Monday 25 July 2011

Life's a (pit) bitch

About this time of year I like to go to the Bontrager Twentyfour12. It's in its sixth year and I've been to five of them. The first was held on a reclaimed rubbish dump, where I lost my UK 24 hour virginity with a group of people from work. The year after I did a 12 hour pair with Jon (now known as Little Jonny Fast, LJF) at Cotswold Farm Park, before the event moved to its current home near Plymouth, Newnham Park. That was my first (attempted) 12 hour solo, cut short due to me being so tired I forgot I had caffeine gels to use when I was tired. A missed year was followed by victory in the Torchbearer12 (midnight to midday) mixed pair which brings us bang up to date. The original plan was a 24 hour pair with LJF but due to the snapped clavicle I decided to give it a miss - and pit bitch instead.

Pit Bitch, definition. It's not quite right - it also applies to people helping out other riders at mountain bike events, and you don't have to be female. My preferred definition is "someone who wants an excuse to feel part of an event, but can't be bothered with all that painful riding".

So, here's my guide to pit bitching.

Qualifications required: No formal qualifications are needed, but basic time keeping an advantage. Being able to work out "it was 03:24 when they went out, two laps, averaging an hour fifteen, allow ten minutes in case they speed up, plus fifteen more for you to get ready, means I'll wake you up at X" at 4am after no sleep and several beers is a preferred skill.

Experience needed: Good with zip ties, duct tape, disposable BBQs, super noodles, indexing gears, Dirtworker operation and motivational speaking. I say motivational speaking, what I really mean is the ability to lie consistently about relative race positions and time gaps in order to persuade riders to go out again. For example
  • "You're in fourth, only ten minutes behind third and fifteen off second. Get out there"
  • "Go out hard, and just keep going. Full gas"
  • "Did I say ten minutes? Really? I meant a lap and ten minutes!"
  • "What do you mean it hurts? Just remember what Jens would say!"
  • "Superman wears Jens Voigt underpants. Jens wears LJF underpants"
Equipment needed: Zip ties, duct tape, allen keys, burgers, cable cutters, BBQ sauce, cool box, beer, track pump, beer, comfy chair, coffee, beer. Marshmallows.

Duties: Many and various, but the main ones are
  • Sitting, looking at the weather forecast. Shaking head whilst doing it.
  • Emptying the coolbox.
  • Cheering, the more random the better. If you can get a passing rider to look round and fall off, you get a point. Ten points and you get an extra burger.
  • Sitting, poking meat balanced above some flames.
  • Wearing a silly t-shirt. Home made.
  • Watching the final stage of the Tour De France.
  • Eating ice cream at 9am.
  • Race position checking. Forgetting the race position on the walk back to the pit, making something up at random.
  • Pretending to understand bike mechanics before telling the rider there's nothing you can do. They'll just have to go round with one pedal.
Rewards: If you get all this perfectly right, you'll be rewarded with the reflected glory of podium places. You'll also have an ace weekend, meet some ace people and knock your own fitness back by a few months.

So, how was my performance? LJF and Mark were second in male 24 hour pairs, and Caroline was third in female 24 solo.

I think I did pretty well.

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