Keith Bontrager in action at a somewhat drier track last year
Bontrager Twentyfour12 is an event that has always remained close to our hearts at Shred Magazine. We’ve raced every year and whilst it always seems to coincide with the last days of the Tour de France (and hence forcing me yearly to make a choice between racing on home soil or buggering off to France for a few days of sunshine) the event delivers enough in the way of good spirited racing to keep riders coming back for more – and telling their mates about it.
The first two years of this event were held at some decidedly dodgy venues and last year’s event thankfully pulled the rabbit out of the hat by moving to Newnham Park, Plymouth, the place where everyone loves to race bikes. For this year’s event strangely called ‘Four Good’ the same magicians hat was used and the rabbit that came out of it looked pretty much the same, aside from a few too many carrots over the winter.
Being locals to the Plymouth scene we knew that organiser Martyn Salt was going to be up against it in the run up to the event. The heavens may have been open but the kind of rain we’d been having could only have been sent from hell and proved to be a damnation to the track planned for the event. With a couple of days to go the course map went in the bin and a new course was designed that would be a little shorter and tamer but would at least deliver a track that was raceable, fun and 100% rideable.
Our own Shred Racing crew had two teams in action over the weekend as well as a couple of 12 hour solo riders. In the 12 hour team we had 2 of the youngest riders in the event, 16 year olds James Birch and Harry Smith who had just joined the Shred Racing team after some great results in the Southern and National Series events. They didn’t disappoint with some really fast laps early on which helped propel the team into the top 5. At one point we nudged up to 4th place but a jammed chain lost us some time and we slipped back to 5th come the midnight deadline.
In the 24 hour race things were being taken a little more sedately and with a constant stream of riders flowing in and out of the Shred Racing pit lane it was proving to be an exciting event. The track held up well until darkness fell and with a bit of moisture in the air the surface started to get a slide on. By the early hours of the morning the track was at its technical best with a nice tail wind blowing up the toughest climb before hitting the technical sections which had just enough grip to stay on your bike but not enough to make it boring. The Twentyfour12 wet weather course was holding up!
Without a doubt the best bit of the course was the Shred Supertechno, the remodelled ‘Shred Splitter’ from last year. This section required ultimate riding skill to get over the slippery roots and log hops, followed by a descent that was gnarly and off camber in sections. Riding this section put a smile on my face every lap, even at 4.30am.
Time went on as it does in the dying hours of a 24hr race and the attitude to clock watching changes from ‘if only we had a little more time’ to ‘when will this hell be over’. For us the hell ended at 11.59.40 when our last rider ‘the Muntzster’ decided to roll over the line ahead of the 12.00 shut off instead of waiting a few seconds and coming in after it. The spectators thought this was an amazing feat but in truth we’d all packed away our bikes so this was to be our last lap of the day. We finished in 9th place in the 24hr Open men and were happy with that.
As the event drew to a close the inevitable happened and the sunshine was replaced by rain that looked more like someone had dropped a container full of knitting needles out of a plane. This was a shame as the festival feel was quickly replaced by a desperate lunge to get the hell out of dodge and most people didn’t even stick around for the prize giving. This didn’t really matter though as Torq and their multitude of riders just about won everything.
A quick word to local team Certini that absolutely slayed the mixed team category. At Shred Racing we give them a lot of stick for taking their racing just a bit too seriously but they gave it everything they had and deserved a quality win.
Full rundown in the next issues of Shred and ShredWest magazine which you can subscribe to here.
Organiser Martyn Salt adds: “Twentyfour12 Four was Good. I think I even actually managed to enjoy it myself this year and that’s testament to the crew, suppliers and the attitudes of the riders. Still need to catch more sleep though, thanks to Keith for coming over again and to all the other sponsors for their support.”
Find out more at www.twentyfour12.com.
This would also be a good time to mention the last weekend of the British Mountain Bike Series at Newnham Park on the weekend of September 26th/27th. Saturday is a UCI category XC race, followed by a floodlit cyclo-x. Sunday features the Newnham 60km enduro which is always a great ride out (followed by a dirty great Devon cream tea). check out www.newnham60.co.uk.