The Wiggle Mountain Mayhem is fast approaching, when it goes ahead on 22-24 June. And would you believe it, the UK’s biggest 24-hour racing event is now in its 15th year.
To mark the occasion, we’re dedicating some of the pages of Bikemagic to looking at why this event has become the institution it has become.
First up we chat with Mark Eaton, who has taken part for the past three years. He rides with the retrobike South West team and last year rode a Jamis Dakota dating from 1987.
What type of rider would you describe yourself as?
I’m 38-years-old, and didn’t ride at all between the ages of 17 and 32! I live in Dorset, right next to the Purbecks and this is where I do most of my riding. I prefer natural trails to man-made trail centres. I seem to be better at going up hill fast, rather than downhill faster!
What made you want to do Mayhem for the first time?
I had been a member of the retrobike forum for a few years, and had seen how much fun the event looked. My first Mayhem (3-years-ago) was my first ever taste of racing.
How was it the first time you raced?
I took on the run on my first ever Mayhem! I used to do a bit of distance running, so volunteered my services. I loved the feeling of being in such a big group of riders, and the camaraderie of all trying to beat the course, as much as each other. The highlight for me on my first Mayhem was riding the course as the sun came up. Magical!
What was the biggest challenge in racing for 24-hours?
As I was part of a ten man team, the biggest challenge was not drinking too much beer between laps! I didn’t get much sleep either, but seeing the fitness and dedication of the solo riders soon put that into perspective.
Why is the draw of Mayhem for you? What keeps you coming back for me?
For me it’s a very social weekend. I meet with people who I only ever see at Mayhem, but chat with throughout the year. Being a fan of vintage mountain bikes, the amount and quality on display in the retrobike area is fantastic for me to paw over.
What do you feel is the draw of Mayhem to so many of UK mountain bikers that it has become the biggest event on the calendar?
I think there is something for everyone at Mayhem. You can commit to ride as much or as little as you want to, and there is always a sense of fun around the event. I know people who go along for the weekend just to camp and soak up the atmosphere!
Tell us about the bike you’ll be riding?
This year I’ll be re-riding the bike I rode for my first Mayhem…a 1990 Overbury’s Pioneer. It’s less than ideal for the bumpy course, but I love riding it. It’s exactly as it left the Overbury’s shop in Bristol in 1990 (even down to cable ties holding the excess brake cables!), so I get a real buzz out for riding something that’s in such good condition and giving it the hammering it should have had its whole life!
Have you ridden Mayhem? Want to tell us about it? Email us at [email protected] to share your story.