2015 has been the first year Donna and I have channelled our cycling energy into riding 24hour endurance races with the intention of getting on the podium.
All the races are on the mountain bike and consist of multiple laps around a cross country course of approximately 7 miles, with a fair share of steep technical climbs and descents. When riding as a pairs team we generally ride a lap each and swap in the transition area. But tactics do come in to play in the latter stages and 18 hours is generally the make or break point as the consistent darkness and fatigue begins to break people!
To be fair for a first year of attempts we managed some great results with the only real downer being we never hit the top step!
A lot of this is down to the calibre of the athletes who compete, at Puffer we were up against the infamous Lee Craigie who showed her true class outperforming most of the men! At Mountain Mayhem again it was more about the strength of the women involved as we were up against Chorley on the drops who have a reputation for strong female riders.
Then at Bontrager 24 we got stung again by another super pairing of the Hortons who have many years’ experience in mountain biking; I believe Maddie Horton narrowly missed out on representing team GB at the 2012 Olympics so you could say she’s pretty good!
Our final pairs event of the year was Relentless 24, a no fuss event at the Nevis range where there was a last minute sign on in mixed pairs for Rob Friel and Lee Craigie which sealed the top spot! But to be fair we were not on form and failed to podium due to many factors….mainly lack of sleep!
But we did both podium at Torq12 as soloists so not at all a bad year. And we had some real laughs with the Team NIER crew so all’s good leading into 2016.
Now we start to make the adjustments for the year ahead. Torq 12:12 proved to be my standout event, basically because nothing could really go much better. I had my hydration and nutrition nailed and was strong all the way through and only dropped 6mins in 12.5hrs.
Nutrition has paid a major role in our performance and the addition of Chia Charge products to our calorie consumption has been a fantastic choice with high quality slow release energy. Gels have gradually faded out of my routine as I find they generally upset my stomach and are an unsustainable energy source over long events. I am finding that the Chia Charge bars are great for me as a back pocket snack and have been using Chia Charge Nut Butter in our rice cake mix.
Rice Cakes Recipe we use
- 500g Sushi rice, and don’t wash it. I use Yutaka Sushi Rice 500g – Sainsbury’s
- Cook with 1 litre of water, two table spoons of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg for flavor.
- Cooking time should be about 20 minutes, making rice that isn’t too soggy. Don’t take the lid off during cooking. Leave the rice to rest for five minutes.
- Add two tablespoons of coconut oil (which, despite its name, is a solid substance and not an oil) I use KTC Coconut Oil 500ml – Sainsbury’s
- 250g of cream cheese ( Philadelphia) and Chia Charge Nut Butter
- Mix well.
- Lay out on cling film on a baking tray. Fold the cling film over the slab of rice to create a parcel – fold while the rice is still hot so it stays sterile.
- Leave the tray to cool, then put in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, chop the parcel of rice into energy bar-sized chunks. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Do not reheat the rice cakes.
These endurance events were not our only focus in 2015 as we also took part in other fantastic events all around the UK including super tough sportives; the Fred Whitton and the Etape Du Dales, and we returned to Kielder 101 (which Donna won!)
Then there was a little cobbled climb event ‘Up the Buttress’ in Hebden Bridge which was in torrential rain! Again Donna won first place… are you starting to see a pattern from Donna?
I’m so proud of her this year – when she gets the game face on she is unstoppable!
While I’m being thankful I would like to thank the supporters who make these results happen with constant support as pit crew and good friends. We will never be a pro team but good things are possible with the right people pushing you forward. Thank you to Chia Charge for supplying us with fantastic products to keep us going. And thank you to my fellow NIER teammates – it wouldn’t be the same without you!
It’s great to see so many people enjoying big 24hour events and when things get tough and you begin to think “I’ve had enough” that’s when you have to pull yourself together and seeing pensioners riding the Strathpuffer course at 4am makes you think “have I gone soft?…if he can do it surely I can!” I’ve even crashed into trees and laid on the floor for a minute…. Then managed to pull myself round so the mental attitude is a huge factor and to be fair Donna can be mentally tougher than me which in turn makes me reassess the situation and dig deep.
Roll on Strathpuffer 2016…