Another tough weekend of 24 hour racing. Myself and Jake were pit crewing for Russ this weekend at Pivot TwentyFour12. After 9 months of training Russ was aiming to regain his 24 hour solo Vets title he won 2 years ago.
Conditions started out unexpectedly dry for the first 7-8 hours (although a very windy), the start of the race was very uneventful, Russ was feeling good and was swapping the lead with Martin Handley. Knowing the conditions were to get worse, Russ was taking a bit longer in the pits, making sure he ate properly which allowed him to lap quicker and pull out a small lead going into the night.
As it stated to get dark the rain came down and the winds got up gusting upto 50/60mph, tough condition for everyone riding, there was nothing to do but for Russ to put his head down and crack on. We continued with slightly longer stops feeding Russ with proper food and cups of tea to keep him warm, plus changing into dry clothes to keep the motivation up. The course tuned into a skating rink with almost zero grip in the wooded section with slippery roots and rocks.
About midnight Martin caught and started to extend his lead over Russ each lap until about 5 in the morning giving him a 24 min lead. The rain and wind were still hammering us, Russ started to struggled by 6 Russ was broken, he could no longer control the bike on the flat technical sections let alone Cottage Return (downhill section that bring you back into the arena), as where practically all the other riders, with hardly anyone else still managing to do a lap in the conditions, Reluctantly Russ decided to stop, get warm and some sleep.
I couldn't sleep, so about 7:30 I went to the arena area to check out the timing screen and see how everyone else was doing. To my surprise there was no arena left! The race had be cancelled at 7 due to the conditions with half the signing-on tent collapsed and gazebo and trees being blowing across the course, it was the only safe thing to do.
I rushed back to tell Russ the podium was still a possibility until....waiting for the prize giving I realised that Russ hadn't finished the last lap! We were all so tired, he had stopped in the pits to refuel with the intention of carrying on but was so cold he couldn't but instead of rolling round the corner to finish the lap, he got changed and went to sleep. It probably cost Russ 3rd place. Its crazy to think that after racing 19 hours of racing another 100 meters made all the difference. What a great race, the top 3 riders on the podium thoroughly deserved to be there, it was amazing to see all the training the riders have been putting in, making such close racing. Russ eventually finished 4th
The top 3 in the Vets solo 24 hour race
1st Martin Handley
2nd Jason Wells
3rd Jamie Ward
Amazing effort, well done to everyone, roll on next year!
HAND BUILT TITANIUM FRAMES.