Saturday, 3 September 2011

Torq 12:12 - Riding, not racing

After my lack of mountain biking this year I took a minor leap of faith (or should that be a hop of faith?) and agreed to partner Darren at the Torq 12:12 mountain bike race. It was on a strickly "non-competitive" basis though which meant there was no need to ride fast, or even ride much at all.

The race starts at midday and finishes at midnight - hence the 12:12 name - and as Darren picked me up in the morning he reiterated his non-competitive stance by stating that we probably wouldn't even need lights. That suited me - whilst I've done a few off-road rides recently I'm still nervous about crashing. Darkness and the forecast rain would increase the chances of this dramatically. He was also suffering with a cold so we decided to treat the trip as "just going for a bike ride, where there might be lots of other people riding too".

Somehow I ended up being the starting rider (the event is a relay) and decided to take my non-competitive role seriously by bimbling round the first lap. I might have overtaken a few people on the climbs but I certainly wasn't racing anyone. There were a few numpties who thought that they might save 5 seconds on a 12 hour race by barging past but generally people were pretty relaxed.

There were a couple of slightly sketchy points (which I sorted out on the second lap) but all-in-all the course was condusive to staying rubber-side down. Some dampness, a touch of moistness and a smear of greasiness on the roots but nothing that Mud-X tyres at 25psi couldn't cope with.

(Slight aside - Bontrager Mud-X are my favourite tyre in all the world. Is it wrong to have a favourite tyre?)

Ten minutes into my first lap the rain started. Just as I finished and handed over to Darren the rain stopped.

Five minutes into my second lap the rain started again, and continued throughout my third lap (we were doing double laps this time).

Shortly after I handed over to Darren the rain stopped. Half an hour later it started again, and this time it looked like it was going to continue for a while. I considered the options.
  • If I went out again, that would mean Darren would either have to go out again too or be called a wuss for the next month.
  • Darren really wasn't feeling well. It would be cruel to make him ride again.
  • Stopping now would be really non-competitive, thereby executing our strategy perfectly.
  • If we stopped we could go for hot chips.
  • Chips are delicious.
As Darren came in, sodden and filthy, after his double lap, I met him in the change over area. Dressed in normal clothes, with no helmet and no bike.

"Are you not going out again? Why not? Oh, OK."

He didn't take much convincing. That's the lure of chips for you.

So, we only lasted six hours of the race, but quite frankly we were both fairly satisfied. I hadn't fallen off, Darren hadn't colapsed vomiting and we were home at a reasonable hour. I quite like this non-competitive thing.
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