The team headed to the former World Cup XC venue of Newnham Park in Plymouth to defend their titles in the 12 hour event (See last year’s report here http://www.torqfitness.co.uk/news/bontrager-2412 ) in what can only be described as ‘challenging conditions’…
After weeks of torrential rain and a Met Office weather warning issued for the weekend of the race predicting a weather front carrying 3 months worth of rain would pass over the arena on the Friday, we all travelled to the event with some trepidation! After setting up our stand and pit area on Friday, we bedded down for the night, only to be woken from our slumber more times than I can possibly count due to the torrential rain and high winds.
The morning of race day saw a scene of devastation in the arena, with broken gazebos and big puddles (ponds) strewn everywhere! Thankfully Friday evening’s wind and rain was the last of the weekend and the course at Newnham holds up well even in the wet. With so much rain, the organisers came close to having to call the event off due to the river running through the arena being close to bursting. Thankfully this didn’t materialise and the event still went ahead as planned, much to the delight of the racers.
This year we had entered 3 categories in total with our elite team of male riders consisting of Lee Westwood, Chris Andrews, Anthony O’Boyle and Ben Price. Also, a mixed team with Anthony Roland, Sion O’Boyle, Neil Hayward and Ruby Miller. Lydia Gould, our National Marathon Champion would ride the solo category and fortuantely we all entered the 12-hour event (Twentyfour 12 tradition). Having always won the Men’s team event since its conception 7 years ago, we always go into Twentyfour 12 as a marked team and this year had some strong competition from the like’s of Mountain Trax and Southfork. We’ve won most years with our mixed team too, so we certainly had a reputation to guard.
At 12:00 on Saturday the race got underway with Lee Westwood and Sion O’Boyle taking the honours with the 1st lap. It was a tense 40-minute wait as the rest of the team watched the closing section of the course as it ran into the arena in anticipation of their return. Sion popped out first to take the lead in the mixed team with Lee following shortly after, putting us comfortably into 3rd place. With such testing conditions out on course and a whole 12 hours of racing, a lot could happen, so the team held tight and kept the pressure on in the hope we would soon catch up and move into the lead. The course was holding up well in most places, but with so much mud it became a battle after each lap to get on top of cleaning the bikes, clothing and getting warm and dry ready for the next lap! Although this was helped massively from Lee Westwood’s petrol pressure washer, it was a torrid 12 hours of racing!
Once the team got into a rhythm, time was flying by. Some minor changes to the course mid race, cutting out some of the worst affected sections, made the course almost entirely ridable with the appropriate technical skills, tyres and some smooth pedalling. 7 hours in and it was time for riders to don the Exposure Lights and get out and enjoy the night riding.
After starting the race in second place, the male team soon moved up into the lead when Mountain Trax suffered a mechanical, which saw them drop out of contention. From then on it was a close battle with Southfork with positions changing until eventually (at around the time night set in) we moved into the lead, kept the pressure on and pulled out a gap. For the mixed team it was a close battle with 4Fourth Lights after leading for a large proportion of the first half of the race, the team had a bad lap which dropped them back into second where they eventually finished minutes down on first place, but 2 laps up on 3rd. The Male team came home in 1st place, nearly 20minutes up on second place Southfork though, so we held onto our undefeated 7-year title and the guys were bowled over.
After a steady start, Lydia kept a solid pace throughout the day, stopping only to pick up a fresh bottle and gel every lap. Riding as a solo, consistency is key and the first 7 of her 10 laps in total were all within minutes of each other! After 12 tough hours in the mud , Lydia finished an incredible 3 laps up on 2nd place having completed 10 laps in the 12 hours of racing! This was a great weekend of racing and fantastic preparation for the National XC champs 2 weeks after.
Thanks to Dave Hayward (www.davehayward.com) and Rob Barker for the excellent pictures…
Once again a huge thank you to all of our sponsors this year:
www.whytebikes.com – Frames
www.shimano.com – Drivetrain & Brakes
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets
www.ritcheylogic.com – Handlebars, Stems, Saddles, Seatposts & Grips
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools and Bottle Cages
www.champ-sys.com – Performance Cycle Clothing
www.srsuntour-cycling.com – SR Suntour Suspension Forks
www.exposurelights.com – Advanced Lighting
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication
www.lakecycling.com – Shoes
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.crankbrothers.com – Pedals
www.cleecycles.com – KCNC Skewers & Bottom Brackets
www.sapim.be – Spokes
www.stradawheels.co.uk – Wheel Builder
www.joolzedymond.com – Photography
www.cycleops.com – Power Measurement and Turbo Training
www.notubes.com – Tyre Sealant, Rims & Hubs
www.dare2be.com – Casual Clothing
Follow the TORQ Performance MTB team’s progress on their Facebook page: