Monday, 6 October 2008
This is my favourite race... right at the end of the season.. well beyond the end of the season.
8pm till 8am .... nearly entirely in the dark with just the last hour or so in the light.
The first year i did it i was 22nd, last year i was 3rd... expectations after the ups and downs of this year were low so it was gonna just be a fun night on the bike. I chose to race the single speed.. fully rigid... try and keep a steady rythmn through the night.
The weekend started on friday night with a 3 hour drive to Enfield to home of the West.. Paul West.. Transportugal regular and a source of much help on bikes, training, kit and life when i need it so the chance to stay at his place friday night. kick back and relax was too good to pass up.
I arrived greeted by a massive dinner.. as Paul was my support for the race he had assumed his role as feeder 24hrs early... every other breath was an offer of food and i was never left hungry.
Saturday day was sorting of bikes and going to Asda to pick up food for the race.... here in lies a rather large error of judgement... eating some greatt noodles at a place Paul knew and watching Paul suffer during a turbo session in his garage:)
We got to the race for 6 ish ... weather wasn't too great.. very windy and occasional showers.. after sign on and race briefing we headed into solo pit area to scout out Matthew (Barton).. unfortunately due to our late arrival we had to mix it with the team guys but as it worked we were right on course without stupid solo pit lane... Matt was very cagey.. he has a ton of miles in his legs and his prep is always good so i was pretty confident that he would be beating me after my 5 month lay off the training.
By 7.30 i was kitted, bikes built, lights mounted and race ready.. i had brought the scott rc10 just in case but was still keen on finishing on single speed.
To the start line for just before 8pm... i managed to shuffle my way to about 15 rows from the back... i could just see Tom Owen (Edinburgh Uni CC... wildboar 24 winner) 5 or 6 rows further forward.. a very friendly guy that lives to ride.
8pm.. were off:)
The quad bike led out a slow starting loop to try and thin us out but when its a sell out event there isn't much thinning to be had.... when we came back to the start/finish it was game on... and game on it was... i felt great.. i quickly got ontop of the gearing on my bike and was spinning like a mad man.. overtaking at every opportunity, to coin a Craig Gordon phrase "felt like there was no chain on the bike" and i may aswell use another, i was "smashing it".
Felt so good and had a big smile flowing and jumping through all the singletrack sections... i caught up to Matthew after around 4 miles into the 12 mile lap and gave him a big shout of encouragement as i came past.
Towards the end of the lap i caught Jenn Hopkins with Fi Spotswood in pursuit.. sorry Fi for the overtaking manouvre down middle of you and another rider it was close but there was just enough room:)
The first 2 laps went by quickly... as i started the 3rd i swapped bottles.. Paul had missed my first passing and was confused to what lap i was on... my back had started to stiffen already with the well known 'Thetford Back'.... course is very rooty and undulating which stiffens your back up a treat, especially with no suspension at either end... no worry though as i was sure my back would loosen up.
Mid way through 3rd lap my head started to hurt a little.. the rain was coming down all the time we were riding and sections where traction was minimal had already started to appear.. crappy thing about single speed is the inability to gear down and spin your way through gloopy sections instead you got to soft pedal and try and keep traction.
End of 3rd lap.. swap battery on helmet light.
Midway through the 4th my head started to really hurt.. i tried drinking more but it was getting difficult to focus.. i had backed off a little from the first laps and was going alot steadier..
As Thetford is mainly singletrack i was finding it difficult to eat or drink and was paying the price... i don't like to have big stops to eat and like to take on everything on the bike..
During the 5th lap it all went wrong... head was hurting and was finding it difficult to even look at my own lights... i started to feel really empty.. classic riders knock... i stalled out coming out first bombhole and took a big knock to my knee.. i walked t off and got back riding only to come down on one of the faster open sections.. i was really spinning the gear as it was slightly downhill and the front wheel just turned in the rut i was in washing the bike from under me dropping me straight onto my chest, i heard a great crack as all my weight came down on my chest but surprisingly it felt okay. The lap didn't get any better and i felt weaker and weaker.. as i finished the lap and got back to Paul i sat down and took my helmet off and according to Paul was fairly incoherent and couldn't muster a response to his questioning as he tried to coax me back out for another lap with strange maths.. i was 6 hours in according to paul after the lap he was trying to get me to do i would nearly be finished:)
Game over...i just had nothing.. i have knocked before but never with this intensity.. tent came out the car and i climbed in.. i must have been gone as we were right next to a huge generator cranking away powering the lights but i was dead to the world.
I had managed 5 laps in 6 hours.. the winning 3 riders did 11 laps in the 12 hours. Matthew got a very respectful 10th place with 8 laps.. good work Matt.
In hindsight the problem lay with my diet during the race...as funds are tight till i've done a good months work my race drink was asda smart price squash with a pinch of salt and race food was a mixture but i had only managed to down maybe 10 jaffa cakes in 6 hours:( So in reality i was managing to take on a measly 20 calories a lap.. it is a mystery as to how i managed to last 6 hours but the calorie deficit was definately large enough to finish me off in good style.
As my fitness is unknown its not possible to say how it would of went if i had eaten properly... we will have to wait another year to see.
Well done again to Matt, good job Fi (Spotswood, 2nd solo female) and another impressive ride by Matt Page showing that he is indeed on top form and should be the man to beat next year.
In short.. eat well.. race well:) eat bad.. die a death mid race:(
(Picture courtesy of David Birkin)