It’s now the turn of our Muddy Moles 2 team to let us know how they got on in deepest, darkest Thetford. Just what were they thinking as they experienced MTB racing for the first time at the Marin Dusk til Dawn?
What were the highlights of your race?
Tony – Being on the start line ready to race. There were plenty of times in the last few weeks when even thinking about being ready to race at D2D seemed ludicrous. So just being there never mind even racing was a great positive. Riding the sunrise lap was another highlight. I felt good and a beautiful sunrise made the spirits rise. Plus the company was great with loads of laughs and plenty of ace mutual support.
Dave – Doing the recce lap and thinking this isn’t going to be too bad.
Mark – I think it was being part of a team and having to really put in some effort to not let anyone down.
Lee – The overriding sense of camaraderie and team spirit in the camp was palpable. Everyone had a part to play, it was great. The mix of nervousness, excitement and expectation on my part as Tony rounded the final bend before the handover was quite a unique mix of emotions. Finally getting going and passing a few riders was a great buzz. Dare I say that pre-race massage was a highlight too!
What were the dark (boom-tish) points of your race?
Tony – The second of my laps on my two lap stint. The mind was willing but the body was sadly lacking. Hence I went off a bit quick (to say the least) and paid a bit of price on the second lap, when my body said “Oh! You have only done one ride in the last 9 weeks”. 169bpm average for two laps. A bit of a lie-down and I was fine. Oh and the interior atmosphere of the caravan. I’m sure there was paint peeling off the insides at the end of the night.
Dave – End of lap one coming through a lonely and almost deserted finish straight.
Mark – Getting up at 4am to do a lap. Having said that it was nowhere near as awful as I thought it would be.
Lee – The last 3 miles of my second lap were agony, mentally and physically. I was really battling my inner demons and willing my legs to keep turning.
What surprised you about the event?
Tony – Norfolk is bumpy. Nobody told me that it was going to be a pump track! Not the ideal race track when you are coming back from a collar bone injury. Otherwise the singletrack was far better than I was expecting.
Dave – The speed at which solo riders went past me at 2pm.
Mark – That my 4.30am lap was only marginally slower than my best lap time despite having to get up at 4am and put on damp cycling kit, that I can ride 20 miles virtually non stop, and that Jez has the mental discipline to do 8 laps on his own – Respect Jez.
Lee – Just how quick the ‘pros’ come past you, leaving you feeling even more of an average Joe than I already knew I was.
What annoyed you the most?
Tony – Nothing particularly annoyed me, except for my bodies unwillingness to respond as I remembered it should. I just kept on thinking how surreal it was that I’d made it back onto the bike in time to be there.
Dave – My speed.
Mark – Dave and Lee’s flatulence during breakfast. There is nothing more likely to put you off your egg and bacon than the threat of someone following through!
Lee – Quicker riders shouting ‘allez, allez, allez’ from behind you on stretches that were just not conducive to overtaking. I almost wanted to go slower as a result. I’m sitting patiently behind a slower rider, so you can too mate!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of doing a similar event?
Tony – Obviously, don’t break your collar bone 9 weeks before the event. Seriously if you have never raced, or haven’t raced for a long time you will find out that racing is bloody hard. Irrespective of where you are in the pack. Expect to ride harder than you ever have done before. Training is great but it just makes the suffering over a bit quicker.
Dave – Earplugs, make sure you have effective earplugs.
Mark – Train hard. I found that this was about endurance, so stamina, especially in the leg muscles, was what I needed most.
Lee – Don’t assume because it’s flat and a relatively short lap distance that it will be easy. This is an endurance event. My own training was largely non existent, due to various family commitments. I was completely under prepared. Sounds obvious but training has to focus around being able to ride competitively for the required distance without stopping, something which we never do on our rides usually. There’s always a mechanical or cake to stop for. To this end I found it hard to know how to pace myself on a two lap strategy. I certainly paid for my enthusiastic first few miles by the end. Oh, and if you’ve had six months of sleep depravation, don’t even think about putting down a decent time.
What’s the ideal bike for the event?
Tony – 4-5inch full susser with good propedal lock out, snappy handling, tyres at 40psi and a comfy position. Damn, what I was on! So no excuses.
Dave – A comfortable and light one.
Mark – Given the never ending runs of pump track that the course seemed to consist of, a bike with decent rear suspension to cushion the blows to the knees and arse.
Lee – A full bouncer definitely. A 4 inch travel bike (something like the Giant Anthem) would be bang on. Whilst the course may largely be flat, I struggled for any real control (and comfort) with the long sections of pump track type trails.
What tyres for Thetford?!!
Tony – 1.9/2.1 Conti SpeedKing Supersonic. Just a pity they were on my other bike.
Dave – Balloon tyres I reckon.
Mark – “I’m convinced the Goodyear Grand Prix S is a major contribution to road safety.” Failing that, I found my Conti Verticals were absolutely fine.
Lee – In the conditions we raced in, something narrow with a low profile. I saw plenty of bikes shod with almost dirt jump/bmx type tyres.
What did you forget to bring?
Tony – My legs.
Dave – Nothing.
Mark – A gas mask. Dave and Lee’s arse gas was horrific!
Lee – A full sus bike. Oh, and a bucket and spade for the sandpits (sorry, bomb holes).
Will you do it again?
Tony – Yep and I fancy trying solo if I can get back to fitness (should I have put that down in print?).
Dave – Undecided, ask me in 10 months.
Mark – Yes. I thought that this would be a “once in a lifetime experience” that I would have a go at and then think “never again”. But it wasn’t. I wouldn’t want to rush out and do this again next week, but D2D or a similar event in a few months time would definitely be on my wish list (Christ did I really just say that? These mental pills cannot be working!).
Lee – Hell, yes.