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24 Hours of … no, wait, just 12 hours this time

Wildly anticlimactic. Choked off. Like an explosion of mud. An attempt to ruin every bike. Worst racing conditions ever. Best racing conditions ever. Incredibly high levels of wetness.

These were all just a few phrases used to describe the 24 Hours of Adrenalin this year.

It started muddy, and got muddier. Trails that were just initially a little wet were gradually transformed into a saturated mess, and from there into a dirt soup or porridge that was several inches deep. The course was re-routed to avoid some of the single track sections, which was great for the singletrack but just led to even more mud as we struggled about on the double track.

The day was overcast and cool, but not actually raining when the Le Mans start kicked off. A more subdued start to the 24 Hours of Adrenalin than I’ve seen in recent years, the small group of riders huddled in their pen like sheep headed to the slaughterhouse. And then, they were off.

Things weren’t looking too muddy as we saw the early riders rounding through the half way mark. And indeed, the first lap was not too bad. But from there is just got worse. The rain picked up. It stopped occasionally, then started again. The mud got deeper. Gradually, the riders coming in were more and more thoroughly coated.

We had a team wax room to huddle in, and we watched the riders outside, queueing up at the bike wash to rinse off their bikes, and themselves. A stream of top soil was being washed away downhill of them.

It all started to go downhill when Alaric decided to do a double lap – so he could have a long break, and get properly warm and dry. He returned, deeply unhappy with the state of affairs. Between trail damage, and general lack of fun, he didn’t want to go on.

Felix had turned up late in the day, only just back from a week away. He went out for his lap, had a rest of one lap, then did his second, in order to catch up to us. By now it was late, and he too, was deeply unimpressed with the racing.

And so, slowly, seeds of dissent were spread, and our team stopped racing. I lamented the trail damage, and the chance of hurting my bike, but I wanted to continue. I was outnumbered, and succumbed. We sat around and had a beer in the quitter’s cabin, and then went to bed. The theory was we might start back up again in the morning if the trails had improved. I was dubious.

Meanwhile, the female team kept racing. All night long, through the dark and mud. Walking their bikes uphill when necessary, they battled on.

And come noon, they’d earned themselves a spot on the podium – second place!

So, it wasn’t all bad.

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24 Hours of Volunteering

Bitter sweet fun up at the Nordic Centre this weekend.

My injured knee meant I was volunteering instead of racing for the first time in five years.

It was harder than I’d imagined. Sitting by a line of recycling bins and directing people how to use them appropriately may well be a laudable activity, but it was also two hours of staring at people hammering home over the finish line, exhausted and ecstatic, then happily talking to their team mates about how that lap went for them.

As a side note, kids were way better at recycling correctly than adults, and never seemed to get it wrong. *sings* The children are our future */sings*

The work teams went well, had fun, everything went smoothly.

After finally giving in and buying a second-hand Tout Terrain Streamliner (thanks to the wonders of German ebay), we can actually get out with Finn on rougher singletrack and trails. All of the North American trail-a-bikes seem to be heavy, clunky, and with no suspension. The Streamliner has great suspension, and is lighter and easier to use. Unsurprisingly, it’s also wildly expensive, hence the second-hand purchase on German ebay.

So far it’s been a great success, the suspension is fantastic, and Finn is a fan. We’ll be testing it out thoroughly with our upcoming trip to Scotland – booked for late August after my Tour Divide leave was cancelled. Hopefully my knee can handle some easy bikepacking by then.

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24 Hours of Adrenalin 2014

Another year of riding with one of the teams from work – Go Team!

After all the setting up, and excitement, and hoards of lycra-clad fools running in bike shoes, it was back to the same old rhythm of sit and wait. And cheer. And eat food. And catch up with people. And get ready.

I was up third in the team order this time round. The weather was ok. A bit warm and dusty during the day, but a little rain late in the night and early in the morning settled the dust down.

By the time each of us had done one lap, we had settled into second place in our category. By the end of the night we had even more definitely settled into second place. First was out of reach, with quite a few riders who could put down faster times than us. We were equally comfortably ahead of the third place team though. As a result, the whole thing was a lot less tense than last year, where we were hanging onto first place by just minutes. It also helped that the race hadn’t come on the back of one month of fairly intense flood disaster and recovery.

Thanks to the quirks of fate (involving peanut butter cookies, and perhaps insufficient peanut butter cookies) I ended up riding five of the 22 laps our team finished with. But thanks to the lack of immediate competition, I got to slack off a little on my last lap, so this year I was able to walk around and function like a normal person-coloured human being when I was finally done.

No tragedy, no drama, just a fun bike race. And I didn’t win the slowest lap award this year!