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!
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.
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….