A seven hour endurance XC race not my usual cup of tea, but I thought I’d give it a go to see if my BC Bike race training is working.
So the idea is to complete as many laps as possible within the seven hour time limit. The course is around 11km with roughly 450m of up and down. The main descent is a total classic, but it’s only available for the day – a lot of the trails are closed again straight after the event.
The morning of the race was glorious not a cloud in the sky. Consuming the usual pre-race fuel of porridge, coffee, porridge and more coffee I was excited and ready to go.
All the start line there was a big mix of bikes from superlight weight 29er flying machines to hefty full sus fat bikes with 5″ tyres. I decided to race my Santa Cruz Bronson over of my hard tail thinking the full sus will be more forgiving on the body.
Lining up at the start, flat pedals, gloveless and in baggy shorts looking more Enduro than XC I was surrounded by a good chunk of Lycra clad racers. I had no expectations of where I was going to finish, so I shuffled in the middle of the pack, with the serious racers elbowing there way to the front of the line.
After a quick tune on the bagpipes we were off and straight into a climb to help space out the field of riders. The first lap consisted of passing as and when you could, on the first descent I was stuck behind a train of riders for frustratingly too long. With the first lap out of the way the second began thinning out abit giving me more opportunities to pass which I took with both hands!
The course itself felt like a big old up followed by a big down albeit with a few punchy climbs linking the downs together. The climbs were tough in places and the descents were fast and flowy with the odd techy sections which for me and the Bronson were superb.
Three hours into the race I had four laps under my belt which felt good as did, so I set myself a target off a lap an hour which seemed reasonable. Four hours in and I began to deliberately drink and eat more to keep me going with my kids in the solo pit lane ready to throw me fresh bottles and power bars when needed on passing.
By now over five and a half hours in and still feeling good I knocked out lap seven which was my target set earlier in the race, ok let’s just keep going and see how many I can do. It turns out lap eight was tough both mentally and physically but more mentally, I thought this is it bang I had hit the wall. After a hard 10 mins I was through it and if I managed to finish the lap before 4.30pm I was allowed to start lap nine. Crack on!
So I pushed on hard and made the cut for my last lap, although I only had fifty eight minutes to get round, no pressure. Talking to fellow racers out on the laps I thought I must be doing ok as they all seemed to be on laps six or seven.
Lap nine was a tough, my legs were screaming on the climbs as I pedalled hard to get home. Reaching the feed station signalled the end of the climbing and the start of the downhill just about all the way to the finish line. My final decent was fast and loose to say the least hammering every section I could running on pure adrenaline, with end in sight I could hear my kids cheering and ringing the cowbells relentlessly, what a feeling, goosebumps galore!! Dad Dad Dad!! They were shouting.
Crossing the finish line I was feeling pretty damn tired, I had completed nine laps in seven hours twenty six minutes and the hands to prove it!
Grabbing a bite to eat we sat down for a while waiting for all the results to come in. We headed over to the computer screen to check the scores on the doors where I was shocked and so chuffed to have managed 10th place, awesome, I couldn’t be believe it. At the start I had given myself little chance of being up there in the top ten, I started thinking what if I had started nearer the front? Top five? I was only two laps behind first place and one behind second, third and fourth.
Maybe next year, time for a beer now!