This weekend saw us take part in the pretty grueling Bontrager TwentyFour12 mountain bike endurance race at Newnham Park just outside Plymouth, South Devon.
The Bontrager TwentyFour12 has a great reputation and this being it’s ninth anniversary show’s how popular and how well organised the event is. This was our first attempt at an event such as this but both myself and Barry have been keen mountain bikers for more years than we probably care to remember. I used to race semi-seriously when I was a wee lad and Barry had a job as a cycle mechanic in his youth, so the cycling bug runs pretty deep.
Off we set, stopping only to pick up a spare bike for one of our riders who managed to crack his frame the week before the event (Thanks Certini!). Once team MyMediaLab arrived at Newnham Park we claimed our camping area smack bang next to the transition zone. It was Friday afternoon and the weather was scorching! We managed to get in a lap of the course to ensure there weren’t any nasty suprises on Saturday when the race actually started.
Sensibly for our first attempt at an endurance race we opted to go for the twelve hour team event - a team of four of us were to ride as many laps of the 7 mile course as we can in twelve hours. I was nominated as the rider to go first which meant starting with hundreds of other riders all setting off at 12pm in the scorching sunshine.
The course was really quick, the first lap took us out on a kind of parade lap to stretch out the field avoiding any chaos through the tricky single track when we entered the woods. The start was around the arena which really got the adrenaline flowing with the spectators cheering you on most of the way around. From there it was on to the first climb which was about a mile - in the baking heat it certanly felt further. Once you had conquered that it is straight into the fast flowing rooty and rocky technical single track. Proper mountain biking! Chuck in a few river crossings and some really quick descents and it’s the perfect recipe for a cracking weekend.
When I arrived back in the main arena to finish my first lap we were in sixteenth place, of twenty two in our category which I wasn’t too disappointed with. It was busy on the track so over taking was a challenge, and I’m sure I must have stopped to take in some of the views. Next up in our team was Simon who put in a really good time despite his claim of ‘not training for it’. After Simon had completed his lap, a solid 42 minute lap from him saw us jump up a couple of places. Next up was Barry, again another great lap saw us go up a place or two. Barry passed the baton onto Ross who out of all of us is the rookie of the team - a PE teacher by trade his speed on the climbs were great and he came in and put in a truly flying lap, maintaing our gains for my second lap.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the day carried on, myself, Simon, Barry and Ross continued riding the whole day and into the night. Barry was our last rider on the track coming in at 12:06 - we managed fifteen laps as a team and finished in a not too shabby eleventh place.
We’re booked in for the same race next year so we must have all enjoyed it! With a bit of proper training we’ll be gunning for a position in the single digits. I’ll let you know how we all get on!