Thursday, 20 June 2013

mayhem report

mayhem by rOcKeTdOgUk
mayhem, a photo by rOcKeTdOgUk on Flickr.

this weekend saw my first ever 24hr race, a relay format that started at 12 noon on Saturday and ended at 12 noon on Sunday. Three other brave souls stepped up and became part of Team NWAlps/VeloCake,they were Andy, The Puppy and Dangerous Dan.
Dan and I got to the venue, Gatcombe park in Gloucestershire, home of Princess Anne, in mid afternoon on friday. After warnings that there was limited space to camp we found there was no real problem and bagged a flatish area not too far from the start finish area. The camping zone was on high ground, on one hand this meant the ground was well drained in the event of lots of rain but on the other it meant it was quite exposed to the high winds that were gusting across the site. My tent went up easily but we encountered a problem with Dan's, tracked down to two split poles which basically put the tent out of use. A hurried phone call to our Pit Area Manager (P.A.M.) resulted in her bringing a spare tent for Dan, phew! first crisis avoided. P.A.M was in the shape of Melba a friend from work who volunteered to look after the team for the weekend, tea making, bacon frying and cake cutting were here duties what we didn't bank on but got aswell was her motivational speeches, such as "are you going for another lap, you'll let yourself down if you don't" and "you've come all this way just to sit in a field? go for another lap"
The race started with Andy doing the Le Man's style start with a half mile run and he took just over an hour to get around, very good going as there is always quite a bottle neck at the narrow parts of the course due to the sheer number of riders close together, I was second rider and as I stood in the transition zone the heavens opened and it becan to chuck it down with rain, I managed to shelter and keep warm and the hand over with Andy went smoothly.
This was my first ever race like this so it was hard to know what to expect so it was with some trepidation I set off out of the arena and onto the course proper. The first part was slightly downhill and relatively dry and then came to the Kenda coffin drop, it was quite steep and already very slippery because of the rain, Ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem for me but the sight of two riders on the ground in front of me on the steepest part and others walking down made me scrub off speed quickly, I managed to get past the fallen riders but frankly the walkers got in the way and I had to almost go off course to avoid them, this proved my downfall as I caught a wet root, the bike went from under me and I was down too. Thankfully uninjured due to the soft verge I picked myself up and carried on. The next part of the lap was on double track but again very greasy, it was hard to keep the bike pointing in the right direction and bouncing off the inside of ruts made by other riders wasn’t fun. There was a very steep grassy climb about 2/3’s of the way around which I found impossible to climb with the gearing I had, 1 x 10 just didn’t give me the range of gears I needed, fine on home trails but here with it’s steep start with no run in it was difficult. Only the very fit and pro riders were managing to get up the climb so like most of the others around me I had no option but to walk. Walking is terrible! The next part of the course was a timed downhill sponsored by Red Bull and I passed quite a few people down it, the downhills were good fun but the climb after was stoney and smeared with mud layed down by by then, 100’s of riders, so again it was walk time, very frustrating as I’m sure I could have ridden up given the correct gearing. After this was a gradual climb back into the start finish area wear Dan was waiting to take over. My second lap was in much improved conditions and there was a dry line forming, the penaly for going off line was high though as the sticky mud robbed you of momentum so picking a passing place was done with care, even so this proved to be my fastest lap.
Inbetween laps the idea was to relax, take on food and water and prepare for the next lap, but as we were all lapping at around an hour there wasn’t actually that much time between laps and lots of cake and beer was consumed, the weather closed in again around 2230 and while we waited for Paul to finish his lap we decided to stop riding until the morning, Our intention was always to do this for fun and not take it too seriously so this was fine. I finally got to bed around 1am with the intention of going for an early morning lap whenever I woke up. This was only three hours later however, due to the really strong gusting wind making the tent flap uncontrollably at times I thought it was going to be ripped from the ground, this was the second night in a row this had happened, not at all good for a proper sleep. At around 4am I began my next lap and felt great, the course had gotten wet overnight but was now drying out, I still had to walk the biggest climbs but felt good when I handed over to Dan back at the arena. It was then that the photographer from Red Bull called me over and asked if he could take my picture. He said “try to look tired”, it wasn’t a tough assignment. I got back to our pit area feeling great, had breakfast and a coffee, thinking I could easily go for another lap, I sat down and as the others stirred chatted to them. I then felt an over whelming tiredness to the point of nausea , I felt I was going to be sick, I had a long drink of water and felt a little better but after that the possibility of another lap felt a long way away. In the end we came 99th out of 151 in out class with 13 laps.
As the days have gone past since the race I feel more and more disappointed at my performance, not because of the gearing of my bike but it’s the fact that I’m fitter and lighter than I’ve been in a very long time and because of beer (my fault) and lack of sleep (natures fault) I wasn’t able even ride to my normal potential let alone push myself, the lap was only 7 miles and I’m capable of 6 times that off road easily as I’ve proved on other rides, I know racing is more intense and its not ride and stop for a chat like a typical NWAlps ride but even so I feel I’ve let myself down. So the only thing I can take from this experience is that I know I can do better and that this race and I have unfinished business.


Steve said...

Good stuff, you actually got me thinking about having another go at one of these. I quite like the workmanlike graft of going out for another lap when you don't particularly feel like it. And dawn is a special time.

rocketdog said...

I intend to be back next year to make amends

Mullerton said...

Ooooo sounds like the juices are starting to flow. So, will there be crack Vc team next year?

rocketdog said...

Well, no one else bothered this year so I doubt it

Steve Riley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Maybe if you come and pick me up on the friday night and put me on the start line. It's the faff I can't be doing with - fell racing you turn up to a car park/pub in the middle of nowhere with 15 mins to spare, hand over £4, mill around for a bit and then set off :)

Mullerton said...

£4 race entry....can you imagine?