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Dusk 2 Dawn / Three get muddy in Norfolk

Mike Anton writes…..

Back in 2009 Mr Seltzer and I travelled up to deepest Norfolk to do the Marin Dusk 2 Dawn 12 hour night MTB race.

I fancied another go and thought a two year gap was long enough to dull the memory of the pain we’d experienced and so fired out an email asking if anyone was interested in entering a team.

Andy foolishly agreed and Mr Macinnes immediately said yes. – In hindsight this may not have been his best idea.

So off went the entry for a ‘Team Male 3’, and just like 2009, I then cleared off to Turkey for two weeks of ‘training’ driving a sun lounger and drinking beer.

October started with the warmest temperatures on record and hopes of a nice dry speedy event. A couple of days beforehand I for some reason decided to buy a heavy duty pop up gazebo as I thought it’d be useful for things like this.

Come the Saturday, Team EGCC set off from chez Seltzer in two cars. This time we definitely had a lot more kit; – this all singing and dancing gazebo weighed over 50Kg.

With a minor navigational faux pas for 2/3’s of the team on the M25 we all eventually arrive at the Forest Lodge centre in Thetford with a faint drizzle coming down.

We unload the cars and the Big Top gets erected quite quickly along with Andy’s tent and we all then admire the spacious aspect of our accommodation for the night.

With the light going and the drizzle staying, we then set off for an inspection lap. This year the course was a lot more open with plenty of fire road and even some tarmac’d sections. In a strange quirk of fate we did this reccie lap in pretty much the same time as 2009.

However I wasn’t quite so concerned about my lack of singletrack skills this time, having been out around Stanmer Park a few times at night. Alan wasn’t quite so confident, probably due to the fact that he’d never done any night riding, or indeed a MTB race!

As 8pm neared, the rain is coming down harder but this doesn’t dampen the expectation from the competitors and crowd. The race starts behind a quad bike for a couple of miles and as our first man off, Andy puts in a very good first lap and comes back towards the front of the pack.

Alan takes over just under an hour later and plunges off into the wet darkness. He returns 59 mins later with reports of tricky conditions and struggling to stay on the bike. I then set off and feel quietly optimistic of putting in a good time.

The course is wet but broadly OK. There’s some comedy fishtailing on sections and some less funny grinding from my disc brakes. The last mile comes and I big ring this to complete the lap in 53:40; a time that eventually proves our quickest.

Andy is then off again into the worsening conditions. The rain isn’t heavy but its constant and soaking everything and the trails are getting very slippery.

Andy returns in an excellent 55:26 and its Alan’s turn again. He grits his teeth but his lack of MTB fitness is beginning to take its toll. It’s at this point that I should mention that Mr M is riding in road shoes on Look A5.1 road pedals! It’s no surprise that he found it hard going, especially when had to dab a foot down.

The bikes are taking a pounding and riders are getting tired. After each lap we hastily change into dry(er) clothes and universally agree that the Big Top is an absolute god send to shelter from the rain. It’s started to resemble a Chinese laundry with cold damp cycling gear hanging up but we’re still relatively cheerful.

My final lap commences at 4:34 and I immediately feel the fatigue and struggle in the slop. A change of wheels with proper mud tyres finally sees me through one particularly tricky section that had seen me constantly stalling on before. Grinding on into gloom the 15 minute beeps of the Garmin tell me I’m getting ever slower and slower and it’s with much relief that the finishing area appears.

We’d agreed that we’d stick with our schedule of turns which meant that I wasn’t likely to get my 4th and our 12th lap in. I wanted to take more pictures and secretly was relieved not to go again. Had my bike been able to speak, it would have whole heartily agreed as well, what with no brake pads and a horribly graunching drive train.

Having sensibly saved a set of dry clothes for the end, Andy went out again and it seemed an age before he appeared in the predawn light. Alan by his own admission was shot to pieces but armed with some gels, doggedly got on his bike for our final lap.

By now I was taking pictures at the finish line and began to worry at how long it was taking Alan to come home. He finally appears round the last bend after one hour forty and lunges for the line.

Job finally done we gratefully trudge back to the camping, just in time for the sun to start shining.

So how did we do overall?

We completed 11 laps in 12:43:41. This gave us 11th trio out of 57 teams. The fastest solo rider was Andrew Cockburn who did 12 laps in 12:14:23, a stonking feat of endurance. ‘Fenboy Slackers’ were the fasted quad having racked up a frankly ridiculous 15 laps in 12:38:30.

Until next year?

Full results here – http://www.timelaps.co.uk/assets/uploads/d2d2011.pdf

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