Wednesday, 18 May 2011

24hrs of Exposure: Getting there & getting ready

I met Simon Ernest at Marble Arch on the Friday morning and we set about packing the car with the three bike frames and 6 sets of wheels. Unfortunately We couldn't get everything in so I had to leave one of the bikes behind. Not ideal for a 24hr race but not much option. So I chose the 29r hardtail. I had 8 good hours on it and I was sure this was the bike to take over the 26in full sus. 

We drove up steadily to Newcastleton via the M6. The drive wasn't too bad as we shared it and chatted the whole way stopping for the odd coffee. The moment we entered Scotland I lost O2 signal on my phone and never regained it. Pulling into the Rock UK center we could see the event organisation taking place. We were directed to our little log cabin we had booked and unpacked.
Big pile of kit outside our cabin
The cabins were great, basic but good enough for the job. Four beds a sink and a toilet and shower to share between the other dorms in the cabin. Myself and Simon built up our bikes and went for a test run around the course.
My bed for the weekend
The course started off with a short steep climb onto a grassy almost BMX looking trail that led to a little drop. From the drop we had a small rocky path to the bottom of what looked like a forest climb. This climb zig zagged up the side of the hill. It was never too steep and easily ride able  when dry but one thing that was clear was that the grip was going to be lost with the slightest amount of rain. Out of the last few switchbacks we than regained the rocky path at the top. This was very bumpy. It was here I noticed my rear tyre was leaking. I could hear the air coming out. Wiggling the tyre about  I can't image what it must have bee like on 26in wheels. Although I didn't have a rear suspension I could tell it would feel bumpy. My 29in wheels seemed to roll over it well. 
Bloody never did get the hang of Simon's pump
From this we went down into a little valley over a bridge then up a small gravel climb which led to a steep climb that seemed to be about 300m long. On my 29r this was to be climbed on the lowest of my gears using the middle ring (some people still have three up the front you know) . I was thinking this climb was going to be a tough one half way into the race. This climb was steep and it was going to hurt for sure. Over the top of this we came to a fireroad that was split down the middle. It looked like a out and back from 1st looking at it. The Fireroad was pretty flat but fairly long. When we got to the end we figured that it must go somewhere else or just do a U turn. We turned back (which was a mistake) down the firetrack. We went past the point where we joined it at the top of the climb and about twice as far again on the fireroad. This brought us to the top of some nice singletrack swithcbacks which took us back down to a gravel road.

200m down the gravel and back to some more single track which was up and down. I really liked this bit. This finished at the little valley where we crossed a bridge earlier. This then had a short climb to a very bumpy grass trail that led us back to the finish via a really (bloody awful) bumpy descent into the arena.

Upon finishing I spotted Kinesis Morvelo's Rob Lee and we discussed the merits of the lap. Now what myself and Simon had done didn't feel like an 11mile lap. Rob confirmed that we had missed over half out. Yeah we guessed that. Where? Turns out that the signs were not up where we did the U turn. We should have turned left and all would have been clear 200m up the trail. Oh well! It's not like I won't get practice I thought. 
The jerseys on display
Back to the log cabin to fix the punture take out the inner tube and make my tyre tubeless again. This time I put double the amount of Stan's sealant in the tyres.
The signing on sheet

We signed on went to the pasta party and waited for our room mates to arrive. Simon's team mate Chris Pedder and his partner Rachel Fenton. Chris was also riding the 12hr with Rachel supporting.
They arrived with some wine so we each had a big glass then went to bed. Big day tomorrow

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Packing and getting it all together

I didn't realise how much stuff I would have to get sorted for one race. I suppose it's more like 6 enduros in one. The amount of food I will be taking is stupid but I will be needing to get a lot down my neck if I am going to survive the 24hrs.
  • 10 waterbottles
  • Enough High5 4:1 Drink to fill those bottles plenty of times
  • A tub of Accelerade 4:1 so I can have a change of drink
  • Two sachets of High5 /source Xtreme drink
  • 24 High5 Energy + gels
  • 20 other gels Mix of all sorts
  • Two packets of Biscuits
  • 6 Powerbars
  • A fruit cake
  • A big bag of pasta to cook when I get home from work
  • A bag of Haribos (opened so they might not make it)
Kit wise I have a hell of a lot
  • Scott Scale 29r Pro HT bike
  • Lapeirre X Control FS bike
  • 1 spare set of 29in heels 
  • 1 spare set of 26in wheels
  • 1 bike stand
  • Spare tyres for the 26in wheels (Bonty XR1)
  • Large bag of tools
  • Exposure Diablo headlight
  • Exposure MaXx D bike light
  • Hope 4LED bike light (spare)
  • Torch
  • Lamp
  • Track Pump
  • Laptop
  • 3 days worth of clothes
  • 1 Skinsuit (always the optimist)
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 2 short sleeve jerseys
  • 1 pair of Japanese school girl style compression socks (white)
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • This list is getting massive
  • Lube
  • Helmet
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • A gortex Jacket
  • 2 Gilets
  • What have I missed?
  • Garmin 705 GPS (It only lasts for about 14hrs) so + Charger
  • 6 spare innertubes
  • I'm sure I have missed something (please leave a comment if I have missed something I need)
  • Oh a spare saddle (you never know)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

24hrs with plenty of EXPOSURE

So we have had weeks of stunning weather. The trails are dry and dusty. There have been forest fires all over the UK. I've witnessed one myself at Cwmcarn (only a small one) and we now have 3 days to go until the 24hrs of Exposure race. The European & British Solo MTB Champs. The weather has not just turned a little bit bad but horrifically bad. The event is at the Rock UK center part of the 7Stanes. The course will be on an all weather track that should be OK but 200 of us riding around it for 24hrs should cut it up quite a bit. A week ago I was going to be wearing just my club cycling kit now I will be wearing a whole lot more. My fast wheels have some semi slicks on them. They will probably do for the 1st few hours but I will soon have to change to something a little more grippy no doubt.
The forecast is really something else. Thunder storms, hail stones and heavy rain but warm. 20C in the day which if true will take the edge off it a bit. Now why on earth did I leave my rear Crud Catcher mudguard in Wales?
I can't believe I am contemplating even packing my camo baggy water proof shorts. Racing in baggy shorts just feels wrong thinking about it.

Now I need to get myself a few more spare brake pads. I fear 2 sets is not enough

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Less than a week to go

Sunday night I did my final bit of training for Saturday's 24hr race. 4hrs on the Scott Scale 29 up Cwmcarn three laps of the Twrch Trail and home. The Twrch Trail is a bit longer than a lap of the 24hr course but with the same amount of climbing it it. Three laps all under 54 mins wasn't too hard or two slow. I can do it a lot faster but when I'm not doing more than two laps I have to pace myself a bit.
Scott Scale 29 Pro as standard apart from the Ergon Grips & XT pedals
Really happy so far with the new bike. It was bit of a risk switching to a hardtail but it's got big wheels so it doesn't feel too harsh. How it will fair after 24hrs midday on Sunday I don't know. I will have my Lapierre X Control as back up anyway.
I'm as ready as I can be now. Anything I do from now on is not going to help. Preparation for the 24hrs of Exposure for me is all about eating well and getting my two bikes ready. I'm not that impressed with the Avid brakes on the Scott so I will be taking the Formula R1s of my Lapierre and fitting them. The Selle Italia saddle just doesn't get on with my bottom so that will be swapped out for my trusty Fizik Tundra Carbon. I have some Lighter wheels that need to have tyres, brake disks, & a cassette fitted to. The list goes on.
Leaving Newport last night with too much stuff
Racing at Hillingdon this evening on the road bike to get those legs going a bit if I get out of the office on time. It's windy so it will be a good work out. I will be riding the easier 3/4 race for the last time. A 1st win this evening would please me no end.