Team tactic dictated an overnighter somewhere close to the race and of a more luxurious standard than previous( tent in shitey field). Picked up Rado and his FAT, loaded up and hit the road. No sooner had we set off than conversation turned to strategy, three lap stints...two lap... four each in total....we were clueless. What was apparent was that fuelling had been neglected, Rado had just consumed a big bag of chips and cheese and I was taking him to a chip shop. The journey went quick with the usual stunning drive through Glencoe arriving in Onich at the Corran bunkhouse. Having only recently slept in a bunkhouse I wasn't exactly expecting much. To our moderate surprise it was excellent,a nice and tidy private room, fresh linen and en suite shower and fridge all for 18 bangs a night. We even had a private pool.
Car unloaded a wee wander down to the jetty and then to bed (bunk bed in case you are wondering).
The Main Event
Up early for breakfast and get to ourselves race prepped we had a relaxing start getting over to the race venue. Got parked easily enough and set up the Ecurie MacRetro pits. Seemed to be quite warm for the back of 8!
Tactics had been settled at this point to be one lap each and we'd set a target of break into the top 50% of the pairs field. No small feat given our previous attempts and our general MacRetro unpacey pace. But we both seemed to have race heads on and were up for it though. Rado drew the short straw and took the first lap. As you can see he was in the zone.
'I weeelll crush you '
No, I'm only kidding
First lap under way....1hr.......1hr 15.....1hr 20..
word is coming back that some riders have been sent the wrong way and sure enough Rado was one of them. We reckon there was 15mins or so lost, no time to give it any consideration. I set off for lap 2 feeling good, dropped in the granny for the first steep bit and lost the chain, hey ho get it back on and get going again, not a bad climb upto the pipe then the first downhill...managed to puncture
this took the wind out of my downhilling which in retrospect could have saved me a few more punctures through the day (silver lining an all that). Back to transition and Rado is waiting and away he goes, climbing strong on the Ti FAT he makes good time and hands over to me for lap 3. Lap 3 dispatched without a problem, not major quick but we are settling into 70ish minute laps(fastest was 45!(not by us)). Both of us are feeling good, feels like we're racing and not idly making circuits of a course. It should be noted that the course is much
improved form the 2010 one we done, nice variety and really rather enjoyable.
By this point as you'll all know the temperature was bonkers, funnily enough it wasn't effecting what we were doing apart from drinking more. It made the trail really quick and we were loving it. I headed out for lap 4 and again recorded another consistent time. Rado got on with Lap 5. It was here that I decided to check out the leaderboard, not really having any clue as to how we were doing*, I saw we were 51st but out of how many? As the screens rolled by it seemed there were 101 pairs, we were just outside our top 50% target, could we finish strong? We'd said we'd be happy with 4 laps each and reckon that would get us into the ballpark we were after. we'd no idea how the heat would effect us though, as it turned out it wasn't slowing us down. If we kept this up we'd be on target.
I headed up and waited for Rado to get in. He was running a bit late but it was to be expected as the day went on, only he was running really late. It did start to dawn on me that something had happened, immediately I wondered if I could keep the FAT if it was really bad. I think he would have wanted that, but alas he turned up around the 1:30 mark. A snapped chain at a remote part of the course had took him out, and with no chain tool. Fortunately a hero appeared and very kindly helped get him going again.
I struck out for lap 6 and it went hassle free, started to know the bits of the course where I could make up time and maximise my superior bulk going down hill on the fire roads. Got back to base and Rado headed out, we were on target for our 8 laps and talk turned to the 9th, we were on fire...literally( I have a rather fetching cyclist tan/burn). Checked into to race HQ and saw we were up to 41st, thing were looking good. Rado got back setting another consistent lap but the time was getting tight for a 9th. He came of the bike a bit wobbly but was still taking about it and in the back of my mind I was questioning whether it could be done too. Some quick sums though showed that I'd need to blitz this lap and Rado or I would need to pull another, as quick as any we had set, out the bag. As I headed off I knew I couldn't do two on the trot, I was going fine but when I had to dig deep it wasnae nice, the legs were getting tired. I settled for trying to dispatch as many people in front of me to grab a few places. And surprisingly I managed to pass quite a few. It was hard to say who they were though, if they were soloists, trios or owt but every scalp was potentially another peg up the leaderboard.
I finished the lap and handed in the chip, we'd covered 80 miles at race pace(our race pace of course
) and were happy that we couldn't have done much more. We discussed the mechanicals and the detour and reckoned on around 40mins we could have gained and got our 9th lap but satisfied ourselves that it was a fair cop. Probably got off lightly considering. When I handed the chip back in we'd moved up to 37th out of 101 starters in the pairs. We hoped we'd done enough that we won't loose too many places as we couldn't see too many people behind us completing a lap in the time available, but we await the full results with anticipation.
As we headed home very pleased with ourselves(for our efforts, no matter how inconsequential in the big race) we discussed how it would have been great to have the rest of MacRetro there. This was everying the first time should have been, our kinda mini MM. Mibee next year though eh?
* This isn't exactly true, I'd met a couple of guys I know and I was watching how we were doing compared to them. Unfortunately they had a fair bit of bad luck with the detour, a busted mech and a probable broken toe.
Even the midges wurnae that bad. Did I mention it was hot?