Photos © Tim Fisher (www.t-f-p.com)
Having previously raced at Mountain Mayhem as a soloist in 2007 and numerous SITS in a pair I was excited to ride Mountain Mayhem as part of the Shift/Bikemagic/Whyte Team this year. This would be my first experience of taking part in a 24-hour race as part of a team and I was relishing the challenge that changing my mindset to racing, rather than purely surviving a 24-hour race, would bring.
Having ridden quite a few solo endurance events I had managed to get into the mindset that I didn’t need to race everyone, as most people out there are in a team. I’m sure it’s not just me that finds this difficult as a soloist, and just wants to race all those people that seem to be forever passing you.
So when I heard I would be getting the chance to ride in the Shift/Bikemagic/Whyte Team this year I couldn’t wait. Although I was slightly apprehensive that it may prove I’m just slow. Come race day the guys from Whyte sorted us out with the bikes by pointing at their stand and saying “choose your weapon!” Given the mud from last year I had little hesitation in choosing the Whyte E-120 as my “weapon”.
Deciding on who was doing the run was easy in our team, with the honour going to Vince who, as an Ironman champion, only needed to be reminded not to jump in the lake for a swim first.
The excitement within the team increased during the run as we watched Vince use his legs and elbows to good affect and finish the run in 2nd place overall. The team quickly got into a good flow with laps around the 50 minute mark. The course was dry and fast and the weather ideal for racing. How long could this last? Not long at Mayhem, surely…
Sure enough it lasted until the evening when the rain started to fall, leading to some slippery and in some cases completely disappearing lines. There was one rooty off-camber section in the woods that required a Sam Hill approach to riding it clear. Needless to say there weren’t many of us out there that cleared it, opting for the scrambling option instead.
As darkness fell so did more rain and the course quickly turned into a mud-bath. Alex bore the brunt of the conditions during her night lap. I was due to change over from her at about 3am and realised when I saw the expression on her face that it was pointless to ask how her lap went, the next hour and 15 minutes I spent sliding around falling off and running/walking/sliding were enough to explain it.
When daylight came so did the wind. Our team tactics changed to one member out on course and the others back at the stand holding down the gazebo. The wind however helped the course dry out nicely as the hours passed. The muddy carnage had taken its toll on all teams and by this point the campsite was starting to empty and we started to notice us climbing up the leader board.
By the finish the course was all rideable again and lap times were similar to the beginning of the race. I think this helped people forget about the early morning mud laps and ensure that we’ll all be back next year. We finished 6th in the mixed category, but my personal victory was riding the off camber section in the woods on my last lap without falling off.
Thanks to Shift/Bikemagic and Whyte for the chance to ride with them and the Mayhem organisers for hot showers.