With such a favourable reaction from all who took part in the 2009 Dusk til Dawn it seemed a great idea to capture the thoughts of our riders who took part. Here’s their responses to some simple questions regarding the event. First up, Team Muddy Moles 1…
What were the highlights of your race?
Jem – The first lap was great, feeling really pumped of adrenalin and having loads of energy. Overtaking people that I came up behind and not being passed on the out lap. Riding into the change over area to hand over to Barry and shaking with nervous energy.
Colin – The start was a great buzz and it was kind of fun that it was all new to me as I hadn’t done a reccy lap earlier on. I’m no XC whippet but am quick on twisty singletrack, so I focussed on nailing those sections and recovering on the firetrack. I did this to such good effect on one of the smooth bermed sections later in the night that a leading rider complimented me as he passed saying he hadn’t seen anyone ride that particular section quicker – cool and a great pick-me-up!
I had a great few miles behind a group of five fit riders who were pants on the singletrack but quick on the open stuff. So they’d disappear and then I’d catch them up again on the tight stuff, which was good for my motivation.
The end of my first lap was brilliant – riding into the illuminated start/finish area at full whack, a few folks cheering, spotting Jem waiting for the handover and skidding/endo-ing to a stop into the fence where he stood.
Finally, the preparation and banter were great fun and the team spirit showed between us all during and after the race was truly uplifting. The Moles have bonded!
Barrie – There were a few for me, I like turning up and seeing everyone arrive, the bikes coming off the cars and the general preparation. When Jez and I arrived on Sat afternoon, it was great to see you all there and in an excited mood, however it did not hide the nervous apprehension I could sense behind the smiles and laughter, I do like the banter and camaraderie.
A nice spin round the course in day light was good and then sitting down together for the last supper!
On to my personnel race highlights it’s tuff, as the first lap I did was adrenalin fueled rush, which I have not had since I raced many years before and it brought a few great memories back and why I enjoyed bike racing especially when you are hunting down your next victim to pass. I hope volunteering to do the last lap did not come across as ego driving etc but in a sadistic way I was feeling up and I had sort of got my mental racing drive head back on and was keen to do it, it certainly felt the most satisfying, as it was interesting to do the lap flat out when the sun was coming up and this was coming to the end of the 12 hours, where you new the bike was definitely getting parked up and thoughts of fried eggs and sausages from Jem’s caravan was not going to be a mirage!
Matt – For me, riding the lap at dawn and realising that suddenly I didn’t need lights anymore. It was like riding a different course. Around that time, maybe the lap earlier I’d also realised you could be quite authoritative when overtaking people and what a difference that made. Hooning up behind people on the singletrack and giving a polite ‘shout’ and seeing them make the effort to let you through was great. Sharing the odd joke with people as you passed or were passed helped make things more bearable too!
What were the dark (boom-tish) points of your race?
Jem – My third lap, trying as hard as I might mentally, but the legs not responding and having major cramp in them and having to stop for a few minutes to stretch them out (must be the age)!!
Colin – After making a really good start and eventually getting into the groove of passing other riders instead of simply slotting in behind them, my back then started to give me some pain and I slowed a little but I hoped it would settle down before my next stint. However, despite a massage before heading out for my two lap session, it very quickly became apparent I was going to struggle. Without wishing to over-play it, the second lap was an endurance test of mind over matter where I was literally counting down the miles. As I crossed the start line of that lap, I stopped for a while, stretched again and really had to convince myself to carry on. I can still feel the sense of elation when I saw the 3 miles left marker. I’m so glad I didn’t throw the towel in.
Barrie – The dark moments for me were was the lead up time to doing the stint at 3.30 ish in the morning, putting my cycling gear back on, sorting my head out, standing there cold waiting for Jem to arrive was mentally harsh for me, doing the 2 laps stint was physically tuff for me with cramp, which distracted me form being able to put the hammer down as much as I could, what relief to get that point over. What did help me was looking at Jez (sorry Jez) and it heped realize there is somone always worse off than you!
Matt – The first lap, standing in the waiting area and shaking with adrenalin and fear, then getting out on the course and realising immediately I needed a pee and then that the excitement and early evening pasta was not sitting well with me. I thought I was going to chuck my guts up but had to press, knowing the team needed me. Pure pain but I still recorded my fastest race lap!
What surprised you about the event?
Jem – We are not as unfit as we think we are.
Colin – The speed – the top rider did a 41:10 lap which just blows my mind. The organisation was superb and I thought the lap timing facility was ace
Barrie – I thought the event was very well organized, not too regime-like but there was enough discipline for you adhere to code of conduct for the event. Also the margin from the top team and individuals to us mere mortals, but having said that they are training 5 and 6 days a week and racing every weekend or so
Matt – I’m still amazed at the focus the event has given us for the past 8 weeks. Suddenly it all coalesced in the space of 12 hours into an incredible personal and group achievement
What annoyed you the most?
Jem – Not being able to keep up with those gorgeous female bums from the team riders as they pass you!!
Colin – The chicken runs rewarding the chickens with a quicker route – surely there should be a disincentive for not riding the proper course and a benefit for having a crack!
I also found the various bombholes, with a couple of exceptions, a bit tedious – you could barely ride out of them due to the sandy upslopes and therefore got caught up in other riders’ troubles.
Barrie – Difficult to say between, probably myself, as I often have internal battles and expectations, so dealing with them, on a superficial note probably my helmet light was not working properly on my 2 lap stint, which caused my so many nearly offs, which seemed to sap my concentration
Matt – I had a really annoying squeak from my forks after winding them down to be more ‘racy’. Probably the noisiest bike on the course with the rider panting away too! Aside from that, why are chicken runs quicker?!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of doing a similar event?
Jem – Get fitter, so you can keep up with those gorgeous female bums!! Oh and enjoy the event, don’t think of it as a chore.
Colin – As per Jez’s advice, take every item of MTB clothing kit you own and pace yourself – it’s a 12 hour race
Barrie – Train, train, train and go out and do some thing that may reflect what the challenge you may think be like, running up to it, so you can prepare, mentally, physically and then you can alter and tweak how you may approach the actual event
Matt – There’s no substitute for miles on the bike but aside from improving your fitness if you want to enjoy the event (rather than just go faster) then think long and hard about your team around you and make sure you’ve got a comfortable base to return to. In a 4-man team you spend a lot of time there…
What’s the ideal bike for the event?
Jem – A fast one.
Colin – The top riders could do 50 minute laps on Raleigh Grifters so they would say a superlight hardtail (such as Bazza’s Scott). However for me, I reckon a shortish travel full suss like the Orange ST4 would be a missile. In fact, my plan for next year already is to try and blag a demo ST4 off Cycleworks for the weekend!
With the course being so bumpy and being on a hardtail, my old back injury flaired up in quite a big way on lap 2 so I reckon I would have been better off even on my 30lb Pitch. That said, the Prince Albert was awesome on the smoother bermed sections
Barrie – A motorbike
Matt – My Orange Five felt great and I was aware of how much time you lose in singletrack. The fireroads allow you to pass easily but if you’re hanging on in the singletrack then it’s both tiring and slow. You need a bike that lets you get past others and you need a head that lets you try
What tyres for Thetford?!!
Jem – Tubeless.
Colin – Million dollar question. How about I throw one back? – What weather conditions? My Maxxis Minion DHF Kevlar’s gripped very well and I had no moments with them on either the hard pack or sandy surfaces, though I think their bulk (2.35s) hindered me in the crappy sandy sections
Barrie – 1.5 cross country ones I had with those dry conditions, to me seemed great
Matt – I completely overlooked tyre choice. A decent mud tyre in case the worst were to happen weather-wise is essential, if not a 1.9 max tyre. And pay attention to tyre pressures. I reckon a Kenda Small Block 8 could have been a blast in the dry
What did you forget to bring?
Jem – My mojo baby!
Colin – Nothing
Barrie – My brain
Matt – My mug for cups of tea. There’s only so much enjoyment from a plastic cup
Will you do it again?
Jem – Bloody right I will
Colin – Yes, without a shadow of doubt. Though I would never consider doing it solo. I really hope the others feel the same and that we can get a few more regulars along too next year to make up 3 teams.
We’ve all agreed the 2 lap stints didn’t seem to work for us so it will be one lap blasts if we can get organised for d2d 2010
Barrie – Yes
Matt – Most definitely yes. Mainly because I loved the all-for-one attitude of my mates