Whacky Races!

My favourite photo of the year. Thanks Jo!

Three of us did the 12hr solo at Bristol Bike Fest.

It's always nice to have a foreboding weather forecast and everyone was expecting a mud bath. They got it!

Rob, Josh and I lined up for the fisty cuffs "Le Mans" start in the wet grassy field. There were hundreds of us aiming to get away and pick up our bikes on a doubletrack 300metres away.

The hooter went, and the friends that I had been standing next to dissapeared as I got engulfed in blood lusting, baying animals.

I didn't see them again and I got to our bike monitor (Josh' Dad) to see that mine was the only one left, so I took it and got going.

This was going to be a proper muddy race. Some bits did dry out and some dry lines developed, but other parts stayed just as, if not more, slippy. It was chaos on the first few singletrack sections as normally happens at these events, but the mud compounded things.

People were falling off, usually due to the mud, all the way through the race. It was full of comedy value, but you knew fine and well that some of these guys were hurting themselves. Someone would slip on an off-camber sections as you rode around them on the outside (on a few really wide sections) and you could hear the air rushing out of their lungs as they got the smackdown treatment.

"You ok?" Well, you have to ask.

gasp, wheeze, splutter...

"Yes, keep going."

So I did, about 150 times.

I'm so glad that I can handle a bit of mud and slime, because the bike hardly went straight for the whole of the race. Well, to be clear, it hardly went straight for the bottom 3rd of the course because it stayed wet and "exciting."


I was drinking too much for the temperature of the day and was stopping to pee every lap, so I revised my plan and drank a bit less. Perfect.

Hour 5 and my right foot felt all floppy. I stopped to have a look and was surprised to find that my cleat was loose. Really loose. I was close to losing it. 5 or so minutes later and I had fixed it back in place, rounded one of the allen bolts off and muttered a small and silent prayer that it would stay in place.

I've finally found my pace. Having talked to my Coach last week he had suggested a pace that I should aim for. But it made me ride ragged, and my legs hurt. So I dropped my pace by a bit and settled in. It was my 24hr pace, it felt good, and I got stronger throughout the race. At 8hrs my long distance gaze started- I was in the mode!

At 11hrs 30min (the race was started late due to traffic issues) I was just about ready to keep going for another 12hrs. Well I would have been if my upper body hadn't been battered to pieces by the course.

Josh was 2nd solo, Rob was 2nd singlespeed solo, and I was 4th in the solo.

I think that I did 17 or 18 laps last year in the dry and superfast conditions that prevailed then. I did 17 this year, and that "could" have been 18 if I could have fished about 10mins back during the day, but hey!

Well chuffed.

Dragon road race next week. I'm not too great on a road bike, but it's good training.

After that, a few weeks solitary training and then 24/12!

I think I'll be ready, just don't tell anyone else.