No race would be complete without a bit of drama! Torq 12:12 was no exception. On Saturday my newly tubeless tyres decided they were not happy with this arrangement and both went flat! Mild panic set in as I considered getting a flat tyre in my first ever 12 hour solo race on Sunday. So I popped in some tubes to keep punctures at bay.
Arriving Sunday morning I was eager to ride the course and face the much talked about Minley bombhole! I was accompanied on my practice lap by super star of the hour Fred who won his race the previous day in the under 7’s and Seb, feeling the need to be talked through the A lines it was nice to have some company!
The course was brilliant, singletrack linked by fire roads. It was mainly flat with 3 good climbs, the first was a short sharp up, a long gravel road climb and the worst one of all was a grassy climb, which considering it was not steep or long seemed to suck energy out of my legs! Considering the level of rain there had been the course was pretty dry with a couple of ‘sticky’ patches. Arriving at the Minley bombhole I rode it twice and was happy with my line choice.
After rider briefing I was feeling nervous but had prepared well so tried to relax before the mass start. Karen and I lined up together and it soon was time to begin our epic ride!
I got a good start and was not caught in too much congestion going into the singletrack.
The first three laps were good fun I pushed it on the climbs recovered on the downhills and ate on the flats. The singletrack was really good fun, especially a section with some off camber turns through the trees.
After the third lap I had a pot noodle break, this was the wrong time to stop as I got held up behind the six hour race in the singletrack which was frustrating, as soon as we got out of the first section I worked hard to pass as many slower riders as I could before entering the second section, however this high burst of energy with a half digested pot noodle made me feel rather sick and I got bad stomach cramps afterwards.
Lap five and six passed quickly I rode consistently picking up a new bottle and small snack. After lap 7 I stopped again for a porridge pot, it had just started to rain. I then felt a bit better so had a slice on banana bread and a packet of marmite crisps as I was craving savoury after so many jelly babies and sweet energy drinks.
Riding at night was a really cool experience. Under the tree canopy with only my headlight beam in front of me I felt like I was the only one out on the course, with only the sound of the ground under my wheels for company. Every now and again a shimmer of light and the sound of others would catch me up and then usually over take! Other riders where so supportive giving me encouragement which kept me going. Sometimes I felt like I had been riding alone for nearly a whole lap and then in the distance a carving beam of light would appear, this was really uplifting and gave me a target to aim for and catch.
At one point the course opened up into a field and through the trees I could make out tiny lights shimmering through like stars.
Near the end of the lap through a dark section of forest the organisers had put loads of glow sticks in the trees it was really pretty, like entering a magical forest and with the music from the disco pumping in the background I had a surge of energy and felt happy with my progress.
As I went out for lap 9 I had a technical issue as my head torch stopped working, I cut off the track and picked up a new one but had to then re-do part of the course again, this cost me valuable time and I felt a bit flustered and came off on a silly root.
Going back out for my 10th lap was the hardest I was cold, my knees ached and I just wanted to curl up and sleep. Martyn was an amazing support and convinced me to do another lap or two! I managed to do one more getting in just after the mid night cut off.
I felt pretty overwhelmed with what I had achieved coming third in my first solo 12 hour race was something I had never expected.
I want to say a huge thank you to Martyn who was an amazing support keeping me going every lap.
Thank you to Mark my coach who has helped me with my training.
Thank you to Silverback for my amazing bike, Bike Fixers for keeping it in tip top condition and Grip Grab for keeping my hands and feet toasty in all conditions!