The mud has dried and the sweat has been washed away. The weekend of Mountain Mayhem has finished for 2016, and what a mixed weekend it was.
Myself and our team support, also known as Rachael my wife, loaded the car and headed off for a weekend of riding well that was the plan. First things first was to set up camp, I think we did it right with help of fellow rider Nick Manning.
With base camp set up we headed over to the signing on tent and then more importantly the food vans. After a well established endurance meal of cheese burger and chips, maybe not the greatest food to eat before the event, we headed back to prepare the bikes for the start of mayhem the next day.
I started with fitting new Shimano XT brakes to replace my broken Magura brakes. Couple of other tweeks to my bike and it was ready to go. By this time it was around 11pm and we felt it was a good time to hit the sack and try get some sleep.
I woke up around 7am had some breakfast, and got in to my riding kit. For this event I had gone on a little shopping spree with Endura, I also took loads of my older riding kit just in case.
I packed my bag ready to go and headed over to the start line.
At Mountain Mayhem they start the race with a Le Mans style run, we rested the bikes against the fence and walked around to the start.
You could feel the atmosphere building as everyone is standing waiting for the count down to 12pm. People are making sure their watches are synchronized with the main clock. Next thing we hear is 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go Go Go! Mountain Mayhem 2016 had started, this is where you can see the different mix of competitors. You get the front runners, normally the top team members that sprint the start, and the others that take a casual stroll, normally the solo riders. I was a soloist so I took a walk round, running isn’t my strong point, well cycling isn’t that great but running is a lot worse after a running accident many moons ago. Nick and I got back to our bikes just about to set off and Rachael asked us both “do you guys have your timing chips on?”
“#$%@” that would be a no then! So now we had to run, all the way back to base camp. With timing chips on ankles we headed across the start/finish line. “We thought we have seen the last riders off , but here is two more” comes across the loud speaker, great I’m last!
The course started with a ride across a field then in to the woods, this is where the mud starts. So for those who didn’t go this year the mud was definitely one of the hardest things that plagued the event. It was an odd mix of a tar type texture, even going down hill there was drag from the mud. And on the up hills it was very boggy, not sure how the same mud can have so many different forms in the same woods.
I was unsure what to expect from the course, from what I had been told by different people was, it will be an off-road course but it has to be sustainable for 24 hours with thousands of rides going over it, and safe for rides to ride at night in the dark after riding already for 10 plus hours.
This I don’t think was achieved this year. The course had a couple of downhill type sections, which in a different event would have been great fun. Not so much on a cross country 24 hour endurance race, from talking to many different riders it had a very mixed reception. Some loved it some hated it…. I hated it. After the first lap I was not enjoying the route, not one to give up early I gave it another go and put a second lap under my belt. After my second lap I pulled in to the camp to get some food and chill for a bit, I’m riding for 24 hours no need to rush. Looking at my Garmin my current average speed was around 5.7mph which was planned pace. Sitting down chatting to Rachael I just wasn’t enjoying it, “I’m 30 not enjoying myself why carry on?” Was my question to Rachael. I had just got to a place in my cycling where I just enjoyed being on my bikes.
After a talking to from her I headed back out. Maybe I shouldn’t have, on one of the fore mentioned downhill sections I came off. I had been sliding out a bit on the last couple of laps, but this was worse, over the bars worse. And to make it worse I couldn’t unclip! My riding went down hill from here on out, I came off a couple more times on that lap. With a slow ride back to the start/finish line I headed off back to base. At this point I had enough, I was starting to hurt from the many falls and still hating the course. The only thing that got me through the last lap was the knowledge that Rachael had a freshly cooked pizza waiting for me.
Around 8:30pm I (for some unknown reason) decided to go out for another lap. My aim was to do 10 laps if I could just do 5 laps on the Saturday I could have a rest and do 5 more Sunday morning and all would be good. All was not good, I was sliding everywhere and the pain from the previous crashes was building up. I road round to finish the lap and headed back to base camp.
I decided to call it a night and go against my plans and have a sleep. The worse night sleep I have had in a long time. My right hip was hurting from where the bars hit them, back of my left knee from twisting it round when I couldn’t unclip and finally my left shoulder from hitting the ground multiple times. I could not get comfortable, which lead to a very bad night.
Waking up around 7am in the morning I could barely stand, I took a hobble to the toilets and with this struggle it hit me I definitely wasn’t going to be riding again in this year’s event. This was an annoying realisation as apart from injury pains my legs felt like I could keep riding.
After seeing Nick off for the rest of his event I decided to go out with Rachael’s camera. Had some great chats with fellow soloists that had stopped riding some due to injury and others felt the course was getting too dangerous.
Over all the event had a great atmosphere with most of the riders being very friendly, supportive and understanding (especially when I forgot my left and rights) the crowd was great and supportive cheering everyone along.
Here is some random pictures from the weekend. As I am writing this we have had a technical problem with Rachael’s camera, so more pictures will follow soon. Keep an eye on the ChainTherapy Facebook page for more updates.