24Hour Racing? In May? In the UK? Are you quite mad?
As it turns out, no.
The weather forecast for the weekend was looking decidedly dodgy all week, so we were well prepared with wet weather gear and such, but when we arrived at the campsite in Charterhouse, Somerset it wasn't raining just blowing a gale. Coats hands and gloves were very very quickly found and put on.
We had great fun putting the tent up in the wind but we got there in the end. No sign of Dave yet, hmm.
Ian and Mike were tasked to go get food from the local fish and chip shop, whilst the girls opened the wine and I opened my beer, ah I forgot my beer didn't I. Oh well wine it was.
The food hunting party returned with tales of a shut chipshop. However they were given FREE FOOD! We had free Pasties, Fish, Curry Sauce, Tartare Sauce, Spring Roll and a saveloy for the Dog. Actually I'm lying we had to pay for Tartare sauce.
Still no Dave, we gave him a call and he was in Bath, or was that in the Bath?
Eventually he turned up and he found us all huddled in the kit/cooking area of mikes tent drinking wine and beer and smelling like a chip shop. We threw his tent up in double quick time (not bad considering the conditions) and we all headed for our respective tents.
The night passed with people shivering and really not getting a good nights sleep, I was just about comfy in my sleeping bag (Comfort Rating = -7C, Extreme Rating = -22C, ha ha ha, my arse), others were a little colder and Dave's UHT Milk had by morning turned into UHT Milk Slushpuppy.
The morning was spent faffing with bikes, eating bacon rolls and other carby things and trying to keep warm. After the rider briefing Ian started to get ready for his first lap and the rest of tried not to look nervous.
At 12 o'clock, we were off! Ian would be going first, Mike second, myself third and Dave would be going fourth.
Ian came round pretty quickly and it was Mike's turn. I interrogated Ian about the lap and wiggly singletrack was mentioned (yay!) as was a fireroad climb (boo!).
With Mike on his lap it was time for me to get moving and get changed.
Mike came in with a grin on his face, and it was my turn.
Up the road climb at the start, get the legs spinning and warmed up.
Oh, cold legs, take it easy tiger, whats that noise? I knew I should have replaced my middle chainring at the same time as I did my chain and cassette on Thursday. Oh well I'm sure it'll all wear together over the next couple of laps.
On to the singletrack! Down the first part of the singletrack descent, cool!
This is alright, be careful though we don't want any dumb crashes.
On to double track for a left turn and then back on the singletrack, ride the rolling dusty rocky singletrack for a bit (I'm pretty sure it was somerset not california).
'Kin 'Ell this rocks! 'Kin 'ave it!
If you were jey you could ride the double track to the left. Eh Dave?
Out on to main trail again and follow the trail, still singletrack though, just a bit wider.
Glad those roots aren't wet.
Dried up river crossing.
Short steep climb. Down a descent with 4 ruts where someone later had big off and had to be airlifted out. Quick climb.
All entertaining but not hugely challenging.
Down a wide but hugely rocky descent.
Thank heavens for nice plush suspension forks.
Down a smoother fireroad descent.
Then climbing started, gentle at first, then a steep loose climb that had some walking, then on to the fireroad for what seemed like an age and then another steep section.
Up we go, not too bad.
Oh, into little front chainring, lock forks down.
Oh thats a bit flatter, keep spinning.
Blimey this goes on for ages.
Oh great, another steep bit.
And we're at the top.
On to the top moor on the flat, get into the middle ring and get moving but watch out for the ruts.
Oo look at the view.
Straight but very sketchy and loads of loose rocks.
Should be fun at night...
On to the road, get in to the big ring and thrash down the road to finish, up a small climb at the end though.
And I'm spent.
Hand over to Dave and then head for tent for warm clothes and food.
Just like Lap1 but better paced and a few minutes faster. Back to the tent. Eat stuff.
Dusk. Awesome lap, needed the lights on the singletrack, but it was a very cool lap.
Get back in, Walk to the Lumicycles tent to top up the lights, just in case.
Get into sleeping bag and try to sleep despite a covers band playing Bon Jovi and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers. I'm shivering a bit.
The night time was to be organised so we all got some sleep. The lap order was to be as follows for the nightshift:
then back to normal alternating laps.
2:20am - get rudely awakened by Ian. get changed in record time for a half awake person due to the cold. Eat ceral bar and Power bar, drink coke and collect Battery from Lumicycle. Sort bike out and fit lights.
Mike's in and its time to head out.
Lap goes well, with the highlight being nearly running over a field mouse. It was just starting to get light as I finished my lap, hand over to Mike who gets "Dawn lap" lucky bugger.
I filled the Gap between "nightlaps" by sitting in my sleeping bag outside, watching the dawn whilest listening to Jack Johnson, eating Jaffa Cakes and drinking Coke. It was great if a little chilly.
Nice lap in the dawn light with cows running along side me in the field that singletrack was next to.
Quick one hour dozy rest, then Bacon Roll time.
Final Lap, not too hard but feeling tired and by this time with the wind dropping during the night and the sun shining it was really hot.
Hand over to Dave so he can do his last lap.
Scores on the doors:
Total Laps: 24
Total Miles: 240 ish
Total Height Climbed: 24,000ft
Total Calories consumed: I shudder to think.
We all slowly packed up and headed home, secure in the knowledge that we had had a good time, done our best and raised over two thousand pounds for CLIC.