Wednesday, 10 September 2008

And it was...

The Friday before the event it rained and rained and rained. Proper "lead item on the news" kind of rain. This didn't fill me with hope, and I changed my plans from camping from the Friday to driving down on the Saturday. I'd heard that the course would hold up relatively well to the rain (compared to say, a giant sandcastle) but I still wan't brimming with keenness.

Saturday morning was slightly better and I arrived about 8am to meet Jackie and Nick (pit bitch #1). We soon had the super-gazebo up and there was a fairly relaxed pre-race few hours, with a bit of a test ride. The course was rideable, we did the first couple of singletrack sections which turned out to be the hardest of the whole lap.

Then the rest arrived - Jon and Phill riding as a pair, Caroline riding solo and Caroline's assistant Tessa (I'm not sure if it's quite correct to call a girl a pit bitch). Start time came around and off we went.

Things started reasonably, I was going too fast as usual at the beginning and rode round with Jackie for a lap or so - not deliberately, we were just doing the same speed. I stopped on the first lap to help Jon, who had a puncture and had forgotten how to use a bicycle pump. The were the usual chats with the usual people, including one guy on a singlespeed who I've only ever spoken to at events, mainly whilst riding. The track was just starting to dry... and then it rained. All got a bit gloopy then, especially in a couple of sections which were total slurry pits. I'm sure I saw the top of some guy's helmet just breaking the surface - he must have hit the deep bit.

About the start of lap 7 (about 7.5 hours in) something went ping. And not in a good way, in a "hmm, that was something fleshy breaking" way. Thing was, it only really hurt under power, just above my left knee. Normal pootling was fine (which was 96% of the time by now) but any kind of burst, e.g. getting out of a dangerously deep slurry pit, caused some real "oweeeee" moments. I was really in two minds whether to carry on, but my natural cowardliness won in the end and I quit at the end of the seventh lap (about 8.5 hours in).

It was a really brutal course in the end - no real respite because it was fairly flat, so no long downhills. There were a few people who just keeled over in the woods for a bit of a sleep, and a few more who were still moving but had lost all sense of reality. Great atmosphere though - I was even asked if I was OK when I stopped for a piss. Fine thanks, I'm quite good at it by now.

Jackie ran out of gas at 7 laps too (considering she did the Transrockies a couple of weeks before, I'm not surprised), Phill and Jon managed 11 laps between them, and Caroline did brilliantly, keeping riding til the end and putting in 8 laps. All in all - a tough, worthwhile event.

My next challenge will be a 13 hour blindfolded singlespeed ride.
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