With only 5 weeks to go until the World 24-hour Mountain Bike Championships in Weaverville, the Gorrick Torq12:12 was my last opportunity to confirm everything is in place for the trip to California. In usual British bank holiday tradition the forecast was looking ‘changeable’ with a pretty good chance of getting a soaking at some point during Sunday’s race.
Running behind on Saturday meant no pre-race lap... just a quick run around the arena and first bit of singletrack ahead of the start on Sunday which revealed a fast surface littered with the usual exposed roots and loamy surface. However unlike last year the dusty loam was a little more compact due to the recent rain, but not enough to make it hard going. Unlike last year I got to the line early & got a space amongst the fast boys and the quad bike for the lap of the arena to help spread people out, however trying to keep up with them once the quad started pulling away was always going to be a fruitless exercise on a singlespeed!
A midday start saw a bright start to the race, but a few nerves about the rain that was scheduled to hit around 8pm. A swift couple of laps saw people settling in to a rhythm on the 8-mile loop. On lap 2 I was joined by Richard Dunnet and we rode together for a couple of laps, however when he decided to put the hammer down on lap 4 I left him to it and watch him disappear in to the trees. I was rewarded a couple of laps later as I caught him back up again... Although he was riding in a different category, I was keen to see how I could finish overall. It was great for my head to know that I had made the right choice earlier to stick at my own pace.
At 3pm the 6-hour race kicked off, which meant all of a sudden there were pockets of more riders out on course that took some additional thought to get around, but kept things interesting. The course started to develop some new lines too giving some good passing places. By 8pm lights were on due to the gloomy, muggy conditions, but the forecast rain hadn’t turned up yet. A brief 5 minutes of light rain didn’t have any effect on the course and the pace stayed high and my pit crew of Ingrid & Erik kept me informed of progress, fed & watered.
All seemed well up to the end of my 14th lap when I was told that my 1-lap lead had been reduced and I needed to put the hammer down as second place was catching me. Fortunately as I entered the changeover area I was able to latch on to one of the fast team riders and upped the pace a bit for my last couple of laps. However, I was relieved to see that the times of my 12th & 13th laps had been combined so Javier Simon was still over a lap behind, meaning I won the Vets category as well as the singlespeed cat. I also placed 2nd overall solo, 10 minutes behind Will Mathews and 10 ahead of Richard Dunnet.
Once everyone was in the bar for the trophies & prizes, the rain finally came and didn’t let up...
Finally, a big thanks to Jon Fearne at E3coach.com for getting me this far... only 4 weeks to go! Also, thanks to Singular, Fibrax, Hope, Goldtec & EDS Bikes for their support this year.