For the first few hours of the Strathpuffer, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was missing. There was something absent – was it a section of the course? Was it something I’d forgotten to bring? Was it a person or group of people I normally see at this race?
Weird, I couldn’t figure it out.
I rode lap after lap in near-bewilderment until it struck me – I was actually riding the whole lap every time without any kind of incident. The course was uneventful, not boring, but completely rideable, utterly without surprises and most importantly, it wasn’t a Nervous Icy Horror.
At last! A return to the brown and grey Strathpuffer of old – it might chew your bike to pieces, it might fill your shorts with glittery sludge that wears the skin off your arse but at least you’ll be falling off BECAUSE YOU MADE A MISTAKE rather than it just happening because the Gods Of Ice have decided it’s your turn to slam into the terrain, shoulders and knees first.
Sofia and I had won the mixed pairs category at this race last year and endured what was probably the worst ice that I can remember. Ice tyres helped, but it wasn’t a huge amount of fun at times.
This time though a good mud tyre up front was all you needed for a fast and predictable lap and fast and predictable laps were what we churned out, one after another, until we stretched out a 2 lap lead and earned ourselves an early finish and another win.
Meanwhile, Debbie, Ailsa and Debbie looked after us with coffee, Arsene Venger-style insulated coats, tattie scones and 90s rave tunes from the vastly changeable atmospheric conditions inside the Team Breakpad gazebo. Also while this was going on, Mark was busy breaking his 24 hour solo duck by churning out 17 laps and consuming his bodyweight in gels.
Thanks to the Wonderful Women Of Wigtownshire- Deb, Debbie and Ailsa, Sofia for being as fast and determined as ever, Mark for massive vans and massive kerosene heaters, Sam at the Breakpad for sorting our bikes out so that we could trash them, Michael for moving to Scotland for the weekend to look after the kids and to Steve MacDonald and his team for organising the Strathpuffer for the 15th time – this race seems to get bigger and better every time.
I’ve not said ‘never again’ this time yet, so watch this space.