24hr of Exposure Trip (Sat) – 7th April

The first look out of the cabin window at just before 8 confirmed I could see the mountain on the other side of the Liddlesdale. A quick look at the Carver showed a thorn in the front tyre. I guess it sealed in the tyre causing the frothy rims on last nights ride, and probabably finally let go on the last bit of singletrack before the Priests Hill section, I was pushing the front very hard down that bit trying to catch Rob.

I was originally planning on going for a lap of the course in the morning, but in the end, time and a big dollop of “couldn’t be arsed” won the call. I went down to see Sheldon Attwood with Rob, as we’d been talking to him about his Fat fronted Jones on Friday evening and he’d said to Rob he could take it out for a spin. Rob headed off and came back with the usual look of a fat bike rider…. a massive grin!

Heading back to GT HQ we ended up just hanging around waiting to go down into Newcastleton for the midday start, Rob and Smitty checking over their bikes and arranging their kit. Bored, I ended up going up the sketchier section of the last descent and doing it again… that’s better, attacking the descent the Carver front felt stable and in control, with the back end doing it’s usual impression of a drunken punk… just how I like it!

The two GT racers prepared themselves, Rob seeming a little apprehensive, contemplating what the next 24 hours would involve. Soon we were heading down to Newcatleton villiage centre for the traditional piper lead start. We queued to sign the racers entry board, and when it was my turn I suddenly wondered how to sign Andy Houston so just put  X. (I was originally just going to pit bitch, but Andy had pulled out. So I took his number board allowing me the option of doing a few laps in the 12 hour race, but the entry was still in his name)

The first five ranked riders in each catagory are called up to sign and then take their place at the head of the field. We hadn’t really paid much attention that Smitty was at the top of the board so were all taken aback when “ranked 4th, Martin Smith, Godiva Trailriders” came over the speakers! Off to the front of the class Mr Smith 🙂

Soon we were off, me and Rob riding together till the first climb when he pulled ahead. the course climbs hard out of the event arena and the lead riders were clearly visible disappearing up into the trees. By the time I reached checkpoint M6 where the outbound and inbound on the East loops converge I worked out that the lead riders would be coming through pretty soon, and a chat to the two fancy dressed marshals confirmed that they were on their way. Pretty soon Smitty flew past and into the distance.

I carried on round the loop, and headed back down the fireroad. I was now at the top of Rob’s least favorite part of the course. And with a rough guess worked out that the leaders would be on lap two and heading up that way soon. So I stopped and sat on a pile of stone. soon the leaders rode past, followed not too far behind by Smitty. I decided I couldn’t shout support and just clear off and leave before Rob came through. Soon he appeared and shouted that he’d screwed up, hadn’t stopped at the end of lap 1 and was running out of liquid. I grabbed my half bottle and emptied it into his. He headed off onto the East Loop as I headed West.

Heading down my favorite section of singletrack on the course I worked out that if I looped back on the fireroad I’d probably get to the start of that section as the leaders came through. Sure enough, as I got towards the end of the climb I could see the leaders in the woods, and just at the turn in point Smitty went past. I followed behind a few other riders, and rode it really hard. I was pretty pleased that none of the others at the front of the pack caught me up.

Onto Priests Hill now, I decided to stop at the Trig point at the top of the final descent and wait for Rob. So I waited, and waited, and waited. It’s suprising how many riders had white helmets and red tops, and looked like him from a distance. Eventually he turned up, explaining he’s had a nightmare lap, with a torn tyre. we headed back down to the arena and GT HQ. I took a shorthcut across a field to get back first. The tyre seemed to be holding pressure now, so a restock of gas cannisters, liquid and food and he was away. I then headed back across the field to rejoin the course and finish the lap. I’m pretty sure I have the slowest first lap at 24 hours of Exposure 2012…. Well Andy Houston does 🙂

I was now in pit bitch mode, and grabbed a quick shower.

Smitty was first one in (10th place), telling me that Rob had blown the rear again and had fitted a tube.

Rob pitted just after Smitty left, insisting on a bike change. The Singular was going to be swapped for the Turner, his nightmare start had cost him dear in the race and he was down in 40th out of 43. He’d used all his gas canisters inflating the rear tyre twice so I grabbed 2 out of my pack, but they were non threaded, so I raided Smitty’s box for two. He took the pump off the Singular grabbed a fresh bottle of fluids and headed off.

The pit stop schedule from then went like this (Smitty’s stops were blindingly quick – two times shown indicate time into GT HQ and time out)

Smitty – 5 Laps – 17:34 (9th -1)

Rob – 4 Laps – 17:55-18:05 (37th -3)

Smitty – 6 Laps – 18:43-18:50 (change of clothes – 7mins!) (8th -1)

Rob – 5 Laps – 19:25-19:35 (35th -2)

Smitty – 7 Laps – 20:03 (6th -2)

Rob – 6 Laps – 21:00-21:18 (33rd -2)

Smitty – 8 Laps – 21:15-21:17 (2 crashes on the lap so bike checked over) (5th -1)

Smitty – 9 Laps -22:30 (4th -1)

Rob -7 Laps – 22:50-23:00 (Shifting thumb pain issues) (30th -3)

Smitty crossed the 12 hour finish line in 5th place after major battle that saw him cross the line 6 seconds after 4th place…a stunning performance!

Race over (10 laps, 112 miles, 14160ft of climbing)

Rob on the other hand, still had another 12 hours to do….. his lap times were now super consistant and I could stand and look up over the event arena and workout which lights were his bobbing their way down off Priests Hill.

And so into Sunday…….

The pit bitch duties continued…. along with the midge attacks

8 Laps – 00:30-00:53 (Cup of tea break) (28th -2)

9 Laps – 02:22-02:24 (On it, so fast stop) (26th -2)

At some point during this lap I got fed up of using Rock music to keep me awake so put on some ‘Ambient Chillout Sounds’…. Not a good move, as within one track I’d nodded off, toppled over and ended up face down with my camping chair on top of me….

Pass me a caffeine energy gel and two cheap Red Bulls!

10 Laps – 03:52-04:04 (21st -5)

11 Laps – 05:35 (20th -1)

The sun was just starting lighten the sky as Rob came in, he sat down and said he’d got no more in him. I suggested giving himself 15 mins to chill and recharge his mental batteries. I cleaned, lubed and checked the Turner over. Then headed over to get him a cup of tea. To be honest he looked terrible, but then after nearly 18 hours riding every rider still out on course probably looked the same.

I thought the rapidly brightening sky may get one more lap out of him, but after his tea he tried to stand up and his legs gave up and he dropped back into the chair. “That’s it, I’m done”

Race over (11 laps, 125 miles, 15510ft climbing) – 06:05

Rob ended up placed 25th and 3rd best Rookie in the Open Male 24 hour class, a fantastic effort!

We just sat there in silence for at least 1/2 an hour, Rob was lost in his own thoughts, eventually he staggered to his tent. I put a few things away, then just couldn’t be arsed, so went to bed, it was 06:45. A caffeine ravaged two hours later we were all back up and milling around, in a ‘lack of sleep’ induced haze.

Originally the plan was to stay Sunday night, doing a nice easy spin in the afternoon and then on the Monday hitting a trail centre. But a general feeling exhaustion and the forecast for Monday being heavy rain all day meant we decided to pack up and head home after the award ceremony.

We somehow bundled all the GT HQ kit into the cars and headed over to the presentation area hoping to win one of the two Kinesis Superlight frames being given away in the riders draw. After a bit of a delay due to issues with the ‘Fastest lap award’ we didn’t win the frames.

Paul from the organisers then proceeded to throw water bottles and stuff into the crowd, none of which came anywhere near us. Then said “Who did the least laps?” and, I’m pretty sure jokingly “Anyone just do one?” Even if I’d have wanted to stay anonymous I wouldn’t have stood a chance as Rob and Smitty were waving their arms shouting “Floyd”

Paul had got a pair of grips in his hand and I expected him to just hand them to me, but no. Onto the podium I went with event photographer Joolz Dymond doing the photos… I was tempted to try and say why it was only one lap, but it would have been far to complicated to explain. So I stood there and enjoyed my moment of anti-glory.

So in a strange twist of fate our best preforming rider got nothing, while Rob got a top of the range Exposure light in a raffle a month before the event for just entering and I got some grips for doing the least laps (and I suspect it was probably the longest too). I noticed there was a box of 2 threaded 16g cartridges in the bag the grips were in so I gave them to Smitty so he didn’t feel left out 🙂

Ride – #58     Bike – Carver 96’er

Miles – 19.6     Total 2012 miles – 1284.1

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