Bontrager 24hr 2015

Race Report: Bontrager TwentyFour12 Celebrating 10 Years

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August 11th 2015

By Nigel Smith

This event is probably the most renowned 24hr mountain bike race event in the UK due to the continued sponsorship from Mr Bontrager and the quality of the course; approximately 12-14km entirely off road. I was racing in a pair with my Partner Donna and this year’s race was on 25th and 26th July.
Support CampOn Thursday we arrived at Newham Park in Plymouth to find nice sunny conditions to set up the trackside camp and await arrival of our support team. This type of event relies heavily on a strong support crew as when riding in pairs you have very little time to take on food and make running repairs; plus the fact you become extremely delirious at 4am so assistance is a must!
At 2am on Friday morning the heavens opened and the torrential rain didn’t stop until 5pm. This changed the course massively and whilst the outlook for Saturday’s race start was fair weather, to some degree the damage was already done!
At 12 o’clock the race start was chaos with over 200 riders fighting for a good line and there were a few broken bones for a R.A.F rider within the first mile of racing. Once we hit the first climb the pack split rapidly and I ended up in the top 25 going through the first lap, but I had to monitor my efforts as many of these “fast lads” were riding in teams of 4 or 5 and I was in for probably 3 times as many laps as them!
I went out for another lap to give us some chance of opening up a lead over the 8.3 mile course and on hitting transition and passing the baton to Donna we were up by 1 minute!!
This was short lived as the calibre of the multiple TwentyFour12 champions, Jay and Maddie Horton, began to show and they quickly wound us in and by 6 hours in they were over a lap up.
All went to plan as Donna and I continued riding back-to-back into the darkness, then the rain began to fall much heavier than I expected which turned the whole course into a river. Some sections of routes were now crazy to ride and a few over-the-bars moments occurred!!
As we hit daylight at 5.30am we assessed the situation. We were clearly in second place and had very little chance of chasing down first place as the pair ahead of us were three laps up. So I went out to do a double lap and gave Donna some rest time. On the second lap my energy reserves had depleted and I felt like I was crawling round. The track was at its worst and I was extremely cold and wet! I called at the track side camp for a quick drink of coke and the decision was made at 9am that we could finish in a secure second place and there was no need to ride the last three hours as we had put enough in and I was at the point of “I can go on but I’m on my knees”.
The Hortons (fully sussed) continued for another hour then called it a day with a clear win and third were nowhere to be seen… we came second… job done!
On reflection we learnt a lot at this event:
1 – xc/24hr/12hr champions take some beating
2 – Weather can be really grim down sarf
3 – When you’ve burned over 10,000 calories you must keep eating and drinking
4 – Our support crew are the best!!!
Next for me is the 12:12 TORQ on 30th August at Minley Manor in Hampshire. This will be my first 12 hour solo effort and I’m really looking forward to it.

Mountain mayhem 2015 report by Richard Dobson

Podium for Team Cystic Fibrosis

Mountain Mayhem 24hr Race Report

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June 21st 2015

Mountain Mayhem 24hr Race Report (19th, 20th & 21st June 2015)
Category entered – mixed team (60 teams entered in total)
Team Members: Nigel Smith, Donna Waring, Richard Dobson, and Michal Siemienczuk
Mountain Mayhem, 24 hour mountain bike race. It’s one of the biggest 24hr races in the world and attractions thousands of entrants…
Arriving at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, it was clear to see the event’s popularity, with a number of large fields packed with tents, campers, and other mountain bike related paraphernalia.
The fat tyre brigade from Team Cystic Fibrosis had entered a mixed team into a very competitive category, and although we only had four riders (most teams had five), there was an air of determination within the camp. And what a camp we had, with professional 24 hour MTB event attendees Nigel Smith and Donna Waring creating our very own Team CF hub, adorned with the best coffee machine on site! Caffeine became a very prominent feature as the event progressed.
Team CF announced their arrival to the whole site, by blowing a front tyre off the rim, which almost saw Richard Dobson lose a finger end and Nigel Smith his hearing! Lesson learnt – unless a tyre is marked as tubeless, it’s not tubeless!
The course opened on Friday afternoon for a recce. The majority of the team members were slightly disappointed by the lack of ‘technical’ sections, but the one cyclocross rider in the team couldn’t have been happier with the grassy sections. However, we did all agree with 1000ft of climbing per 7 mile lap, it was going to be tough.
The lively retrobikes gang did their best to scupper our plans for a good night’s sleep, but we all awoke relatively fresh the next day ready for the race.
12pm the race started, not on two wheels, but with a mass run around a field, before actually getting on a bike. Nigel Smith put in a great effort and kept with the leading pack. The race was on, start the stopwatch and engage mental arithmetic! We needed to get our timings right for the next 24 hours, to ensure smooth transitions, meaning no switching off, and constant clock watching.
The transitions were working well and with all the team riding strong, we quickly established ourselves, come early evening we were placed 3rd. A podium place was an opportunity.
Donna was enjoying the competition, showing many of the blokes a clean pair of SPD cleats. Michal (with a reputation for hard riding), was putting in solid laps and hadn’t destroyed his bike. Nigel and Richard were also putting in good lap times, meaning collectively Team CF were going well.
Evening light fading meant the introduction of lights, and some instinctive riding, hoping that the laps in daylight had cemented the course into memory, especially the hazards like protruding tree roots and rocky descents. This was where the regular Team CF Tuesday evening winter rides came to the fore, with all team riders being equally as confident in the dark as daylight.
There was something surreal about being in such a peaceful countryside setting, wired on coffee and dancing to 90’s dance music at 3am in the morning, waiting for your next lap! It was a shame they weren’t handing out time bonuses for dance skills.
The day break lap saw Team CF still holding onto 3rd place by 20 minutes, it felt safe. However over the coming hours the team in 4th place started consistently reducing the time gap! In reaction to the threat, the decision was taken by team captain Nigel Smith, to put two riders (himself and Richard Dobson) back to back for the last few hours. This tactic worked, and by the end of the race we’d managed to keep the gap at 8 minutes. Mission accomplished, we’d achieved a podium place. The team was ecstatic.
The presentation saw HRH Princess Anne hand the team our trophies, quite a surprise (for us), although she didn’t have far to come being as we’d been racing in her back garden.
Returning to camp for a celebratory bbq and few hours rest, before packing up and departing for home.
So that was Mountain Mayhem over for another year. Will Team Cystic Fibrosis be back in 2016…… you bet!