I can’t say with much certainty when I last took part in a 24 hour race as a member of a team of 4. I’ve dabbled in pairs racing from time to time but the vast majority of endurance racing has been as a solo rider. It’s nice to have regular breaks for a sit down and a cup of tea but I always find that the breaks are over far too quickly, but are just long enough for my legs to start to go stiff and for me to get far too comfortable and warm to be bothered to go out for yet another bike ride.
Drinking gallons of tea, eating tons of crisps and having a laugh in between laps is good though.
The weather forecast for the Kielder Chiller was traditionally awful, high winds and constant rain were expected. I’ve trashed countless brake pads, chains, cassettes and nice bikes just from riding around in Kielder Forest and those prior experiences, as well as the fact that I’m just plain tightfisted meant that I took a rigid singlespeed. I could be all smug while I watched the drivetrains and fork seals of others reduce to atoms in a cloud of abrasive grime.
As things turned out, the weather wasn’t too bad. Our team of 4 (Budge, Karen Price, Phil Simcock and me) grabbed an early lead and gradually extended it as the race progressed. If I’m being honest I was finding things very tough with just one gear – the course wasn’t particularly kind to anyone stupid enough to be riding a singlespeed – it was basically a series of steep, long climbs with some really steep bits that were making my back feel like it was about to explode outwards. The end of each lap felt like I’d been squatting big weights in the gym for an hour and while we were still leading by a healthy margin, I knew I was having to make a meal of every lap.
In the end we won the mixed team category by a good margin and finished 3rd overall in all teams of 4, Karen Price bagging the fastest womens’ lap of the race obviously helping towards the result, as well as Phil demonstrating how blindingly quick you can get by training and racing an entire cyclocross season…
It was all a good laugh in spite of me alternating between suffering and moaning. The Team JMC pit had about 20 people racing out of it, almost everyone won something (including Deb, Sally, Shona and Jacqui who banged in a load of laps, won the female teams cat and beat a few mens’ teams in the process), nobody got too soaked and I didn’t ruin anything expensive or smash my face in again.
So that’s 2 wins out of 2 races this year so far…I’d better find another race to do quick before my purple patch comes to an end…