The end of the 2019 season RED BULL TIME LAPS MADNESS
It's been a peculiar end to this years racing. It ended in a seemingly damp squib compared to the start. I'd got myself in decent condition following a period of incredible tiredness of the like I've never really know before. Whether this was mental or physical or simply both I wasn't really sure but I found myself in a hard place. I extracted myself from this hole with the help of my coach and family and friends and was set for the last race of the year. Sadly the it wasn't to be. The weather turned the road on the course into a series of rivers and streams and thus it was too dangerous to race and so I ended the year at a loose end.
After the disappointing weekend the plan was to take a long 3 weeks off the bike. This year has really fried me. Though after the first two days I decided I couldn't do an entire 3 weeks of inactivity. I set my self the challenge of becoming comfortable running again. It is something that I have always enjoyed and been relatively good at. however over the past two year I have neglected it to the point of being a typical cyclist in not being able to run very well at all! I might add that I believe there is a strong link between being a fast runner and fast cyclist. Running is harder. Though the period of time you experience suffering in running is shorter, the degree to which you can inflict that suffering upon yourself over that period is simply horrendous. I find in cycling I can always find something extra. I running once you have blown. You have blown. So I made it my aim that by the end of the 3 weeks I would be comfortable running 6 minute miles again (10mph). It's nice to a have a totally unrelated goal to cycling.
In these 3 weeks my girlfriend and I also had a 10 day holiday planned. This ended on the 24th and I was entered into the Red bull time laps on the 26th-27th. I decided I would try the event without any training for 3 weeks, hoping I wouldn't let my teammates down.
The holiday was splendiferous. We found a quaint cottage that overlooked Okehampton from the north. The view from the property was stunning. Taking in the town of Okehampton sprawled in the valley below overlooked by the imposing tors of north Dartmoor. I love Dartmoor. It is so sparse and empty. It really is the best place in the world to clear one's mind of thoughts. It is also a fantastically difficult place to run! over the 10 day we were at the house I manged to run 8 times; they were only short runs no more than 3 miles long but I can easily say they were some of the hardest runs I have ever done. The inclines are so unforgiving and then the descents are even more so taxing. I found muscles hurting that I forgot I had! By the end of the week I had managed to get to my goal of being comfortable at 10mph (on the flat that is, running at such speed uphill for a lump like me is a different ball game altogether).
The running was supported by numerous long hikes with my girlfriend. On a couple of occasions those "hikes" were about some of the local towns shopping of course! I must say I preferred the long yomps into the wilderness but it was nice to have experienced both town and moor alike. The best day had to be when we walked across Okehampton up on to the Okehampton range. Ensuring there was no Military exercises involving live firing, we set ourselves the task of climbing all the way to the highest point on Dartmoor, High Willhays or Yes Tor depending on which mao you read. In truth there is only around 2 metres height difference between them as they are situated on the same ridge. We summited Yes Tor 3hrs after having set out on our adventure. The view was indescribable and even the photographs we took do not do it justice. With the barren and empty wilderness to the south and the green fields and hedgerows low down to the north we could see the entire world. there's no need to travel abroad when you have such stunning landscapes on your front door. It was certainly a holiday well spent.
We,or I at least, returned well refreshed; Vicky complained that I had exhausted her with endless amounts of walking and that she needed a holiday from her holiday! Never the less we both had a brilliant time.
I now had the small difficulty ahead of me of a 25hr race. Yes 25hrs. You see the race is run over the 26th-27th therefore in the middle of the night when the clock first strikes 2:00am it then returns to 1:00am. This makes the Red bull time laps the longest 1 day race in the world and I had chosen to take part without a single days training. A questionable approach. Our team was Mikey Mottram, Chris McGlinchey, Frederick Scheske. Freddy went off first, taking on the other 250 teams in a mass start. The pace was insane from the start, Freddy came back having ridden at 25mph for 1hr 30 minutes. What had I let myself in for? Mikey went out second and in his expressionless style demolished everyone that tried to sit on his wheel. Chris was next out and he consolidated that lead as it started to rain. I went out and felt like I started my turn well, but then it started to rain heavily and the wind changed direction and all of a sudden I was no where near the lap times of my teammates. I knew I would be at least a little slower having literally 0 kilometres in my legs. It turned out that the conditions had drastically changed and lap times had come down for everyone. phew!
Settled into a rhythm of changes after my turn until it came to my turn again where I punctured after only 2 laps! Fortunately I was on tubulars so I rode the rim back to the pits at silly power as I tried not to loose time to our rivals. We settled back in to our rhythm doing 1hr to 1hr30 turns. As we approached the pour hour where a shorter lap is used that counts double we reshuffled the order, I took over from Mikey after he absolutely tanked the hour. However in the final 4 minutes of my effort I sustained a front wheel puncture! more ridding on the rim, which is surprisingly precarious in the dark! The reshuffled order meant that I would only have an hr between my next shift. This was the worst part of the event for me. the lads asked me to do 4 laps, I would've been happy with 1 at this point! Sleep deprived under trained and very sore legs, I began to see things in the dark that weren't there! I found two very kindly gentleman who towed me to the end of my stint and my chance to sleep before the final push. It's an odd feeling going to bed at 6am in the morning. I had been up since 4:30am the previous day. It truly is incredible what the body is capable of, it is also incredible that in spite of being totally whacked I spent my 4hrs sleep time staring at the roof of Mikey's van in the pitch black dark. I couldn't sleep! Your body can be a pain in the backside at times! It's an experience that I don't want to repeat in a hurry but one that I'm glad I can say that I've done!
All the guys put in an incredible effort, there wasn't a single one of us that didn't give our all. I was proud to be given the chance to close out the final hour which was far more frantic than I could of imagined as we desperately tried to finish on as many laps as we could. I managed to add an extra two to what we thought was going to be our finishing total. We finished on 149 laps. We were 9 laps ahead of the next best team. I think punctures played a large part and seen as our team were running the best Schwalbe pro one's with tubeless sealant we had an enormous advantage. It was an incredible experience and one that I'm considering doing solo next year. A very nice way to end the year especially as part of the team; the guys made it even more special. I'll always remember the Red Bull Time laps!