Robs musings on endurance racing
Beginners guide to Endurance Racing.
So, Look. When you hear about endurance racing it can sound pretty terrifying, solo efforts over 24 hours with zero hours sleep through mud and rain is pretty off putting, and don’t get me wrong a good number of my friends have that level of commitment and focus to pull that sort of thing off. But Endurance Racing doesn't have to start that way. Endurance racing believe it or not has one of the best ways of breaking you in gently introducing the idea of racing for longer periods of time in an unbelievably supportive atmosphere. Stick with me.
I never got Formula 1 Motor Racing, racers going flat out for two some hours with spectators sitting in one spot watching cars fly past. Now the Le Mans 24hr race that was a different story. The race is 24 hrs long for a start, so you can get up and walk around, watch a bit of racing, get a bite to eat, watch a bit more racing, go off to some dubious French Wall of Death or creaky carnival ride then go back and watch a bit more racing and that's also true for the racers. A team of three or four racing drivers will push the car around the circuit as many times as they can in 24hrs, one driver in the hot seat while the others eat, catch up on sleep or fire shotguns at clay pigeons in the back of an articulated lorry trailer. (I'm not kidding, this was the 90s). So here you go, those drivers are only in the hot seat for 1/3 or 1/4 of the time. That's a total of 8 or six hours. That's 4 or 3, two hour stints behind the wheel with a four or six hour gap in between. Get it? If you are a team of 3,4 or even 5 you are only going to riding 1/3, 1/4 or 1/5th of the time. If you are racing in a team of three or more, you get to spend time with your mates, before going out for a blast on your bike.
So what you have is a number of races all going on at the same time. Team races, Solo races, races that last 12 hours races that last 24, races that start at lunchtime races that start at midnight. you have all these cyclists riding what is usually a pretty accessible circuit, it's not going to be crazy tough if you're going to ride it for a long period and families and teammates spread out along the race course hurling encouragement at anyone willing to smile back.
The trick to endurance racing is to still be on your bike at the end. This takes a little bit of discipline experience helps too, if you don't have any of that someone else will . Travers rider Russ Welch was one of five veteran riders in the top six this year, and Team Traver’s Jo Hitchin managed to Kick Ass into an amazing second overall spot, first in the veteran females category. In Endurance Racing slow and steady wins the race. Old age and treachery, triumph over youth and skill, as one of my old mentors used to say.
These events are like little mini festivals with the whole site full of people you actually want to spend time with. No one is wearing wellies ironically, and the tents rather than being a £15 pop up are usually huge with 4 or 5 family members cooking food and repairing /cleaning bikes. One year I was offered a spare sausage as I went round. To this day I regret not stopping. The food stalls are decent and if you have just come in from a lap, regardless of the time night someone will be making something warm that you can chuck down your neck.
But, look. Picture what disappearing into a pitch black forest with 100-500 riders all with 2000 lumens breaking through the night is like. Everyone of those riders striking out towards their own specific goal, podium place, top ten, team finish, just a couple of laps in a huge comical sumo suit. Everyone is in it together. Working towards an end with friends and family coming along for the ride. Team Travers, is getting pretty good at this now, with a snazzy gazebo (pronounced gaze-bow) and a mobile workshop, plus a tonne of been there, done that attitude. Imagine finishing alone after 12 hours or screaming on a teammate who is heading out to get one more lap in before the race cut off. Come on you know you want to.
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