This weekend was the European and UK 24 and 12 hour solo champs. It was the same venue as last year, Newcastleton, Scotland (just down the road for me), but with some upgrades to facilities and slight changes to the course. The weather conditions, though, couldn't have been more different from last year - blazing sunshine and dry dusty trails last year v biblical rain and wet muddy trails this year. So it was quite a different race from last year.
I had entered the 24 almost as soon as the entries opened, but then did nothing about it. No training, no real thought to how I was going to do it, I just put it to the back of my mind until a month ago I realised it was almost time and I was not ready by a long shot!
So, as you can imagine, it didn't really go quite as I hoped, and the biblical rain and horrible mud, didn't really help my cause.
From my very first lap I was battling with my usual dark thoughts of throwing in the towel, but because my towel was already covered in mud and soaking wet, that wasn't an option (our tent had a huge puddle in it when I woke up on Saturday morning and a bunch of my things were lying in the puddle, including my towel and some of my riding kit!).
For the first few laps, the course was really busy because of the combination of 12 and 24 hour riders, but as time went on, it got quieter - the bad weather was taking it's toll on riders and bikes and several riders decided to call it quits early. My lap times weren't great, but I was managing to keep consistent times and was starting to enjoy the trails, but then I had a bit of a mishap....one of the fun, if a bit sketchy, muddy descents had got a bit muddier since my last lap, so I decided to try a different line...bad idea. Wobble, don't touch the brakes, oh, avoid that tree, thump. Bike flew over the top of me and I was in a very muddy heap on the ground with my bike on top of me. Luckily a marshal was at the top of the hill and came rushing down to get my bike off me and off the trail. I stood up and checked the bike, which was fine, but I realised that I had ripped a huge hole in the bum of my shorts and an equally huge hole in my bum cheek! I didn't really want to lose a lap, so I decided just to finish the lap with my bum hanging out the back of my shorts. Not very lady-like I know, but it was dark by this time and not many people on the course, so I figured nobody would notice (and if they did, they'd be in an equally bad state, so probably wouldn't pay too much attention).
Then the rains came, and I mean proper rain. So after my next lap, I know I shouldn't have, but I decided to take refuge in my tent until the rain eased off a bit. The next thing I knew, the sun was up... I'd managed to doze off and sleep for several hours and I was more than a little bit cross with myself!
So, having missed the dawn lap, my favourite, and now being several laps down on where I should have been, I went back out on to the, now almost deserted, course. I managed to ride a few more laps, but by the finish, I was quite a few laps down on where I'd hoped to be (as well as being another pair of shorts down!).
Despite all of that, it was another great event and the support and encouragement from my shared pit crew, other riders and other support crews managed to keep a smile on my face even when I really should have been crying.
Now that I'm home, clean, dry, rested and the sun's out, I'm taking stock of the weekend.
1. The massive black bruise on my right bum cheek has reminded me that I must remember to take arnica to events.
2. I must take a waterproof with me if I think there's even a remote chance that it'll rain (so that I can't use being soaked through as an excuse for stopping for a bit).
3. I need to find the time to train. My next big event is a month from now, so just enough time...maybe, if I really, really try.
P.S. I'll try to find some pics of the epic muddiness and pop them up.