The Saab/Salomon Mountain Mayhem 24-hour went ahead last weekend underneath glorious skies and in great dry conditions for the nine-mile course. If you were one of the several thousand riders there, then we may well have caught you on camera. Our dedicated photographer, Mark, spent the weekend up near Brum finely honing his event photography skills, well, taking pictures at least. Here’s his behind-the-lens view of the goings on.
Being stuck behind a camera most of the time I didn’t get to see the whole nine-mile course, but from what I did see of it, it had some good open sections, climbs and some lovely looking singletrack through the trees.
Crossing a motorway twice on paved sections gave much needed fast-paced sections as some of the racing was furious off the line. With the conditions
as dry and dusty as they were over the first day, the course started to cut up under the heavy abuse of constant racing. In some places, like ‘the field ’, suspension was apparently more of a necessity than a luxury, and those opting for full suss would have been rewarded further into the event as the ruts stated to cause tired bods to make a few simple mistakes.
The good weather was only interrupted later in the evening, with a spell of rain which had some lightweights heading off indoors. But it had blown itself out within half an hour, leaving perfect weather for some good fast night riding.
Looking around, there was no shortage of big names about with the likes of Ned Overend, Gary Fisher and Keith Bontrager making the trip over from the US, and all of them very approachable.
The night was suprisingly quiet. I wandered around for a bit expecting to find people drinking around the proverbial campfire only to see mainly peaceful areas of riders looking for their much needed ZZZ’s. It seems that many teams had opted for the AABBCCDD option in the wee small hours to ensure they could get a good kip in.
I ventured into the solo tent a few times to see the steely glares of the razy men and woman who clearly find the torture chambers of S&M dungeons ot enough for them. After a small tired crash by one of these lunatics he got up happy as Larry and told me his goal was 18 laps. He’d done 14 by this stage and with about 6 hours to go, I hope he made it. He was definitely committed enough.
The second day was much like the first, beautiful and sunny but with a
little more wind. The racing seemed to keep going at a steady pace, with some of the young army cadet marshals (I’m sure 14 year olds were taller in my day, but maybe all the fags have stunted their growth) telling me stories of crashes during the night.
A bit later I came I came across a guy fixing a puncture, an impressive freak in the same way as the solo riders: a unicyclist. The poor bloke seemed almost welcome of the rest, but he had enough breath in him to tell me that unicycling uses about twice as much energy as regular riding, so this event was more like a 48-hour one for them. He had also said one of his team-mates had been putting in 1.05 laps as well. Impressive stuff.
Thanks to everyone who shouted ‘Gidday’ – it made me feel loved. Next year though, I think I should be in amongst it and not seeing through the eye of a lens…
If you want to see whether I caught you on camera then have a check over here.