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.
I’ve got so much respect for all the solo 24 riders, it was a tough course!
Male and female solo overall winners :)Donna 22laps Nigel 36laps and 230ish miles later