Unfortunately, I retired from the lead having held the 1st place for the first 13hrs, due to a combination of a random mechanical bike failure and my shoulder just not being up to the job.
Still, a great weekend, a great course (the toughest UK 24hr course yet?) from Martyn Salt, helped by Paul & Sara of SIP and signs that some kind of form is returning to the legs. Third time lucky next year?
|Yet another rear mech unhappy ending in Plymouth: The one on the right is NOT meant to look like that!|
|EZ-Up and tent up: time for a|
tinker in the evening sun
We arrived on Friday evening with just enough time to set up camp, eat some (well, lots) of pasta for dinner, meet our neighbours for the weekend and catch up with a few friends who were racing.
The atmosphere was great with lots of people looking forward to what we heard was a new course layout and the new EZ-Up from Santa Cruz really made my pit a much better setup, providing shelter from sun and rain and, more importantly for me, made it easy to find come the race!
|Ready to go|
Come the morning of the race everything was a bit of an excited blur. I'd had a look at the field and was armed with a list of names and race numbers of the ones to watch, most notable being last years 3rd place finisher and Welsh cost 2 coast record holder, Rich Holmes.
|Bikes all fettled and poised for action|
Hardest part of the weekend: which one to start on?!
|In green in the centre, Rich on the |
left; tearing off the line full bore!
.....however, I couldn't keep a lid on my excitement and desire to push on and, barely 200 yards after we crossed the start line, as the first (and stiffest) climb of the lap began I stood out the saddle and pushed on past Rich and into the lead. Unbeknownst to me, having not done a practice lap, this would be followed by a slowly rising climb through the woods and then two more stiff climbs. Oops! I kept my heart rate under control and made sure I made the move count straight away and, by the time the top of the last climb was dispatched, I had a good gap and was able top settle into my normal race rhythm, crossing the line at the end of the first lap over 2minutes up.
|Pedalling out of the pits after another rolling pit stop|
|The 2011 edition featured lots of technical sections and|
caught many riders by surprise; a really tough course
|The Highball really let me push hard to recapture lost time|
despite the technical nature of the course
|Looking stern in the twilight as I begin to push on|
Things were looking good, my legs were spinning well and then: DISASTER!
Not much more than a ,mile into the course my rear mech "exploded" (or this is what it seemed like at the time). The spacing/tension spring arrangement broke and the top jockey wheel couldn't be removed from meshing with my cassette. Despite my frantic efforts to fix it on the side of the race course in the darkness I was stuck with three speeds: freewheel, push and one massive gear which I managed to get to work, but couldn't use on a lot of the course.
|LEFT: What a SRAM rear mech should look like|
RIGHT: Not what you want at 1am, in the dark, in the woods, 7 miles from the pits
|The remains of the offending bolt|
Bring on SITS in 2 weeks time!