Tough Weekend - Sunday

The Brighton Big Dog is not the easiest race on the calendar. Yes, it’s ‘only’ six hours but that means that it is short enough (and competitive enough!) to be flat out all the way.

I went and rode that and thoroughly enjoyed it. The sensible thing to do after such a race is of course to follow everyone else to the pub on the seafront for BBQs on the beach and lots of beer. The less sensible option is to hit the motorway and head up to Cambridge for a 12hr time trial. Unfortunately I am not the sensible type and easily succumb to peer pressure.

The race had finished about 6pm, there was the usual standing around chatting and eating pizzas, then I had to faff about with the bikes and the food and drinks and then a bit more chatting so it was about 8:30pm by the time I got to the M23. The M25 was as much fun as ever so it was midnight by the time I got off the M11 and arrived at the race headquarters. I climbed into the back of the van and went to sleep, then it was 5am and my alarm went off.

Leaving aside my own personal issues of not having had a lot of sleep, it has always puzzled me why roadies like to start races so early. The first man was off at 5am, I was off just before 6am, but they could easily send the first man off at 8am and still have everyone finish in daylight. A strange breed these roadies.

As well as being the National Championship this particular race would count towards two things for me, the Lincolnshire 12hr Championship, which heading into the race was lead by Jordan Skelly with 225.23miles, and the Lincolnshire Best All-Rounder. Assuming no-one else went faster I obviously had to beat him to get the 12hr title. We were very evenly matched in the 50mile race but he was a little quicker than me in the 100mile event so I had to do at least 228miles to take the lead in the BAR competition. I have done 237miles before so I knew I could do it on a good day, but the day after the Big Dog? That wouldn’t be easy.

The first 100miles were a couple of out and back laps on a dual carriageway, so it should have been a nice fast section. There was however quite a noticeable wind which was costing both time and energy. It was 4hr58min for the first 100, not great, I really couldn’t afford to go much slower.

The course was made up of several little circuits, we would complete a few laps of one, and then be sent on to another for a couple of laps. Unfortunately this did confuse my intrepid helper somewhat, so I did the next 50 miles without food or drink as she was driving around the countryside trying to work out where we would be. We eventually met up again, and I was able to refuel. I had been flagging a bit by then but pineapple seemed to be the magic food which would get me going again (mental note to self, buys loads of them before the Gorrick 12hr)

There were no further instances of anyone getting lost and I was refuelled at suitably regular intervals and was able to pick the pace up again. However, the second 100 miles had been even slower than the first, it was going to be close.

The final stages of a 12hr race, or a 24hr for that matter, go one of two ways, either I’m completely shot and just in limping home mode or I suddenly perk up and find myself able to push the pace quite hard. One hour left. 22 miles needed to beat him. I can do it.

The wind was really noticeable on the final circuit, some sections where it was behind us I was doing 28 or 29mph, some headwind sections barely 16. Would I have done enough? It would be close.

I went to find the results after the race. 211.42 miles. That can’t be right. It wasn’t, turns out they had missed one of my early circuits, which was about 13 or 14 miles.

225.23 miles To beat. What had I done?

224.82. That really is quite annoying.

Richard Horton had done 217.74 mile and Kath Smith 206.14 miles, so with a total of 648.70 miles between us the Lincolnshire team prize looks pretty likely.

I have one more go at the individual title, 1st September, although being the week after the Gorrick 12hr I can’t see it being much easier...

I would like to say a huge thank-you to Liz for all her help during the race. Apparently she is bringing more maps to the race in Wales in September!

The picture is an archive one from a race back in March. I’m always short of pictures so if there are any budding photographers out there looking for a bit of free publicity I would be delighted to hear from you

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