Under week after the Gorrick 100 I was in the van with Nik, Phil (http://kinesismorvelo-phil-moore.posterous.com/ ) several bikes, spare wheels and load of food, heading for The Scottish Boarder and Newcastleton for the 24hrs of Exposure.
Last year this race hadn’t gone so well, with an injury to my right wrist getting worse by 8.5 hrs.
Though this year I had made the challenge harder for myself, thanks to my success at the Gorrick 12:12 last year. I was racing 24hrs Single Speed and would be up against it with Dan Treeby and Rob Lee along for the ride.
After a decent drive we arrived, drop Phil at the Morvelo bunker, set up camp at the track side, ate, tinkered with the bikes one last time and went to sleep in the van to the sound of heavy rain. It fell all night, this was going to be an interesting race.
Morning came, the rain still fell, whilst I ate the first of two breakfasts and put tyres on wheels (I like a little tweaking to do before a race, it calms me down). The rain stop for a few hours, in which Nik awoke and helped me prepare and soon we were signed in, lined up and pedalling behind the lead out crew from Newcastleton, they peeled off and things got serious. But the rain wasn’t falling at the moment, that wouldn’t last, in fact the rain would fall for probably 21 or the 24hr’s of the race.
I settled into my pace and then noticed the back wheel on the Niner felt off, a little wayward, “damn it, I forgot to tweak those spokes” the first lap would see me riding carefully so as not to trash the back wheel entirely. It soon ended, I grab my spare bike and head out, whilst Nik got Wayne Farrell to tweak the back wheel for me (Thanks Wayne).
Second lap down, back on the Niner and the rain was back as well, and would stay until about 10am Sunday. The laps ticked off well and I didn’t get excited and chase others down or hold their wheels. I had a plan and the only thing that was causing issues to it was the two bike changes had thrown out my two lap strategy. “Don’t panic, I can adapted” so I did.
Soon night would be here and I would be at one with the bike, the trail and myself. I light the dark, the riding at night and we would be treated to hundreds of frogs and a few voles lining the fire roads as we cycled past. The night wore on and my legs ticked over, but one mechanical problem was reoccurring.
Nik had been awesome as usual and was wielding tools, drink bottles, gels, mars bars and my pasta, lots of pasta. But we could not resolve the problem of the loosing chain. We tightened the ECB a few times and within a half a lap the chain was loose again. “Hmm?, remain calm and finish the lap”. After a really good go at sorting this and the resultant lap being a massive 2hrs, I decided to deal with it. Unfortunately at was this point I made another error.
In faffing with the ECB, I forgot to eat, I knew this at the time and grab a bunch of gels, two mars bars and wedge them in my jersey. I set off, and after the second climb, went to the dark places, even the frogs couldn’t help distract me from them, on the 3rd climb the long one, I wobbled a bit them a lot, then had to stop, next to a pine I thought was a person at first. I stuck 5 gels and a mars bar down my throat, wobbled a bit more, then everything came alive again and I was off. This unfortunately gave another 2hr lap, but at least I was still upright and pedalling.
Next pit stop saw a bunch of food thrown in, Chris and DrJohn making me laugh and helping out whilst Nik had a kip. I was on it again.
The laps ticked over with the worse hills ridden until I had to walk a bit and the rain kept falling, 2 changes of clothes on my upper body would see me through the night. As the hue of the morning light arrived, I breathed a gentle sigh and smiled ever so slightly smugly. This is the point when you know you have made it.
Now my head turned to knowing where I was, but the timing system employed by SIPEvents is less than perfect. It does the job, but doesn’t allow pit crews to work out easily where you are and the time were only available in one are in a event village that was spread out. After several laps in the day light I had to stop and talk to the timers, Joolze telling me to harden up and head out again, I did, in fact for two more laps.
Nik and the crew encouraged me to press on as well and I couldn’t believe I was still catching folk on geared bikes this late in the race. By now the rain had stop, but Wayne yelling come on each lap continued and people lining the pits clapped and cheered everyone on. I did my best to “Pedal Damn It” the catch cry that adorns my top tube on my Niner, it had help on a few occasions during the night.
With all the encouragement and time ticking down the last lap and a half were done with no rear brake pad’s as I rushed back out, surprisingly there were no moments to talk about and I soon finished my last lap.
In a race that I found really tough at times I had done better than expected, finishing 13th overall in the men’s and 2 in the Single Speed Cat. To say the least I am pretty chuffed with this, in fact chuffed and a little surprised.
Massive thanks to Nik again and thanks to everyone that encourages us all to press on through to the end. Your calls of “well done”, “good stuff” and “keep riding” accompanied by the claps help more than you think.
Nik, your hugs smiles help a million times over.
What’s next, god knows, but it might be a bit silly.
Anyone got a spare pair of legs?
(Pics to follow)