I have never ridden a solo 24 hour event before and didn't intend to start this year but due to hay fever striking down my pairs partner it was man up and go solo or pull out. The event was the TwentyFour12 and I had only heard good reports about the course so decided to switch to the solo event as my team mate Jo was already riding the event I would have company.
I wasn't really sure what to expect at the start, everyone's advice seemed to be "start slow and get slower"...someone need to tell the people at the front as from where I was standing it looked like a cross country event with the team and top solo riders sprinting up the first climb! looking at the timing sheet after the event these riders hardly slowed down, amazing, big Kudos to them but there was no way I was getting sucked into it and just plodded my way round the first lap chatting to other riders. In fact this is how the first 9 and a half hours panned out, chatting, eating and drinking, a perfect way to spend a summer evening.
Around 8ish the sun started to go down and I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to sleep, I carried on til 9:30 but couldn't shake it off at this point I was circulating in 16th place (out of 64). Everyone said if you stop and sleep you wont get back out but my aim was to finish the event rather than race for position so decided to bed down...7 hours later I sheepishly emerged from my tent! to my surprise I was still in the top 40, I guess others had the same idea.
A change of kit and I was ready to face the course again, 6 and a half hour to the finish, refreshed and fed I new I could make it to the end non stop from here. I continued slow and steady ticking off the time to the finish and with about 2 hours to go I knew I had made it, it was hard to believe that I had ridden 200km, the last lap went like a dream, hitting my lines perfectly on the downhills and powering on up the climbs...I even went for the jump outside the Sumo tent (Okay I rolled over it!). On the last down hill into the arena I could see 2 riders battle it for position about 100m ahead of me, could I catch them? and was I even racing them? No and Yes...I missed out on 30th place by 3 seconds at the end of a 24hr event!
Enough about my experiences, Jo my team mate...showed me the way home in her first 24hr event with an amazing 2 place! Much respect! She took a different approach to me and kept riding solidly (no sleep) with just a 5-10 min break at the end of each lap! Well done Jo!
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