After running around and hurriedly gathering clothes, bikes, tools, food and camping gear, we made the long drive to Bristol for the excellent Bike Fest event. Last year i had entered the open class and pulled in a fifth position on my single, so i was hopeful of doing well and entered the single speed solo category. The long drive often leaves me feeling a bit crunched up but a quick beer while we put the tent up helped. By 1 am i was cocooned in my kip sack.
Saturday morning was an early start. I woke up sweating in the sleeping bag at 6 am, got some coffee on the go and reached for the hydration products immediately!. After signing on i broke out the new Endura kit - comfort is imperative when the dust is going to invade every body crease for a 12 hour ride!.
The start was a Le Mans style. I lined up with Dom from team Singular Cycles and after the gun fired, ran uphill with a degree of hurry. The course bottlenecks into the first singletrack and you can wait minutes if you are too slow. Fortunately, i made it in decent time and got going pretty easily. The legs felt good: the climbs were no issue, but the course was baked concrete hard by recent sun, and a section had been removed due to fear of racers crashing in the rain-rutted sections. The laps were 25 minutes and that would become a factor as the race wore on.
Very quickly i settled into a good spot in the singlespeed/solo race, punching out the first 9 laps in 4 hours. The downside of this was that my upper body, back and hands were taking a lot of punishment. The total climbing gain was accruing as well. There were very few recovery/smooth sections and at the rate we were riding another 14 or 15 laps would be a real killer.
As ever the rocks and hard ground took their toll on all the riders. After 5 hours it was everything i could do to not throw in the towel as my back became one giant muscle spasm and blisters appeared at an alarming rate on my hands. The top 3 were lapping in very similar times: it would take a herculean effort for me to catch Dan Treby (of Buff - Feel the Ride) in first place. Meanwhile, Matt Carr of Trek bikes was around half a lap down but riding strong.
The hours ticked by slowly. Our lap times stayed stable but the number and length of stops increased. In the open race, the geared riders were flying and began to lap us rapidly. Suspension forks and gears must do something, but those guys were pumping the big meat.
With my last lap finishing at 20 minutes before the 12 hour deadline, and any laps finishing after the cut off not counting, our placings were set.
I was happy to finish in second: I reckon my legs had a first place in them, but my back and hands werent cooperating.
Despite Matt and a few others getting bikes stolen overnight saturday, the event was excellent: great organisation, course and the food and coffee avaialble was second to none. Well worth an entry.