Wednesday, 26 May 2010

24hours of Exposure

So after months of training and preparation the day of the big race had come. The big race of course was the inaugural UK 24hours of Exposure Solo mountain bike championships.

We arrived at Rock Uk, our hosts for the weekend, in good time on Friday afternoon. After the usual faff of setting up camp, I headed out onto the course for a practice lap. Since my previous visit a few weeks earlier many of the boggier sections of course had been replaced with much firmer trails. This led to a fast course with around 500meters of climbing per 12mile lap. Combined with the oppressive sun this added up to create some tough conditions for 24hour racing.

As another hot sunny dawned, the final preparations began. Bikes were checked, bottles filled and the last meal eaten. At 11:30 the riders assembled 2miles away from the arena in the centre of Newcastleton for the ceremonial signing on and start. At 12 noon we began. The closely knit peloton rolled out of the town and began the 2 mile climb to the arena.

As we crested the top of the climb to begin the first of many laps a group of 20 riders was present at the front. The initial miles rolled by extremely slowly. It was at this point early in the race that I decided that I would ride to the front and ride my own pace to see what happened. By the end of the first lap my lead was a minute. I continued to ride a comfortable tempo out front for a few more laps expecting a group of favourites to bridge across to me all the while. Eventually Ant White caught me up and we rode around for a few more laps together. On around the 5th lap however, Ant seemed to slip backwards and so I continued my epic ride off the front of the race.

By the evening I had realised that my gap was growing so decided to try and keep it until darkness fell. The plan was then to up the tempo and try and crack my rivals in the dark. The plan seemed to be working. I was feeling great and time was flying. This did not last however. As dawn broke around 5am my head\began to succumb to the lack of sleep. I was struggling to concentrate. The result was inevitable, a slight lapse in concentration, the wrong line and bike/tree interface. I soon picked my self up and the bike appeared to be ok. However on the next corner the tyre blew off the buckled rim… bugger! So a number of minutes were wasted changing the tube and trying not to panick!

A few laps later my whole body began to feel fatigued. As I entered the pits on the 18th lap, I asked my pit crew where the 2nd placed rider was. Imagine my shock as he rode right by me before they had time to answer! The race was on. Unfortunately the engine was not responding from the commands from the bridge. As much as I wanted too my legs jut didn’t want to go hard. The result was that I just cruised at a manageable pace watching the leader disappear into the distance.

As the last few hours dragged on my body weakened and I slowed. I knew the race was lost and finally on the last lap I was caught for 2nd. Ant apologised as he sped away, but he shouldn’t have. I played my cards and they had been trumped.

Finally I dragged my body across the finish line for 3rd place. Matt Page took the win with Ant in second. I can’t say I’m disappointed however. I took the race to the big boys but was unable to hold on when it counted. O well, it was only my 2nd ever 24hour race, there is plenty more to come…..

1 comment:

trio said...

Well Done! It was a fantastic ride, everytime I saw you you were looking strong!