Sunday, 16 June 2013

Mountain Mayhem 2013 Race Report


Mountain Mayhem has always been on my hit list of events to do. One of the original 24 hour events, it's almost compulsory to do it at some point. A few weeks ago, Shergie asked me if I fancied joining a mixed team and having a crack - how could I have resisted?!

When I asked a bit more about the team, it dawned on me that I would be racing with some of the fastest endurance racers from South Wales. Gareth Evans and Jonny Williams both race for Loco Tuning and are annoyingly good at riding mountain bikes extremely fast. Hanneke Van der Werf joined us, racing for Torq / Qoroz is an extremely strong racer, and last year won the overall title in the Endurance Series. I knew from the start that I really needed to up my game.

On the Saturday morning, we pre rode the course, after the heavy rain throughout the night. We were met with a mudfest and felt generally disinterested in the course, the event and life in general. But, we had come to Princess Anne's estate for the singular purpose of racing, and we didn't want to disappoint her! So the race gets underway and Jonny goes off riding first (after a rather unpleasant cycling-shoe-hindered run. Gareth goes out next, and the heavens open. Whilst the faff monster attacks Shergie and his bike, I fear getting sent out next into the rain. Fortunately, the bike gets fixed and I was spared. 

Finally, the time comes for me to head out. After a slick transition, I go out on my first proper lap. Despite the muddy conditions, the course was a lot more interesting in race mode.

So back at the base camp, I decided to eat lots and rest ready for the next lap. Whilst I was waiting in transition, the word was that the course was drying out nicely and way more fun to ride. Shergie came in, gave me the wrist band and suggested I "pin it". I did accordingly and the course was a million times better. The 1000s of riders had carved out a line through the mud to the limestone beneath. I applied myself at pinning it, and came back with a lap time around 15 minutes quicker than before. I was chuffed, but cramp had kicked in on a few of the climbs.

More rest, and then it was going to be time for my..graveyard shift. As everyone was setting in for a night's sleep, I went out for a double lap stint. My strategy was to take it extra easy for the first lap, and then push harder on the second. This seemed to pay off nicely. However, feeling extremely tired, once I handed over to Hanneke, got back to the tent and got a few hours sleep.

Before I knew it, I was awake and cold. I felt pretty dire and would have been quite happy to never ride again in the race. But before I knew it, I had my CycleAid kit on, and I was drinking as much water as possible. Talk moved to caffeinated gets, and I had one stuffed in my hand. At the start line, waiting for Shergie, I emptied the sachet into my cake-hole and waited for the magic to happen. Before going out on that lap, I was asked my expected lap time (based on how I was feeling), and I went for an optimistic 1 hour. In my head, I knew that was going to be a tall order to deliver this late in the game. But as I started riding, the caffeine was soon kicking in, and I was feeling reasonable. I kept pushing as hard as I could, trying to drop a rider I suspected was also on a mixed team. I saw their weakness was climbing. So, naturally, I pushed as hard as possible to keep up the tempo on the climbs. There was a big, open, steep, grassy climb in the lap that was always my marker that the end was within touching distance. This seemed to appear much quicker than expected, but I didn't think much of it, and got on with turning the pedals until my legs cramped. Really digging deep into the saddlebag of pain, I just buried myself on the last 2 climbs. I knew I was pushing my body hard because I had even dehydrated my eyes and my contact lens was dry. Through blurred vision, I tore through the event arena and hammered it towards transition, to be met by….


That wasn't exactly in the script! After shouting the name a few times, my biggest concern was "what if I go back to the tents and he comes to the start via a different route?" Well, before procrastinating any longer, I tore off in search of Mayhem's next victim. Much to my relief, I found him straight away, and discovered I had somehow managed to pull out a flyer of a lap, almost 15 minutes ahead of schedule!! It felt so good to know that when I needed to really dug deep, I was able to turn out by far my best lap time - even when I was expecting to bonk. But my work was done, so I just collapsed on the floor, a steaming, shaking, sweating mess. My racing was complete. 

In the end, we managed to bag ourselves 8th place out of over 80 teams. All in a day's work...

1 comment:

  1. That last lap of yours was something else! :D


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