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. It still manages to attract a huge number of people – in the region of 2,000 – with lots of familiar faces but still loads of newbie’s notching up their first 24 hour race.
But before the racing even starts, all eyes are on the sky. The last two years have been affected to varying extents by rain, and this year we all had a scare as at about 3am Saturday morning it chucked it down. By the time most people woke up it was clear and sunny though, and the sunshine quickly dried out any wet patches.
The course designers obviously starter with a clean sheet this year and, with judicious use of a large lawnmower, created plenty of new sections. The distance was slimmed down from 10miles of last year to 7.2 miles, and with less climbing it was overall an easier course. Those who remembered the course last year will not have recognised this one, the only bits remaining were a few bits of singletrack. Gone were the bombholes, probably to the relief of the paramedics, but in were a lot of grassy ascents, which quickly became lump-fests. The Kenda climb was the main feature, a long old slog straight up the hill, it took no prisoners as many were reduced to walking very early on. The final singletrack blast through handlebar high ferns made it all worth it though.
Plans are already in place to make next years (the 10th) bigger and better, but 2006 was a great year. There’s the huge trade area and plenty of activity so it has that festival vibe going on, the Dirt Demo continues to grow each year, now easily the biggest in the UK, with a staggering 300 bikes available to test ride. And out on the race course most people were good natured and evidently seemed to enjoy themselves. There didn’t seem to be as many pro riders though, unless the generally wider course meant overtaking ‘situations’ were less frequent. All in, with the new course, the big trade area and generally top atmosphere, it’s a corker of an event – we can’t wait for next year.
So how did we get on? Despite being brought together at the last minute Team Bikemagic/SheCycles ran like a will oiled operation. Gary Jennings, Claire Jennings, Matt Parsons, Jackie Smith and myself rode consistently to get 33 laps in the bag. [result when they’re released]. We had to make do with none of the niceties that our Marin/Bikemagic works team got to enjoy though.
Marin/Bikemagic.com Works team
It was an altogether more streamlined and professional outfit in the Marin/Bikemagic.com almost-pro team. Properly top-notch bikes fully prepped, mechanics on hand after every lap to keep their bike in top working order, full riding kit and generally just being looked after – by all accounts it all went very smoothly. They impressed all, working together like they had known each other for ages, and put in a solid effort with 33 laps for 26th place in Mixed. And second place in the “Mixed teams with more than one woman” sub-category that we’ve just made up. Thanks to Mark and Paul at ATB Sales for looking after the team. Frank Healy, Gary Angell, Alli Northcroft, Vicky Ware and Dave Pickering were the lucky five, and fill us in on the racing…Frank Healy
“…what a great weekend. From the first introduction lap by Paul to my own last lap on Sunday as I finally left the brakes off all the way down the final descent to the campsite – what a blast. I was riding the Mount Vision which performed flawlessly all weekend, beautifully balanced, mechanically perfect and so comfortable. I have suffered none of the backache that I sometimes get after riding a lot, in fact, apart from sleep deprivation and a touch of “you really don’t want to go to the bathroom after me”, I feel remarkably well.”
“My other team mates were a great bunch, very competitive, yet relaxed and a lot of fun to be with around the campsite. I’m still not quite sure how I ended up doing the run at the start, but nevertheless a bit of encouragement goes a long way and after the hell of running in cycling shoes with a multi-tool jumping up and down in your back pocket, my first lap was a breeze. After that it only got better as I started to know the course and trust the bike. The night time was fantastic, Lupine Nightmares are rather nice! Dawn came and went and with it came the realisation that we were actually doing rather well, which spurred us on to keep chasing down that next rider, just in case it gained us an extra place. I can’t wait to find out the official race results.”Vicky Ware
“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. All the people at Mountain Mayhem were really friendly and there was a great feeling of camaraderie about the whole event, it was strange biking around in the dark with so many other people and to walk around the camp seeing people asleep in strange places.”Ali Northcott
“Soon dawn broke, and before we knew it we were almost at the end of the race. Just enough time for a last minute effort to get in some extra laps before the finish! No lurking for this team, even if the call of “free beer” was rather tempting as I passed through a group of riders before the final descent! Dave took the final lap of glory and we gathered to celebrate our achievement… not bad a top 30 placement for a group of people who had never met before. Finally we had time to reflect. The support from ATB was amazing throughout, they treated us like a pro team, always there to keep us fed, prepare bikes, fix bits and they even had time to throw in some of there own special night-time entertainment!”
Considerably faster than the rest
The course revisions meant for fast lap times. The fast riders were managing, and averaging, 32 minutes, while most settled for a slightly more sedate 40-50 minutes.
- Elite Men: Giant – 46 laps – 24:09:23
- Expert Mixed: Kona UK – 43 laps – 24:17:36
- Mixed: Impsport Factory Team – 40 laps – 24:20:13
- Solo Men: Murrin Paul – 33 laps – 24:38:41
- Solo Women: Hopkins Jenn – 25 laps – 24:20:20
- Sport Men: Titus Fat Tread – 42 laps – 24:07:11
- Sport Women: MTB Wales Fancier Ride – 34 laps – 24:25:26
Full results available here