Riding 24-hours is a tough prospect, even with the latest bike, suspension and all the gears. Some like to go a step further and make it real tough, like Matt Duggan, who rode the 24 Hours of Exposure on a singlespeed.
And not only was he the fastest singlespeed racer, he also finished sixth overall!
Who’d of thought?
It’s safe to say I wasn’t expecting the outcome that occurred in the 2012 12/24 Hours of Exposure the European and UK Solo MTB Championships.
I had said since my episodes at TwentyFour12 in 2011 that for my next 24 hour race I’d have two bikes set up identically as I didn’t want lack of equipment to hold me back. A mixture of me not being able to make my mind up, how much it was all going to cost and partly for me being too busy in work to even think about it, that didn’t happen.
With four weeks to go before the event I considered doing it singlespeed. Fewer things to go wrong, won’t have to worry so much about not having a mechanic, it sounds like a plan. All I have to do now is actually get some practice riding one!
I’m building my own…a 29er…let the ordering begin! A very long story cut short I didn’t end up getting the bike fully ready until the morning of the event. So with no previous Singlespeed experience and after what I would regard as my worst 24 prep ever, expectation was very low.
Newcastleton town centre for the signing on, line up and get led out by some rather cool Scot’s man playing the bagpipes…and we’re off!
Amongst all the madness I did have an underlying plan, go as fast as I can for as long as I can and see when I pop.
My first lap I was gunning it. Then after crashing out on my second, causing a nice little hole in my elbow and loosing a bar end. I had to remind myself that I’ve got another 22 ½ hours of this so it might be wise to take the descents back a click. I still pushed hard on the climbs and the flats. With 6 hours passed and only seeing two 12 Hour SS’ers pass by, I had an inclination I was doing ok!
Just after the 12 hour mark I was informed I had a 7 minute lead. It was at that point my family/pit crew must have thought I’d been possessed by something in the woods. After the next lap I bombed through the pits, grabbing a water bottle, barking orders and screaming at my Fiancé, who might I add has no cycling knowledge:- “ go and buy a twenty tooth sprocket, I don’t care where from, just find me one”. Nathalie, bless her, was curiously wondering how they would be selling a twenty inch rocket at the trade stands. I’m sure you can understand the confusion when she tried to purchase one.
At 14 hours I was told I had a 2 hour lead. So I slowed up, now steadily ticking over, I even took the time to stop for a moment on the corner I’d wiped out on and found my bar end. Happy days!
18 hours gone and the lead is now an hour. Then it was game time! I was now angry at myself for slowing up for those few laps through the night. A severe lack of experience being in that position left me calculating all the things that could go wrong. Why didn’t I keep pushing and create an even bigger gap? Knowing all too well what it’s like to have mechanicals mess your race up and even have to run your bike to the pits. I certainly won’t be putting myself within striking distance again.
My last four laps were amongst my quickest and I was ever so slightly happy to roll over the finish line as the 2012 European and UK 24 Hour Halo Singlespeed Champion!
I can’t say I celebrated this occasion the way I wanted to as waiting for the presentation I remember feeling sick, then dizzy and finding myself on my knees with my family trying to force feed me chocolate bars and bottle of pop. Before I knew it I was whisked off and taken care of.
I did make it to the podium for the category presentation but missed the overall one where I would have got to wear my winner’s jersey and spray some champagne. Gutted! From what I can remember it went Floor…Podium…Ambulance.
Not to worry, hopefully next year with some proper training under my belt I may get the opportunity to stand with some numbers under my feet once again.
A massive thank you to my Fiancé Nathalie, my nephew Lloyd , my cousin Gareth and my Mum. You are all amazing people with exceptional patience. Thank you so much!