Left, Left, Right, Right, Left, Middle

The Gorrick 12hr, Torq In Your Sleep, was the final round of the British Endurance Series. I was third in the series last year and was lying fifth coming into this race, could I repeat my performance this year?

It had rained heavily in the days before the race, but the day itself dawned fairly pleasant, it should be a good race. I had set up my pit on the far side of the field, after the start/finish area, camping with former team-mate Jon Kenyon and with Mr K Snr keeping us fed and watered for the duration. The only criticism I had of the organisation of the event was that the series leaders were not gridded, quite a handicap for those of us who are far too disorganised to get to the line early. Martin P very kindly let me push in front of him about seven or eight rows back., not ideal but it would have to do.

We did a lap of the arena behind the quad bike to try to spread us all out a little and then headed out on to the course proper. Last year it had been flat out from the off, and that had worked well, eventually netting me sixth place. However, this year something didn’t feel quite right, I couldn’t really put my finger on it but I just didn’t seem to have the speed.  It was difficult to judge, a lot of the riders around me would have been racing in the team or pairs categories and one would expect them to be going fast, what looked like 30th or 40th could actually be a decent place amongst the solos.

For the first couple of laps I just went straight through the pits, only collecting another bottle of Bikefood., still none the wiser as to where I was. I heard the commentator as I came through the arena at the end of my third lap, 13th. Not great but it might be enough, depending on how everyone else was doing.

Most of the course was pretty good, and had drained surprisingly well. There was obviously a bit of surface mud in places but no boggy bits, and as the race went on a definite dry line was emerging. There were a few sections where the track split, giving us differing options and overtaking opportunities on the twisty bits. There was some debate as to which was the fastest route at each section on the Saturday when we were practicing. I was riding around saying over and over to myself ‘Left, left, right, right, left, middle’, that combination seemed to work for me.

Unfortunately, by about 6 hours I was really starting to struggle, my lap times had dropped from 42 to 56 minutes. I was eating OK, but my stomach was gurgling away to itself, something funny was going on in there and the up, down and shake it all around nature of a mountain bike race really wasn’t helping. Even the magic pineapples seemed to have stopped working.

Jon was struggling a bit too, I had managed to lap him while he was a bit of a sit down in the pits, but the rest appeared to do him good. I was getting slower and slower as the race went on, but he had picked the pace up again and was gaining rapidly on me as darkness fell.

I usually love riding at night, I find it surprisingly relaxing just having the trail in front of me to concentrate on, no peripheral vision, no distractions elsewhere, just me and the track. Unfortunately on this occasion the silence was broken by the peculiar sounds emanating from my tummy, and I was getting slower and slower. I was also starting to make mistakes, I lost my front wheel on the drop into one section, bounced down the hill and ended up in heap at the bottom, fortunately unhurt. I wasn’t quite so lucky on the little short, sharp climb near the end, the one from the swoopy downhill section on to the fireroad. I took the middle line as always, as per my instructions to myself. However, I didn’t quite have the speed, or the power once I realised I didn’t have the speed, to get over the top this time. I felt myself rolling backwards, unclipped my right foot and then attempted to put my left foot down, which was never going to end well, and fell straight onto the very pointy tree stump, that was rather painful.

I limped around to the start/finish line. Unfortunately it was still not yet midnight, and I would have to go for another lap. I was down in 21st by this stage, my lap times having fallen even further to 1hr15minutes. Unless there had been a lot of DNFs amongst the championship contenders a good result was looking increasingly unlikely.

The last lap was even more useless. My stomach was still all over the place , and my brain wasn’t a lot better. I ended up just walking for the last thirty minutes or so, my brain was so frazzled that I was just going to hurt myself if I attempted to ride. It was during this time that Jon came passed me again, he had made up a deficit of more than a lap in the second half of the race!

I ended up way down in 26th place, really not the result I had been looking for. I was too tired to be disappointed, it was straight back to the van and straight to bed, where despite the tiredness I lay for ages trying to get to sleep with just the noise of my stomach breaking the silence.
Final Standings 

This result had also dropped me from 5th down to 9th in the championship, no great surprise there. Next week would be a 12hr road race, that couldn’t be any worse surely.

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