12 January 2012

strathpuffer 24

i'd already been driving for 2hrs before the sun started to rise. this is my favourite time day, anything is possible and when the colours are right it makes me feel invincible. passing the snow dusted fells of the lake district, with the dark orange sun creeping up into the sky, it was a glorious morning. was this a sign, it felt like a sign and what with my usual 'race preparation' i needed something. feeling just as under prepared and under trained as usual, i decided to take comfort in this familiarity. i made a promise to myself. this year strathpuffer would not beat me, i would ride until the end. i would ride until the sun came up. i knew i wouldn't be fast or even smooth over the technical ground but i would keep going.

having spent my hotel budget on ice spikers i was camping on site this year. as it turned out the snow and ice also had other plans. this year the air was moist and warm, the course rocky and muddy, no excuses. i was woken on the saturday morning by the adventure show, they want to get the perspective of solo racers and asked the question i'd been dreading, "how do you train for an event like this?". after much laughter i headed to the start line.

the first fire road climb went for as long as i remembered, the rock section just as tricky, the singletrack just as twisty, the mud, well this was a first but not nearly as bad as it looked. and the views, the views were beautiful. you'll have to take my word for it, as in the interest of 'pushing on' and not making excuses i left my camera in the tent. keep on spinning, keep on moving.
still taken from this ace little video
and so it went on, slow grinding lap after slow grinding lap. but i was enjoying myself, i was riding my bike, the company of fellow riders was great and the marshals ever cheerier. lap 6 was ridden by the light of the moon. it was stunning, nearly the best lap of the whole ride. then it was time for lights. again, i just pottered on in my own little world. aware that i'd been lapped by both the men's and the women's solos but it really didn't matter. another tea cake and a sip of coke and some more up hill grinding.

things got a little harder during the night but it's the same for everyone and it's that sense of camaraderie that gets you through. that and the fact that the light charging guys let me stand by their heater whilst i ate cold pizza. back on the course and back to chatting with anyone willing to slow their pace for a while. this is the unique thing about 'puffer you get all sorts and everyone has a story for their reason to ride in circles for 24hrs. from the proper racing snakes to folks riding in wellies.

by 6am i was really flagging. an extended pit stop nearly ended it all but i remembered my promise and climbed back on my bike. i kept thinking, 'just one more lap'. i managed to trick myself into doing another 3. by 9am the sun was up but too cloudy for anything magical. just one more lap. and this was the best one. back to riding the rocks after my loss of confidence during the night, views of snow dusted hills, everyone was smiling. i'd bloody done it, i'd kept going. 17 laps and i could finally stop and sit down and not worry about having to get back up.

and to top it off i'd managed to ride into 2nd*. totally unaware that jo had been asleep for a few hours and was now chasing me down. she finished just 4mins behind, i'm glad i didn't know!! i can't recommend this race enough, the course is great and the atmosphere is fantastic. well worth the drive.

oh, and happy new year folks!!

*out of 3 women but sounds better than 16/50 overall.


Ian W Charters said...

Awesome start to the year. Huge congrats! Very well done. :~))

Simon said...

Amazing Kate, and a cracking write up, congratulations!!!

Derby Tup said...

Good ride. 24hours of anything is a long time ;-)

Richard said...

Well done Kate. Your write up nearly makes me want to go up and have a go at the puffer again. #nearly

Chris said...

Very well done!

I enjoyed the website timings spectating on sunday morning - just like watching football on telex.

Glad you went out on that last lap

kate said...

ian- thank you! the only disappointment was the lack of snow!

simon- thanks buddy but as always, you'd run it faster and i'm not joking!

dt- it certainly is!

rich- haha, well i've got to do at least one more, now i've bought those bloody ice spikers!

chris- thanks mate!! i'm sooo glad too :) it was lovely to read the tweets afterward, really made me smile.

Pedalling Polarcherry said...

What a cracking start to the year! Congrats and in awe x

simondbarnes said...

Well done :)
An inspirational piece of writing, I may have to make use of it, um, sometime in the future.

Anonymous said...

Yay, well done! And good on you for just keeping in front for 2nd place - the 'keeping going all night' tactic paid off!

Anonymous said...

Your marriage proposal was flattering.
Turns out we already share a girlfriend.
Good to meet you. Impressive stuff.

trio said...

Well Done, it was very exciting following the race on the internet. Imagine what you could do with training!

Fab prize, I love my joystick for commuting and mountain biking.

ultra collie said...

i tip my cap to you and this splendid achievement..what was the beer like btw??

Yak Hunter said...

Hey, well done!

Gaynor said...

Well done Mrs, brilliant stuff! 24 hrs on a bike, god, it doesn't bear thinking about!

sbrt said...

Woo hoo! Well done Kate

I shall try to casually mention your result in the conversation, next time I meet up with couple of friends, who are mtbikerers.

'Yes my friend Kate took second place in this years Strathpuffer'

Then bask in the reflected glory ;)
Nice one mate

Simon said...

Inspired by your shenaningans I've put in an entry for 'Hell on the Humber' today; 12hrs nonstop on the Humber Bridge. You have much to answer for Cheesewright ;)

swiss said...

i was at work and following it there when i saw this name i recognised. it looked like you and jo had a bit of an epic battle from where i was sitting! hopefully you got a chance to get some crack with her. jo's a dude and has wiped the floor with me the couple of times i've been out with her! great performances from the pair of you. well done

kate said...

pps- cheers, just need to keep up the mtb'ing!

simon- thank you :) your super commute are an inspiration to me.

rosemary- sleepin's cheatin'!

anon- BIFF! just think of our children and their ridiculous names ;)

trio- i imagine the result would be the same but i would enjoy it a bit more before it turns into a death march! i got so excited when i saw the light was engraved :)

uc- thank you! yet to try it but its a black isle so will be lovely.

yak hunter- thanks mate!

gaynor- cheers buddy! but like simon, you'd beat me by running!

sbrt- haha thanks, i can lend you a snow globe too ;)

simon- blimey!! i've just googled it, 4m laps. NUTTER, may the force be with you.

swiss- yeh, did manage to have a chat with jo, she's lovely and a demon rider AND has a really tough job-full admiration. hope you're enjoying your week off, looks like the weather gods are on your side :)

Elizabeth said...

Massive well done, you make it sound so easy but I'm sure it's not. Doing it in fours is hardcore enough.

sbrt said...

'Look Edward, Kate has won a precious thing.'

"Look away Tubbs. The precious thing is not local."

Ali said...

Well done Kate - very impressive stuff! Maybe all those nightshifts helped...

kate said...

elizbeth- thanks....at my speed it's not that hard ;)

sbrt- hahaha, i bet you're coveting my precious thing ;)

ali- hi there! hahaha, i would rather ride in circles in the north of january than do another night shift...oh wait.. ;)

jumbly said...

Well done! You've earned that beer.

kate said...

the beer was lovely, a bit chocolatey :)