This year with time being at a premium, and not wanted to repeat the 14 hour trip through England at rush hour on a Friday, we decided to fly to Bristol and hire a car for the 2ish hour trip down the A38 with Sean and Agata. Conor had got the lend of a van which carried the bulk of the bikes and kit.
We arrived on Friday evening and after doing a bit of work at the site, myself and Oisin went to the nearby B&B. Another lesson learned from last year was a good nights sleep before the race was essential and something we did not have in 2010. So after a sound sleep and a nice breakkie we popped down the site to give the KTM's the once over, decide on the race plan and relax in the summer sun.
Like last year, Oisin was to go first then we would alternate 1 lap on / 1 lap off until about lunchtime when we would do double laps so we had time to eat and (semi) digest a decent meal. So on the stroke of 12pm, the whistle blew and they were off. Oisin had got himself near the front before the start of the race, but his foot slipped off the pedal and a good few riders passed him. That was not a major problem in a 12 hour race! Apart from that his first lap went smoothly and I dropped down to the transition zone to wait for him to come in. Then I was off. the course was a little different to last year with some sections in reverse. so instead of lashing down the grassy descent at the end of the race, you were going up it at the start! A tough start to every lap was guaranteed.
The rest of the course was very familiar from last year, with some savage climbing mixed in with tricky technical sections and an awesome final descent which was guaranteed to put you in a good mood at the end of a lap. All in all, I think it was a better course than last year as it kept you alert and aware the whole way through.
We kept a steady pace the whole way through the race, alternating one lap on / off until lunchtime where we did 2 each, then back to one on / off. Unlike last year, I kept off the energy drink until the last few hours as I usually get bad cramps after too much of the stuff. I also tried to each as much real food as possible, but kept taking a steady supply of High 5 iso gels which were super.
About 6 hours in we did the dreaded position check... and it turned out we were in 2nd place. I was both relieved and disappointed at the same time. Relieved that we were not lower than last year, but disappointed we were not better! Though, when I remembered we still had 6 hours to go, I was a little more relieved.
So the hours rolled by and luckily for us there was no downpours or mud-fests. As we came into the final hour we were in a solid 2nd place, with the 1st place guys 30 mins ahead. Our only goal/motivation at the end was to stay on the winners lap which we tried but failed to achieve. Like last year, I was standing at the transition zone at 11:45pm hoping that Oisin would not make it back before the clock struck midnight and the end of the race. And he came up trumps again, coming in at 12:05 :)
And that was 2nd place wrapped up, for the 2nd year running. I really enjoyed the weekend - apart from the racing there's a great buzz around the place. My only regret was not being able to spend a bit more time before the race to chill out, but that's life.
So that was the race done. I enjoyed it, and felt a lot more organised due to last year. The whole operation ran with military efficiently thanks to Aine who once again was our key 3rd team member.
It was also a great weekend of the other members of our troop with Sean and Agata coming in 2nd in the mixed 12hr pairs and Mick coming in 3rd in the 24 hour solo race.
The official video below
Strava data below.