Dave and I won this race last year. It was a hard-fought and in the end, quite a narrow victory. I was expecting more of the same this time – 12 hours is quite ‘short’ for an endurance race, especially in the pairs and there was bound to be enough people in ‘the fast camp’ who would be up for a ding-dong.
It was going to be a near-sprint, in fact; no time for punctures or fannying around, just flat-out laps followed by sitting in a chair, trying not to get too comfy whilst keeping an eye on the clock…as soon as your team mate appears after his lap, jump up, coat off, swap the timing chip and go go go!
Photo – Sportsunday
Being honest, we were working so hard early on that like fools, we thought that we were winning. We then discovered we were actually 2nd, the pair who were in the lead were tapping out some really quick laps and looked comfortable. Jonny Stenson and Charles Newton-Mason, another pair who were in with a shout of the win, had dropped out very early in the race after a major mechanical so decided to snuggle up together under a duvet and heckle everyone else
We were however mostly staying out of trouble this time (unlike last year’s puncture-fest and ignoring Dave’s crashing this time) and we knew that eventually we’d start to close the gap….or the gap would get bigger….one of the two. ‘Something’ was bound to happen anyway.
At around 6 hours we started to close the gap. The cramps in my calves that had been bothering me since lap 2 and causing me to soft-pedal quite a bit were gone (thank goodness for electrolyte drinks!), our changeovers were getting slicker, Dave was riding as blindingly fast as ever. Just a minute here, a few seconds there, we were closing in. It was a proper race again!
In between laps I was entertained by the efforts and obvious focus of Phil who like last year, was racing solo. Phil had a load of bad luck last year and eventually, against all odds, finished 4th. This year though things just clicked for him and he led the solo race right from the start, eventually riding away from the rest of the solo field to win with a 32 minute gap. Amazing!
Meanwhile, Budge and Andy found themselves in 3rd place in the pairs after hours of consistent laps, chipping away at the pair in front of them and eventually bagging a podium finish. Chapeau!
Once in the lead, Dave and I stayed there and finished with a 10 minute cushion. It was still really bloody close, 10 minutes after 12 hours of racing is nothing. But we’d won.
A good day for everyone in Team JMC colours in fact – all 5 of us had reached the podium.
All that was left now was for us to collect our prizes at the presentation in the pub, tackle the evil that is the Dog and Partridge chilli con carne (a penalty for not beating Budge and Andy by 3 clear laps), have a quick pint, group photo, drive home and get ready for Mountain Mayhem next weekend…..