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Woodbridge Surfers 2011 D2D A Team, DP & DH and
What was he thinking entering Solo, IH
I wanted it all to be different from last year, warm, dry, no mud, less pain and definitely no urges to crawl into the undergrowth. So despite the onset of rain, I thought I would position myself in the top 50 or so riders to see if that would help. I desperately tried to resist racing off with the pack at a pace I would not be able to sustain, but inevitably as we completed the “thinning-out” loop and came around to the start again my legs were aching already.
I felt a little like I was in the wrong race as riders streamed past, my body was saying ease back, until we hit the single track. Suddenly I felt involved, keeping up with the faster guys was a possibility, I even managed with my superior weight, to squeeze past a few, the fire tracks saw them disappear into the distance, but it felt good at the time. All the time I struggled to see through my glasses for rain, they had to go, but what I did hold onto, in my mind, was the dry forecast I had seen the previous week. It had started to rain before we arrived and it continued to lash it down until after the finish, I had run out of clothes by 4AM, but at least the bacon sandwich (which got me through the 3rd lap) was in the sunshine.
The trails deteriorated quite quickly to a mix of edgy fire tracks, thick mud, sandy corners and exposed roots. The 2nd lap was acceptance that the rain was here to stay and it was truly going to be tough. All my concentration was on staying upright and holding the burn in my legs, just below cramp.
I didn’t mind been overtaken on the straights, but the woods and bends were mine, unfortunately one fellow rider did not understand this properly and in an attempt to make a turn towards some single track he did not quite make it. It was possible to make the corner at that speed but not together, I did only ride over his wheels. The hour and a bit rest while Darren screamed around was very welcome and I did feel more up for the 3rd lap than I actually was. My equipment was suffering as badly as my legs, gears jumping, brakes (not that I used them on the 3rd lap) waterlogged and jammed up cleats, eventually I had a little off, compounded by one cleat not releasing, causing a rather uncomfortable landing with one leg still attached. As the arena lights loomed through the rain, a sense of relief and achievement overcame the other stuff in my head and I forced a smile to a happily waiting DP.
I celebrated with soup, peanuts and a health bar, some water, another health bar, lucozade, pasta, some more peanuts another health bar and a banana. I really wanted the 4th lap, but needed some rest, set my alarm for 5am, which would give me and then DP, if he fancied, enough time to do a 2 hour lap each. Unfortunately my earlier knock had taken its toll and despite a small amount of encouragement my leg would not extend fully. All I could do was check DP was back, turned out IH headlight and grabbed a couple of hours sleep, reassuring myself I had done all that I could. 50% more laps than last year, faster and not last, not last by a long way. So very happy, 2 man team worked well, respect to IH for attempting solo. Next year will dry and awesome. Sign up here.
So until further notice Thursday nights are 8.30-8.30AM and then breakfast in the Cherry Tree.
Lasting memory from this, not noticing a small hole appearing in my shorts, giving a through flow of mud and sand to the crease, can’t remember feeling sandpapered there before.
"The weather can't be that bad again, can it?" Not quite, but pretty close. So, sign up now for D-2-D 2012 because the weather can't be that bad again, can it?
I'd been looking forward to it for a while, until about midday on Saturday when it hit me what was to come and I lost my appetite - and started about 3 hours of faffing around the house, getting bits & pieces of equipment/ batteries/ clothes/ food sorted out. In the morning I'd managed to change my rear disc-brake pads, but in the process had lost some brake fluid. The brakes worked, but they were pretty spongy. Good start.
However, we got to Thetford & got set up, gazebo for humans, clever half-gazebo thing for bikes & kettle. Race start was 8pm, and on the whistle I made sure I was right at the back - I've done enough races where I've spent a lot of time being overtaken, I wanted to do some overtaking. I think I managed about 5 people... My game plan had been to set off at a pace which left me breathing hard, but no more, as I felt that'd give me the best chance to last all night. I set off to plan, but most people seemed to have a very different plan, and if it hadn't been raining so heavily I wouldn't have seen them for dust. As it was, dust wasn't the issue. The first 2 miles were straightforward firetrack, then the other 8.5 miles were through Louisiana Mangrove Swamps. The first lap was OK, I managed to pass a few people, and felt good, until just before the end when the front runners lapped me. Stopped at the Solo riders tent to refill my water bottle & met DH who offered some words of encouragement, and let me know DP was on the course - they had decided on a 1-lap-switch gameplan. I then set out on the 2nd lap, at about 9:30, when it had been raining by then for about 3 1/2 hours...
Bike control through mud has never been my stronghold, and I proved that again on Lap2. Lost count of the people who passed me - I think I managed to pass a couple who had come through while I'd refilled my bottle, but that was it. One lovely lady came flying past, shouting out to everyone she went past 'Good work Bloke'. The laughter rang out for micro-seconds...
I eventually finished lap2 at 11. My original plan had been to do 2 laps per 3 hours, hopefully giving me some time to eat & rest at the end of each 21 miles. As it was 11, I should have been heading out for my second set of 2 laps. That wasn't going to happen. I picked up my food & slowly went back to camp, thinking about calling it a night, exhausted & soaking. Met DH back at camp & after a while he shamed me into going back out for a third lap at about 11:40. It still hadn't stopped raining...
This time the first few miles were again fine, but ominously quite water logged. The final 8 miles were hell. I felt like I had no control over the bike, the steady stream of riders going past was demoralising (although everyone who went past was incredibly polite, there was no crowding me out), and I'd forgotten to take my water bottle out with me. In my 'sensible' head I knew I didn't need any water, it was only 10 miles in the pouring rain. In my 'tired' brain it was a huge issue, and I was about to collapse from dehydration. I swung into the finish area & met DP, who told me it was 2:10am - that lap had taken about 2 hours 20! I decided to call it a night, maybe to see what the conditions were like in the morning. I went back to the campsite, had a drink of water, got some dry clothes on, and went to sleep in the car. It continued to rain all night, and when we woke up the thought of doing a 4th lap was abhorrent, so we went for a cup of tea and a bacon & egg sandwich at the finish line.
While filling our faces DP found the results board up, and as many solo riders had finished after only 2 laps I wasn't last by a good few slots. Suddenly that missed 4th lap became important, and from 'never again' I talked about 'next year'.
For me, solo was the way to go. I'm aware that a lot of prep was wrong, my food strategy was wrong, and the wet weather was a pain, but now I know what to expect, I reckon I can beat 3 laps next year.
I have just seen my speed profile though - I think I need to take up running... ( the fast spikes are at the beginning of each lap - the first lap had a longer fast spike, designed to spread out the field).
Huge thanks to DP & DH for all of their help & support throughout the night. Results now in as per DP's post above, interesting ones:
I started the swim too quickly as usual, but caught a slower swimmer. He turned and gestured me to get out of his way. No chance. I ran to T1 expecting an argument, but he'd remembered the rules.
On the bike I was passed by a rider on lap two. We continued to pass each other for the rest of the ride. At one time three abreast and on the wrong side of the road. I tucked in and then out again, only for a rider to shout that I was drafting.
T2 and into the run. Mike Chaplin, Woodbridge Shuffler and David Bedford's Granddad lookalike huffed and puffed his way past me.
Tough run, but I earned the mug. See you there next year.
Morzine 4 – No Rest for the Wicked
Slightly different format this year. Decided to drive down to avoid all the delays and constraints imposed by flying. So it all kicked off with a 12 hour road trip starting at 03:00am on the Sunday. Long but relatively uneventful journey via Eurotunnel with the sat nav estimating an arrival in Morzine at 16:00 (French O’Clock). One wee stop and three cans of Red Bull later we arrived at the apartment, bang on 16:00. Couple of beers, bit of food liberally sprinkled with carbs and relatively early night ready for day 1.
Day 1. Les Gets. Picked up the trusty GT’s and headed off to the familiar runs of Les Gets to ease ourselves in slowly. Took things uncharacteristically easy for a couple of runs then started to get into the swing of things as we all got the feel for the bikes and conditions. Not a good plan to come a cropper on day 1. Must have done 10 or so runs in the morning and needs to drop back to Morzine for some running repairs and lunch. Suitably sorted, we returned to the runs of Les Gets for the whole afternoon – up and down continuously and probably the most rides we’ve ever done in a day. Back for a beer and carbs and some beer with the video highlights to analyse.
Day 2. Avoriaz, Les Lindarets, Chatel. Up the beautiful Super Morzine lift with views over to Mont Blanc and then the only real pedalling required to get us over to the drop down to Les Lindarets. Good idea to put the seats up a bit for the short cycle so we all paused and adjusted. Then the first little prang. As we swooped down from the lift into a short woody section I thought my seat was tipping back so I reached down and pushed it forward – ejecting the seat post and saddle from the frame (raised it too high) and into the rear wheel and mech at the same time as sitting down on the missing saddle. Bike locked up and threw me sideways across the gravel and stones to an embarrassing stop in a cloud of dust. Good old body armour. No real damage – just felt a bit of a prat. Down to Les Lindarets and up the other side where we picked up the fantastic green run down into Chatel. Not difficult but once up to speed there were some great jumps and fast berms – seemed to go on for ages. Spend the afternoon on the lower red/blue runs through the woods where Dave H decided to explore the ditch on the wrong side of a berm! Long haul back using the very slow lifts out of Chatel and Les Lindarets and back on the road from Avoriaz – right under the massive cliffs. Probably 4 miles and no pedalling – fantastic. Went for a swim – but there was some sort of power failure at the pool – so we didn’t – had some beer instead.
Day 3. Les Gets and Morzine. Weather still holding and it looked like we may get four full days riding this year – usually we have at least one day where it’s very wet. Back over to Les Gets again and up and down the fantastic switchbacks with the handlebar-cam pointing back to the rider for some excellent chin-cam footage. Discovered a rubbish woodland trail that kept petering out and managed to take me prisoner over the handle bars – won’t be doing that one again.Protracted lunchtime devouring huge pizzas. Should really have spent the afternoon digesting like a pride of lions after a water buffalo – but didn’t. Instead over the other side of the valley for the quieter (and steeper) infamous black run. Not as scary as the first time we did it but none the less a real challenge to keep control when the rear brake is locked, front brake feathering on the point of locking and still accelerating towards a 90 degree left turn back into the woods! Another excellent day rounded off with home cooking, beer and video analysis.
Day 4. Les Gets, Morzine. “So chaps, what shall we do for our last day?” Had to be back to Les Gets for a final go and a bit of jumping practice and more goes on the moon crater sized berms near the town centre and lift. General standard and confidence running at a reasonably high level. Combined with some last day bravado unfortunately resulted in Dave T missing a tight turn just after the moon crater and flying over a small, new berm like a Harrier taking off from an aircraft carrier. But he can’t fly and I came round the same bend a few seconds later to see the tell-tale cloud of dust and off-piste rider indicating a bit of an off. Rode very slowly back down into Les Gets for lunch and an ice pack for the new wrist rapidly growing on Dave’s existing one. No other option but to take a gentle road ride back to Morzine and the doctors. While Dave waited for the French services to have lunch and a siesta the remaining four nipped up and down the Morzine red/black course for a final hoorah – albeit a little subdued. Dave eventually regrouped with a plaster appendage and some excellent x-rays which provided hours of amusement with the home cooking and beer.
So – four full on days of excellent riding. Doesn’t really get any better. Until Morzine V perhaps…
Morzine IV – The Movie, is in pre-production as we speak.
Sunday was London 10k for me.
Paul and Karen (who some of you know from the Dunwich Dynamo) secured some free passes again this year, but this year upgraded to VIP. This meant meeting in a swanky hotel a few yards from the start. But rather than finding the room full of fat celebs I had expected there were half a dozen elite athletes looking superhuman and doing yoga on the floor. One exception was a chap who looked grateful to see us greeting me with: "I'm guessing that you're not one of the elite athletes?" ... Thanks.
We emerged blinking into the sun with a Coldstream Guards fanfare to see 25000 runners queued up down Picadilly looking across to the start and us Elites warming up, very embarrassing. I've never had a stronger desire to be able to touch my toes, every lunge and stretch suddenly took on comic proportions. Starting one yard behind the Kenyans and Ethiopians, there was nothing for it but to run as hard as I could for the half mile or so past the queue of onlooking queued runners. Even then you couldn't see the elites for dust. Consequently the first km wasa lung busting sub 4mins! I overtook no-one all race, but with a flat course through central London and good conditions, I clocked a (provisional) surprising 41:40. Chuffed. Great Day.