Whilst half the Retrobike contingent were up Norf playing out in Dalby, myself, Heathy, Simod and Heathy’s mate James Whippet were off racing at the bottom end of the country at the Bontrager 24/12.
The party van rocked up at Simod’s on Friday night to be treated to an ace feed up and a few sneaky beers to set us up for the following days action. The weather was looking ok and the morning brought clear skys as we continued on our way to the event site, just outside Plymouth.
Once there, our race HQ gazebo was quickly set up and we got registered. We were entered into the 12 hr race as from Mayhem we had decided that 24s were silly and we could probably keep a good pace on if we only had to keep going to 12pm! Due to faffing we sort of ran out of time to do a practice lap, but Simod set off for a quick spin of the first half of the course to report back on the racing line whilst Heathy stepped up to be the first rider out on course.
At 12 midday the race started with a normal rolling start (not the run a la Mayhem), and after a brief shake up loop, Heathy charged back through the area out on his first lap, to cheers of ‘use the big ring’ from the crowd (well us).
45 mins later and he was back to hand over to me and I set out on my first lap of the course. After a quick blat across the flat camping field, the course crossed a bridge and headed out towards a long steep tarmac climb. Once this topped out, the course wound its way across, up and down through a series of woodland trails before spitting riders out on the ‘cottage return’ a fast and tight downhill singletrack through bombholes and over a log drop all the way back down to the valley floor. A fireroad bash (with odd optional singletrack alternative) then lead to the music DJ camp for some ‘interesting’ tunes to listen to up the sufferfest of the 'Clif climb', a loose gritty steep up which nearly cost me my breakfast on the first lap.
Once this climb was beaten, the trail turned tail and plummeted down on a fast but slimy forest road back to the valley floor which kept the first aid crews busy during the race. A muddy trail back to the DJ tent then lead to the stream crossing for soaked shoes and squeally brakes. There was a bridge option for wimps
Almost back at the finish the course had a sting in its tail with a climb up the 'Shred Supertechno', an off camber rootfest that would be a challenge to ride cleanly in dry conditions without riders all around falling off. Survive this and a small final fire road punch and it was all downhill back into the campsite, and back across the start / finish to pass on the lovely team baton (made from an exposure light offcut and engraved with the team name) to the next man out.
I think we all suffered on the first lap, but as the day wore on, the team rolled out consistent lap times, overtaking riders using the hills
and putting it in the big ring
. The weather held and the course dried through the day, though into the evening past lighting up time saw a return of the slimy mud. We all cleaned the rooty woods at some point and no one managed to mechanical or get lost in the dark this time…
Simod ended up on the teams last lap, and took the flag at 6 minutes past midnight and the team celebrated by getting stuck into the catering tent.
Retrobike : 6th in Open Men 12hr, with 16 laps in total, 12.06 hours riding.
Ace course and vibe, will be back next year