20 January 2009

strathpuffer: possibly the best race in the world...


I can almost feel my finger tips now and walk unaided. There's a damp pile of kit that needs sorting, bikes requiring attention and a tent in desperate need of drying. And I need to erect a mantelpiece to display my silver tankard. Yes, 2nd Solo Lady Singlespeed, that's me that is! Ok, so Anja McDonald, who won, was in a different league and I actually came 3rd in the Solo category but for me the event was about being my first singlespeed adventure.

The course had a little bit of everything. Fast swooping descents on dense forestry tracks, long and winding climbing that rewarded you with views of snow capped mountains. Even the gloopy muddy parts were fun. The sections of technical granite rock were right on the edge of my ability. I have to admit I didn't manage a clean lap. The weather was just as varied. Beginning with balmy Scottish winter sun, freezing rain, horizontal hail and finally snow. Perfect 'puffer weather.

My plan was to swap bikes after the first quarter. The Kona with its disc brakes, front suspension and 32:18 ratio was meant to be my 'secret' weapon. Giving me comfort and confidence during the long dark hours. However, the bike felt all wrong. It was heavy and unresponsive. I was 15 minuets slower. My lesson learned, do not use a race to test ride a 'new' bike.

So, after one lap I was back on Blackie with 16 hours still to go, and on we went. Pausing occasionally to enjoy the smokey fires set up along the first climb. I only had one mechanical, which was resolved rather too quickly thanks to the kindness of a fellow soloist and Squarewheels.

By 07:30 on Sunday morning I'd had enough. I really thought I couldn't manage another lap. I knew Lisa Kamphausen had just started out and to move back up to 2nd I'd have to catch her and stay in front. I just couldn't do it. Despite Jane's best efforts I refused to go back out. Even the lovely kilted mechanic tried to get me back on my bike. But my race was over. It was time to soak up the atmosphere and savor the moment.

There were some phenomenal performances by other riders. Particularly both Solo winners who rode singlespeeds. Twinkly Dave managed to give me encouragement every time he sprinted past me despite being part of a real race for first place. Also of note where the Bionicon Minxs, who were the only female pair but went on to win the Mixed category.

Strathpuffer is a small yet perfectly formed 24 hour race. The organization was faultless, as was the energy of the marshals. They also gave out a prize for the "Dodgiest Bike", yes Blackie won that too! And if there was a prize for the best support Jane would have won, no contest. All in all a top weekend and well worth the 900 mile round trip.

16 comments:

trio said...

Sounds a fab adventure!!!!!

Can't believe your kona felt wrong, you'll be on blackie all the time now!!!!

I was following the live updates all the time, I even snuck down in the middle of the night and twittered all the time! You did great!!! It didn't have Anja as singlespeeding so I didn't realise till afterwards!

Will you ride with us mere mortals now?

kate said...

i did feel like a bit of a fraud with all the other 'real' riders. as jane said a "real champion would always do one more lap!" can't believe i'm already working out where i went wrong....next year!!
and yes, i do only have one bike now ;)

jumbly said...

Well done matey! I'm stoked Blackie won a prize too!

Red Bike said...

Very very impressed.

I think you might of just trumped Trio in the fruit loop contest.
thats a compliment btw:)

Julbags said...

Woo, well done! Singlespeed Solo contending with the Scottish weather is a huge achievement.

Well done to Jane too!

The Sunday Adventure Club said...

Massive well done, Kate! You did brilliant! And silverware too! What a start to the year!!
Richie

ultra collie said...

amazing stuff kate. sounds like a really tough adventure but also great fun!

sarah said...

Hooray for Blackie and Kate!!!
It sounds like an amazing experience...how great to already be thinking ahead to next year!

jeek said...

Absolutely fantastic, I was there supporting my son who was in a team of four and have nothing but admiration for all you nutty soloists!! Would like to do it myself next year.

chris said...

Rigid singlespeed all the way!

Time to start selling bikes, and maybe invest in carbon forks for the wrists.

Very well done - we'll be following your little red light on tuesdays from now on.

kate said...

thanks all! still feeling a little bit smug ;)

RBA said...

Hi Kate,

Fantastic effort. I'm sure you sat next to us in the marque at the end - never seen someone so knackered and dead on their feet! LOL. Now I know why! You typify the spirit of the puffer.

PS - the benfit of the quads is being able to slink into the marque and scoff the good food after every lap, although admittedly this does become quite expensive.....

Anthony said...

Bloody well done! The BG will be a breeze if this is how you throw yourself into things.

Also respect to Jane! Can see it now! "real champion would do one more lap" in a Rocky trainer kinda way. ;o)

kate said...

hi RBA, thanks, i think ;) i don't think i'd be able to go back out after resting and eating. pairs maybe but quads never!

thanks anthony, yeh i'm hoping that this biking will somehow help with the running

Groover said...

You rock! That's an awesome effort. Love the trophy! And the pictures. I can't imagine doing something so hardcore. You are an inspiration! Truly!

kate said...

thanks groover, that means a lot coming from such a rider :)