In 1998 the very first 24 hour MTB race on British soil was held at Trentham Gardens. It was called Red Bull Mountain Mayhem, and it chucked it down two minutes before the start. Did we say “British soil”? More like good old British mud.
Roll on a decade (ulp) and we find ourselves at the tenth Mountain Mayhem. It’s been to Sandwell Park, Birmingham for a few years before fetching up at Eastnor Park. Red Bull gave way to Saab/Salomon and then this year to Giant and T-Mobile. If the pre-race briefing is to be believed, only about four people have done every single one (and they’re all on the same team…), but maybe if you’ve done that many you don’t feel the need to attend the briefing.
By way of a tenth anniversary tribute, it rained. Quite a lot the week before the race, a bit the morning before and a smidgen more just as we lined up for the running start. And then it stopped, the course dried and started to get fast and fun. It couldn’t last. Darkness fell and things were still looking good, and then more (and more persistent) rain made things slippery, sludgy, sticky but still (in a slightly warped kind of way) fun.
Bikemagic fielded two teams. The Marin/Bikemagic Works Team all won their places in a competition – the lucky riders were Toby, Rachel, Mark, Sarah and Duncan. With support from Marin, Hope, Dirt Worker, Michelin (and Continental when Michelin’s tyres failed to show up) and Torq (who generously stepped in when High 5 went all quiet on us) they gelled as a team most impressively. 64th in Mixed Open – not too shabby.
The office team just sort of muddled through, sorting things out at (or, in some cases, some time after) the last minute. We fielded an interesting mix of talents – Michal’s a 4X racer and so isn’t used to riding for more than 45 seconds at a time, in straight lines or up hills. And Denise is a trackie and hence unaccustomed to concepts like non-wooden surfaces, gears, brakes, a freewheel and right-hand corners. They both did a great job, though, and even claimed to have fun.
But never mind results (although, for the record, Scott won it with a mighty 35 laps), that’s not what Mayhem is about for the vast majority of people there. No, the things that make Mayhem the success that it’s been for the last ten years are the thousands of people camping in a field, the people doing 24-hour DJ sets out in the woods, the wandering piper, cycling bananas, midnight gorilla action, grass skirts, never having the right tyres, the ever-popular dawn lap, people coming in 25 seconds before the end so they can get another lap in, the endless determination that sees people dragging clogged or broken bikes for half a lap to get back to the line, the heckling, the pom-poms, the marshals who manage to keep the encouragement going non-stop for the whole race and the whole Dunkirk spirit of the thing.
Mainly, though, it’s down to Pat Adams and his team. Mountain Mayhem is an iconic event, and without Pat it would never have happened, let alone happened ten times. Here’s to the next ten…