29-30 October 2016
Relentless 24, the 25-hour mountain-bike competition! At Relentless last year Andy convinced me to do it as a pair instead of solo because his wrists were knackered after 13 laps; it didn’t take much convincing as I likewise also had knackered wrists after 14 laps which I finished about 8 hours after he’d given up.
So Relentless 2016 came around and having done plenty of training both on bike and in the pie shop I was rather dreading the performance difference between my “Marine Diesel” and Andy’s “Motorbike 2 stroke” engines.
Lining up at the start having a laugh with some Mukyz club mates and gentle sledging from DMC club mates I accidentally got sucked onto the second row of the start crowd rather than hang back with someone who I know starts about the same pace as me.
A small tangle as we set off let me drop back slightly, but I had no choice but to batter on as if it was a road ride sprint to the cake shop and still had the lead riders in sight until the first real corner on the climb to the High Road where I dropped backwards rather rapidly, as the gradient ramped up. It all started to balance out from here as fire road speed and technical skills saw me sitting in a more realistic position as the first handover to Andy approached.
Andy set off on the second lap which would use the full race course rather than the mass start friendly route of the first lap and beat my time despite it being a more technical and steep track with a bit more distance thrown in too.
Other than a dead Garmin for me after 3 laps were saved and Andy’s corrupting all the data we had a relatively uneventful race compared to others who either broke bikes or had erm medical issues.
Managing to “clean” both Sandy Brae and Lazy K (the insanely steep for a 24hr race climbs averaging 12% and 14%) twice was an achievement for me and also indicated my MaxHR may be a bit higher than expected with 184bpm recorded on the 40% section at the top of Lazy K! (Theoretical max is 182, recently recorded max has been 180, note to self: can go harder than you think, also eat less cakes).
Double stints were done to allow for real food to be eaten at tea time, and with Andy lapping faster than me, he did an extra double just after midnight to equalize our riding time.
As the night wore on the track got quieter and lonelier, I may have gone a good few Ks with only Willo-The-Wisp to talk to, or maybe it was delirium.
The marshal posts and campsite showed signs of people failing to heed the rule of “Sleepin’s Cheatin'”
Going to speak to DMC team riders in the early hours and finding populated sleeping bags was a slight disappointment, everyone else I knew was out on course or busy fixing broken bikes!
As the early hours passed, dawn was being anticipated by the experienced and revered by the newcomers who were listening to the experienced!
However as ridiculous as it may sound at the end of my 10th lap which was shortly before dawn, I told Andy “It’s bloody dark out there”; a low mist, rain and hanging smoke from the car park/campsite made visibility low, making riding tricky and limiting top speed on the fast fire road at the end of Witches Brew, this shows on the lap chart as both myself and Andy recorded slow laps following that statement!
As day finally broke, or at least crawled into being, the rain stopped, spirits and lap times improved and I handed over to Andy after 22 laps knowing we could get 24 laps in if he had the energy to do 2 more, which he was well up for. So I went and had a shower and left him to it.
Finishing 8th Pair, 5th Male Senior Pair with 24 laps was fantastic and a considerable improvement from 10 Under where I was really behind on pace.
Andy did a great job, I can almost forgive him for all those rides years ago when he would take the piss on every hill and have come back to bark “encouragement” at me.
I’ll need to get some training in so he gets a bit less rest next time 🙂
Meet report – Niall; photo – Lisa Glover; riding – Niall, Andy, Kevin, Simon, Maddy, Justyna and more…