Home from Twentyfour12. Must be something going on at Glyndebourne this week, because I shared the train back with far too many people wearing tuxedos and posh frocks. With race number still tied to bike, muddy trousers, bruised shins and nasty smells eminating from my bag, I got a few twisted looks from people who don't know any better...
The course got, and is getting, some stick. That's to be expected. I spent the whole race wishing that the mud (first treacle, then porridge, peaking at 'just' plasticine and then regressing to miserable, thick, porridge-of-frustration again when the evening dew came down) was dust. I could see and feel the potential in every swooping bend and rooty climb, and at times was close to tears for wishing that I could just hear my freewheel whirring away down one, any of the descents rather than pedalling just to keep moving downhill.
We were all just very, very unlucky that the past two months have seen a ridiculous weather system settle on the UK; if it had been dry then the course would have been very fast, and huge amounts of fun, and rewarding to riders who enjoy a challenge and whose strengths lie in proper trail skills and the ability to remain focused for hour after hour, rather than just roadie fitness. But still, this is Britain, and to design a course that relied so heavily on deeply wooded singletrack cut into Cotswold clay hillsides without any contingency plan for poor weather was, possibly, silly...
Still - the event is only a baby. Two years old, and already it offers something that sets it apart from the others. Rootsy and personal, a great venue, and with potential to become one of the toughest races on the calendar. Long may it grow. I won the 12 hour solo with 12 steady laps and only one serious sense of humour failure (frustration at empty post-Mayhem legs notwithstanding, am pretty pleased with that), then went to bed for a few hours whilst it rained and rained, and then shed a few tears watching the 24-hour riders rolling home. How they did it I don't know - well, I do, but still, I'm glad the bike was packed away by then.
BIg hugs and well dones to Deano, Paul, Lisa & Nick, and Grant & Phil for sterling 12 hour efforts all round (especially Phil's "sprint finish" through the darkness).
And more too, for members of the family - Tracy and Matt for their smiles-through-gritted-teeth, Family Minx for moments of peace and clarity amongst the tiredness, Team Cotic for comedy grumping and unaccustomed-lycra-wearing faux-pas, and Mr.& Mrs.Dave's sunset pics. And finally Fi, for brilliant support, jollying and not-helping throughout, and an eye-opening glimpse into the bittersweet world of team solo racing.
Now then - odds on a dry Dusk til Dawn...?