Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Finally, 2008 Mountain Mayhem Report

I have been meaning to sit down and write this for a while but I've simply been too busy :( Ah well, the life of a full time working guy who tries to also be a full time cyclist...

When I started out with the TorQ team they mentioned that they would like to give a good push at winning the team event in Mountain Mayhem – they have gotten a lot of 4th and 5th places in recent years and this year they wanted to win. With that in mind, I was more then happy to jump on board to the worlds biggest 24 hour race.

After the stress of packing and flying with bikes Mel and I (she rode with the Extra UK team) arrived at Eastnor Castle (stunning) in England to find the TorQ RV and pitch our tent beside it. Fortunately, we were staying in a B&B in Malvern for the night before. The course had a lot of climbing and a large amount of amazing bench cut single track – it was all new so I wondered what would happen if (when) the rains came. After an excellent Italian meal in Ask! in Malvern and a great nights sleep in the B&B (with the biggest bed ever!) we woke to find a wet and soggy Eastnor. Ahh well, I changed to 1.8 Nobby Nicks in preperation for the mud bath.

A birds eye view

We had a team talk and we decided that Billy (our team was Billy Whenman, Nick Collins, Marcus Schiez and myself) would take the first lap, and the run around the start loop - then me, Nick and then Marcus and we would rotate with each of us doing one lap. That was all good until I went to my rental car to get my gear ready when I realized I locked the keys in the car (it's a longer story than this!) but the RAC came to the rescue but we switched around with Nick taking the second spot to be on the safe side.

Course Profile

The initial laps went by mostly fine – my first lap was a bit annoying. With 600+ teams there was a HUGE amount of traffic for me to lap which meant all the singletrack was a crawling affair – I wish I had gone first and hit the trails at full speed, it was so frustrating hitting this amazing single track and then having to walk. My second and third laps were grand, it rained a little before the third which made it a bit slippery so it was a little slower. Then the thing we were expecting happened – a massive storm came through, shaking everything, uplifting tents and doing who knows what to the single track. Some time around midnight I went out for my first truly wet lap. It was about 2 hours since the monsoon started and 1000s of tire tracks since then meant the trails would be a mess. Knowing all this, it really did not get me ready for what I saw. The climbs where okay (ish) but the singletrack was something out of a Vietnam war movie. The trails were unridable and huge chunks unwalkable! I honestly had never seen anything like it before. There were bodies everywhere, people crawling with bikes slung across shoulders – all this in pitch black darkness with only my lights to add some colour. I still managed to get around the course in an hour (stories of 3+ hour lap times were the norm) but had some of the sketchiest moments of my short cycling career. My next lap was in similarly bad conditions – sections of climbs that I was big ringing earlier in the day I was now pushing! The singletrack was not quite so bad which evened out to another hour long lap. My remaining laps got faster and faster as gale force winds started to dry the course (it battered the camp sites – flying tents was an issue!) and my last two laps were the most fun I had with the course 100% ridable again. Madness.

All through this a competition was taking place and our team with each lap was moving further and further into the lead of our category (open male). This meant that we didn't really have a massive urgency to do super fast laps so the whole thing was pretty relaxed and enjoyable. The atmosphere around the TorQ site was great. As we were fielding 3 teams of 4 there was always lots of people around and I never got bored (or got sleep). Throughout, I used various TorQ nutrition products - the energy drink when I was riding, a gel 10 minutes before each lap and Recovery and TorQ bars after each lap – not once in the 24 hours did I feel drained or physically tired (apart from being sleepy) and my recovery from the event over the following days went really well. I think it really stands to the quality of the products. (Which you can now also buy on Wiggle)

Cheezy podium pictures - TorQ (B) also came 3rd (Pic: Chris Keller-Jackson)

Full results can be found here. Photos can be found here, here, here and here. Mel also has her report here.

Anyway, since then, the last two weeks have been back to normal training with the last few days focussing on recover as we both get ready to race in Italy this weekend – but more on that later.

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