Last year my partner Donna and I competed in the 6 hour solo category at this event and we both finished in second place, plus I was the only single speeder in my category. We had high hopes for this year but stepping up to a 12 hour solo was stepping in to the unknown!
We had a great little support crew with us; Dean Tempest, Sally Hatfield, Monica Simenczuk, and the mighty Matt Wilson who always intended on racing even though he said not.
The NIER team (Donna, Michal and I) were all racing as 12 hour solos and as the start time arrived I was feeling great but eager to get a good start so I gradually worked my way towards the front. Due to the volume of racers I was only able to move forwards enough to get about 10 rows back which put me within the top 50 on the start line.
The whistle blew and we were off! I needed to improve my position so I battled through to the top 20 within the first lap but witnessed some devastation along the way, I went strong for the first three laps, hoping to have gained a good position but none of the team had managed to clock who was in which place so I just tried to keep a steady pace and keep hydrated as it was really warm.
It was during lap 8 when I heard the message over the loud speaker that I was in 4th place but I knew the guy in 5th was in hot pursuit so it was on with the lights and keep moving… despite the competition I had promised myself a coffee on the next lap as motivation so as I came past camp on lap 9 I pulled in and passed the bike to Dean and made myself a coffee. This probably lost me a few minutes but the motivational boost made up for it and I headed back out.
I passed Donna on maybe lap 6 then again later on and seeing how strong she looked gave me another mental boost, she was leading the vet female category and looked like she could keep going for 48hrs!
My coordination had recovered after the coffee and the next few laps seemed to pass by without any real issue then as I got to lap 12 it was time for my “dark moment” which is when my mind is saying “why are you doing this?” and I have to say to myself keep going your tougher than you think. Strange but I can have a bad lap crash a few times and then just pull myself back together, and that’s what I did even though on lap 14 I was like a pinball bouncing off every tree or rut in my way.
As I hit lap 15 I knew this last lap would secure my position and I had to push on, the two-mile marker was a happy sight as I knew it was all nearly over! On crossing the line my fellow NIER teammate Michal shoved a glass of Leffe in my face (not really what I want after a 12hr ride) I looked destroyed and had finished in 4th place which was a little disappointing for me… but as it turned out the following few days revealed that the winner had actually cheated! It turned out he hadn’t been completing the full course so his lap times were significantly quicker than everyone else’s. Luckily this had been spotted and reported and he was disqualified a few days after the event finished. A few days after the race I was notified by the organisers that indeed I had now finished 3rd and that podium position was mine J Thanks Gorrick.
My partner and fellow NIER teammate Donna was so strong at this event and I was very proud of her, she was first female vet and 1st overall which is a great achievement in her first 12hour solo.
Our other NIER teammate Michal did far better than last year and looked much stronger and achieved 11th position.
Our pal Matt Wilson was 1st in the 6hr vet category (even though he never went to race!).
And the little Gaby got a podium in her race
I was very happy with my first 12 hour and to only drop 6mins in total was credit to a great pit crew and I hope they know how valuable they are to the team – many thanks to all of you… until next time 😉
Torq in your sleep- Blog de Donna
I really didn’t know what to expect at this event, it was my first 12-hour solo and my head was spinning with thoughts of “have I done enough training? What if I’m too slow? What do I eat? Drink?”
After giving myself a talking to I decided that I would get the first few laps in and then settle into a pace and try not to stop too much, only for a refuel and a visit to the ladies. This meant relying heavily on our support crew but as they had previously supported us through a 24hr mixed pair event earlier this year they knew what to do.
I attended the race brief 30 minutes before the start and this is where the adrenaline kicked in – with all the women eyeing each other up second guessing if you are racing against them, looking you up and down and trying to figure out your category from your race number…….. Guys just check out each other’s bikes!
I took on a little more fluid then rode to the start line, which again is a tough decision, do I get to the front or try to blend into the pack and risk getting caught up in the carnage of the first stretch of single track, I opted for the latter. As the whistle went all the fast teams and pairs raced off, it’s really easy to get caught up in this but I needed to remember I was solo 12 hours not a team, so I held back a little, which worked out well as the field split naturally as we went around the field.
Lap one was quite tough as the mixture of abilities made it quite difficult as I often got stuck behind people and the single track made it difficult to overtake, but once the first lap was over I started to settle in for the long haul.
It was as early as lap 2 that I passed the start line and they announced over the loud speaker that I was in 1st position in female vet….. So no pressure!
On lap 4 there was another female in my sights so when I caught up we exchanged a few words, she was in the 18-39 category and this was her first 12 hour solo event, she expected to do okay and told me her friend was a great endurance rider and she expect her to win… it was at this point I pulled ahead of her and didn’t see her again.
I tried to drink a bottle on each lap and I used the same stretch of track on each lap so it became the norm and I got myself into a routine, I know from previous experience dehydration isn’t a good place to be. As I passed our camp there was no doubt our crew were tuned into what we needed as my bottles and my peanut butter and jam sarnie with the crusts cut off were ready ……… it takes too long to chew a crust! One of my biggest challenges was how to lose as little time as possible but be able to go to the toilet, which is where a bucket and our awning came in handy… it certainly made for a quick turnaround! Please don’t be fooled the Minion was a motivator and for Michal the alcoholic beverages were inspiring!
Lap 5 saw my first break from the race which I fully deserved as I took a different line and hit a tree root coming off, but I jumped back on my bike and carried on. It wasn’t until near the pit I realised blood was trickling down my leg, so as I enjoyed my crust-free sandwich Sally mopped the blood from my leg and off I went!
On lap 6 I glanced behind and realised my partner and NIER teammate Nigel was coming up behind me, he was looking really strong and way faster than me. We exchanged a few words then he was off, I did mention I was in the lead and he said “you’re doing well keep going”… I intended to!
Lap 8 proved to be quite a good lap as I caught up with the women in 2nd and 3rd position, which was slightly awkward but also gave me a boost. The chats along the way were very pleasant but clearly we were checking each other out and how we felt, both told me they were finding it difficult, they were tired and I wasn’t! Maybe a little naughty of me but when they asked how I felt, I replied “feeling really good” which was not what they wanted to hear!
On my 10th lap I figured I would have to either pick up the pace and aim for 13 laps or take 12 laps at the pace I was going. That’s when my pit crew came in, not only to support with food and drink but to keep tabs on the position I was in, my view is there’s no point killing yourself if the person in 2nd has no chance of catching you. The news was good for me – the girl in 2nd place had fallen to 2 laps behind me so I didn’t need to go on for a 13th lap.
My last lap was a very steady one. I knew I had won and didn’t need to get a rush on. I rode the final lap with a guy I got chatting with, I didn’t ask his name and I can’t remember his club, but he was very encouraging and on a couple of the climbs when I thought “doesn’t matter if I walk these now” he said “come on you don’t need to walk – push through!” and I did. We rode the whole of the final lap together just chatting away, I also followed his line as he was local and knew the course. This was great in the final lap as tiredness equals mistakes.
As I went through the finish line I felt really good (I could have done even more laps if needed which was a shocker to me) but no matter it was over! I said goodbye and thank you to my last-lap-buddy and he congratulated me on my win, then it was off to find the rest of the NIER team and crew.
As you can see I looked okay at the end, but the beer was merely for show there was no way I could drink it!
Hmmm, not sure what the caption is here but I was being nice, I think! My first 12 hour solo and a win! No one was more surprised than me at the result but I’m now asking myself if I can push further… well I’ll give it a go… 24hr solo it is 🙂
I think this goes for all the events I have participated in recently, my result would not have been possible without a fantastic pit crew and we have the best! The NIER team are lucky to have a great support team behind us whether it’s feeding us, motivating us, taking care of our bikes and most of all our sanity!
And it helps they are all mad as hatters!