After a couple of years of horrid weather at Mayhem the forecast for this one was looking good. Just what everyone deserved, in fact. Dry and sunny. It would be a double-edged sword though, I knew that there would be far fewer people dropping out of the race as in previous years thus making it more of a challenge to improve on my placing last year. Still, I was looking forward to a dry and fast race for a change and also not worrying as much about Deb and the kids getting cold and wet.
Despite the forecasts, it did rain, but not much. Just enough to make the course greasy in places but still not bad enough to have me swapping tyres or even changing my clothes.
Regular readers of this blog will know that the week leading up to the race wasn’t ideal; I was a bit tired due to relentless 12 hour days at work and it also left me with some frantic packing and preparation of kit the evening before we were due to travel down. As with all things though, it was all ok in the end and we all made it in one piece. I had some earplugs this time for the first time ever – so I actually had a good night’s sleep despite the screaming kids in a neighbouring tent.
I saved a gap in our “soloists colony” for Dave’s tent, expecting him to arrive with a one or maybe two-man tent. What actually emerged from the Berlingo was the mother of all tents, much bigger than everyone else’s, perhaps even large enough for him to consider setting up a small cinema at future races 😉
Saturday, 2pm. I lined up as close to the front as possible, much closer than I have done in the past. What I did notice is that the standard of “running for one’s bike” is much higher at this end, as is the amount of time I got elbowed. Once I’d found my bike (I thought I’d lost it for a minute), I was off. There was some congestion on the first lap but a lot less than I normally encounter. What I also noticed was that there was a much funnier standard of muppetry on the course this year – it seemed like the heat was affecting brains, causing inexplicable crashing and general ineptitude. In future I’ll be a bit more bolshy when passing slower riders – less asking and more barging 😉
(photo courtesy Harry Burgess)
The race was going well. I was getting enough food down, staying hydrated and my lap times weren’t too erratic. I didn’t realise until about the halfway stage of the race though that I was on the same number of laps as Rod Mason and another guy. Rod 4th, me 5th and Other Guy 6th. I’m pretty sure I was in 4th at one point, lost that place whilst drinking tomato soup in the solo tent at 2am, got it back after passing Rod, lost it again and then spent the remainder of the race chasing him (or “doing a Benny Hill” as Rod put it). At the same time, I found myself having to defend 5th from the guy in 6th. He passed me at one point too. I caught him and somehow dropped him, eventually creating a 40 minute gap (well I thought it was impressive anyhow).
I knew the pursuit of 4th place was a lost cause on my penultimate lap when Rich told me that Rod was about 5 minutes in front. If anything I was getting slower now, so in my head a 5 minute gap was by then unassailable (unless Rod decided to lurk/have a cuppa – unlikely).
So that’s how it finished, me 5th place in the solo catagory with 22 laps. Understandably, I’m very, very, very pleased with that. Following my 12th place in last year’s race I wanted to get into the top 10, so I was over the moon to get 5th spot.