Last weekend a number of us ventured south to take part in the first muc off 8 hour endurance mountain bike event at Pippingford park. The weather reports looked fantastic, Steve Pete had been drafted in by the organizers to help design a "down hill" section and even Mark Webber of F1 fame had been rumored to attend.
The event officially opened on the Saturday for registration and an opportunity to pre ride the course. Representing Cyclone Speedy Daz, Fizz, Woody and I dutifully turned up (sort of) when the gates opened (ok I was ~1 hour late, but the others were there). We pitched tents, registered, grumbled about paying for camping per person not per tent, claimed our free t-shirts (well new dress for Fizz) and headed out for a pre ride of the course.
For a 7 mile course the terrain was quite varied (bone dry or boggy mud) with lots of climbs, a water crossing and some sections close to a river where a loss of balance would leave you swimming! There was also a rather interesting ditch with a big sign suggesting you might want to get of you bike and negotiate it on foot.
After an easy cruse around the course, a loooooong wait to use the muc off bike cleaning facilities (queuing for 30 minutes in the cold for a bike wash is not fun) Daz, Fizz and I managed to find some food (in a local jazz pizzeria).
Saturday morning and reinforcements arrived (tho not bearing any of the promised breakfast items )! Time to get up prepped and in my case build a bike from parts (possibly not the wisest idea I've had). The previous evening while eating pizza we had all carried out fair and open votes on who would take the first leg. Everyone voted for the team members that were not present (Speedy Daz, My cousin Duncan and I were one team [no 219], Fizz and Scott [a colleague of Fizz from work] were another [no 124] and Woody raced as a solo hero). A few expletives were exchanged when they discovered on arriving the next morning .
Mark Webber may have chosen not to turn up, but red bull racing were out in force! With Ben taking part in one of their teams proudly wearing his Cyclone top!
The race started with a le mans style start with all of the starting riders running out to a flag and back to transition before setting off on their first lap. Unfortunately for our elected starting riders we didn't tell them this and they only learned about it during the race briefing on the start line ! The race started with a starter pistol and smoke filling the start line area. All of the starting riders dashed 200m out to the flag, then 200m back to the transition area. In the transition area riders desperately tried to remember where they had racked their bikes before heading out for the first lap!
At the end of the first lap we were sitting around the mid 70s in terms of position with Fizz and Scott a few places ahead. Speedy Daz took over for the second lap and lived up to his name setting what would be our fastest time for the timed down hill section (even with him having an off). During all of this I had now resorted to getting help from the cycle surgery guys in the pit lane to sort out my bike.
Daz put in a stunning lap and handed over to me for my first racing lap. Small issues in reconstituting my full sus had left me stuck in middle ring, so I had to resort to the Big Gav school of mountain biking and hill climbing! Some over confidence on one of the jumps on the timed down hill (and the discovery at the same time that my front break needed bleeding) led to a small incident involving a tree. Being stuck in middle ring forced me to attack the hills and actually led to me overtaking a fair few people on the climbs! I completed my lap and handed over to Duncan to carry on the race.
Following the first lap both teams had been climbing the standings with us now hitting the 50s. At some point over the next few laps we over took Fizz and Scott (who were still setting a good pace around the course). Speedy Daz continued to put in the quickest laps of our team, and my second lap (now with working front breaks) improved upon my first.
At the end of the race both teams managed 8 laps, with Speedy Daz, Duncan and I finishing in 45th place and Fizz and Scott finishing in 61st. Woody (who had been a solo hero all day) managed 5 laps on his own. Second place overall fell to the leading solo rider who managed 10 laps! Speedy came 32 in the timed down hill challenge with the time form his first lap (even with his small off). All that was left was to pack up, and attend the prize giving. Fizz and Scott came close to a podium in the mixed category, but alas it was not to be!
At the end we all had a good day out, and I for one was left looking forward to the next event!