The G2 revolver series, the creation of Martyn Salt and Trek/Gary Fisher, a set of 3 races exploring all variations on the endurance race... all night, all day and some night and day.
The first round was to be hosted at Sherwood pines, only a short drive from my house in Nottingham, i knew that i would be riding this race as the race sponsor backs the Xc racer team, i even knew that i would be riding as part of a 4 man team as opposed to my usual solo efforts.. what i didn't know is that i would be designated course designer!!
After a short meeting with Martyn (Salt) and Chris Bray (forestry commission) i was armed with a map of the forest and Martyns input to the course design " i want it to start here, finish there and be about 11km'ish long" ... cheers Martyn, a first class introduction to course design.
Anybody that has ridden the pine will no doubt know that a map is of little use as the the area is littered with so many small tracks it was near impossible to sketch an outline, i had a few sections in my head that i wanted to use as they were fun and new but stitching the course together was a challenge. The great thing about Sherwood pines is the large number of singletrack trails of which i am still finding new ones, the bad thing is they all generally pop out onto the large fireroads that wind through the forest and they all look the same. After a few days up there of riding and much leaving of little markers by the side of the trails i managed to put together a route i could follow (almost) start to finish and i felt had a decent flow even on my rigid singlespeed.
After driving to Sherwood the night before to show the guys that were marking the course the finer point of the courses design, as the map i produced wasn't very clear, we put some finishing touches on race day itself taking out a section which would have been a little too interesting in the dark... on a side note must say how impressed i am at the bike/quad handling skills of the guys marking the course, anybody that rode the course will be amazed to hear that a motorbike got through all sections of the course that i thought were mountain bike tight...
Weather although already 'see your breath' cold was dry and the course was in good shape... not allot of mud anywhere and what there was didn't halt your progress much...
After setting a flying lap for the Gary Fisher boys Garmin fastest lap comp that would run alongside the race all there was to do was to set our teams pit area up.. which in fairness on my part had little involvement, thanks guys:)
The camp/start/finish area was excellent.. we were right next to the track and there was already a good atmosphere developing amongst racers ( even if i was a little nervous my course design skills would be brought into question).
Team tactics were discussed and decision made to do a single flying lap each to start with then settle into double laps... 8pm came around quick and Phil was lined up and the start and then on the move... QUICKLY..
I am always amazed at the starting speed of endurance events... what was more amazing was Ian Leitch's incredible start speed as a solo rider... making it obvious from the start he was going to be adopting the 'Craig Gordon' approach to endurance racing in riding every lap as if you only had one to do.
Ian's start was shadowed though by the man Morris... Phil started in around 5th place off the start but by the time we could see him again after the first 200m he had a near 20m gap... much respect.
By the time Phil had done his lap we already had a 1.30 minute gap. Next up was Matt (lewis), then James (Hampshire) then myself. By the time the single lap rotation had finished we had around a 5 minute lead as our nearest rivals, SOUTHFORKRACING .CO.UK, had started with double laps.
By the time Phil had done his first Double lap stint we were up by nearly 10 minutes... he is a machine and i'm glad he's our machine:)
Gaps can quickly diminish in endurance racing as the sport is always open to outside influence.. in our case this influence was a thorn in Matt's tyre on the first lap of his first 2 lap turn, this puncture was fixed only to be followed by another one but luckily Matt managed to get back to start/finish on it and we swapped the wheel out for the freshly tubelessed wheel from Jame's (Hampshire)bike... look on Jame's face was priceless as we took fresh wheel from his shiny bike an left it disabled:)
With this minor mishap we lost a fair few minutes and the gap came down to 6 minute mark. Not one for leading a boring life Matt decided on his other lap to test a little used braking manoeuvre in hooking his bar end around a tree, effective in that i imagine it stopped him, well at least his bike, almost instantly but did mean he only had one bar end... until amazingly someone found it by falling off in exactly the same spot and discovering it.. only in mountain biking:)
In all the solo events i have done i have always been envious of the Team boys sitting around their lavish camp set ups socialising while i was out for the duration eating and drinking on the move, i have always thought what an easier life team racing is.. but in reality its just a different kind of torture... you race flat out for an hour to point of explosion then cool down to freezing waiting to do it all again, even if you wanted to sleep you can't as you may be called upon out of turn to race and generally solo racing you have very little concept of position in race or time gaps but as a team you know every second and so pressure is always on.
The rest of the 2 lap tints went uneventfully and we etched out a much larger lead to the point were once we had all done our second 2 lap turn we were 17 minutes up from 2nd place, SouthForkRacing, at this point we were at 6.30am and decided to round up with some single lap turns.. well at least 2 of us would have to do one.
Unlike other races that allow the laps finished after the 12 hours are up this race was made more interesting in that any lap completed after the 8am finish would not count so there was alot of maths going on as people gauged how many more laps they could get in and if it was worth trucking back out for another lap.
In the end this system played to our advantage and we gained our lap margin victory as even though it looked like the Southfork boys had switched back to an all out single laps effort time just wasn't on their side.
First win for the Team, and at our sponsors event it was a sweeter victory... was a pleasure to race with the rest of the XCRacer.com 29ers team.
Was great to meet Jay and Maddie Horton for the first time and they had a real battle all night in the mixed pairs eventually taking a much deserved 2nd place.
Congratulations to Ian Leitch for a truly amazing piece of riding in the solo category, i shouted that you were 'killing it' as i passed you the first time.. and you were... any plans to put on any weight and get slower before Mayhem???
Such a good event.. i drove home with a big smile.. hopefully course was well received and people are fired to get to the next round in Brighton.. i know i am.
Fantastic work Martyn.