Saturday, 5 May 2012

12 Hours of Exposure

Better late than never, at last, here is my account from the 12hour side of the Exposure Champs.

Good planning is the key to success some might say, well that went out the window  in my build up to the 12 Hours of Exposure. Training hadn't been going to bad leading up to the race with it mainly consisting of taking part in the Asics Offroad Duathlon series over winter. Quite a lot of running and few 3 hour rides thrown in as well was the basis of my training. I would have liked to get a lot more longer rides in but as they say 'quality not quantity'.

A few days to go and I was still needing parts for my new On-One Carbon Race 29er to get it built in time for the race with the rest of the parts being taken off my 26" bike. A box of bike goodies arrived at work on the Wednesday from On One for me to finish the build. It was on opening the box that panic set my haste to order things i had ordered 26" wheels and not 29". A quick call to On One and a plan was made to make a small diversion en route to the race the next day to their premises in Rotherham to swap them for 29" wheels, sorted.

Heading up to our stop over in Darlington, my 29" On One XC wheelset was collected and then it was off for a visit to Dalby Forest (no cycling for me) to let my two sons burn off some energy in the snow after 5 hours in the car. Now things not to do before a big race should also include 'do not try and show your kids how to go really fast across a snow covered wobbly balance beam in the children play area'. Less than 2 feet across I slipped with my legs going in separate directions and twisting my back and knee in the process. Lesson learnt we headed off for our stopover in Darlington.

We arrived at Newcastleton mid-afternoon the following day, found our lodge and also that the course ran right by the door! Car un-packed I set about finishing off the build on the 29er. Unfortunately the BB92 bottom bracket couldn't be found anywhere. The car was searched but no luck. I had left the bracket sitting just inside the boot and it was then my wife informed me that while I nipped into the supermarket in Darlington to stock up on food she had opened the boot to get some things out for the kids, meaning that my bottom bracket was now sitting in the car park at Darlington. With no way of being able to finish the build on the 29er it was a good job I had my 26" bike with me to use the next day!

Race day...I met up with Dean and we made our way down to the race start in Newcastleton although I had to do a quick sprint back to the lodge when I realised that i didn't have my timing chip on. All signed on we waited for the traditional bagpipe start through the village and then we were off.

No sooner has we started and disaster struck once more. Someone rode into the back of me snapping my rear mech hanger in two. After a two minute rant about what else could possibly go wrong I ran off to my lodge to see if I could fix it some how. While I searched around the race village for anyone with a hanger for a Moda, the chaps opposite our lodge from M Steel cycles set about trying to fix it for me. With no hanger to be found but several kind offers of loan bikes from people I returned to my bike to find that they had managed to get the bike working again by using a trailpack repair hanger bolted through the skewer. A quick thanks and I was off having lost a good 45 minutes of time.

Tactics came into play, rather than hammering it and burning myself out I kept it in the middle ring and span the pedals. The only advantage of being right at the back was lots of clear singletrack. I passed riders halfway round their lap on the double fire-road section, some of who had a bemused look of 'blimey is he leading'.....I wish. I kept at a steady pace for the next 6 hours, getting through my least favourite part of the course through the winding up and down switchbacks knowing that there was a nice long uphill section afterwards, and trying to put up with a saddle that kept slipping due to the saddle clamp deciding it had waited until this race to decide to no longer stay tight.

Over halfway time done and it was time for a quick 10 minute stop to down my concoction of porridge oats, protein recovery milk and nuts.Fuelled up once more I headed back out cheered on by my wife and two sons. I managed to slowly work my way up the field to 14th place approaching what would be my last lap. The last lap caffeine gel was downed as I tried for one last surge. I was starting to suffer now and this kicked in on my least favourite part of the course as riders started coming by. I got to the bottom of the long uphill and the gel at last kicked in and I was off passing riders who had just gone by. It was an all or nothing big ring approach now in the hope that I could squeeze in another lap. I crossed the line at just before 11pm and with my last lap at about 1hr20m I decided to call it a day. Ironically for me I ended up with 13th place! If not for all the problems then a top ten would have been on the cards, but such is bike racing.

Total food consumed was several Eat Natural bars, trail mix, porridge mix, several bottles of Inifinit Nutrition and one caffeine gel. Another great race from SIP Events. I finished and got top 20 which was my aim in my first race proper in Team Cycleaid kit. Cheers Ian for the use of the jersey. Thanks to Joolze Dymond for a great photo as well and my wife and boys for the support. A very big thanks though to the M Steel Cycles crew though for getting the bike going.

Hopefully by the next race I will have my 29er. A blog about the new bike coming very soon.

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