Sunday, 15 July 2012

24/12; The story of a Broken man

If I’m honest the build up for this race was somewhere between shamble and completely chaotic; through no fault of my own on the Monday before the biggest event so far this year I had a bike with a crack in it, no gazebo and no kit. Thankfully the most important element of the preparation was getting loads of miles in and feeling really strong on the bike. Errrmmmm no can’t really help you there either…

So all in all between trying to maintain a normal life, working two jobs and organising a third Bontrager 24/12 had somehow sneaked up on me and was now a little more than a week away. Gulp.

I knew I had the mileage in my legs, having recently ridden the length of Wales in the midst of an extreme weather warning I was pretty confident I had the head for it too but as is always the case with endurance racing, and indeed riding, the proof is in the pedalling.  With my legs held together by Scott Cornish and his magic rock tape and some work on my knee with any luck I had the pedalling sorted...
Thankfully the help and support side of things was covered; not only did I have what has to be the best support crew in the business, Heather and Mark, but the usual suspects were to be racing as well meaning that there would be an abundance of friendly faces on top of the usual lovely people this sort of event attracts.  Looking back im not sure what I was worrying about, as Loco’s Gareth kept saying, its all just ridding your bike ‘innt?

Luckily working in a bike shop does have its advantages, a hasty late night call to one of the most helpful people in mountain biking, Brant @ On One promised to dispatch a new frame the very next morning, this still left it all a bit close – a chance conversation with Jez @ Trek secured an ex demo Superfly 100 that with any luck would arrive the week before the even. No chance to test the bike off road but from what I had heard they were simply stunning bits of kit and let’s be honest, I had 24hrs to get used to the thing!

Working Friday and then driving down in the evening had its own bag off issues, not least the timing involved in getting three people from across the country to one point on a Friday night – it was late by the time we set off and the rain was getting biblical, honestly I was wondering whether I should have brought the canoe rather than a bike.  Thankfully by the time we had reached Plymouth it had calmed down. We quickly put up the gazebo, tent and emptied as much of the car as we could and then headed off to curl up in a warm bed for the night, this as it would turn out was possibly the best decision we made all weekend.

Apparently there was nearly a decision made to evacuate the campsite as the weather was so bad, this we only learned when arriving back on site after a warm shower and a nice breakfast, suffice to say we were not flavour of the month among those who had been woken up by streams of water running through there tents.

Lining up at the beginning of 24hrs is always an odd experience, a strange calm descends as your brain try’s to comprehend what you are about to make it do.  The first lap was as always a challenge in not getting caught up in the mad dash to the singletrack, slightly slower than usual due to the mud but strangely the sky had cleared; after all the issues it was finally riding a bike.

I sometimes wonder why I write these things as to be honest I really cant remember anything about the race, it was sunny, then it rained and then it was dark. Then it rained some more… I’m guessing it got light again at some point although I cant really remember when; all I can remember is that it got REALLY hard at about 8 in the morning. 

Last time I raced a 24 solo at Newnham I went out far to fast and blew up after about 8 hours – as you can imagine I was pretty paranoid about this happening again, especially with all the support and effort people were putting in around me.  Throughout the 1st 12 hours of the race I was making a point of spinning and being as smooth as possible and honestly I felt great, worryingly great.  Without warning this ended as the end of the race drew near.

Im not going to lie, im no Matt Page, I was broken with four hours to go, I was holding on by a ledge and that ledge was getting smaller – the fire roads instead of being a distraction from the fun singletrack were now becoming lifelines allowing me to regain composure, eat and drink before the next bit that I had to be alert for. With two laps to go i was not only counting down the laps but the puddles – I can honestly say if it wasn’t for the support of Mark and everyone else on site I wouldn’t have felt comfortable riding those last few hours.

As they say a photo tells a thousand words, I think this one has a book in it…

All thats left are the thank you's of which there are many
Mark and Heather, possibly the best pit crew in the business.
Gareth, Alex, Scott Zoe and Mark, basically all at Loco Tuning.
Scott Cornish for creating art out of Rock Tape and generally holding my legs together for 24hrs
Simon, Bethan, Clara and the Bikeshed Wales lads
Jez @Trek.
Jon @ Scimitar.
Mud Dock Cycleworks
Oh and Matt Carr, although my helmet does still smell of beer...
And many more that i have doubtless forgotten (And in some cases remembered ...) but you know who you are :-)


  1. Oh and I came 5th in the end, a lap up on 6th but a lap behind 4th. Again thanks to all who helped or put up with me whilst training, racing or recovering.
    Cheers Shergs

  2. Excellent work, get training we have got a few little 12hrs coming up ;)


Cycle Accident SolicitorsOur primary sponsors are CycleAid - cycle accident solicitors.

Hope Technology

On One

The Gorilla Firm

Juice Lubes

Scimitar Sports