Tag Archives: race

Mayhem 2014 Review

Having looked at the draft posts I have I realised I never posted last years Mayhem report – oops only a year late

 

The biggest 24hr race is the first entry in my calendar every year and this year was my 7th and probably the most enjoyable. Gatcombe Park is a great venue and having learned from last years inaugural event there it was a lot better.

The weather help of course. From early morning Friday to well after the event we had glorious sunshine which led to dry fast trails, no bikes to wash, smiles all around and lots and lots of great riding.

Friday

I always take the Friday as holiday so Pete and I trekked over to Coventry to pick up a van, we loaded all the gear up and off we headed around 10.30. I took my Ti hardtail as well as the

Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

Yeti ASR so I had a spare bike. We took several event shelters to make sure we had enough cover as we were camping with 3 other teams as usual. The LWB van looked big enough until we put everything in, despite us both deciding to try and pack light this year.

 

 

We marked out our area in camp site A and put up all the shelters and tents. Sun shone

Carbo loading on Friday

Carbo loading on Friday

down and with no clouds in the sky we decided to opt out a sighting lap and concentrate on carbo loading instead. With a dry short lap to ride we were all going to get lots of laps in so no need to waste energy so early on we thought.

A trip to the arena to register and check out the stands was as active as we got. Shiny bike parts were admired, nerves built, food eaten and much banter was exchanged.

All in all a very typical and enjoyable start to Mayhem.

 

Saturday

I was, by default, down to be first rider out as the others refused to run so after a relaxed breakfast and bike tinkering I headed to the start. I jogged very gently around the run course and set off at a medium pace knowing there would be hold ups at some point and plenty of time for a faster lap later so no need to get worked up at this point.

The course was, in my opinion, the best we’ve had in many years. Fun in places but not too mad for the newbie riders. Steep and challenging in places but all ridable if you had the legs. The run in through the camp site with a fast section and a bit of a jump after a path crossing made it a run run back the arena.

Sunday

The race was one of the smoothest we’ve had, aided by very good weather and fast conditions. This means, of course, that lap times were quick and more laps were there to be ridden. I managed to ride all of all my laps with no unclipping and physically I felt better than I’ve ever probably done.

Result

We managed 27 laps coming 38/80 in Sport men. I did 8 laps sneaking in a final one at the end and could have managed a double had I got back in time. Looking at the results it would have only moved us up one position.

The weather makes such a difference and the new course with trackside camping was a much needed improvement. We will of course be back next year.

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,

Singletrack Enduro 6

For a while now I’ve wanted to ride an endurance event solo, but having ridden Mayhem in a 4 for the past 5 years and the Enduro 6 in pairs the past 2 I’ve always told myself that it hurts in a team so to ride solo is just plain stupid.

I’m not quite sure how I ended up entering solo this year. I think I got brave, alcohol may have been involved and I might have been encouraged by a fellow Mayhem competitor entering as well. It’s an itch I’ve been wanting to scratch for quite a while and it’s now all over.

The build up

I’m often nervous before events, making sure the bike(s) are in ridable shape, getting clothing and other kit sorted but not for this one. I only needed one bike, and a bit of food and enough water. Easy.

It was a noon start so I got up at normal time and arrived in plenty of time. It all seemed too easy.

The Race

I’ve learned my lesson with LeMan starts. I start the run slowly at a gentle jog and make sure I don’t go too fast. I’ve no pretensions of doing well so no point in killing myself on a run with so much riding to do.

The plan was to ride hardish for a couple of laps and see how I felt. I’ve been feeling strong and fit the past month so decided to hold back and try and ride consistent laps rather than set out too fast and die later. In previous years as a pair we did 2 laps before switching as it’s a shortish course so I promised myself a short break after every 2 or 4 laps depending on how I felt.

The weather was perfect, the trails were dry and it was a cracking course. I felt fine after the first 2 laps, had ridden well within myself and set of to do another pair of laps. At this point(ish) my mate Nigel had caught up with me and it was a slight surprise. We did a lap and a bit together and I wondered if he planned on making a break to drop me as he’d clearly done a lap or so faster to catch up. He seemed to be working harder than me but the climbs felt a bit harder and I dropped him on them when I rode at my normal pace. At the end of lap 4 we were still together so I decided I couldn’t stop as I’d be a few minutes behind him and having to chase, so I decided to ride until I ran out of water,

At some point during lap 5 I noticed he wasn’t with me and halfway on lap 6 I was out of water. I stopped for a refill and grabbed a banana. As I was setting off for lap 7 Nigel entered the pits so I pushed a bit to try and make a gap. I soon stopped and decided to pick a pace I felt I could finish the race at. I figured I was lapping at just over 40mins  a lap and would have to do 3 more so I was 2/3 of the way there already.

On lap 8 I rode for a while with the (eventual) womens solo third place finisher, Jo Holden. I passed her on climbs and she passed me on the fireroads. It was great to have a chat and I picked up my pace in the singletrack to keep up with her. She dropped me before the end of the lap and  I settled into a pace to get me to the end. As I went out onto the last lap I noticed another solo rider stop ahead of me for water and as we’d both been very close the past few laps I decided to ride the same pace to try and beat him back. It was good motivation to keep the same pace and not to slow down with the end in sight.

Result

The last lap was a bit of a blur as I tried to remember where I was on the course and to try and work out how far I had left. My garmin battery ran out and for the life of me I couldn’t work out which parts  of the lap I’d ridden ans which were to come. I just rode each section in front of me and enjoyed the experience knowing I would complete it.

I rode 9 laps and finished 35th out of 72 male solo riders. A top half finish in my first solo is the best I could have hoped for. I beat Nigel by 11 mins but the thing I most pleased with is that I rode for all of the 6 hours apart from the brief 5 mins I took to re-fill with water.

I had an aim to try and ride consistent laps and looking at the results I did pretty well. My lap times were :

00:41:32 00:38:20 00:38:05 00:37:58 00:39:50 00:42:23 00:47:33 00:42:07 00:42:12

The first 4 laps were all around 38 mins (lap 1 faster but had the run), I must have felt the pace at lap 5 as I was 2 mins slower and then I seemed to settle into 42 min laps (lap 7 includes the 5 min water stop)

All in all it was an amazing day, the bike worked well, I felt pretty good, rode the longest I’ve ever done without a break, probably the furthest on a mountain bike. The course was fantastic and the weather perfect. It’s days like this that make the dark, cold, wet rides worth it. Now it’s 40 days until Mayhem and I can’t wait.

Mountain Mayhem 2012

MM12

As a mountain biker, Mountain Mayhem has become the first date in my calendar every year. It’s been the reason to ride when the weather is bleak and has seemed to dominate my cycling the past 4/5 years or so.

This year will be my 5th, riding in a team of 4, and with it being just over a week away the  nerves are starting to kick in. The Yeti (subject of a future post) is in for a service, the Ti hardtail (another future post) is all fettled, tent all ready and lists of kit/food all reviewed and tweaked.

It’s the original and largest 24hr race in the world and has a carnival atmosphere with around 2500 racers plus friends/family/ support crew making it a massive event.

This year sees Wiggle taking over from Original Source as the headline sponsor so it’ll interesting to see what freebies we get this year. The wet weather means we are likely to have a muddy race.

I’ll post a review when we’re done so fingers crossed for a decent race.