Monthly Archives: June 2013

Wiggle Mountain Mayhem 2013 Report

It’s done for another year and on the forums it seems like the jury is out on whether it was a success or not.

Here is my memories, thoughts and experience of this years event – my 6th.

Lead up and Preparation

I usually travel to Mayhem with a team mate but this year he couldn’t leave until lunchtime so I planned to arrive first to reserve some space for the 5 teams that were going to camp together. I decided to pack most of the car the night before so I could get off early. Typically I’d been feeling really good until midweek when I picked up a cold so I wasn’t feeling in top form.

Gatcombe Park

It’s easy to get to and find, well signposted and I marked out a suitable area  before putting up my

Home for nearly 48hrs

Home for nearly 48hrs

own tent and sending messages to the rest of the team members on where we were. This year be brought 2 Coleman Event Shelters with us for the communal area I managed to get one up before others arrived to make the rest a bit easier. We also bought some poles to have a proper bike rack for a change so they could be inside the shelters, secure and easy to get to.

Decent Bike rack

Decent Bike rack

Friday night is one of my favourite parts of Mayhem. Excitement levels are high, the banter is flowing and everyone arrives to warm greetings.

This year we decided a sighting lap was essential t get a feel for the course so at 5 ish a group of 6 of us set of for a pootle around. Initial thoughts were that it was pretty good, quite short, fun descents and a lot of hard climbs – Would have been nice to have some more technical singletrack but it was my sort of course.

Food and beer were consumed before we retired.

Race Day

We persuaded Pete, a veteran of 10 previous Mayhems, to do the run for the first time and despite his protestations he lined up just before midday in reasonable weather.

We usually have an informal little inter-camping group competition  as to which team will do the best and this year Morgan brought some young IBM chaps in the form of ‘Team Spongecake’ to challenge the 3 Capgemini teams of ‘Lightly Lubed’, ‘Well Oiled’, and ‘Crude Oil’ and a group of ex-NHS colleagues ‘Cognoscenti’.

Pete was the last back from the run and he set off for our first lap.

I was due to ride second and while waiting for his return the heavens opened. Hard rain and a strong wind saw waiting riders pushed back into the tent at transition so avoid the freezing onslaught. I wasn’t looking much to my lap yet when Pete entered the arena, you feel a surge of adrenalin and after a quick handover I was off.

The course

Mayhem 2013 course

Mayhem 2013 course

From the arena you head out through the solo camping area into a small wooded section that leads to the Kenda Koffin descent. It’s not really that steep for anyone with a reasonable amount of experience and on the sighting lap this was fun. However, after a downpour it was very slippy and many people were not used to this sort of challenge. There was no grip to be had and it was a ‘fun’ descent with 2 or 3 sections that were steeper and needed commitment.

Next was some wooden trail, fast in the dry and hard in the rain as it turned to mud.

If I remember correctly the Wipperman climb was fine for the first part but then wasn’t ridable due to the steepness and lack of traction.

From here it was average normal double width trail with a few fast fire road descents leading to the lakeside trail. This was singletrack with a few passing places and was dry and fast all race.

Onto the Clifbar climb – a long grassy, steepish climb that was ridable when dry and if you had the strength and skills it was a place to make up a lot of time.

The FT2 dip was a tricky fast descent due to the camber which rose into a climb that was ridable if you attacked it but most people walked.

The Redbull timed section was a fun, fast section with several turns and a short steep drop with hard and easy options. Great fun to blast and no doubt saw many people over-cook the corners and come off.

The Unior climb was a long slog that I cleared once but turned to slippy cobbles after the loam was worn away. Mentally though as this was the last proper climb it wasn’t that hard as you knew you were near the end of the lap.

The Singletrack singletrack was rather short but good fun at speed followed by a fast run in to the arena.

My first lap was horrible with the mud sticking and clogging up the wheels, the lack of traction meant

Yeti after my first lap (teams second)

Yeti after my first lap (teams second)

a lot of pushing which stops the mud being flung off. Tyre choice became a headache as mud tyres might have been OK for a few sections but would have been horrible for the rest. I was glad to enter the arena to hand over to Jason.

After your first lap of Mayhem you get into a routine, well I do anyway. Get a drink, and a recovery shake then sort out the bike. The latter took quite a while and I made it ridable rather than clean.

Then it’s time for food and a rest, a bit of chat about the lap and the course and, waiting on riders to come back to see how the course is evolving. It’s common to feel very tired and that you can’t ride any more laps. Not sure why this should be as it’s not very far, nor very difficult riding but I’ve learned over the past 5 years that mentally you need to put the physical feelings behind you and commit to another lap.

Talk about muddy

Talk about muddy

Over the next couple of hours things were looking good as riders came back cleaner and cleaner in faster times so I was feeling optimistic when I went to wait for Pete. He managed a sub-hour lap and looked in decent shape as he hammered around the arena to hand over.

I set off on my second lap feeling strong and as soon as I hot the Kenda descent and saw a dry line down it I gave the lap everything I had. For the 5 years Pete has always had the fastest lap, no matter how our training had gone and I struggled to find form in the race to backup my improving fitness. This year I was determined to have a real go for the fastest lap (amongst our teams) so rode all bar one hill and kept pushing all the way.

I made it back to transition ahead of time and Jason had only just arrived. My Garmin showed I’d have done a 51 min lap which lifted my spirits and set the tone for the rest of my race.

I did a dusk lap with lights and a dark lap in the middle of the night – both of which felt great. An early morning light was a bit harder as the mud became stickier and my legs more tired.

As we hit 20 laps and worked out we might have 2 or 3 more laps to do and I set out on lap 22 with 75 mins left. I had been lapping in under an hour and no-one fancied a last lap so I had some fun. I blasted the fun sections and rode very slowly on the rest to avoid too long a wait at the end.

I managed to cross the line 15 secs after midday in milf drizzle so I was happy to not be in the

Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line

middle of back to back laps in the rain.

Results-wise we aim to come in the top half. We all get to train once a week usually and are never going to challenge for a top spot. We beat the IBM guys by about 30 mins to retain our record of the fastest campsite team.

We came 39th out of the 122 teams in Sport Men. A result we are thrilled with. In Vets we came 35th out of 151 – similarly chuffed.

My second lap was the fastest in our campsite and I feel that I rode pretty well – unusual for me at Mayhem where I usually feel disappointed at how I rode. Roll on 2014.
My lap times were :
1: 1:04:11
2: 0:51:34
3: 0:56:55
4: 1:00:16
5: 1:02:00
6: 1:12:30

 The Event

A new venue is always going to have teething problems but Pat and his crew had very few in my view. The venue was supposed to cope with wet weather better than Eastnor and to be honest while the campsite might have done the course didn’t. It’s difficult to think of anywhere that’s not a purpose mail trail centre that would cope well with rain and thousands of wheels without being un-ridable in places. To be fair it dried up very quickly and laps quickly got faster. Next year might be better as there will be less soil/loam on the surface to start with

We were asked not to wash our own bikes to keep oil and products off the land – fair enough. But only 6 wash bays was nowhere near enough so people did resort to doing it themselves. Most oils and cleaners these days are biodegradable so there shouldn’t be any issues but this will need addressing if the weather looks bad next year.

The atmosphere wasn’t as good as the course didn’t go through the campsite but the layout means there’s not a lot to be changed here. The campsite ended up large enough and it was better for being a lot closer to the arena.

HRH turned up to do the presentations and had I known I would have gone along but it seems it was a last minute decision on her part.

Overall I think it was a bit of a success. Highlight was the course which I think was well designed. It’s hard to get something that is enough of a challenge for decent riders and ridable for novices. It was short enough to allow lesser teams to do more laps and fast enough to challenge the speed demons

Well done Pat and his team. Fingers crossed he can get the support to keep this amazing event going strong.

Weather Obsessions

The last few days before Mayhem always see an increased number of emails and forum posts about a number of specific subjects

Weather seems to be the top of the list and this year is no different with rain being forecast at some point over the weekend. Fingers crossed it’ll be still and dry Friday morning to get the tents and communal shelters up. After that it can do what it likes.

With weather talk comes tyre talk and the dreaded mud tyres. I’ve got a pair (Medussa’s) and have used them on my local trails a couple of times and soon took them off. To make them worth while you need a lot of deep mud for a lot of your ride. Any tarmac, like on my local loops, and you feel like they are so sticky and energy sapping that it’s hard work. On hard packed ground they feel nervous as the tread moves around but in mud they are immense. Last year I rode them at Mayhem as it was perfect conditions for them (and as a friend said – the right conditions for mud tyres are when you shouldn’t really be riding)
This year I’ll choose the tyres based on whether I want to ride the Tuareg or Yeti. Racing Ralphs and Nobby Nics will be fine so my choice is full sus or HT.

The new venue brings with it new unknowns – One new aspect is that there appears to be less camping space with warnings on reserving too much space. We will have 5 teams so 21 people and probably 20 cars and tents plus the communal stuff – fingers crossed we can get enough space.

With 2 nights to go I’m almost ready – Bikes have been cleaned and fettled, clothing assembled and lights charged – just got to make some pasta and round all the other bits and pieces then 8am Friday it’s Gatcombe Park here we come,

The run up to Mayhem 2013

With less than 11 days to go until the 2013 Mayhem it’s the time I start to get nervous and excited.

This year it’s so long Eastnor and hello to a new venue at Gatcombe Park. After last year Pat really did have to move the venue after the course just couldn’t cope – mind you not many places that are fun to ride would have coped. Staying at Eastnor would have seen a large drop in numbers, especially given the crap weather in the run up to entries being opened. It also means a lot more unknowns as the course was always very similar. The video preview looks good and despite the usual moaning on singletrackworld it looks like a decent venue. Shame about no trackside camping  as the banter and cheering was one of the highlights.

I’ve already done a fair bit of preparation as we’ve sorted new communal area kit this year. Borrowing a tent or marquee large enough for the 5 or 6 teams that we will be housing isn’t easy, so we’ve bought 2 15ft Coleman Event shelters and are attaching them together. We have groundsheets, walls and doors and a plan to sit/cook in one of them and put a new bike rack in the other. The communal area makes such a difference to the atmopshere and fingers crossed the shelters will stand up to the weather.

Camping-wise the tent has had an outing and I’ve got to replace a mantle and get more fuel.

Training-wise I’m feeling faster and stronger than I have in the previous 5 years and recent personal bests seems to reinforce that, so if I can work out why I always seem to feel crap during the race I might do some decent lap times.

Bike-wise I’ve trained on both the Yeti and Tuareg so I’ll be taking both. I reckon the Tuareg is faster on a single lap but I take more punishment so I’ll switch to the Yeti after a couple of laps. I run Ralphs on the Tuareg which are fine on anythign up to moderate mud and Nics on the Yeti but with limited mud clearance. Both are tubeless so  I hope I don’t have to swap either.

I’ll be heading to Gatcombe early Friday to get all the tents set up and have time to do a sighting lap.

Bring it on.