“Where are your lights mate” said the suspiciously cheerful woman at the start /finish line as I remounted the bike to begin what would turn out to be a long run of dark, brakeless laps. I pointed at the minimalist looking dinotte mounted on my helmet and zipped up the pocket of my jacket with the battery in it.
“You’ll need something more substantial than that” she remarked, “something like what he’s got on his bars” pointing at another rider setting off with some huge twin halogen system gracing the front of his bike, “it’s totally dark out there”.
Rather than say anything I just flicked the LED on and smiled.
That one little incident kind of sums up the strathpuffer for me (if you ignore the rain, snow, sleet, gale force winds and distinct lack of heat) and often I was as surprised as those around me at just how simple yet effective the kit was.
Despite it being my first ride on the scandal it took me less that one lap of an unridden course to get to grips with the handling, yet I was still daring myself to push it further and harder several laps later. I remember thinking about the tag line from a board game I had as a child “A minute to learn, a lifetime to ” (google tells me the game was “Othello”) as I skimmed over another rock slab past a team rider, on a full suss, being pinged all over the place faster than I had previously thought possible.
“You’re bound to say that” I hear you cry, “why should we believe you”. Well, let me put it like this: I dropped out of the race 9hrs in when my last set of brake pads ran out (partly because I new most other soloists had supporters and would be able to keep their bikes running for longer, thus leaving me at a distinct disadvantage and partly because I didn’t want to ruin the drivechain of the bike – or myself – on a training ride that wouldn’t have any benefits in continuing). I sat around in my tent for nearly 4 hours knowing any chance of doing well was gone and the only thing that got me back out riding was the fact that, despite not being able to ride much of the technical sections or many of the descents without brakes, I realised I’d still be having fun on the bike even just riding uphill!
When I set off riding again I had no intention of riding to place well, in fact I made a decision to not look at any results boards or ask the marshals how I was doing. I simply got on the bike and made a promise to myself to ride as much of the course as I could until it stopped being fun.
9:27am (33mins from the end of the 24hrs), I rolled over the finish line and “dibbed in” to complete the lap. “Are you finished now, or are you going out again?” asked the still cheerful start/finish line woman, smirking slightly as she finished the question.
“Err yeah, yeah I think I’ll nip out again”
“Yeah, why not eh?!”
I heard something about me being mad mentioned over the tannoy as I set off up the climb. Rather than try to figure out what the comment was I click up another gear and stomp up the hill for one last go.
True to my word I had no idea how I’d done when I finished, in fact the only reason I was at the prizegiving was because I’d wandered down to see if the catering tent was still open for business (it wasn’t, but I decided to hang around and applaud the winners seeing as I was there). Suffice to say I was more than a little shocked when my name was called for 2nd place!
Back at my tent later Brant rang and in amongst the race related questions he asked how I’d got one with the Geax tyres he’d supplied. I didn’t really know how to answer him, in fact I’d only noticed their existence 4 times during the race, once riding up the fireroad climb from the start/finish where they seemed to have less drag than my old Michelins (comp s lights for the tyre tech heads out there), once on the technical rocks section about 3 miles round the course where they seemed to hold a tighter line on the wet rocks than I was expecting them to (sending me straight into a tree!) , once on a fast descent through trees where I was able to drift the bike wide round a puddle and then get them to bite again enough to fling me round a corner without dabbing the brakes (lucky really as I didn’t have any!) and once in what I came to refer to as the “swamp section” of the course where I was able to sit and pedal as normal past a few other racers having serious traction issues.
The rest of the time they were invisible…which I guess is a kind of comment in itself really, I mumbled something about them being “good and grippy over the whole course” and how I didn’t get any punctures with them despite riding with rigid forks for the first time in many years, which seemed to be the kind of thing he was looking for as he then let me start the nightmare that was packing up my muddy kit for the journey home.
Update:Geax have a little bit of blurb about Dave, amusingly translated by Google here
Results: Available Here
Posted by Dave January 17th, 2007
More Harold news, he’s just grabed 2nd (out of about 30 competitors) at the first 24 hour race of the year, The Strathpuffer, in Scotland.
“I stopped after about 9hrs as the brake pads were worn out (2 sets) and the grips kept falling off the handlebars. Also, I’ve always considered this a training event, so didn’t want to ruin me, or Brant’s bike. My tent was close to the track and I noticed there weren’t very many people riding. So after a while, I thought ‘I’ll have another go’ and headed out again. And got 2nd! First place was on the same lap, so I just missed out on time”
Given that it’s early in the season, he’d only got the bike on Wednesday (clearly specced with non race proven parts) and he’s addicted to cake, the lad’s don’e good… now, if he can just get over this reliance on gears he’s got, he could become a legend.
Posted by matt January 14th, 2007
Yesterday’s leisure lakes race was won (by me) mostly on the choice of tyres.
Well, i say “choice”, the choice was made several months back when I fitted the Fire Mud Pro’s to my spare wheels and then left said spare wheels buried under a pile of rags in the kitchen. When I came to fit the wheels on saturday (as the “race” wheels needed more cleaning) I couldn’t be arsed to swop the tyres for anything else.
Anyway, the course was possibly the muddiest i have ever seen it and after following rich and steve round a practice lap, watching them both struggle for grip far more than me, i realised that i had unwittingly given myself a nice advantage. Not that the tyres stopped the bike squirming like an oiled eel in a butter factory, but i seemed to be getting round more corners than anyone else.
This proved to be true in the race itself, where I had an awful lot of fun wrestling the bike round the stodgy, slippery singletrack for several laps… possibly too much fun considering how tough it actually was, and managed to ride away from everyone else (or “corner” away from everyone else, more accurately). Hurrah!
For the more geeky among you, I raced for 53mins 12secs at an average heart rate of 189bpm (max 196bpm), over a distance of 11.7 miles. which sounds rubbish, but it really really was that muddy.
Posted by Dave December 15th, 2006
This is fast becoming a blog about Dave, so today we’ll call him Harold, Like Harold Bishop, but without the big belly (although I know he wants one).
The point of this post is to introduce the Cabal, Harold’s race bike for Two Thousand Seven, It’s pretty ugly in these pictures, but I’m sure it’s better in real life.. maybe, who knows, I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of months.
Read what Dave’s said about this new frame.
Posted by matt November 27th, 2006
It looks like dave’s stepping it up for ’07, having secured a bike and lights from the Shed based micro-brand on-one, Dave will be riding one of the new ScandAl with rigid carbon fork at a number of races across the country… including:
- SSMM 24hr 07, solo
- CLIC 24hr 07, solo
- SITS 24hr 07, solo
- Bontrager 24/12 24hr 07, solo
- Enduro 6+ 07, solo
- and I’m working out how i can get to Strathpuffer 24hr 07 as well
- Some of the Merida 100k races
- 3 Peaks cyclocross (this was Brant’s idea, and sounds “fun” and different)
- Leisure Lakes Winter and Summer Series
- and anything else Dave or Brant can think of that sounds good
Posted by matt September 29th, 2006
Dave managed a superb 21 laps and 6th Place at SITS last weekend. As it becoming tradition, the race started in dusty conditions and ended in a mudfest on the Sunday, making the race hard going and seeing a lot of people dropping out… but not our Dave (with the help of Steve cleaning pounds of mud off his bike every few laps)
Well done Dave: results here
Posted by matt August 17th, 2006
Well done to Dave on
23 24 laps at Mayhem.. if he was a girl he’d have been second, but 18th in Solo men’s rather a good showing.
It shoudl also be noted that Dave beat the current (unofficial) World 24hour Champ, Rob Lee, by quite a few places, Dave, I think you can call this week “CAKE WEEK”, you’ve deserved it.
Posted by matt June 26th, 2006
Shhh! don’t tell the opposition, but he’re Dave’s training plan for the next few weeks.
“I’ve changed my training plan slightly and done away with a rest week i was supposed to be having on the week starting 29/5, in favour of keeping up the big weeks and having a 2 week taper
so i’m now doing:
15.5hrs this week
20 hard next week
20 medium the week after (instead of rest)
20 medium the week after
14 easy for the first taper week
1 for the week after (ie race week)
going to eek every last bit of strength i can…”
I’m only really putting this up so in a few year’s time we can stumble across this information and see how much we rode bikes n stuff.
Enjoy the Rain, Dave, looks like a lovely time to be riding a bike over the next 10 days.
Posted by matt May 18th, 2006
Well done to DSP rider, TwinklyDave on his great 3rd place in the CLIC24 (not a race) race this weekend. 21 laps is a fair old way for your first 24 hour race, 2 more laps and he’d have been joint first.
It’s a damn good warm up to the main 24 hour race in 6 week’s time (or 72 hours of training, for in DaveTime) and a lot of lessons have been learnt.
Any news on Guy?
(Steve did 10 laps in his duo team, I’ve heard, which means Dave’s 2x better!)
Posted by matt May 16th, 2006
Dave’s and Rich’s first proper “race” of the year is r than THREE DAYS AWAY, now.
CLIC 2006, the second solo event of the year (the first is the midwinter Strathpuffer 24), weather predictions seem to be falling onto the ‘wet’ side of nice, but as with this time of year, everything could change in the next few days.
I don’t really class 24 hour events as races, they’re more about survival than racing, especially if you’re a solo rider, it’s obviously different for teams. Having been updated on Dave’s training plans thoughout the winter months, I am faily confident that he’s as prepared as he can be for riding for A FULL DAY starting at lunchtime on Saturday.
I’ll be prodding dave for a full account of his adventure as soon as he’s able to summon up the energy to type after the weekend.
Good Luck Dave (and Rich.. and Guy?).
* Rocky theme
Posted by matt May 10th, 2006