Dusk til Dawn – Thetford Forest, Norfolk

10 10 2007

After all the planning, it was here. 12hours of nightime racing around a spooky, dark forest in Thetford. After a mega stressful journey in horrendous traffic which saw us launching our car at warp speed through the gate at 6.50pm (it was locked at 7pm!) we were in, closely followed by Guy. Ollie & Sally were already there and after a quick domestic setting up camp, we had dinner, then a glass of wine. Well a few glasses of wine, OK quite a lot of wine! Unfortunately, I wasn’t riding due to Docs orders (slowly mending torn calf muscle) so I relaxed.. til the morning when I had a hangover from hell ! Why oh why did I buy a box of wine ! It was a good night though with lots of chat, wine, beer, chocolate and laughs. Obviously we were taking this very seriously.

Local trailbuilders were officially opening a new section of trail on Saturday am and asked for some support so Sally, Ollie, Rick and Guy took off early for the ‘time trial’. They were hours, Tony had stealthily arrived while I was sleeping, having just pre-ridden the course (although he had opted for the sheer luxury of Centre Parcs with it’s whirlpool bath!). After taking the very scenic route Jim and Simon (honorary Muddy@rser) arrived, now it’s mid-afternoon so everyone went to pre-ride the track.

12 miles long, flattish course, lots of ribboned singletrack, not too technical but with lots of whoopy-doops to drain your energy with no momentum to help you through them and 4 bi bombholes to negotiate. That’ll be fun in the dark then and I was nervous for everyone.

At sign-on Barry was looking for a ride, we were one person down. Solution ! Barry was a serious rider looking to get some seriously fast laps in (his training partner/mate rode for Marin!), we were out for fun, he was just glad of a ride. Cheers Barry, great to have met you and thanks for making up the numbers on our Team.

We all missed the riders briefing but Ollie & Rick were doing the start laps. It was now 7.45pm, already dark and 300 or so riders were forming the start line !! How exciting though with 30 seconds to go the lights started pinging into action on bars and crash helmets. Ollie & Rick were very near the front and the first corner was a bottleneck, we were crossing everything for them. Then it was almost daylight, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 BANG…they were off. What a fantastic sight.

Spotted Ollie in the crowd, called his name, he looked round, then nearly crashed, bars twisting, foot unclipping, OMG was it my fault distracting him ? Turns out his bars had been swiped by a Minx rider he managed to stay on though and not cause a massive pile up, well done Ollie. The start was very fast and the stream of riders just went on forever and ever…we decided to dash into the woods and get some photos of ‘The Skip’ a bombhole on the 1st section. The leading riders came through so fast it was unbelievable (fastest 1st lap 46 minutes by a Pro rider).

‘Is that Rick’s silouhette’…‘yes’…‘there’s Ollie’ …who shouted ‘hello’ in reply. Both boys together and through in one piece but narrowly missing a crash at the lip of bombhole. This was really fast, close racing and the boys were in the thick of it. Go Muddy@rsers ! Now we had the dodgy walk back against the flow of riders to the main arena, luckily it was doubletrack and only one rider decided to overtake ‘to keep us on our toes’ as he so kindly told us as he went by ! Now all everyone had to do was get through 12 hrs of riding in the dark.

Ollie & Rick did blinding 1st laps of an hour, glowstick handover, everyone aiming for an hour lap. Barry went out and did a double blinding 52 minutes, flippin ‘eck he was fast. Everyone did fantastic lap times (mostly around the hour all through the night), especially considering how fit the field was, I mean even Liam Killeen was racing ! So a pattern settled in…now all we had to do was stay awake !

After his first lap Tony headed back to luxury for a quick whirlpool bath (honestly we weren’t jealous!) but to make up for it he promised to bring hot pizza back in the early hours. This really helped keep up morale – Tony you are redeemed J Next year it’s camping for you though..

Around 1am it started to get really, really cold so we all ducked into our great big tent, battened down the hatches and put the gas cooker on. What luxury, we were warm, toasty and wrapped in blankets. Keeping an eye on the time as both teams were now slightly staggered. Simon was driving to Plymouth straight after the race and Helen had air traffic to control they caught some shut eye. Mind you both did brilliantly and still managed to get two very respectable laps in during the early hours.

5am (ish), Tony was out doing 2nd lap and we were toasty in the tent chatting to stay awake and keeping an eye on the time. Tony got round quicker than we thought (it was now really foggy out there too) but Rick was ready to go for lap 3. Tony popped back to luxury, the rest of us fell asleep in our chairs. A mutual decision was made to get some proper shut eye. Helen woke in time for a dawn lap and Jim got his 3rd lap in too.

We were all up by 8.30am anyway, buzzing from the night we’d just had although suitably knackered. Bacon sarnies and cups of tea were downed and tales of near off’s, dodgy bombholes, ‘THAT’ root which took some of us out and which eventually broke some poor bloke’s ankle resulting in a track layout change right near the end of the night and of Barry’s lap times …. I hadn’t ridden and was knackered so I can only imagine how everyone else felt, they looked remarkably good though all things considered. After packing all the gear away it was lunchtime. Rick insisted on driving home and did really well until near Flimwell when he just ‘didn’t see that car in the middle of the road which had completely stopped’, time to swop drivers I think !!!!! We made it in one piece with others sensibly stopping for 40 winks in motorway services along the way.

I think both the Muddy@rse Teams did fantatsically well and I’m looking forward to next year so I can have a go. There was plenty of talk about next year and I think everyone’s hungry for more so watch this space Team Muddy@rse will be returning.

Lisa

clicky for photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7914727@N03/

Read about it in the forum: http://z6.invisionfree.com/Sussex_Muddyarse/index.php?showtopic=102&st=40

Read Muddy@rser Slim’s blog of the race: http://web.mac.com/richard.gearing/Slim_Online/Musings/Entries/2007/10/8_I_died_at_D2D….html

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