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Monday, June 27, 2005

Mountain Mayhem

It's over.

I came 33rd, doing the same number of laps as last year.

This year's was fuelled by the following:
  • 7 or 8 Powerbars
  • 8 or 9 Powerbar energy gels
  • 1 mini pork pie
  • 5 Alpen cereal bars
  • 2 packs of Super Noodles (curry flavour)
  • 1 Cup-a-Soup (minestrone)
  • 1 tin Amrosia Rice Pudding
  • 1 packet Walkers Crisps
  • 2 Kit Kats
  • some home-made flapjack
  • 1 packet Jelly Babies
  • Lots of cups of sweet tea
  • 1 mouthful of lager
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 fantastic 6am bacon butty
  • 3 cans Coke
I think that's all I ate, I can't remember anything else. My stomach shut down around 11pm, and the ensuing night hours were very grim - drinking and eating was a chore, and I suffered big time.

Random happenings

On the first lap, chatting randomly to someone, then hearing a voice from behind me asking "Are you Andy Cotgreave?"

"Er, yes."

"I did Camp America with you in 1991, do you remember?"

!!! It was a woman called Hannah, who, indeed, I spent a summer working in the sticks in New Hampshire

On my penultimate lap, I was sat atop a hill, knackered, eating a Powerbar, and summoning up the will to continue through the muddy singletrack section that followed. A rambler passed and commented on my New Zealand cycling top. A short conversation later and it turns out he is a good friend of Simon Kennett, a kiwi friend of mine.

The bit for bikers
A day of torrential rain followed by drizzle had left the course in tatters, a ribbon of gloop skirting round the race arena. The course was different from last year. This year's was much more interesting, and tougher.

With the rain satisfied it had done maximal damage, we set off at 2pm under cloudy skies. The first few laps drained me - there was a lot of walking, and most of the rideable sections required all one's strength to keep the bike upright. With such slippy conditions, the front wheel was always trying to wash out, even on the straights.

Sparse traction on the rear wheel required powerful pedalling, not good for a solo rider trying to reserve stamina.

After 5 hours, I was suffering a little, but the course was drying out, at least. With each lap, more sections became rideable.

I kept going until 2am, before finally succumbing to fatigue and having a wee kip. I set my alarm for one hour later, and tried valiantly to ignore it when it woke me up. Liz was very persistent in kicking me out of bed, and despite all my desires to stay cosy and sleeping, she was right - I'd be pissed off if I didn't get back on the bike.

That first lap was pretty grim - my body wasn't all there, and my mind was still asleep in the tent.

The sun came out, and things improved. This was largely down to drinking lots of Coke, and beginning to caffeine consumption. I put in a couple of really fast laps, and felt great.

However, with 2 hours to go, I physically collapsed again, and, oh deary me, those last laps were killers.

With 2 miles left, I stopped on top of a tiny little climb, exhausted, frustrated and despairing of the remaining two hills that lay ahead - they were just too much. A friend passed by, and offered to pace me in. Brilliant, I needed a wheel to follow in order to ignore the pain.

Little did I know he'd set a blistering pace, probably faster than I'd cycled all day. I hated it, everything burned, my eyes were cross-eyed with fatigue.

But, as much as I hated, it was brilliant. It made the last section fly past, and I couldn't feel sorry for myself in the process.

It was over.


Did I enjoy it? I think I did. It was way harder than last year, and I really missed the social side of things, partly because I arrived on Friday evening, and spent most of my time before the race getting ready for the ride, so no time to talk to friends, wander the arena, or relax.

Do it again? I doubt I'll solo again at Mountain Mayhem. I'm ready to do some team riding again.

But, the next thing is this. I can't wait.

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