Monday 31 August 2009

Job Done

At the start of 2008 I decided that I wanted to do a 12 hour mountain bike race, solo (i.e. ride for 12 hours without stopping). I tried twice and lasted 9.5 hours the first time, 8.5 hours the second. My third attempt just didn't happen as I missed the race, which led up to yesterday.

Yesterday was the Torq 12:12, a fairly small, quite local 12 hour event. I did it last year (the 8.5 hour attempt) so I thought I'd have another try. The conditions this year were much better, as it all got a bit gloopy last time, but my fitness was a unknown quantity. Training up to mid-June went well, but very little since then - in essence, I trained hard for a fortnight, then took a week to rest and eat.

The course was dry and dusty, mixed with constant drizzle. I have no idea how that could be the case, but it was. Imagine a cloud of black, peaty dust for 8 miles, and a damp sweaty body. Repeat for each lap. Now imagine an 18th century chimney sweep, wearing a bike helmet. The two images should be the same. Now imagine the hilarity of finding the showers weren't working.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Chronology is important, it stops everything happening at once.

So, race starts. As usual, I go off slightly too fast. The cramp fairy starts to tickle my right hamstring after about two and a half hours. I slow down. I drink Torq juice, eat Torq bars. I feel sleepy. I have a Torq caffeine gel.


Now, the ingredients mention guarana (a natural source of caffeine), but they must have left off all the other substances that must have been in there, in order to turn me from a cramping riding zombie into Bruce Lee on a bike. I swooped. I saw things before they happened. I was at one with the forest.

Off course, it wore off after a couple of hours. But what a couple of hours.

I rode, I rode more, I didn't fall off. I got dark. I had another gel. Then... after ten and a half hours... pssssssttttt. PPPPSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTT!

Flat. Tyre. Flat tubeless tyre with sealant in. Sealant not working. Try can of sealing foam. Pump up tyre. Pssssssttttt. Big cut in the tyre.


People kept coming past me, asking if I needed any help. Sadly, none of them were willing to give me their back wheel. You see, the thing with tubeless (or at least the version I have) is that it's a bit of a faff to fit a tube as you have to take the tubeless valve out. In the dark. With failed sealant foam everywhere. I started to run with the bike as it was only a mile to the finish of the lap and our pit area.

So, it's 10:30pm, I've been riding for 10:30, and I reckon I've only got one lap left in my legs. The plan was to have 15 minutes rest then go out for the final lap at about 11pm, finishing just on midnight. I didn't factor a run/walk into the plan, and quite frankly, when I get back to the pit it's going to take something special to get me out again.

At this point, I should mention Darren. His main reason for attending (as well as racing pairs) was to make sure I didn't quit. Still, when I rock up with a broken bike, what's he gonna do?

At that point, he rides up behind me. And points out that he has a spare wheel that he can set up and I can use for another lap. And then he rides off.


I arrive at our pit to find him finishing the transfer of a disc rotor that fits my bike onto his wheel.


I really, really have to go our again now, don't I?

So I go, and I ride very carefully and very slowly for the last lap, walking a couple of potential death traps. And at 12:05, after probably 11 hours 50 minutes of total ride time, I finish my first 12 hour solo.

And that is why you should always have a Darren in your pits.

Going to sleep some more now....

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