Mountain Mayhem, the original 24-hour race in the UK and to this day still the biggest, has seen thousands of mountain bikers pushing themselves to their limits, digging deep into endurance and survival reserves, but coming out the other end with huge smiles and grins.
While the basic format has remained the same each year, the organisers have constantly been tweaking the event, making improvements along the way. Looking back through the archives of event reports on Bikemagic, it’s clear to see how the event has evolved. But one thing comes through clear: the enjoyment that each and every rider feels and shows on making it to the finish line.
We go back to 2007 for our first rummage around in the archives. This was a muddy year, but the date also marked the tenth anniversary of the 24-hour race. Ten years of being the first and biggest 24-hour race, it didn’t seem possible that this event had been around for so long.
“In 1998 the very first 24 hour MTB race on British soil was held at Trentham Gardens. It was called Red Bull Mountain Mayhem, and it chucked it down two minutes before the start. Did we say “British soil”? More like good old British mud.”
Read the full report from that year’s event here.
Then, in 2008 it was over to David who packed his car full of bikes and camping equipment, and headed to Eastnor Park. Here’s an extract from this report from that year:
“An overnight deluge turned the course into a mudfest, with sections quickly becoming unrideable under the weight of hundreds of tired riders.
“But Brits are renowned worldwide for their plucky spirit in the face of adversity, and plug away they did. While many riders were reduced to slow pace, just content to get around and hand the batten over to the next unlucky victim, the top boys and girls continued putting away incredibly quick laps.”
Also in 2008, Ed Toogood provided us with his account of taking part in the event as a part of the then Bikemagic/Whyte Team.
“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 Bikemagic/Whyte Team this year.
“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…”
Digging even further into the archives, we find this gem from 2006. It was one of the few years that the weather played ball, resulting in a hot and dry weekend. Do you remember? Were you there?
David was there: “It’s taken a couple of days for the last whiffs of lactic acid to leave our legs, and the “never again” is now a “when’s the next one”. This usually happens after a big enduro event, and the 9th Mountain Mayhem was no disappointment, it was a stormer.
“Eastnor Park in the Malvern Hills once again transformed into a sprawling mass of tents, portaloos and flags, nestling underneath the grandeur of Eastnor castle – it’s anything but low-key.”
As well as the Bikemagic editorial team, we also fielded a ‘works’ team, made up of readers in a competition we ran before the event. Frank Healy, Gary Angell, Alli Northcroft, Vicky Ware and Dave Pickering gelled in perfect harmony on their brand new bikes provided by Marin in the mixed category.
Vicky takes up the story: “I couldn’t believe it when I won the competition and had the opportunity to ride Mountain Mayhem, I hadn’t even ridden a mountain bike before I got on the Mount Vision to have a ride around the campsite, I’ve only ever ridden my road bike! The course wasn’t too technical which I was pleased about; there was a significant amount of climbing which began to feel a lot more tiring after the first lap.”
A total of 1,894 riders (419 teams and 101 soloists) showed up at Eastnor Deer Park on the Malvern Hills in 2004 to test their powers of endurance on the 10.5mile (16.8km) lap.
“Team riders Dave and Matt had been out for a recce and come back covered in felge, resulting in me forgoing my traditional “run what you brung” tyre strategy in favour of a pair of old IRC MudMads that were kicking around the workshop. They turned out to be a splendid choice, but we’re not going to witter on about tyres, that’d be dull.”
Lastly, we go right back to 2004 when Mike Davis rode a particularly squelchy edition of the race.
“It’s 3am and I’m standing in a field in Herefordshire in the company of a couple of dozen apprehensive-looking mountain bikers. Every so often a dishevelled-looking rider appears, hollow-eyed and gaunt, from the marquee in front of us pushing a vaguely bike-shaped lump of mud and grass. He or she will seek out one of the nervously-waiting ones, hand over a tag, mutter something about “f*ck*n’ ‘orrible out there” and stagger off in pursuit of food and sleep.”
Will 2011 be another vintage year? Are you taking part? Let us know in the forum below if you are.