MTB 2008/9

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Updated 29 August 2015
Mountain Bike and Off-Road
2008/9

 

 

The 47th Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross Race, 27th Sept 2009

This event is beginning to exert its hold over me in the same way that it has captured the hearts and minds of many a rider over the years. Racing generally is a matter of turning up, doing the best you can and going home. The Three Peaks is made of sterner stuff though; its not a sporting event, its an experience that you pass through, a unique event in the racing calendar with an incredible atmosphere all of its own. Id been more prepared for it this year, getting in the running training, sorting the bike out meticulously and was determined to break the 4hr mark that Id missed out on last year. However with a week to go before the big day, Id come down with a cold. I was hoping to be OK for the race but I knew it was going to be harder work than it should have been. In spite of my afore-mentioned meticulous preparation Id arrived at the start with no energy drink and nowhere to buy any Id tried over the previous weeks to get some of my favourite but no-one seemed to stock it. However I bumped into George Lewis of De Laune there Id never met him before but wed been in regular email correspondence about the race. In his hand was a bag containing every energy product imaginable and George, bless him, gave me enough to make up a couple of bottles worth. Thanks George, youre a star! For the first time in this event I had support in the form of my girlfriend Joy; she was going to ride round and meet me at strategic points so I gave her one of the bottles to hand up to me later.

The start area was busy but low key and I lined up towards the front, still hoping that the cocktail of vitamins Id been taking would have staved off the worst of my chest infection. At 9.45 the race began accompanied by the strong Yorkshire accent of the commentator Roger, a character if ever there was one. 500 riders set out and almost immediately there were several near misses as the bunch accelerated. Just behind me was a loud bang as someones tyre exploded. The narrow roads had the effect of stringing everyone out though and it was easy enough to hold my place in the pack as we headed through Horton-in-Ribblesdale at near road race pace, knobbly tyres whirring loudly on the tarmac.

As the race turned off road I was forced to dismount by the sheer number of riders trying to squeeze through the farm gate. We hit the lower slopes of Ingleborough and I knew straight away that my performance was compromised, I could feel myself wheezing for breath and my legs were refusing to turn as fast I wanted them to go. Before long we were strung out into a long multi-coloured line of riders plodding upwards, the hill getting ever steeper. The wind whipped across the hillside blowing fronds of mist and low cloud with it. We were clinging to the fence posts at the side, partly to haul ourselves up against the gradient, partly to avoid being blown over by the wind. Eventually the gradient eased, the terrain became more rideable and the rocky moonscape of the summit appeared through the mist. In spite of the low cloud and general greyness the terrain was mostly dry, the weather had been good in the previous weeks and it made the going a bit easier. The descent was a mix of running and riding at first. A rider hurtled past me far too fast for safety and was rewarded for his efforts by a crash as he hit a rocky section. I passed him again and carried on, forearms aching with the effort of controlling the bucking bike. Into the crowds of spectators and support crews at Cold Cotes where Joy gave me a big cheer and I was onto the road down to Ingleton. Its a rapid descent and I found a group working at a reasonable pace, latched on and we made it to Whernside fairly painlessly. The weather seemed to have picked up a bit, the low cloud had lifted slightly and I fell into place in the long line of riders shouldering their bikes up the steep rock packed steps of the second Peak. Out onto the sandy ridge, past the summit and onwards to the descent, a mad place to be on a beefed up road bike. Id run this hill the previous week as part of my training and memorised a lot of the lines. The main path is slabbed rock paving with wheel-gobbling drainage channels aplenty yet off to the side (if you know where to look!) is relatively smooth grass. Not obvious unless youve spent a while walking it, I picked up loads of places on the descent simply by virtue of better line choice. I knew that my chest infection had cost me full race fitness and was aware I was losing time on the climbs but the preparation on the descent made up for some of that. I arrived down by the famous curve of Ribblehead viaduct in reasonable shape and picked up my spare bottle from Joy, throwing the empty one down to her. Back down the road, through Horton again and towards the final gauntlet of Pen-y-Ghent. I was aware now of being down on my time from last year but there was nothing left in the tank in spite of the energy gels. PyG was as I remembered; a l-o-n-g slog. Riders who had already summitted were descending on the same track we were climbing and the path was thick with walkers, spectators, photographers and other riders. Up on the high slopes the wind was vicious, catching on the shouldered bike and blowing it round. Former De Laune member Ian Cleverly passed me going downhill as I was still climbing. My calves were beginning to cramp badly but I reached the summit, stopped briefly to stretch and drink then headed downwards, retracing my upward steps. I was shattered, my wrists were aching and it was all I could do to control the bikes speed as the bumps crashed through the forks and up my arms. Ahead of me a rider went down hard in the rocks, perhaps blown off by the wind, perhaps just a case of being too tired to respond to the terrain. I passed a few friends who were still on their way upwards and, right down at the bottom, just starting the climb as I came off it was George. He said some encouraging words but my face was locked in a grimace of pain from the agony in my wrists. Out onto the road and I could feel the legs cramping. I knew if I stood up in the saddle theyd seize solid so I pushed steadily on, cheered by various groups of people at the roadside. I reeled in one rider on the 2 miles to the finish and turned in under the banner in 4.09.53, nearly 7 minutes slower than last year.

Disappointing but despite the pain (of failing to beat my personal goal and of every aching muscle in my body!) Id thoroughly enjoyed it. This year had seen a reversal in the fortunes of 7-times winner Rob Jebb hed been beaten by only a few seconds by veteran pro Nick Craig, a former winner and several-times runner up to Rob in the previous years. Nick had done it in 2.54.12, only a couple of minutes off the course record.

153: James Lyon De Laune CC 04:09:53 (91st in Category) 430: George Lewis De Laune CC 05:39:25 (192nd in Category)

Race stats: 37 miles (60km), 5600ft climbing, average speed 8.9mph, max speed 41.3mph.

The last finisher, in 450th place, crossed the line an hour after George. Further information on this amazing race can be found at http://www.3peakscyclocross.org.uk  along with pictures, results and race reports.

James Lyon

The 10hr Around Kirroughtree Event - 12th July 2008 in Dumfries and Galloway 15-07-08

The 2008 Mountain Mayhem 24hr Mountain Bike Race

Sponsored by Giant

Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire, June 21st-22nd

 

The worlds biggest 24hr mountain bike race was back for its 11th year and its 5th at Eastnor Castle in the Malvern Hills.  De Laune has had a team in it every year but there was a slight change to that this year as we couldnt seem to get 4 people mad enough to do it.  So I opted for the most insane option and did it solo, my first ever foray into the world of 24hr solo racing the longest Id done up til this point was 10hrs.

 

I wasnt entirely on my own, various friends were also there and Id arranged to share a helper with another solo racer, a local training partner of mine.  This meant Id be able to leave the logistics of meal cooking to her while I concentrated on the riding part of things.

 

I arrived at the venue on Friday afternoon.  The arena was buzzing, filled with trade stands, food stalls and bike demo fleets.  I spent the time sorting out my little campsite near the huge Soloists Marquee and catching up with friends.  The rules for Soloists are slightly different to those for team racing.  Youre allocated a table in a special marquee right by the start/finish line that allows you to pick up food and drink quickly and easily without having to return to a campsite, which may be several hundred yards from the arena.  On Saturday morning I transferred my food and kitbag to this marquee and sorted everything into some sort of order.  It probably wouldnt last long but I hoped itd help me find my spare light batteries, food and drink with the minimum of fuss.

 

It was a fairly grey dull day but from what Id heard the course was fairly dry.  The weather forecast was looking ominous though; it may have been the summer solstice weekend but the rainclouds were gathering.

 

As the clock ticked down towards the start time of 2pm, I lined up under the Red Bull banner with the hundreds of other people ready for the carnage of the Le Mans style run to where our bikes were stacked.  The race official counted us down, the horn blared and the race was on.  I took it slightly easier in the run than normal but still came through in the top 100 or so, grabbed the bike and got out onto the course.  I hadnt pre-ridden it this year; Id have plenty of opportunity over 24hrs to get to know it!  The course got quite congested on the first climb, so many riders all trying to squeeze into the same piece of singletrack.  Things became a bit easier after a while and I settled into a decent rhythm, trying not to go out too hard.

 

The 8.5-mile course was more technical than usual with several sections of newly cut singletrack and off-camber rooty sections, which made overtaking difficult in places.  It wasnt entirely dry either although within a lap or two the racing line appeared and things got easier and faster.  I stuck to a pattern of stopping for a few minutes in the Solo Marquee each lap to stretch, refuel and swap water bottles.  For the first few hours, everything was going very well, in fact I was well up inside the top 10 at this point.  Riding partly with a friend who was also Solo-ing it gave us the opportunity to pace and motivate each other.

 

As night fell I fired up my lights and headed out again.  The course seemed quieter now, the mad rush of the first few laps had died down.  I started on my second night lap but Id only been out 5 minutes when the predicted rain appeared.  The downpour was short lived but heavy and it turned the track from a dryish fast course to a lethally slippery quagmire.  The off-camber singletrack was like an ice rink and my tyres certainly werent up to the challenge of gripping to it.  I was all over the place and I wasnt the only one, riders were falling, slipping and walking all around me.  I suffered a few offs, sometimes caused by other riders crashing or sliding around me, sometimes my fault.  Eventually I arrived back in the arena on the verge of having a major sense-of-humour failure.  There was a hot meal waiting for me though and I decided Id grab a quick shower, clean all the mud off me and then head out once the course had begun to dry out again.

 

I headed off to the nearby showers, enjoyed 10 mins under the hot water then came back to the Marquee where I sat and sipped a coffee for a while, looking at the stream of bedraggled riders riding or walking their mud-covered bikes back after their lap.  After a while I began to pull on my race clothes once more ready for another lap.  Id just about started this when the heavens opened, it really was torrential.  It was about midnight and had I actually been out riding I probably wouldnt have been that bothered about it but from the warmth of the Marquee it wasnt inviting.  I slipped round the corner to my tent, crawled inside and fell asleep.  I had the intention of just sitting out the storm but I knew the course wouldnt be holding up at all well under this deluge.  At one point I had to clamber out of the tent into the teeming rain and peg the tent down more firmly, the wind was threatening to turn it into a kite!

 

I woke about 6am and crawled out of the tent.  My ribs hurt from where Id come off the previous night; I guessed that Id probably cracked one.  The place looked like a war zone with a few lost souls wandering round.  These lost souls were the people whod braved it out through the night; mud covered and exhausted they pushed their bikes towards the finish line, wheels so clogged up with mud that they wouldnt turn.  It looked awful.  I knew there was precious little point in going out into those conditions (especially with injured ribs) so I had a hot breakfast from the catering tent and wandered back to see how everyone was getting on.  The Solo Marquee was virtually deserted.  Loads of people had pulled out, just packed up their stuff and gone.  A few mud-covered bikes sat around, helpers trying to clean off the worst of it.  However Sunday was gorgeous and with the sun the good mood returned and I knew the course would dry out rapidly.  By 9am I was out on the bike again and I put in 4 steady laps in ever drying conditions to eventually finish just after 2pm.

 

Im not really sure that it counts as a great entry to 24hr racing falling asleep for 8 hours of it isnt really in the spirit of the event!  However I managed 11 laps and finished 34th.  Out of 122 starters only 72 finished, the remainder pulled out due to a mix of the bad weather, crashes, mechanicals and injuries.  My ribs healed up OK fairly quickly but thats the second time Ive cracked them and Im not keen to repeat the experience!

 

Lap

Number

Rider

Time

Speed

1

2525

James Lyon

00:57:19

9.11 mph / 14.66 km/h

2

2525

James Lyon

00:55:42

9.37 mph / 15.08 km/h

3

2525

James Lyon

01:04:58

8.03 mph / 12.93 km/h

4

2525

James Lyon

01:17:20

6.75 mph / 10.86 km/h

5

2525

James Lyon

01:08:14

7.65 mph / 12.31 km/h

6

2525

James Lyon

01:34:44

5.51 mph / 8.87 km/h

7

2525

James Lyon

01:09:29

7.51 mph / 12.09 km/h

8

2525

James Lyon

11:11:37

0.78 mph / 1.25 km/h

9

2525

James Lyon

01:20:38

6.47 mph / 10.42 km/h

10

2525

James Lyon

01:08:22

7.64 mph / 12.29 km/h

11

2525

James Lyon

02:14:32

3.88 mph / 6.24 km/h

 

Rider

Laps

Best

Average

Worst

James Lyon

11

00:55:42
(9.37 mph / 15.08 km/h)

02:11:10
(3.98 mph / 6.40 km/h)

11:11:37
(0.78 mph / 1.25 km/h)

 
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