24/12 – an eventful event…

3 08 2008

After a 7 hr journey to Plymouth Rick and I arrived feeling a little frazed from crawling along in traffic jams all day.  Leaving at 11am isn’t a good idea if you want to travel West.  We were’nt alone though as texts flew back and forth from our Group, all held up at the same points but at varying places in time.  Lesson learnt, it’ll be a dawn raid next time.

Can’t complain though, the sun was shining and the forecast-meister Rob was predicting a scorchio weekend for the event.  Bring it on !

As we arrived a recce party were about to go but we decided to pitch tent and, thanks to Ollie and Sally, we were blessed with a pitch big enough to swing a whole cattery, enough for everyone including 2 gazebos, which turned out to be a godsend in the sun.  Everyone was buzzing telling tales of their journey and what the track had in store for us, it sounded technical with a few killer climbs to sort the pack out, a bit like Afan in places being the feedback.   Nice, and compared to last year’s wet off-camber rootfest, actually rideable !  With Gez & Tony still to arrive, Rick and I would recce with them early tomorrow.  So it was tent pitched, BBQ on, beer in hand, chill time.

During recent weeks I’d been working hard behind the scenes to get our team jerseys ready for the day, to unfortunately be, very accidentally, dobbed in it by an unsuspecting sole (naming no names!) the day before.  Eagle-eyed Sally spotted the announcement before I could delete it but with everything crossed I lied a fantastic lie that made the trail go cold, and sad though it was (lie, lie), we wouldn’t have our apparel for the day.  What a blagger !  They’d arrived on the Wednesday, covering our living room floor there was loads of ’em and saw Rick and I sorting orders out for distribution to various parts of the World (thanks to Dirt Diva) for quite a few hours.

Anyway, back at the camp and after dinner had been consumed and we were sitting round the campfire, Rick and I disappeared into the tent to bring out the cheeky stash… clearing of throat, an apology to everyone from me for being a complete and utter liar, but THE JERSEYS HAVE ARRIVED ! Whoops of joy, I handed them out.  Guy got his first as designer extra-ordinaire.  Excitement or what, stripping off and muddy@rse jersey immediately on, he was well pleased with his work.  And so he should be, they looked flippin great, totally professional – oh dear !  Feeling like Father Xmas I dished out the rest of the jerseys to the gleaming faces surrounding me.  After a bit more chat and Gez arriving, it was early-ish to bed.  Tony would be here tomorrow morning and he’s camping, now there’s a first !

We’d enterered a Girls 24 hr team of 4, 2 x Mens 12 hr teams of 4 (one which ended up being team of 3) and a 12hr Mens pair.  Not bad going.  Team talks were taking place over breakfast in the already 20 degree sunshine (nice).  The Girls Team (my team) were talking tictacs – should we do double night laps, who’d do the start, etc, also Jo had a cold and felt under the weather which was a real shame.  I decided to Start, we’d decide on night laps around 10pm.  I’d never done a start before and fancied a go but would do it from the back and use it as my recce lap having decided not to recce the course, saving my energy for the 24hrs ahead.

Rick, Tony & Gez did recce, leaving around 10.15 it was going to be tight with a midday start.  Rick was also doing the start !  The rest of us continued to chill and get our stuff together, nerves and excitement slowly building.  11am was Riders Debrief and no sign yet of the others.  Back to camp at 11.30, Rick and Gez appeared all out of breath ‘have you seen Tony?’, ‘no.. he was with you’, ‘he crashed, was covered in blood and fired up on adrenaline we lost him on the trail’ !!!!!  Then Tony appears, with the medic, wound dressing just above his eye, needs stitches, got to go to A&E.   I was in the middle of stretching and getting ready for my start, now only 10 mins away, my adrenaline kicked in, looking about the camp an immediate plan came to mind, Jim’s Dad was here, he was local, would he take Tony to A&E ?  Bless him he very kindly offered to sort Tony out, returning 3 hrs later with a stitched up Tony who then proceeded to do all his laps.  Well done to both of you & big, big thanks to Jim’s dad for his help.

Back to the start though, time was now rushing by, I had to get to the start line.  Rick, Jim and Ollie were starting too but more hungry than me, they were in the middle of the pack (I think 500 riders ), I happily stuck to the back.  It was very exciting and I wasn’t alone in never having done a start, surrounded by many in the same boat, we chatted nervously until the countdown started.  Off went the hooter and the pack rushed off through the campsite to cheers from the crowd, it was really exciting but came to a complete bottleneck at the first climb where 500 into 1 doesn’t fit very easily, but then back round to the main arena and off onto the trail proper, the pack already thinning out big time.

The trail started off with a grassy climb leading to fireroad climb into the woods then onto some really lovely wooded singletrack, tight and twisty with a little drop that spat you out onto the tarmac road climb which was steep, in the sun and a bit of a killer but flattened out to the right across a lumpy field, climbed a bit more on wide dusty trails (it could have been Spain) then the trail turned into an Afan-like singletrack with tight corners to negotiate through the trees which lead you into a really tight right hand corner with a sheer drop to the left hand side (I think into a quarry), followed by a very steep technical rocky descent which spat you out onto another fireroad.  Climbing briefly again turn left onto more loose singletrack that took you to ‘The Tree’ drop-in, @rse off the back, then into the bombholes.  Steep entries, with rocks strewn everywhere, steep exists, they were fun and fast, the last one being the Big Mamma which had a tight right hand corner to negotiate immediately on exit, nice and tricky.  Then more loose wooded singletrack into a loose steep descent with a ‘will I, won’t I make it’ loose off camber fast corner.  Now heading towards the DJ’s cheering you on was really cool, talking of cool we’re nearing the River, I won’t call it a water splash cos it was running real fast and at least 2ft deep.  The chicken run brigde kept your feet dry if you weren’t that bothered about getting a complete soaking, which many did.

The trail continued through a few small water splashes and a bit of a boggy climb and another water splash then through the farmyard (!!) up a tree covered tunnel with a stinging little climb (claim to fame – Keith Bontrager overtook me here on lap 2 and said hi) you were spat out into open fields to rest your legs before the final section.  The final section was more tree covered double track which skirted the back of the arena, gradually climbing but then turned into a really loose fast descent around an off-camber dusty corner (where I crashed lap 2) just before you entered the split section.  Take the high line and it was fun and rooty and an easier challenge to stay on line, take the low line and (according to Rick) it was more off-camber and rooty with big rooty steps to negotiate through narrow chicanes and it was faster, if you had good skill.  Eventually leading to the Clif Drop, the final grassy descent under the bridge then back into the arena and swop at transition.

Lap times were blinding, all of the boys mainly hitting the 45-50 min mark which isn’t bad at all, the girls around the hour but with 24 to go, endurance and eeking out was the name of the game here.

My crash.  Well lap 2 was as far as I got because at the loose off-camber tree corner mentioned above I was being overtaken by 2 lads who were going some speed, skidding all over the shop behind me I could see their wheels to my right as I was entering the dead slow corner.  It all happened really quick but I think that as I looked over my shoulder I started to drift off line heading towards the tree.  Next thing I know, bars have tucked from under me, and I’m on the deck feeling a lot of pain in my knee.  With them nearly crashing in to me I manage to jump out the way, they just about manage to stop, I look down ‘oh no !’ is all I remember saying then feeling a bit shocked as I see the contents of my leg staring back at me through a nice big hole the shape of the big flat rock laying on the ground.  I think this is when shock set in.  Next thing I recognise Michael fly by, a friendly face, he came back to see if I was OK got my bike off the trail and called for help, next thing Guy came by, I was feeling a bit queer by now, still on trackside waiting for the medic Michael had gone to get.  I felt totally useless and out of control.  Pain in my knee throbbing like hell and full of dust me just wanting to blub but trying hard to hold it together.  Not sure I did a good job though but thanks to Michael and Guy for helping me out which meant ruining your lap times.  Thanks also to the 3 spectators who happened to be right where I crashed, their water helped clear my wound and they kindly took my bike back to our camp.

So the medics arrived and I got taken to their little hut where a poke about confirmed I needed stitches which meant an A&E trip.  It turned out Rick was still out doing his lap so he didn’t know I’d hurt myself but into transition and straight over to see me.  Like me ‘Oh No!’ was all he said.  That was the end of my 24 hr adventure and I felt awful because now the girls were down to 3.  Everyone was really supportive but I still felt bad, 24hrs is a long time.

Off to A&E we went where 4 hrs later I returned with 3 stitches for the next 14 days and a knee so tight you could play a tune on it.  Rick went out for his final lap (remember that boys team of 3 well it was 2 for a while) and at midnight the boys laps were over and a job well done by all of them.  Birthday Girl Janine’s roast chicken was a feast fit for a king and a bottle of wine mixed with some painkillers did a good job of cheering me up and we stayed up til the early hours to give the girls some moral support.  It was decided single laps were the plan after all but Helen wanted to test her mettle and did a double lap stint in the early hours, a couple of hours sleep each and they continued right through to midday.  Well done girls 20 laps under your belt ain’t bad going.

The 24hrs Women Team of 4 category only had 2 teams enter so we should have got on the podium, all the other categories did, but for some reason as yet unknown to us, they didn’t call the Muddy@rse girls.  Not a very positive way to end a really good weekend and we’re still waiting to hear from the event organisers why ours was the only category that wasn’t allowed on the podium.  The girls worked really hard to keep going through the night with only a 3 person team, the winners achieving 25 laps against our 20.  I;ll let you know if we ever hear a reason why…

That said, it was a great weekend.  The weather was brilliant, the tops looked cool, camp had a great vibe and even with the unfortunate accidents, everyone had a great time.  So, here’s to next year….

Lisa

Photos to follow shortly, can anyone spot Tony’s tent ?  🙂  http://www.flickr.com/photos/muddyarse/sets/72157606427097417/

Read what everyone else thought of the event here:-  http://z6.invisionfree.com/Sussex_Muddyarse/index.php?showtopic=555

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