After last year’s rain fest I wasn’t hopeful of persuading more folk to partake of 12 hours of riding around a forest in the middle of the night, and so it proved with just my partner in crime, Mr Seltzer agreeing to join me for our third outing to Norfolk.
In what is now likely to be compulsory event preparation, off I went to Turkey again two weeks before for more sun lounger piloting and beer consumption.
There’s nowt wrong with two weeks of hot sun at the end of September but this year it did mean I had even less ‘race’ fitness than previous visits so my main expectation was to get through the night as well as possible.
Back in 2009 Andy and I completed 14 laps in the lovely dry dusty conditions. 2011 was a mudbath and what with the spectacularly dismal summer this year there wasn’t a high expectation of a dry race.
With the weather forefront in our race prep, we armed ourselves with more clothes than you can imagine, a sparkly new 4 man tent to go with the Big Top, and a plethora of spares and supplies.
Driving up on the Saturday afternoon we were greeted with sunny and bright conditions and the pre event reccy lap was a lot drier than we dared hoped. Granted there were some big puddles dotted around the 9.9 mile circuit but a lot of the fire roads were comparatively dry.
Getting ready for the start our extra spacious accommodation was faintly embarrassing compared to one set of neighbours who managed to cram three riders and two WAGS into a van and a 3 man tent. They were D2D virgins so we duly gave them some encouragement and tips for the coming event.
Come the start at 8pm Andy sets off to complete the extended first lap in 55:27. We’d agreed to repeat our lap pattern from 2009 and I did the 2nd lap in under 50 mins.
Andy then did two laps in the increasing cold and came back not feeling particularly great. I then set out for my first 2 lap stint and aside from some silly front wheel washouts, completed the laps in similar time to Andy.
We then went out again for two more 2 laps stints and whilst theses were our slowest laps they were much more enjoyable and considerably better than 2011. The course was improving all the time though the temp was still floating around 2 – 5’ C with fog patches.
Despite the cold I was happy to ride in the same set of gear though did swap to a new set of winter MTB boots which were nice and toasty.
For the final laps we’d agreed to switch back to one at a time and with Andy completing lap 11 around 6:30 am, I had the conundrum of just sticking with one more lap, or making the decision to go again for a 13th.
This 12th lap coincided with sunrise and despite the fog, it was very uplifting to ride in the light. Being able to see your fellow competitors resulted in a few more chats which confirmed my thoughts on how well the night had gone and how upbeat people had been, especially with the polite ‘on your left / right’ passing requests.
Arriving back at the finish at 7:23 we had plenty of time to do another lap but both agreed to leave it at just twelve laps. In hindsight one of use should have gone again because we would have finished 11th pair as opposed to 16th.
It was a tough but rewarding night and I think will become an annual event (for me). And the results?
Team Lumicycle were the fastest male pair with 16 laps in 12:26:14. Our 12 laps in 11:29:34 netted us with 16th out of 48 pairs.
The fastest solo man was Paul Fielding who did 14 laps in 12:49:31, with Alex Nichol completing 10 laps in 12:06:38 to claim the solo ladies top spot. The four men of Fenboy Slackers cranked out an unbelievable 18 laps in 12:40:33 to claim the team prize.
Full results here – http://www.timelaps.co.uk/assets/uploads/EVENTREPORT.aspx?eventid=220Thetford06/10/2012
Strava plot here – http://app.strava.com/rides/24296013