Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
Mountain Mayhem 18-20/06/10
   So Mountain Mayhem, our big race for the year. Drafted in new team member, Matt, so we had a team of 4. This was our 1st 24h race since Sleepless in the Saddle 2005 and we were all very up for it. We got to Eastnor Castle (the venue) on Thursday afternoon and setup camp near to the main arena (no long walks back to the tent @ 3am). After Paul and Graeme polished off 2 of the 3 crates of beer we took, we called it a night.

   We had planned to recce the course on Friday, but it started raining and we didn’t want to get wet kit and bikes or use up our energy. So cracked open a beer and waited for Dave and Matt to arrive. That night was the World Cup match between England and Algeria. The Royal Navy and the organisers laid on 2 big screens to watch it so we took our cooler of beer and some chairs up to the arena to watch it.

   Saturday morning and we were up fettling with the bikes waiting for the start. Wander into the arena to pick up even more Original Source shower gel and free T-Shirt from the Specialized stand (only if you rode a Spesh bike). It was decided that the race order would be Dave, Graeme, Matt then Paul. Dave having to do the Le Mans start run (he had been saying he’d been running a lot and proved his worth @ Enduro 6). Tyre choice was a bit of a decision as others who had rode the course said it was muddy out there and mud tyres may be the way forward, hmm not sure, it had been sunny all day lets gamble on drys. At the rider briefing we were all there nervously waiting for the next hour.

Course map

Graeme Report

            As Dave lined up on the start we stood about 20yds down the straight to cheer him on. The gun went and a mass of MTBers ran (some walked) into the 24hour race. Dave did a good run and came through in a midfield position. We cheered him on when he came to pick his bike up, then it was my turn. I spent the hour Dave was out, getting the bike ready and drinking a Red Bull.

            Dave came over the line after about an hour and quarter and I was in the change over area ready to go. As soon as I got the arm band I ran to the bike and straight out of the pits onto the Start/Finish straight. I gunned it as quick as I could taking quite a few riders before the Kenda Climb. I raced up this and over the top into the 1st bit of singletrack. Took it a tad fast and used my shoulders to bounce of the trees, then out the woods, along a field then turn sharp right into a steep drop that had a 90o left hander at the bottom. Ran wide on this onto the grass, lucky there weren’t any logs or anything hiding in there.

            Next up was a climb into some woods and “Focus Pocus”. It was muddy through here (but got drier throughout the race) and people were taking it slow. It went down the hill, then turned sharply back up it. From here the course went along the top of the hill then dived back down through the woods round some tight singletrack. The course opened out after this and rode along the side of some fields on a gentle incline (but fast double track).

            Next section up was “Syncros SingleTrack”, the 1st lap I got stuck behind someone on here but still took it quite quick. It was a very fast and flowy section that didn’t gain or loose any height, it just made you go at it harder and faster each time. From here it spat you out onto a long fireroad that doubled back on the last section, here you could put your foot down and take anyone who’d been holding you up on the singletrack. It was pretty much double track all the way back down to the campsite, although there was a right hander that could be taken at speed, but if you got it wrong and ran wide as I did on the 1st lap, you’d be riding through the bushes  (luckily there was no logs or anything in there).

            From the route through the campsite it went straight into the main climb of the lap. This was a long slog that got harder with each lap. On the 1st lap I just sat back and span all the way to the top. It wasn’t particularly technical, it just felt so long. From here it went down some fireroad and through Castle Coppice. This was a nice technical section that was completely clear on my 1st lap. Out into a field then onto the “Osprey Ascent”. This was a climb all the way to the top of the hill that contoured up as opposed to going straight up. It was quite an enjoyable climb that encouraged you to go for it (on 1st lap anyway). I took quite a few people up here on the 1st lap. Just after this was some singletrack that was quite off camber and caught a lot of people out. Most were running it high, but go low and it was easy, just had to watch for the falling riders. 2/3rds of the way along this section my tyre went bang and I had a flat. I thought it must be near the end of the lap so ran along the singletrack and out onto the fireroad. The marshall said there was still a couple of km to go so I gassed and tyre and hoped it would hold.

            Next up was the “Original Source Woodland Weave” which was a nice flowy bit of wide singletrack that was downhill and could be taken and high speed. No incidents along here on my 1st lap. Out of here and into a short yet very sharp fireroad climb, ouch this was starting to hurt, when is the end of the lap coming? This then took you into the descent that everyone way taking about. A steep dusty rutted downhill that TBQH wasn’t at all bad and was quite easy. People in the pits were saying it was unrideable????? The section went downhill steeply with 2 very dusty (almost sandy) ruts, these then turned an almost 90o and carried on but less rutted. I had to dodge all the walkers on 1st lap (just try it, its soft dust to fall on) and it the climb back up the fireroad at the bottom.

            At last, the last descent back into the arena, “Evil Eye Accelerator”. This had a couple of dips in and some nice corners that could be taken at speed, however my rear tyre was still losing air and almost rolled off the rim and 30mph on the main right hander. I managed to hold off high siding the bike and got it back to into the pits where I changed over to Matt, lap was just over the hour.

            Off with the Bontrager Jones Dry Team issue and on with a trusty old Michelin XCR Dry II (albeit a little worn). Paul got ready for his 1st lap and we all went down to see Matt over the line. Matt came over the line 1:25:08 which was a good effort considering this was his 1st ever MTB race and it was a bit of a christening in the deep end.

            Paul come back in just under the hour and then it was Dave’s turn out for his 2nd lap. I got myself ready for mine. Dave in just over the hour and it was my turn to gun it, no way was Paul getting the fastest lap. All was going well until the single track in “Focus Pocus”. Here my chain snapped, blast! Ran up the hill and sorted it at the top, that was a few mins wasted scrabbling round in my bag looking for a PowerLink. Really gonna have to go for it now. Railed the rest of the course and went straight down the “Unrideable Climb” (sure it was getting easier however there was talk in the pits they’d opened a bypass for it). Again just over the hour, blast.

            Changed over to Matt and got myself some Chicken Satay Noodles from the Thai Food stall, munch. Matt came back in just over the hour and half and cracked open the pain killers, not quite as easy as the road riding he was used to. It was cold and late by now and we had migrated into the tent. Paul was out on his 2nd lap and 1st night lap. Another good lap from Paul and he came in just over the hour. Paul was moaning he’d broke his middle ring as he couldn’t put the power down without the chain jumping, so it was off to one of the stalls to purchase a new one. In the mean time Dave was out for his 3rd lap.

            Dave came in just over the hour and it was my 3rd lap. Right rail every section! Last climb and I’m on for the fastest lap in the team. It was all going smoove until the “Evil Eye Accelerator” the last section. My chain snapped at the top, arghhh! Seeing as it was all downhill and pitch black I decided just to coast it into the pits. Easier said than done. Coasted down to the arena, but forgot this was along 500m or so dash up then back down the arena. I ran it in, cramping up a little on the way and handed over to Matt. Matt didn’t look too enthusiastic at this pointed but I gave him some words of encouragement.

            Back to the tent via the Tartiflette stand (very nice) and fix my chain for the 2nd time. Time to try and get a little sleep, prob not the best idea in hindsight. Paul got ready for his 3rd lap but then received a phone call from Matt saying he was still on the main climb and that he’ll still be a long time till the finish. Smoove move on the call, bonus more rest time but not doing our overall much good. Matt rang Paul near the end of his lap and Paul went off into the early morning. Nearly an hour and a half for Paul on this lap. In the mean time Matt had declared that his race was over. It was a good effort for a 1st MTB race, let alone a 24hour one. Dave done his lap and handed over to me. Right a lap with no mechanicals, here we go. Trouble is I was still asleep having only got to sleep about 20mins before I had to get up. My body just did not want to work. I slogged round the course in an hour and 20min. No mechanicals though. I handed over to Paul and went back to the tent. By this time I couldn’t really eat any more food even though I needed to, so it was a Splendip for breakfast. Dave and I were sitting chatting planning our last laps to be long ones so we each had only 1 lap left, then we got a call from Paul asking where Dave was. What it had only been 1 hour or so. Paul had done an 1:04 lap, what, where did that come from!!

            Dave went out rather annoyed and put in a 1:24. He handed over to me and I decided to just go for it as that was what was discussed with Paul. I had an uneventful lap, just plodding round to the finish and come in in 1:10. I get into the change over area “Paul, Paul” no sign where the hell is he. I rang his mobile to find that they decided just to waste an hour and only do 1 more lap. I would of gone straight back out but I had no gels for food with me and it wouldn’t of been a good idea. Oh well Paul’s last lap would be a long one then. Indeed it was 2:06.

            I got showered and changed and waited til it was near the end and we all headed over to cheer Paul across the line.

            This was one of the best events we’ve ever done and will definitely be signing up for next year’s event.

85/152   Open Mens  (team of 4)   18laps in 24:01:53
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Lap time 
Full results here