Dusk til Dawn 2012
Weather forecast was for a dry night. Fantastic. The past two years were shockingly wet. I had previously ridden as part of a team of three, then a team of two, but this year I entered as a solo rider.
At 8pm the race started. I resisted the temptation to go out too fast and was soon in the trees and in mud. Add a few tree roots and this made the conditions very tricky. Two fast guys past me and both hit the floor soon after.
The conditions changed as the lap progressed and I was now enjoying the course. One section with an impressive run of whoops through the trees. Just one bomb hole, at the 6 mile marker, which was pretty straightforward. Two great roller coaster sections close to The Beast. But from the 8 mile marker we were back in mud. One section was like riding through a marsh. Classical music piped into the forest at 10 miles - bizarre - then back to the start/finish at 10.5 miles.
I rode two laps then stopped for food, then headed straight out again for lap three. The temperature had dropped considerably and I finished the lap with cold hands. I headed to my car and the warmth of my sleeping bag. I slept for around three hours, then more food and off again for lap four. Fog had rolled in and there was a sharp frost on the ground for the open heathland sections of the course. Lap five was uneventful and I stopped again for more food and to wait for the sun to rise for my final lap. I set of just after 7am and had a great last lap. The tricky sections were simple in the daylight and I rolled over the finish line at 08:11 hrs.
So, six laps and 63 miles in twelve hours. I was 79th of the 122 solo riders. The solo winner completed 14 laps. The winners of the male team of 4 completed 18 laps, lapping at 40-45 minutes. Superhuman effort.
Next year? Absolutely. If the conditions are good, then seven or perhaps eights laps the target. Come and join me.