Trans-England18 The Racing Collective

It’s been a while since my last blog and I’ve had a fair few ups and downs over the last six months, and so I’ve decided to mix things up this year by doing various different types of events to keep things interesting. This event really inspired me to write something based on a sense of adventure.

The racing collective have come up with a very basic concept for the Trans-England trials which is really refreshing and is based on the same structure as the really epic rides like the Transcontinental race which covers over 2000miles.

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My journey started with a car trip to Morecombe bay, which maybe is a bit of a cop out really as the main ethos of this type of challenge is being self-supported. Nevertheless, due to time restrictions and the total nightmare of trying to book a bike on a train, I went for the easy option and enlisted my partner Donna to drive me to the start line.
Donna dropped me in Morecombe bay at 10pm and after a quick flask of tea, I said my goodbyes. “See you tomorrow in Scarborough!”
I had a little leg loosener after the car journey by just riding steadily up and down the promenade, and I began to realise how heavy the bike was with all the additional luggage attached (approx. 10kg).
Self-sufficient means exactly that: no support from anyone, no arranging to meet a friend, no food stashing, just you on your own sorting things on the fly. That is one reason my bike now weighed about 20kg in total, as I didn’t want to be caught out by the weather or lack of food. I’d analysed the route to some degree and realised that the first 100 miles would be a matter of eating and drinking what I could carry from the start. There aren’t any convenience stores open in the Yorkshire Dales at 3am! So maybe I’d taken more than I needed but the lack of experience in this sort of event and the fact my main goal was just to finish made me think I’d made the right decisions.
There were 25 riders taking part in the event and
we all lined up outside the Art Deco Hotel on the pier at Morecombe chatting away until everyone came together at the last minute to begin the challenge from the end of the pier. Morecombe is a very quiet seaside resort (not at all like Blackpool) and for once, the weather seemed perfect. We got some strange looks from the few evening passers-by who were unsure what we were all doing starting a ride at night, and even stranger looks when they asked “what are you doing” and we responded”riding to Scarborough!”


A quick rundown on my kit list:
• Scott CR1 (trusty road bike) with 28mm 4 season tyres and rear mudguard
• Large saddle bag (approx. 12litre capacity)
• 2 x small top tube bags for food on the go and pacing notes
• 2 x 500ml bottles ,2 x Garmin devices
• mobile phone ,emergency sleeping bag , pen knife, multi tool, 2x inner tubes,
• tyre levers, co2 inflator , Exposure Toro and exposure joystick (mounted on helmet)
• Gore-Tex jacket , lightweight puffer jacket , neoprene gloves, battery pack and leads,
• rear lights x 2
• selection of gels and Chia charge bars
As 11pm approached, we all pulled out our phones to take a photo and tweet ourtime stamp as proof of starting. This was a procedure that needed to be repeated at five other points on route: Ribblehead Viaduct, the Tan Hill pub, a chapel in the middle of nowhere, Robin Hoods Bay beach and the finish point of the ‘Diving Belle’at Scarborough.
The route is left totally up to the individual riders and I’d plotted a route between the checkpoints that I believed to be do-able on the road bike. It came in at 170miles and 16,000ft of climbing.
We all set off and straight away there was confusion on how to get on to a cycle path that went straight through the centre of Morecombe and out towards Lancaster! I managed to regroup with three other guys on the main road towards Lancaster for approx. 5 miles, and then peeled off up a short climb into a small village on my own.10 miles down the road I met up with the same guys and we continued together for 3 or 4miles then again my route headed off up a hill (should have programmed for least elevation!) I was now riding on small winding roads through the Dales towards Clapham often covered in cow slurry. I then looked down to my Garmin and noticed I was on 20miles travelled and glanced at my pace notes, which stated checkpoint 1 at Ribblehead, was at 27miles.
As the road began to climb, I caught up with a few more riders who had gotten off to a better start than I had, and as I passed, we spoke about the favourable conditions.
On reaching Ribblehead the sky was totally pitch black with no moon in sight so even a huge structure like the viaduct was easily missed (some riders did!). I rode down the gravel track towards Whernside and took a quick picture showing nothing other than my Garmin data and some gravel track, as it was impossible to get a decent viaduct photo.
I moved off thinking “that’s one down and only another 150miles to go”. The slight breeze that crossed the road towards Hawes was pleasant and with a temperature of 12 degrees, it felt very nice for the time of year at 1am!
As I passed through Hawes, I noticed a sign which showing ‘via Buttertubs’! As I’d never ridden this climb I didn’t know what to expect but the compact crankset was used to full force as it ramped up multiple times before a fast and twisty decent with suicidal rabbits. I did slow down slightly as the thought of hitting a rabbit at 35 mph didn’t fill me with joy… remember this ride is self-supported and avoiding risks is part of self-preservation.
Shortly after the descent the single track road became the climb up to the Tan Hill pub and checkpoint 2 which again was a slog and a steep gradient. It was another poor photo here which just about showed the pub sign but a tweet was impossible as there was no reception in the area. Again I got quickly back on the bike and headed towards Reeth and Grinton, I managed to tag on with a guy from Durham and we chatted as we made our way along the wild roads.
On reaching Grinton we had different route choices and again mine seemed to be the hilly option with it pointing up Cote de Grinton (another Tour de France climb over open moorland). At this point I had 60miles on the clock and another 40 to cover before my planned food stop. This was the first point I questioned my decision to do the ride. I felt totally isolated and alone. Luckily, over the next 10 miles this feeling disappeared and I began to realise the beauty of being alone just listening to the rhythm of the tyres on the tarmac and enjoying the lack of vehicles on the roads.
The next section of the route flattened out and I headed towards Ripon and across the A1 motorway which I knew wasn’t far from my planned coffee stop! This was a real driving force to push on to 97miles and Thirsk. At 5.20am I reached my destination but realised my first major mistake was that the garage did not open until 6am and I had no option but to wait as I was almost totally out of water. The thought of pushing on not knowing where I would find a suitable stop point didn’t fill me with joy, so I waited for a coffee at 6am and a bottle top up. To be honest it was a good shout as on returning to the route it began drifting on to isolated roads heading towards a brutal climb at Boltby Bank which I believe to be the hardest on route with an unrelenting 20 percent gradient, again the compact group set was at full stretch.


Now that dawn had arrived my whole outlook on the event had improved with a dash of sunshine and a nice bit of bird song. I bypassed Helmsley and headed out into an area of the moors I only vaguely remember from a gravel race I did a few years back. Talking of gravel, I took a moment to double check my Garmin as it showed a route heading up a fire road into a wooded area. As I analysed this, it proved to be a viable short cut and not that rough on the road bike so I managed to maintain a reasonable pace.

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120miles was the next check point and an amazingly stunning location. It was a very small and beautiful chapel in an extremely isolated area. It was open and provided a welcome rest point with hot drinks and a toilet. It was so nice here it became a real struggle to make a move and again I had caught up with the guy from Durham. After 20 minutes and two cups of tea I managed to get the legs moving again and the relentless climbing began. As I approached a steep climb known as Blakey Bank I could see another rider ahead and this gave me a focal point. Again it pitched up to around 20 percent and I was on the last of my climbing legs capability, but I did catch Ed (who I know) as the climb topped out. We chatted which became a real motivator as we both knew the end was in sight on the approach to Whitby. It was at this point that my Garmin sent me a different way again and then totally stopped working!
I was stuck in a village in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors with no navigation. I knew that Whitby was just over the next hill in the distance, so I decided to use google maps on my iphone to get me to Robin Hoods Bay. Then it was a direct route back into Scarborough. The major problem was that I had no mount for the phone so it was a matter of taking note of the next turning showing on the phone and guesstimating the next turning! This was a real pain and involved a lot of stop-start. Eventually I approached the main road heading into Whitby and a sense of relief passed over me and also a feeling of total fatigue. I decided that now I was on my own again I would stop at the next garage on route and get a well-earned coffee and cake. Five miles down the road I was on the outskirts of Whitby and a garage appeared on the left so I stopped and stumbled off the bike to get the supplies I was craving. I was standing there staring into the distance with slightly blurred vision when I noticed Ed Wolstenholme pass the garage.
I felt a lot better knowing I’d not dropped further behind so I quickly packed my gear up and pursued Ed towards Robin Hoods Bay. The road wound towards the coast line and eventually approached a very steep (30 percent) descent into the bay. The road terminated as it hit the ramp onto the beach, and I had caught up with Ed again so we discussed how tiring the route was and took the last checkpoint photos of each other.
I decided to continue the chat and follow Ed along the coastal bridleway trail passing Boggle Hole YHA and the stunning area around Ravenscar. Here the trail got rougher and was fairly challenging on a bike designed for smooth tarmac but it was a very engaging route and enjoyable, I just prayed I didn’t have a puncture so close to the end!
As we got to the outskirts of Scarborough the trail changed to tarmac and the last part of the ride was to wind through the town centre on the approach towards the harbour area to reach the final stop of the Diving Belle positioned at the end.
Once we approached the Belle I made the final checkpoint stamp and then my next thought was fish and chips! I quickly rang my partner Donna who had been waiting patiently nearby for a few hours and we stumbled towards the nearest chip shop… it was over and I was going to enjoy my seaside reward with salt and vinegar!
This event gave me a real sense of achievement and the more I think about it the more I realise how much I enjoyed it. I encourage people to do this type of riding only if you are a totally able to support yourself and like being on your own. It’s a real adventure and you don’t have to spend loads of money to do these events very much like the audax groups. There is a great sense of camaraderie between riders and stories of their travels are passed across the coffee shop tables later on in the day.

The whole experience was amazing and I intend to do more Racing Collective adventures when I can fit them in.

 

 

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Italian job world 24hr champs

I’m sat drinking a protein shake trying to relive an epic experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

 

The first thing that pops into my head is that we really underestimated the travel fatigue
associated with driving 1000 miles each way! The fact we had done a 24hr race in 30
degrees before setting off on the return leg means I am totally destroyed now! We definitely should have gone for the Keith Forsyth approach and made a real holiday of it!
On arrival at Finale we quickly sorted the hotel rooms and parking situation with staff at the Hotel San Giuseppie. I’ve got to say the team there are some of the nicest hotel staff I have ever met, they made sure we had everything we needed and even made us breakfast at 5am on the morning of the race.
Thursday consisted of a ride to the race HQ to register and a recce lap of the course. It was unfinished at that stage but it gave a taste for what looked to be a course that would suit my riding style. I knew the heat would probably be a crucial factor; how many British riders regularly race in 30 degrees? (Don’t all raise your hands at once!) We spent the rest of the afternoon eating as much a possible, including some of the ice cream delights of Finale.


On race day I woke at 5am having had a disturbed night and quickly pulled myself together to get up to the event site before the chaos began. Donna, Deano and I had stayed at the same hotel as Gillian Pratt and we all left together to transport everything to the pits which was a fair task on its own. Offloading everything on the main road outside and carrying it in was the first job of the day! One hour later it was all set up and it was time for some breakfast, it was a chance to take a deep breath and relax for 5mins.
10am and the bikes were setup and waiting in the transition area with a 500m run the only thing in the way! The elites were off bang on 10am and the rest of us had a 5-minute deficit.
I’m no runner but managed to stay in the top 10 as we jumped on the bike. I was quickly
joined by Keith Forsyth who had the same idea as me and we set about riding up into the
elite pack. By halfway round the first lap we had achieved it and we decided to sit up and
knock the pace back. A few laps passed as the heat gradually rose to over 30 degrees and
eventually took its toll on a few riders, but I managed to keep on a reasonable pace and
gradually pick riders off during the daylight. I was so glad to see dusk and the temperature drop, around 8.30pm it was full steam ahead and keep tapping out consistent laps right through till dawn. Eating in such high temperatures was a problem I had not experienced before and I was very aware that my calorie intake was not really enough to sustain a strong pace but luckily everyone’s pace was fading so it was not of great concern.


The bike was totally faultless and handled the technical terrain really well. My lap times were reasonably consistent so as we entered dawn my spirits lifted slightly and I realised I had a little left in the tank so I pushed on! I no real idea how I was doing as the timings were very hit and miss and at one point they had me listed as a 44-year-old! (I’m 38!!)
The only riders I recognised were the Brits and I knew I had passed most of them so this
was a massive confidence boost in the early morning laps.
At 32 laps I had decided it was my last lap and had confirmation that I was comfortably 2nd in category but had very little chance of catching 1st as he had 30 minutes on me!
I wish I had known that I was the leading Brit as this would have given me the drive to go out for another lap. My finish time was 19mins within the 10am deadline so I could have got another lap in. Well done to Carwyn Davies who put the effort in to go through for a 34th lap to become top Brit and World Champion in his category (Under 23’s).
The course was generally dry, dusty and loose with sharp rocks on the technical descents. I’ve been told that it’s probably the hardest 24hr course in the world with almost 1000ft of climbing per lap. I found the last section of technical climbs the most testing and chose to walk a few sections during the race to fend off the impending cramps. A lot of the race became a blur and I had no idea how many laps I had completed until the end. As always our supreme Pit Man, Deano, proved to be the person holding the NIER/Chia charge together with constant food and hydration.


At the finish we had exceeded our expectations and I came away with 2nd in my category (35-39 years) and 14th overall which I am very happy with. Donna had a strong race achieving 4th in her category (40-44 years) and 16th overall which is a great achievement. We were also pleased to see our friend and fellow rider Gillian Pratt achieve 1st place in her age category(world champ) This race will certainly be remembered, it happened to finish on my birthday which meant extra celebrations. All the British riders met up at a local bar and we shared our stories and celebrated our achievements. It was a great atmosphere and one I won’t forget! We are already talking about going to next years, how we can prepare and looking forward to
experiencing Fort William. Next up is Mountain Mayhem where we are competing as a mixed team. Best get those bikes
cleaned!

Thanks also to wembo for making these events possible and Chia charge for the constant support

Better late than never Kielder chiller blog;)

Kielder Chiller 2017

The Kielder Chiller first came onto the team NIER radar towards the end of 2016, when looking for a quad team event to follow-up the solo Strathpuffer. The words ‘it’ll be fun, a bit of a social event’ were mentioned. Well in typically 24hour racing fashion, it was fun and a great team event for all who participated from NIER.

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The mid-February 2017 race weekend weather forecast was predicting a mixed bag, unfortunately that bag didn’t contain anything other than rain, hail, snow, and wind! However, those conditions don’t put off a team who’s become very adapt and organised for year round MTB endurance events.

We rolled into the picturesque surroundings of Kielder Castle Visitor Centre early Saturday morning, and were directed to our spot in the top car park. In was raining, which became a common theme for the rest of the weekend. As usual the undeterred dedicated band of fellow racers and support crews were already busy setting their pitches, turning a dull car park into a colourful scene of sponsored vehicles and gazebos.

It didn’t take long before the NIER Team gazebos were erected with our own Chia Charge banners clearly on show. Ever present team pit man Dean built-up a super professional bike rack, and the inside of the gazebo was adorned with the essentials which would help keep the team rolling, notably the old portable gas fire aka ‘the life saver’.

We’d all watched the video posted by the High Fells events team, so had some idea of the course. However, the passage of a couple of weeks and some heavy rain meant the course was now very wet and muddy, a combination which would present some mechanical challenges as the race progressed.

Under damp skies the race started at noon. The course was a mixture of technical single track and fire roads, with some steep climbs thrown into the mix, which made for a challenging lap. Richard went out first and got NIER into second place after the first lap, followed by Nigel, Donna, and Michal, who collectively established us as first mixed quad team throughout the afternoon. The rain never let up and it took a few laps for each rider to workout what clothing would allow them to ride hard and keep their body temperature at an optimum level. Not surprisingly it didn’t take long before the inside of the gazebo resembled a Chinese Laundry, with the little ‘life saver’ working overtime.

Michal went out into the darkness just before 6pm, and 45 minutes later Donna was waiting ready for her next lap. As the minutes ticked by and Michal didn’t appear, we all started to fear something had happened to him. It was over an hour and half before he came running into view, having punctured twice, resulting in him running a number of miles back to base camp. A swift transition saw Donna on her way, NIER still holding first place, but with a much reduced lead.

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24 hour endurance are really only made possible with a strong pit team, and NIER have the an awesome team in Dean and Sally. Dean washed, cleaned, and oiled the bikes 30 times. He changed countless sets of brake pads (the wet conditions and sandstone made superb grinding paste), fixed a snapped chain, and sorted out a new set of tyres for Michal. Sally kept us watered and fed, she looked after us and helped us stay organised when our minds were getting tired, and she listened to the many race stories we told after each lap. These tough winter events really do show it’s about a winning ‘team’.

The team continued to ride well throughout the night, even with the weather deteriorating, to a point that saw many competitors retire to their sleeping bags. We noticed the bikes were starting to freeze and the track in places became icy. But spirits remained high, and even in the dark, we focused on the positives, collectively agreeing that the wooded single track sections really were a highlight of the lap, egging-on each rider to push hard and leverage their bike handling skills.

As the dark faded into the first morning light, we’d completed 24 laps and had a lead of over a lap on our nearest mixed quad rivals. Racing being racing though, you can never rest, and none of the team backed off, with the Strathpuffer racers of the team showing their form and fitness levels gained through a winter of hard riding.

Midday Sunday, 28 laps had seen NIER to victory in the Mixed Quad category in the 2017 inaugural Kielder Chiller. We’d survived some tough conditions, many mechanical challenges, and an event which most seasoned racers agreed had been a real challenge.

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Team NIER: Sally Hatfield, Dean Tempest-Mitchell, Michal Siemienczuk, Donna Waring, Nigel Smith, and Richard Dobson.

Strathpuffer 2017

 

Mention the word Strathpuffer to any cyclist who is aware of the event and you will see fear (or horror!) in their eyes! Most are aware of how tough this event is but the problem isn’t always the snowfall.

The NIER team have done a fair few 24hour mountain bike races over the past two years and have achieved great results, but when it comes to solo racing the pressure is really on. It’s all about you and there are so many things that can go wrong, it makes you feel that to some degree there is an element of luck involved!

I wouldn’t say I trained for Strathpuffer as its riding my bike and that’s what I do in my spare time. Calling it training instead of riding makes it sound a bit too formulated and sucks the fun out of it. That being said, whilst most cyclists are taking it easy through the winter, myself and Donna are putting the big miles in over the Christmas and New Year period in preparation for the upcoming event.

The problem with the puffer is how do you prepare for such a brutal event? You can control weight and improve endurance by putting the hours in, and you can ride technical trails with rocks and drops. But then combining both elements and adding sub-zero temperatures, sleep deprivation and fatigue, increased bike weight due to mud that becomes frozen stuck to it (yes, it was that cold!) and 17 hours of darkness is very difficult.

The race winner will cover 180+miles and 28,000ft of climbing on a circuit of approx. 7miles

Well as you may be able to tell already, things did not go as well for me at Puffer as I had hoped. I was riding strong through the daylight hours on my full suspension Pivot429 which smoothed out a lot of the smaller rocks. I was riding in 2nd place for 17laps before I was overtaken and dropped to 3rd. As darkness fell, the sloppy mud on the top moorland sections froze to the rocks creating an additional technical element which progressively got worse as more riders polished off the surface and made the line selection through those rocks very difficult. Bikes were beginning to freeze solid and the solo field began to deplete with mechanical issues and crashes.

At 18 hours in I had just had a break for 15 mins to take on board some hot food and was feeling reasonably well considering the -8c temperatures when a few little mistakes on the rocky moorland section and final decent cost me my podium position! The first crash I had was a straight forward slip on the ice with me landing on my left hip, it wasn’t too severe and once I’d composed myself I carried on with the lap. The second crash I had was the most unexpected and risky situation I could have found myself in! I was descending at about 20 mph when I banked into a corner and the tyres failed to grip, causing me to go down hard on my hip and twist my thumb out of joint. The rest of the lap I could not change gear or pedal effectively, with over 5 hours to go I made the difficult decision that it was over for me! I was still in 3rd place having cover 150miles and 22,000ft of climbing with a 5mins gap on lap 23 but the sight of my bloody hip bulging through a hole in my shorts and swollen thumb joint made me think about the rest of the season and the fact I had to go to work on Tuesday!

I have learnt a lot from riding this event as a soloist and will take this forward to the 2018 Strathpuffer where I will make my second podium attempt at probably the toughest 24hour race in the world!

Donna also had to pull out early on having covered 13 laps with a shoulder injury which had been bothering her for the past few weeks. There was also the small issue of her contact lens freezing in her eye. This was really frustrating for her as she was managing her food intake well, her legs were good and she wasn’t feeling the tiredness.

Over the past few Strathpuffer events we have gained some great friends and would like to thanks all of them for making it such a great experience including the Seipp family and there inspirational young lad Tom. Also Id like to mention the Scottish friends we have gained with the Muckyriders crew Sandy Wallace cycles and Leslies bikes your all stars and make this event my favourite:) thanks Chia charge for your continued support

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Team nier 🙂

2016 Review Team Nier

It all started with the Strathpuffer way back at the end of January. The corresponding blog  tells the tail of a epic ride with great support from Dean tempest Mitchell to take the 2016 mixed pairs title. Over the night laps we gained a gap on the 2nd place pair which did come in handy as a puncture on the last lap made it a slow one!

A substantial gap then until the G100 in May where Donna pushed out a exceptional ride to take 3rd female. Then she followed it up in June with a amazing win a Glentress 7 the only female to get out on a 8th lap which was a exceptionally technical lap of sharp climbs and technical rooty descents.

A little alpine holiday / training session with a “Etape the tour” day was a amazing experience and one we will be repeating in the future….

 

Our next challenge was the biggest 24hr event in the uk Mountain Mayhem

It all began with Ben cooper setting off so fast that we ended up leading the whole event for at least 4hrs !

The male teams eventfully caught up but we maintained  a substantial lead over the other mixed teams so all ended well with a 1st place.( and a Royal presentation )

 

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Next up in July  was my big solo effort at Pivot 24/12 which was a ride in to the unknown!

I rode as hard as I possibly could, Battling it out for a fair few hours until I managed to pull in front and extend my lead over the night laps, this ended in a 1st overall male 24hr win and donna was 1st female also so a really great result for team nier. Again the key to our success was the exceptional efforts of Dean and Sally ….Love you both xxx

 

Torq 12/12 in August is always a 12hr smash fest and this year was definitely quicker than last year .We all put in a strong effort and Donna got 2nd female 6hr pairs so everything was on track for the October national champs At Relentless 24 in Fort William.

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Relentless 24 National Champs

As the name suggests climbing up the Side of Ben Nevis each lap is a bit “Relentless”

Me and my good bud Mitchell Jones put in consistent back to back laps to take 2nd male pairs missing out this time on the jerseys  …we will be back for that

Donna and her super team rode exceptionally to take the UK championship jersey…giving them the title of UK national 24hr champions 2016.

As we head into 2017 we are going to stream line our events calendar and head overseas focusing on mainly 24hr racing and the longer stuff…Thanks for all the support we receive. Chia Charge and Nutrixxion uk

Full Results List

 

 

 

Relentless 24hr Uk Championships 2016

 

After the disappointment of last year’s event Donna and I both decided to attack things from a different angle. Donna put together a fantastic female quad team of riders who had all previously won individual 24hr races in the UK and knew what to expect. Our thinking was that it would take a super elite female quad team to beat these ladies!

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 Donna, Naomi, Kathy, Gillian “girls have no name “

I knew that for myself, riding in the male pairs category would mean facing up to some stiff competition due to the exceptional riders already pairing up for this race. A UK championship win would be hard work!

 

My partner of choice was my good friend of many years, Mitchell Jones. Mitch has a very similar ‘never give in’ mentality to myself so I knew once he agreed to joining me in the challenge it was certain he would be 100% committed.

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Gisburn training ride “Smith&Jones”

 

I analysed the start sheet the best I could before the race but I wasn’t too sure who would be our main rivals until the gun went off at 12 on Saturday morning. The first twenty riders through for the first lap were not as you’d expect in a 24hr race and consisted mainly of solo riders apart from the extremely fast Jordan Doig who set the fastest lap and turned out to be a member of the ‘Wu tang clan’ pair we would be battling with for the next 24 hours. Jordan was about 2-3 minutes quicker than Mitch and I every time he went out and this meant the gap between us increased lap on lap. About 10 laps into the race it peaked at about 30 minutes difference and then we began to pull it back and gradually Mitch and I wound back a few minutes every lap.

 As we approached midnight our pit man, Dean, broke it to me that Mitch was suffering with some back pain and hinted that doubts were starting to creep in about him maintaining his pace. I told Dean to get some calories down his neck and give him some positive motivation “you’re catching them Mitch, keep going, everyone is suffering, you can do it!”

We both had the odd dip in lap times and the mechanical hitches that come with riding 110miles and 17,000ft each in wet conditions, but overall stayed consistent.

 

When dawn broke the gap between us and the leaders was down to just over 10 minutes! I knew if team ‘Wu tang clan’ were going to break it would be around the 20 hour mark so I decided to give my next few laps all that I had. This proved quite successful and I managed to pull back a fair few minutes and began lapping quicker than Jordan.

 As the final lap approached I noticed that Jordan’s partner was only 10 minutes in front of me and I had been lapping nearly 15 minutes quicker than him so when we were both out at the same time I gave it everything I possibly could, expecting to catch him on the second loop on the figure of 8 type course but it never happened. Unfortunately for me a change of bike and a bit of a rest seemed to inspire him to pull a quick lap out of the bag and our chance of a win was gone!

 

We ended up 2nd in the Senior category and 3rd Pairs in the UK  24hour Championships. Now I don’t wish to sound disappointed as that is a great achievement but when first place in your category is so close it’s very difficult not to be a little upset with yourself.

 

I witnessed some exceptional riding during this event including an outstanding solo win by Matt Jones and a Single speed solo title retaining ride from Saul Muldoon. I also realised that we probably have one of the most inspiring team and a big thanks goes to Dean and Rob for all their help and support, and thanks to Chia Charge for there continued nutritional support . But the most amazing part of this event was the new friends we gained and our shared love of the ‘flat sausage’. I’m sure the girls will have plenty more to say….

 logoTill next time ……

 

Pivot 2412 1st Overall :)

Here’s my account of a weekend racing my first solo 24hour race, it probably won’t be factually correct and may just be the mumblings of a still fatigued rider!
I’ll start by saying that the Twentyfour12 event is where Team Nier (no idea endurance racing) began in 2015. The atmosphere and fantastic course make for an exceptional event and we are quite happy to make the drive from Leeds to attend as we always know it will be worth it. Team Nier is made up of competitive riders Donna Waring, Michal Siemienczuk and me, and a group of friends from Northern England who support us. Our pit crew Dean Tempest Mitchell and Sally Hatfield are the key to our success and we can never give them enough praise!!


I won’t go on about what a great year of 24hr racing we have had but if you are interested it’s all on our blog. www.noideaenduranceriding.com
Getting straight to the point…
The nervous energy kicked in at 10am Saturday morning with a few emergency toilet visits and throughout the next hour all I could say to myself to try to calm things was “do your best” and “don’t take risks”.
At 11.30 I made my way to the start line and tried to visually check out the competition. I could see Russ Welch would be a man to watch but we chatted on the start line and with me being a sub 40 rider there was no real competition between us.
12.00 and we were away with my mind saying “stay safe”.
I had asked my pit not to tell me what position I was in until I had done at least 5laps.
6laps later I was sat in 2nd position and holding a consistent pace taking a bottle of Nutrixxion and a Chia Charge bar each lap.
I selected Twentyfour12 for my first 24 solo as I just really enjoy the course. With its punchy climbs and rapid technical descents it certainly keeps you interested.
I had moved into 1st place within 8hours but as we rode into the darkness my first error occurred!  My light spun round on the handlebars causing me to swerve off line and clip a rock on the Cottage return descent and the tyre was ruined. I wasted loads of time here trying to fix it then decided to run back! I managed to get some air in the tyre on reaching the fire road and this was enough to get me back to my pit for a quick bike swap.
I had now dropped back into 2nd and began my chase again gradually clawing back the lost time to return to the 1st place inside the 12hour mark.
I was feeling very good and generally rode well through the night and as 4am went by I remember asking at the motivation station “what time will the sun come up?” that’s a real motivator!


A fair few laps later my bike of choice for many hours in the saddle (a Pivot429) began to feel the 200miles of off road riding and I knew something was wrong. I stopped halfway up the Clif climb to check my bike as the rear end was moving more sideways than it should be. I noticed a major pivot bolt had fallen out leaving the rear end not properly connected to the main frame!! “Don’t panic!”
I managed to make it back to my pit with the floppy bike and switched onto the hardtail for a lap while my pit man Dean paid an early morning visit to the @Pivotuk stand to acquire a replacement bolt – big thanks to Rory Hitchens for that! I could have finished on the hardtail but comfort is king on a 24solo and the pivot 429 works well for me.
Now all the drama was over and without really realising it I had gone 2 laps up on all the other 24hr solo riders. Time to think about keeping safe and scale it back a bit, I could see some riders were now really suffering and were getting really slow, but then others (including Russ welch and the Isla bikes lads) found some early morning form and began to ride really quick!
This is when the calming words of my pit crew really helped and I just maintained a steady pace, but I was rapidly running out of energy as my body would not take any more food.

So my 2 lap lead was being eaten away but I was safely 1st overall so no panic. As 11.35 approached I decided a steady walk up clif climb was the way to do it, having rode it 33 times and walked the last few. As I approached the final fire road I could hear the spectators shouting words of encouragement to finishers and also “go on – time for another lap” I thought to myself “no thanks” and made my way up the fire road at walking pace.
The twisty section through camp into the finish was full of lurkers and I became one of them at 11.57am, rolling along just fast enough to stay upright. Then I noticed my Nier team mates were waiting for me for the victory roll over the line! At 12.01 Donna and I crossed the line – we were first overall Male and Female! It was such a great feeling to share that moment along with our buddy Ian Priddle
I’ve got so much respect for all the solo 24 riders, it was a tough course!

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podium 2412

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Male and female solo overall winners :)Donna 22laps Nigel 36laps and 230ish miles later

Mountain Mayhem 2016

When we set off to mountain mayhem this year with our mixed team of 5 I thought to myself “if we don’t win this year we are not going to win”!!

 

I had been quietly confident of our chances this year as we had the additional recruit of a young lad called Ben Cooper who really knows how to ride a mountain bike fast!

 

 

So the fact we had a full five person team this year and we knew what to expect made a difference to our mental focus. The only problem with Mayhem is you don’t really know who you’re against until you hit the start line as bogus team names are used until the last minute. We were unaware that last year’s winners had entered or that Evans cycles had the power of Becky Preece, but we had just decided to go at it full throttle and see what happens…

 

What happened was we led the whole event for 3hrs! Ben had gone out so quick on the first lap he was first back into transition and we just went with the flow “full throttle”….crazy really when it’s a 24hr event!

 

The mind set was let’s go quick, then if we have a mechanical we have time to spare. What we did not anticipate was the terrible thick mud on every climb and the slimy bridleways and the additional technical descents that made the lap much harder than last year and it showed in the lap timings. Thinking about this it was harder for everyone so it really made no difference.

 

The overall lead was never going to last but we soon made a substantial lead on the rest of our category stretching it out to over 3laps in front by midnight the night laps are my favourite there are less people out on the course , its cooler, calmer and often lap times are pretty much the same.  I’m so proud of the whole team no one really lost the plot or had a mental breakdown …  At 23.30hrs I had completed what we decided was our last lap so to stretch the timing out to 24hrs I had a little sit down which lost us a lap but no one felt like doing a lap that didn’t really mean anything so at 24hrs dead I rolled down to the finish with a Yorkshire flag flying in my hand to complete the win for team NIER….boom

 

 

Mountain Mayhem is a huge event and the most competitive 24hr team event in the UK. It has a massive following of riders who turn up year after year to get punished for a weekend on the mountain bike!

 

The Siemienczuk family after Gaby rode the kids race

Massive thanks go out to our sponsors Chia Charge and nutrixxion UK your products made the nutritional difference and we can never forget the pit crew of Dean Tempest Mitchell, Sally hatfield and Monika Siemienczuk top job team

 

Glentress 7 tweedlove 2016

And so it begins… the road trip to Scotland. From lessons learnt we booked a hotel for the night before!
On the way to the hotel we stopped at Glentress and quickly bagged our solo pitch…next to the toilet. At the time it was the best location in the small area set aside for solos but we hadn’t thought about how we might regret this choice later the next day once the toilets got busy!
So the following morning, I was up bright and early and feeling refreshed… I wish! I didn’t sleep a wink due to a super snorer in the building keeping me awake( he knows who he is ;), and I couldn’t stomach breakfast which wasn’t quite the preparation for a 7 hour race I was hoping for.
We headed back to Glentress and sorted our pitch. Luckily we had already prepared everything and had our own boxes with what we needed to get through the 7 hours. My box consisted of several neatly wrapper Chia Charge peanut butter and jam sandwiches, without the crust of course! Also threw in a couple of gels, a packet of ibuprofen and 6 bottles of water.
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On the start line I’d made the decision to try and ride with a friend for as long as I could to get a good start, then try and find my pace and keep pedalling. The first lap started on a fire road climb to string the field out, and my legs felt heavy!
After the first lap my thoughts turned to “where was I in the pack, who was I racing against and how much my legs can take!” On lap 2 I started to find my pace and allocated sections on the course where I would take on fluids, on passing through transition I was informed I had a 2 minute lead.
As the laps went on I started to gain a bigger time gap on second, but you’re always aware that a fall or mechanical could soon change things! I grabbed a sandwich and a 500ml bottle of Nutrixxion each lap, and ate before the first climb.
The weather was amazing, if not a little too warm on the climbs. The laps were around 6.8 miles with 1100ft of climbing, but there was no relief on the descents, these were brutal! My arms were taking a beating on every lap, despite riding my full suss.
In my head I’d pencilled in “ 7 laps” that’s my goal so I’ll be totally honest on laps 6 and 7 I went a little slower, no way did I want to do 8! But as I came through transition at 16:16 the announcement came that the cut off for getting your last lap in is 17:22. Our pit crew aka Deano was waiting for me and quickly updated me, I had won my category but if I went back out I would win overall female solo, …so I thought “what the hell! I’ll give it a go”.
Soon my thoughts turned to “do I have time, what if I don’t make it and my lap doesn’t count”. As I got towards the summit of the trail I kept looking at my garmin for reassurance “tick follows tock”. The marshals were fantastic, really supportive, they also remembered on lap 7 I said “this is my last one!” But here I was again! All the riders still out were very aware that time was running out, no one wanted to do a lap that didn’t count.
As I came along to the final decent I could hear everyone at the finish, quick check on the time and I knew this lap was going to count, bloody hell I’d done 8 laps! As I came in towards transition there were several riders trying to make the cut off, I kept saying “come on let’s make this count keep pedalling”
All my team and friends were there at the end, and through the crowd I could see Nigel’s face, he gave a sigh of relief:)The event and the staff, especially the marshals, were amazing and the support they gave was the best I’ve seen at any event so a huge thank you goes out to the GT7 team, you guys are awesome.