bedraggled hours later!

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Smiles or grimaces?

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All races should end in a pub

Round 2 of the Mean and Dirty events xc series just up the road from me in Stroud took place a week later on National Trust property at Woodchester Park. A bigger turnout than round 1 and some familiar faces on the start line meant this was going to be pretty competitive despite the nice local family race feel. The tone of the outing was set by the ride down to the event area from the car park, instantly covered in muck, this was going to be a grind… a buddy of mine turned up at the car park as I was just about to head off for a practice lap, stuck his head out of the car, said he didn’t really fancy it then promptly headed off again back to the dry and warmth, it was that kind of day!

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Getting rained on at the start, never good!

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Trying to get the weight low for grip!

The course seemed to be a mix of three types, fast rolling fireroads, off camber muddy as hell short traverses and muddy as hell off camber fields. I got a bit of a bad start not being able to shift up a chain ring for some reason so the couple of riders at the front including last round’s winner Nic Burridge were off and away. I settled in around 4th but the front 3 immediately started making a gap after the first wood section. I didn’t have the puff to keep up. Around the second lap a chap behind came storming past at a rate of knots so I can only assume he got a bad start, I’d catch right up to him on the wooded sections but then he’d gas me on the fireroad bits and eventually the length of these meant he pulled away. I then started getting hunted down by a couple of other riders who appeared to be working together to avoid the wind on the fireroad sections. Again I managed to keep a gap in the woods but they loomed ominously on the fireroad sections not far behind. Fortunately they split up on the second to last lap so I saw a chance to put in a hard effort to get out of sight. This seemed to work and I was able to back off on the last lap a bit and came in 5th. The main achievement of the day was having avoided sliding down the hill detached to the bike which many ended up doing that I skirted round.

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Ugghh

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UK conditions, sloppy…

Good banter was had as ever at these small local xc events. I had to rush off to get straight in to a fresh set of kit as I’d planned to head north to meet up with singlespeed nutter Steve Day to collect some gear and go out for a ‘gentle ride’. Needless to say after stiffening up in the car for a while and then straight out on the bike the legs were a bit dead but the ride made up for it and a couple of hours later we were back at Steve’s tucking in to an awesome sunday roast (thanks Ingrid!). Cue more sitting car with stiff legs. After a full day of sanding floorboards the day before I arrived at work on monday looking forward to some recovery time i.e sat at my desk!

 

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Winter Enduro Action

What do you call an Enduro race that’s cancelled due to snow? sNOwduro….

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The white stuff cometh! 

Fortunately despite a hearty downpour of the white stuff on the hill of Dyfi Forest the day before the race it soon turned to wet rainy downpours overnight meaning racing was game on for the final round of the Borderline Events Welsh Enduro Series come Sunday morning.

A sell out of 250 winter enduro warriors took to the four timed stages offered up by the Borderline Event crew with the promise of two natural and two hard pack trails. You might have noticed there’s been a fair bit of rain of late so I’d packed the kitchen sink to make sure I had three sets of clothes to last the weekend. I also applied my xc marathon racing approach of strapping everything to the bike or in the back pockets to avoid dragging a rucksack round. Top tip, xc boys know how to travel light, watch and learn!

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No baggage! Weldtite spaff  in a can at the ready

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Practice in the dark like a keeno

The pre event trail descriptions were spot on with Stage 1 presenting a mega pedal fest as it traversed relentlessly across the hillside. The benefit for the downhillers was that there wasn’t much height loss so the transition to stage 2 was pretty mellow. Soggy conditions underfoot meant you couldn’t entirely relax on the non techy traverse as drifting off the narrow man made singletrack was a real threat. A quick blast down a slatey fast doubletrack at the mid point broke the rolling singletrack up a bit but it was definitely one for the pedalers not the downhill pinners. This was a stage that suited my pedalling inclinations these days so I was able to give it the beans although I was feeling the four pint handicap from the night before a little bit more than I hoped. Enduro weekends in my off season give a rare chance to relax with a pre race beer! My efforts were still good enough for my best stage result (7th masters).

Stage 2 was a big contrast to 1 with a more traditional UK DH track feel to it, off camber, muddy and root fest through the trees after an initial fast blast down the slatey trails that the Dyfi Forest is renowned for. A few lines were available out of the main gulley but getting on them could spell disaster so many just stuck with the rut including me. With some steep shoots dotted throughout and limited pedalling this one put the smiles back on the downhillers’ faces. Not having the best mud tyre setup i.e. the ones that I had left on from the summer alpine gravity adventure meant I felt a bit on edge all the way down this one, with tyres nearly instantly clogging up it was a case of “stay on your bike Danny” as the steep hillside could detach you from your bike pretty quickly. I made in down in one piece despite a few scooting punts.

Stage 3 was along the same theme of stage 2 but with a bit more variety as it shot between steep muddy shoots and fast open woodland double track style trails. This was my favourite stage as it had a bit of everything and flowed really well. Somehow the slate on the trail kind of mixed with the mud to create channels that held you and bike in line on the track despite the steep gradient. I was having a decent run on this one until I ended up in a hard gear mid muddy traverse and ground to a near halt so needed a quick hop and run to get momentum going again. Overshooting a drop across a fireroad to the next section meant I lost a fair bit of time on this one. I was happy to have stayed on my bike though.

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Enduro douchebags 

Stage 4 again offered up something a bit different, taking in the classic Climachx final descent. A great natural feeling trail centre style decent with some potentially tricky gullied rock sections presenting a worry as they appeared immediately after some fast launch drops/jumps. Hitting these flat out seemed to do the job and my 29er clown wheels bombed through no problem. Despite having a weird stomach cramp thing that had developed throughout the day I set off like a rocket and felt those perfect moments on corners where you start feeling the wheels drift but you are totally in control. I think some call in flow… that was until I caught the chap in front about 1 minute in (after giving him at least 30 second head start). From about 20 metres behind him I gave a polite but firm ‘rider’ shout to make him aware of my presence, followed up by another call to come past when 5m behind, followed by several more polite requests followed by a begging please let me past mate what felt like a minute later. I had been tempted to scoot round but that would have been a Dick move and not something that has a place in a usually courteous form of our fine sport. Not sure what the guys deal was but I had to bite my tongue pretty hard not to hurl abuse at him but that wouldn’t have been in the spirit. I’ve been overtaken many a time in races and would always get out of the way instantly if someone was behind so no idea why people don’t save themselves the stress of having a rider on their back wheel by pulling over straight away. I eventually got past him only to approach another rider in front and in the process lost focus on the trail and got jammed on a rock for a bit, uggghh. Bit of a frustrating end to an otherwise top day out and weekend with riding buddies from Bristol.

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It was muddy!

Enduro’s are a nice break from my usual long distance suffer-fests but I’ve obviously been spending too much time on the skinny tyres judging by my tentativeness on the steep stuff. A few week night missions to the local steeps should help with that in the coming months before my next dabble into enduro. There are loads of local enduro’s popping up and making a weekend of them with mates is always a good craic. Get yourself to random pubs/bunkhouses and random things always happen like a completely drenched local finding his way in to your bunkhouse at 7am claiming to have fallen in the river and needing a hot drink and a taxi number… A tale for the pub.

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Always something random occurring on an enduro weekend…

 

Thanks to all the people who help me do these things: M Steel Cycles, Roll for the Soul, Tenn Outdoor, Weldtite, USE, ESI grips.

World Champs reflections, next year’s goals

It’s been nearly three months since the World 24 hour Champs and it seems to take a while to get your head round these sorts of races to break them down afterwards. You can read my report here:

http://www.ukxcnews.com/british-bulldog-spirit-at-the-world-championship/

I didn’t quite achieve my aim of top 10 elite elite coming in 13th and strong age groupers meant my overall position was lower than the previous year at Fort William. The positives I take are that I rode faster, further and longer than I ever have done before in a race and that I was there to the death riding for over 25hours. Normally riding for this long would pick you up a couple of places at the death but despite a massive drop in lap times I was too far back to catch those in front. As I’ve improved over the last couple of years there will always come a point of realisation that my physiology will come to be a limiting factor. I certainly couldn’t ever imagine for example, being able to recover from the world’s to fly half way round the planet the next week and win your national championships like Jason English did. Although the race was the main reason for our trip had an awesome trip across there and the people were so friendly it was unbelievable.

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Lake Tahoe, California Road Trip

 

One thing that I’ll be working on next year is trying to get my head out of survival mode for 24hour and fully in to race mode. When you’re 15hours in to a race your body and head are telling you to conserve but as I get stronger I should have the legs to ‘race’ not just ‘survive’ these things which means keeping concentrated on pushing the legs. Essentially making sure your are always bumping the rev limiter not just cruising. Jon at E3 Coaching will be helping steer me in the right direction and I’m delighted to keep on my brilliant sponsors for 2016 to help me achieve my goals.

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Winter off season testing, that hurt!

 

So next year I’ll be mixing it up again with a bit of everything from a dabble in XC and Enduro to my main stay, single day ultra-endurance events. The big early season goal will be an attempt to be the first person to do the South Downs Double in Winter whilst I’m hoping to make the trip to Davos to the European 24 hour Championships.

See you in 2016.

WEMBO World 24 champs preview

North Californian town Weaverville hosts this years World Solo 24hour Championships put together by WEMBO. It will be the second time I’ve competed after last year’s champs slightly more conveniently taking place in Fort William. The No Fuss team put on an excellent event so there will be a lot to live up to from the folk across the pond. Here is a little clip from my last lap featuring TV celebs no less, there is also an excellent preview by Santa Cruz  here.

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World Champion Age Cat last time out, upgrading to Elite this time.

World Champion Age Cat last time out, 17th overall, upgrading to Elite this time.

Battered!

Battered!

I’m amazingly lucky to be heading across there and have scheduled a total of 3 weeks to tour California in a motorhome (or RV to get the lingo right) with my wife and chief pit crew Sarah. Getting set for a 24 hour race is always pretty stressful so adding on top the logistics of getting there from a few thousand miles away makes things a bit more interesting! Bike wise I’m actually surprisingly well prepped in advance with no last minute panic next day deliveries scheduled (as yet). Thanks to Roll for the Soul getting the bikes all prepped and M Steel Cycles for sorting me out with such excellent steeds. I’m pretty lucky to be rocking two very similar 24 hour racing machines. Details of my main ride are here

Bikes

Essentially for me it’s a balance between lightweight and comfort which I seem to have got fairly spot on with these. A test run was passed with flying colours at the extremely tough European Championships course in Finale Ligure. Both bikes being flawless leaving me to focus on hauling my ass round the course a mere 40 odd times!

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Exposure lights at Finale24 European Champs

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Expecting some similar heat over the pond like in Finale, ice in bottles time!

The bikes will be shipped across in a couple of plush bike bags a very helpful chap from Bike Science in Bristol has loaned me. However to keep the travel bill down we’re taking the two bikes as our main luggage so hand luggage only for clothing! Top tip though, get yourself some vac pack bags so you can stuff loads in a small bag, worked at treat for us and saves the £110 per bag excess luggage charge.

Vac pack, genius!

Vac pack, genius!

Having limited space makes things somewhat easier on the packing in that I’ll just have to buy anything I need on race day but with neutral tech support on site and some trade team style setups I’m sure friendly neighbours will be happy to help with any major mechanicals.

I’ll also be pitting with singlespeed ‘machine’ Steve Day looking to take the win in the singlespeed category so combined with his family we should have a decent little pit area to keep us both pedalling.

As for the race itself the organisers put together a really cool video to give you a flavour. I think it will be very different from Fort William which was extremely rough on the body. The course goes straight up a 20 minute or so fireroad climb so those long zone 3 hill repeats will come in handy. Along a flatish section of ridge before a long and gradual descent with a few short kicks thrown in. The descent looks like swoopy fun but it won’t have the same technicality of the Witch’s trail at Fort William. This is a bit of a shame as it’s these sections that I tend to make up some time on but I think some flatout speed through flowing singletrack should see me right.

Another contrast will be the weather. In Scotland many suffered with the damp and cold conditions which we won’t be seeing in California with daytime temperatures in the late 20’s but dropping down under 10 for night time where I’ll be booming some serious lumens with a raft of super Exposure Lights. The changing temperature will provide a bit of a challenge in terms of kit choice but I’ve got lots of Tenn Outdoor gear to take across to give me lots of layer options. Although I’m not a big fan of the heat after some successful pre Finale24 heat acclimatisation I’ve followed a similar routine for Weaverville, coupled with a week in the heat before the race should mean I’ll cope just fine.

As for strategy, I’ve been working on getting faster this year taking on a coach for some advice and hope to move up the ranks from my 17th place overall finish in Scotland. As ever though I’ll be riding my own race and looking to finish strong as usual to pick up any stragglers. I see pacing for a 24 hour race in a similar way to which my Dad explained putting in golf once, you’ve got to feel and visualise the distance to the hole (or in this case finish line), measure the effort based on that. I try and ride as hard as I think I can sustain for 24 hours, simple as that really. This is only possible with kit that works and a sound and well tested fuelling strategy. Keeping it simple in the food department really helps my stomach take the inevitable hammering so I tend to stick to just Torq energy products with the occasional banana and mouthfuls of soup and/or rice pudding. Oh and some bog standard tea to help settle the stomach and provide a bit of caffeine.

So I’m aiming for a top 10 elite finish which is pretty ambitious given the likes of U.S rippers Josh Tostado and Kelly Magelky lining up with Jason Miles looking to be the best placed Brit, pushing for the top step. And that’s even before world dominating Jason English gets thrown in to the mix.

The town of Weaverville has already been welcoming to riders coming from afar and we’ll be hosted by a local family who are one of many that have very generously offered to house competitors. This brings a real family feel to the event and we look forward to hearing more about the area from them.

The scales say race weight is close, the legs feel good, the head is in the right place. I’m all set.

Thanks as always to the people that help me do this stuff!

Thanks as always to the people that help me do this stuff!

Ruthin: Exposure Lights Big Night Out/ MTB Marathon Double

Ruthin Rugby Club yet again played an excellent host to the final round of this year’s ever popular MTB-Marathon series.

Although not ‘races’ these events always attract a decent crowd of riders and usually a few of the endurance specialists wanting to tackle the Marathon double of the Exposure Lights Big Night out 40k followed by the full 75k marathon the next day!

We arrived a bit earlier on the Saturday and hiked up with the dog towards Jubilee Tower on Moel Famau, an absolute cracker for scenery that the full Marathon route skirts round but you never quite go up to the top (thank god). With camping available from the Friday night there are always loads of families making a full weekend of biking and checking out the local area.

Wales= epic

Wales= epic

After catching up with some old buddies and strapping on the Exposure Lights it was quickly time to line up for the Exposure Lights Big Night Out. The ‘Maxx D’ offered up 40k whilst the shorter ‘Equinox’ had a 25k route with over 100 riders across the two categories signed up.

Catching up with buddies on the start line

Catching up with buddies on the start line

Having being sat on the pot quite a lot the week before I wasn’t particularly expecting much in the legs but surprisingly when the lead out car pulled away the excitement of doing a night race kicked in as did the legs and I was able to keep at the sharp end from the off. A traditional monster first climb eventually led up on to the moors and to some seriously scary double track grassy descents. Flying down at 30mph at night is always pretty fun but the risk of a hidden ditch or rock is always there. Fortunately my lights showed up all the hidden horrors and some sketchy drifting round corners whilst passing people shouting as loud as possible to warn them was a lot of fun. I survived a few hairy moments of doom and managed to take back a load of places I had just lost on the crest of the first climb to pop back out on to the road in second. I was quickly caught by a few guys including Scott Cornish and Phil Simcock who were clearly capable of cracking on with the pace as they drifted away from me. First Scott chasing down the leader then Phil who after a bit of a chat and catch up pointed out that we should try and catch those up front, the legs for which I did not have but Phil pulled ahead and tried to bridge the gap which in turn left me with a short gap to him.

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Exposure Lights Front Row lockout!

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I found myself riding along for the mid part of the ride and was happy that the legs were working reasonably well and I wasn’t feeling anywhere near as drained as I had (ha) during the week. Approaching the final descent I managed catch up and overtake a couple of guys. The route down to the main road follows a really fast gulley where I managed to pull out a fair gap. From last year I had a (what turned out to be incorrect) memory of it being a fairly flat/downhill mile or so to the finish. As it turned out I burnt my box of matches three times over as I had incorrectly remembered the distance to the finish. So full gas from the bottom of the descent led to eventual burn-out just before coming back in to town at which point two chaps caught up with me just as we got in to town. They went up the hill and down the other side at race pace which although was probably a bit off in terms of being an open road and the spirit of the event and that they were still at a speed I couldn’t have clung on to so I just took the chance to spin out the legs briefly in anticipation of the next day. Elite XC boy Daniel Blackwell was first back followed by a strong ride from Scott Cornish. I was mixed in with a bunch all less than two minutes behind Scott.

ELBNO Finish

As always the event team provided a warm welcome with whoops all round and borrowed lights handed back in to the Exposure boys with smiles attached. I shoveled some food down before a hot shower and eventual bed time. Still buzzing front the event sleep came surprisingly slowly!

Rain splatters awoke the campsite the next day but this soon cleared for clear blue skies. A huge hoard of riders of over 600 lined up for the varying 25, 50 or full 75k marathon with a promise of 2700m of climbing for the full beasty! From the off it certainly felt like we were eternally heading skyward for most of the day, usually up some impossibly steep grassy climb. One in particular I only saw one person riding up and that was a very slight lady who showed the lads how it was done!

Massively steep first climb but epic views

Massively steep first climb but epic views

The route traced some of the night ride but with a bigger variety of trails including some fun wooded fast rocky singletrack along with the high speed moorland seat of your pants descents. There is some real technical climbing on those hills as well, rocky and steep and the odd bit of mud thrown in making line choice and looking ahead key. I loved the section between feed  1 and 2 with a mega rocky and narrow eroded path in the middle of the moors leaving you hanging on for dear life. This is where my day started going a bit wrong though as between the two fuel stations my Garmin was jettisoned with my rubber strap mount snapping somehow despite no crash or catching it on anything! By the time I noticed it really could have been anywhere so I put my faith in other riders that if it was in the middle of the path someone would pick it up but if not it would undoubtedly be lost forever in the heather, more on that later.

Off we go

After stuffing some fig rolls and a couple of bananas from the well stocked feed station and a top-up of Torq I got my head down and cracked on despite being gutted about my Garmin. I found myself alone for a good chunk of time, cramp starting up some horribly sharp road and rideroad climbs. I then arrived at a left turn in a village where an arrow was neither pointed straight on nor a clear left, it was somewhere in the middle, decision time. I waited for a minute until a car appeared from the left turn, I asked if he had seen any arrows further back down that road to which he said no but he’s seen some further up the hill, in the absence of any other riders to share the decision I went up the road climb for a few minutes until I passed a couple of turns that weren’t marked denoting the wrong direction from the otherwise excellently signed route. Back to the junction and several minutes lost as well as putting an extra climb in my legs. Different people around me now meaning a stream had gone past. More cramp, ouch. I eventually rode back with another chap in to town, happy that I’d gotten through the day feeling reasonably strong but with some annoyances along the way!

Cramp!

Cramp!

After reporting my Garmin lost I had a report from the organisers of it being spotted with two lady walkers by another rider who had offered to take it back to the event centre for me. They declined saying they would hand it in, no good samaritan word as yet from the organisers or the police so perhaps watch out for rambling ladies robbing your stuff!

I rolled in a way bit down off the sharp end of the ride but happy enough that I had put down a good hard few hours riding. The rapid Nick Craig smashed the chasers to pieces in impressive fashion to finish in 3hrs 35 for the long route. I’ll take a bit more from being the second rider home after Scott that had also done the 40k the night before which should stand me in good endurance fettle for the longer ones to come.

With the World 24hour Championships round the corner which is my main goal for the year it was good to get a solid weekend of miles under the belt. Thanks to the brilliant organisers, more of the same please next year! Next up is the Forest of Dean XC Enduro for the final hard effort before heading across the pond to battle it out riding in circles for a day.

Thanks as always to the people that help me do this stuff!

Thanks as always to the people that help me do this stuff!

Bontrager 12hour Solo: tough time had :( …

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.

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Sporting the new ‘By Design’ Tenn Outdoor shorts

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.

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Always great to have loads of trackside pitting

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.

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Does my bum look big…

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

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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.

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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.

@mattjonesmtb

www.mattjonesmtb.com

Bristol Bikefest 3hr ‘recovery race’

My third outing at Bikefest was a shorter jaunt that the usual annual 12 hour washing machine slog. Coming off the back of 24hours of Finale just a few weeks ago I decided that 3hours blasting round Ashton Court would be sufficient to see where my fitness was at. It would be a ‘recovery race’ of sorts…

The 3hour started at 6pm with the new format of the 12hr and 6hr merging in to one day rather than the previous two day format. It felt a bit odd start so late in the day but with some pretty moody wet weather earlier in the day I was glad for it. I snuck on course to do a practice lap and found the conditions to be pretty greasy but the all weather surface was holding up well. That said some two wheel drifting over the shiny hardpack kept you on your toes. I also forgot to put my glasses on which didn’t help on the odd muddy patch but some one eyed head tilted sideways descending kept the blindness at bay throughout.

A small gang set off on the 3hour event with the usual le mans style sprint fortunately being forgone (hurrah). I knew that a previous year’s podium finisher would be one to watch and sure enough the chap pulled away slightly on the first lap managing to put bodies in between us. I was on orders from E3 coach Jon to ‘not go in to the red’ so I didn’t compromise recovery for bigger upcoming goals. Unfortunately once the race set off instincts kicked in and I raced pretty hard the whole time as my heart rate shows (for stato’s here’s my training peaks output: http://tpks.ws/WrTd ).

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Sure enough the one to watch eased away gradually so I let him go and rode a lap or so with a couple of other riders close behind whilst I settled in.  I knew first place was away and trying to catch up would involve digging deep which I really didn’t want to do, a bit of strava stalking showed he’d been doing strava laps all week and had placed well in previous years events so fair play to him for smashing it out once again. I did manage to ease back at some points but the bikefest course is always one where keeping momentum is key whilst taking advantage of a clear track when you have it to help keep the overall lap times respectable if you get held up elsewhere. By the end I managed to create a decent gap to third so was able to roll home well within cut off time which was a relief to have come through unscathed and great to be on the podium if not unexpectedly!

I’ve have some pretty shoddy experiences of on course bad manners by riders at Bikefest in the past but I’m really glad that there was a great atmosphere out there from everyone, no issues all ride which was nice and certainly nobody ploughing in to me at 20mph! Loads of encouragement all round and good banter on course, good stuff.

Being able to sustain a hard effort was quite a surprise which shows the benefits of what a structured recovery can do for the legs. That said I was aching the next day for it!

Well done to the E3 team bagging the win in the mixed pairs and Scott Cornish on winning the 6hour.

All in all a good evening in the woods.

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Me and a couple of aliens making up the podium

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Thanks to everyone who has helped me out this year, couldn’t do it without you!

@mattjonesmtb

www.mattjonesmtb.com