So I got this call on last Tuesday, “fancy Bristol Bike Fest team of 4?” “Well of course I’d like to race but it’s not on the calendar and you do know my daughter is only 3 months old – but exactly how far is Bristol?”
The call wasn’t from Oli KMP director sportif; it was from all-round bloody fast guy Ian Leitch who rides for Indy Fab. So I spoke to my wife Gemma about Bristol and worked out I could comfortably get there – race for 12-hours and get back in one day. Obviously with the aid of TORQ gels and Clif Shot Bloks.
My amazing wife said if you want to go then go. You don’t get the chance to ride and race with this calibre of guys everyday so I really wanted to race! Our team was – as mentioned Ian Leitch, Ant White and Big Rob Dean, all very fast guys and 24-hour race champions, I knew I would be a little off there pace. All the excuses under the sun started coming out after I agreed to race, I expected to be the runt of the litter. As Georgia was only born 3 month ago I hadn’t planned any over night races till the end of July, so after the Gorrick’s I’ve been sat around eating pies and not thinking about racing. But decision made so I would have to TTFU.
The event looked great with a scattering of the KMP around – Paddy and Tom from Upgrade racing Pairs on the Sunday and Julie in the 6-hour Solo. A great buzz from the organisers, stall holders and riders. t seemed a little more relaxed than other events I’ve been to. Well at least until breakfast was finished and everyone started getting the lycra on. We discussed our game plan all stated our pre-race routines – fuel, hydrate, caffeine and a bit of clam.
As is the norm, we sent the fastest guy out first, after lap one Ian crossed the line in 2nd place (gulp no pressure). The laps were short so we decided to do double laps from the off to avoid changeovers and get two fast laps in. Ian had a big crash on his second lap but even with the back pain, lost glasses and blood dripping all over he still managed to get back on and keep us in the mix at 7th spot. Ant White was next and got a good first two laps under his belt, Rob was carrying a cold from the previous weeks 12-hour race (which he won). So the decision was to put Clifford out 3rd.
I had been checking peoples course reports during the week and knew it to be technical, with rock gardens and lots of roots on steroids, many guys were wearing armour and riding 5in travel bikes. The course also had some loooong sections of fireroad so I decided to do my first laps on my 29er as it seemed better suited. I was right, the big wheels flattened a lot of the big stuff and kept the momentum rolling on the fire roads, I got a quick start as I know I can sustain “very fast” for 20 mins. My first lap was fast 22.29, I was definitely on it.
Our team was lapping consistently and putting in great times; Ian 21’s, Ant 22’s, Rob and Me 23’s so the 7th place soon became 5th but as the hours drifted on we got to 3rd. The leaders Bad Ass Bike and Torq were 15 mins ahead of us but the fact that between them there were 7 elite riders we were doing very very well.
I started to cramp about 9-hours in and was a bit worried that my short course skills might fade, but it’s amazing how you just find that bit extra when you are in a team. You don’t want to let anyone down so you dig deep. As you will see in the pictures, when digging deep I get the (as Oli would say) RACE GURN going.
It was a great day and a good time with a new bunch of guys, the legs are still feeling it 3 days later so I know I gave it my all. I was very pleased I didn’t embarrass myself and most probably the reason I wanted to go. You won’t get better unless you challenge yourself; the same with most things in life you don’t improve unless you play/ride with guys better than you.
Thanks again to my wife and family who understand my addition, I can’t wait until they are all a bit bigger and I can get a motor home to drag them around the country with me. Maybe I should chat to Dom for a lend of his Camper…