Bontrager 24/12 Race Report
We’ve just got back from a week away which all started with the Bontrager 24/12 MTB race in Newnham Park, near Plymouth.
We had a good drive down from here, although the weather wasn’t great and as we got nearer to the campsite the weather actually became atrocious with driving rain loads of spray on the motorway and conditions not really conducive to either camping or riding a mountain bike – The very two things we were to be doing!
Thankfully the rain stopped as we entered the campsite although the ground was still sodden in place. There were already lots of people there so we headed for a bit of higher ground in the field, found a gap big enough and soon had our tent up without incident. We sat around watching other people set up and waited for the arrival of Brad and Eloise, Jay, Jennie and their children Megan, Harry, Charlie and Jack and then also Matt and Beale. Everyone was soon set up in camp and we were soon chatting about tomorrows race over a BBQ and a few beers. Jay, Brad, Matt and Beale were doing the 12 hour race as a team of four, I was doing it as a soloist.
Race day dawned bright and cheerful and after wandering around the event village it was soon time to line up for the start. As per usual the event organisation was excellent, plenty of freebie samples to try in the event village, free beer and cheese the night before, lots of portaloos, showers etc., food tents and a massage tent and bike repair tent too.
It was a mass start and a lap and a bit for the first lap. First time round was horrible though with thick, slick muds and slippery roots all the way. As a soloist I was taking it particularly easy as this was only the first hour of twelve so there was no point going out fast. I still beat Jay by around 10 minutes though and set off onto lap two. I’ve lost track of which lap was which but the conditions improved throughout the day as the course dried out a bit. The course itself was fairly good with a short grassy climb, some gentle descents through the trees, then a steeper rocky climb out onto a fun moorland section. It was all well signed and easy to follow and there were plenty of marshalls all day and all night long. After a couple of river crossings and another little climb the course dropped back down into the event village and weaved through the tents before heading off to the other side of the estate for another steep climb, some tricky twisty bomb hole sections through the root infested woods and a final rockier descent back to the main arena and the start finish line.
I stopped very briefly halfway round lap 3 for a quick water refill by which time it was mid afternoon and getting very hot. I didn’t enjoy this time of day but stopped again in a couple of laps for some food and felt much better afterwards. I then stopped again for water and lights and again for food later during the day and kept going until after midnight to get my final lap in which was the only time I really put any effort in and it was my fastest lap of the day. I ended up doing 9 laps (the same number as Jay, Brad , matt and Beale managed as a team), which put me in 6th place in the mens solo 12 hour veteran race (The results are here).
I actually found it easier than expected, and despite torn ligaments in my ankle and getting knocked off by someone, did OK. My legs felt fine by the end of it and weren’t even aching at all the next day. Although I did have a well- deserved little snooze in the campsite the following afternoon once everyone else had gone.
Anna was my support crew and did well to keep me topped up with food and drink and keep me going. Morgan and the others cheered me on whenever they saw me too which always helps. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, which afterall is the main thing. The atmosphere of the campsite was nice, which as Anna points out, wouldn’t necessarily be the case considering the fact that it is full of adrenaline and testosterone fueled men (mainly) about to embark on a bike race. You wouldn’t know this though and everyone is polite, friendly, helpful and quiet making the whole weekend a really nice experience.
The children enjoyed playing together, riding their bikes, paddling in the streams, building dens and playing on rope swings – Boys will be boys! There was even a 24/12 (minute) event for them in which Harry won the 12 minute event, Morgan came 13th and Charlie came 22nd. (Their results are here).
Looks like I’ll have to return next year hopefully without injury and maybe put in a bit more effort rather than taking it quite so easy.