Like last year, Mel and I took part in Bontrager 24/12 in the 12 hour category as a mixed pair. The event was one of the most fun cycling races we had ever taken part in so we had high expectations for the 2009 edition!
Before the event, the guys in Cycleways (thanks, Shane, Francis and Conrad) gave our bikes a mid season service (forks, shocks etc) and had things running perfectly for the weekend. The kind folks in the Specialized Concept store in Plymouth then gave us their facilities for building our bikes back up when we arrived in the UK. Thanks!
Back to 24/12 - the course was different from last year, recent heavy rain meant that chunks of singletrack had to be removed to keep it all ridable with the addition of a very steep climb called the Cliff bar Climb. The course was not as nice as the previous year but was still very enjoyable with my favourite sections from last year remaining – we did know that despite rain, the course would hold together well. Considering all the rain recently, a metric for how ridable it remained was that throughout all my laps, I only had to dab 3 times, one as an outrigger when I driffed around a high speed corner and two times when I was hitting single track traffic - job well done Martyn!
Race morning arrived with Mel not feeling well, she was groggy and was not her usual excited self before the race. Like last year, I started off with two laps, which I took at a handy enough pace – the day would be long and there was no point in sprinting around for a fast first lap. I did two and Mel did one. In the notebook that Mel and I kept she was saying that she was feeling pretty bad so we kept the 2:1 ratio for 4 iterations. As it was getting closer to dark and the mandatory lights rule came into effect Mel psyched herself up for a fast night lap. She made it around the course in 41 minutes but later found out that due to some confusion, the night laps for the King/Queen competition start after 9pm and not 8pm as she had been told. Later that night she gave it another go but didn't manage a quick enough time to claim Queen of the night. My second last lap, my 10th at the time was only a little over a minute (38 minute laps) slower than the male lap that won King of night – not bad for a guy who did more the 3 times the number of laps before hand :)
Mel and I finished out winning our class comfortably and a great BBQ was put on by the TorQ team at the side of the race course.
The following morning when we got up, the skies were grey and the rain started to fall so unlike last year, we didn't put in another few handy laps deciding to pack up early. Truth be told, both of us were wrecked – the competition was a lot closer in 2008 but I think the course was a lot tougher for 2009. It took me 4-5 days before I felt recovered on the bike after the event.
Thanks again to Specialized and Cycleways for helping us out with our equipment over the weekend and to TorQ for looking after us – we had a great time and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Also, congratulations to TorQ for winning every category they entered – some achievement!