|Big smiles after a great weekend|
The plan for the weekend was simple, arrive, race hard and go home happy. However, we were pitting with Ian Leitch, who was competing in the solo 24hr so would be giving him some support, which would, inevitably, result in some bike mechanics for me!
|Lining up, Oli's in there somewhere|
|Oli, on his first lap presumably!|
I took my lead from my directeur sportif and headed out with the burners on, one lung burning leg crippling lap later and I thought I'd passed the Trek rider that was leading. It turned out I had, we were in the overall lead. WOOP! Lea and Frazer were on next and they too stuck in some crazy laps, and we held our original second position against riders we hadn't considered trying to race up to this point. But now we were in the race and we wanted to stay there.
|Ian Leitch - Always Fast|
While this had been going on we'd been looking more closely at the times, there were just a few minutes separating the top three teams: The Gary Fisher 29ers, the Trek 69ers (both seriously fast cross country squads) and Morvélo (some blokes from Brighton!). What was more worrying was that we noticed they both had 5 riders. Yes, that's right, we'd missed the fact that, on the entry, the team category was for teams of 5 riders, not 4 like every other race and we were in the dogfight of our riding lives a man down. Oops. A few hours later, Ian came up with a plan: He'd do some laps for us, I mean, he was part of our Tuesday night group and a friend, so why not? A quick check with race supremo Martyn Salt, an update of the computer and we were game on! The team cheer as our team mates went past us had now become "Hurt Business" Ian's race intensity that he brought only amplified this. By this time we had started to tire, night was drawing in and we were now staring down the barrel of 3rd place but with an extra set of legs and the extra little bit of rest this afforded us, we weren't giving up.
|Night time In Plymouth|
|Frazer, taking the shortest route, no chicken run for him!|
|Oli: Shortest route the only option and did some of the team's fastest laps on his singlespeed.|
Always a fierce competitor and always a great team member
|Frazer in full race grimace!|
I handed the baton over to be told that this would also be Lea and Frazer's last laps too, they too were suffering from the early pace and the efforts made to maintain the required lap times to keep us in the podium hunt. It was down to Ian and me to finish off the last 4 laps. Time to dig deep.
Ian's started his first lap in 3rd place and handed to me in 2nd. I managed to resist going too hard and, importantly, looking behind me and pushed on, maintaining the place. it was looking good. Ian went out again and his lead was now a couple of minutes, but I would not know what our lead was when he came back in and I would be up against fresh legs for my 4th lap of the team's last 9 due to our double lap error. Safely through still in 2nd, Ian handed me the baton and I was away, head down and determined to give it everything, but would it be enough? I fought cramps up the climbs, at managed not to look behind me. As I reached the top of the final steep climb I snuck a glance behind me, there was no-one. Suddenly this made my legs feel as good as new and I pushed on through the final firetrack and woods section like a man possessed and burst onto the final descent, knowing that I couldn't be caught, my team mates below me waiting anxiously to see who would emerge from the trees first.
|Finishing the last lap and boy was I happy!|
Despite the rain we couldn't have been happier to be on the podium, surrounded by "big name" teams. Morvélo had arrived and we had a great time getting there :-)
|Morvélo - 10 cramping legs but 5 HUGE grins|