We arrived to find Rob and co had sectioned off a nice quiet spot for the campsite, right behind the big screen, its horse box sized generator and all the speakers! Still we set up camp along with almost all our other team mates, including 'rockrabbit' Aarron and his family, whose tent and facilities looked like something straight from the 'cub scout' manual. The only thing missing was the good old plate drying rack, but there was still plenty of time and Aarron made off to try and find some suitable wood.
So with everything set up, we gathered around the bbq to disscuss tactics, the weather and all things mayhem, whilst consuming those almost forgotton beers.(purely for the carb content you understand!)Mudmuncher Rob was conspicuous by his absense, probably due to the elite teams strict rules with regard to race preparation, although he did appear just after 10.30 (once the rest of the team had retired to their beds and motivational cd's for the night) complete with a bottle of beer and a burger. It's good to see he hasn't lost touch with his roots!
saturday morning dawned to overcast skys after a heavy rain shower during the night which had left the ground in a slightly damp condition. These conditions caused Rob to have a right cafuffle with his tyre choice but after about 3 hours of changing he found the right combination to go with the new Crankbrothers 'carlos fandango wheels'.
Whilst Rob was perfecting the 'tubeless tyre change', some of us took a look around the huge array of stands present in the Mayhem village. This was done for a couple of reasons, one was of genuine interest but the over-riding one was to see how many 'freebees' could be obtained. One of the first stops, though, was the Army stand who had a climbing wall set up which made me dizzy looking up at it. The old sea dog, Russ, encouraged his boy, Jordan, to have a go and he put in a superb effort almost reaching the top. Maybe being inspired by this, Russ's other half, Chez, decided to have a go. I'm not sure flip flops are the ideal climbing attire but fair play, she made quick work of the bottom section before remembering that heights really wern't her thing. Perhaps a bit of encouragement by Russ would have helped but his attention was diverted when a loud speaker announcement said he only had 5 minutes left to register for a free Specialized t shirt. He was gone before you could say 'heelp, get me down!'
Still I think one of the nice soldier people managed to coax Chez down....eventually!
The start time of 2pm approached so we all made our way down to the briefing amongst the other 2500 or so riders. As with last year the organisation was great and all the bikes of the first riders, who had chosen, or, as in our case with T.P, been nomiated to go first lined up along the start area. The first riders then had to run about 1/2 mile around a loop and back to their bikes, to try and split the field up a bit.
You could almost smell the nerves and anticipation as the starter hooter went at precisely 2pm. Mountain Mayhem 09 had begun and we waited for the first of our teams to return from their little jog. After Tom, looking very 'team' in his Scott lycra, came Paul who had put in a superb run. ( all that training was worth it! ) and then Matt appeared doing a curious impression of Zola Budd, running in his socks carrying his trainers! So the huge field of competitors streamed through the start finish out onto the first lap over a 8.6mile course which consisted of some great singletrack, fast descents, technical rooty sections and over 1250ft of climbing!
Amazingly the first riders re-appeared after only about 40minutes with team Scott up front (not Tom!).
The race was on and the large digital clock was counting up, it seemed very slowly, through the first few hours.
All was going well, both our teams starting to enjoy the drying track and putting in some very good lap times, all around an hour. I started my third lap at about 2 in the morning with my light showing up what seemed like flecks of dust in its beam. But this dust started to get quite wet and I soon realised, even in my sleepy state, that it was raining again. This shouldn't be happening, the forecast didn't mention any rain and they are usually so accurate! The course became an instant ice rink with the now hard packed ground and roots having a kind of polished sheen applied to them. It became my longest lap, partly due to a few dabs and 'wobbly' moments but also due to a rescue that had to be made. Whilst following a rider through a particularly off camber rooty section he decided to try an alternative route which ended in him being laid upside down in ferns about 10foot below me. I asked if he was ok hoping to just carry on but decided that might be cruel when he replied "yeh I'm fine,but I'm stuck! " So I put the bike down and along with another rider formed a human chain and dragged the fallen one back up to the course. It was actually quite nice to have a rest!
Daylight returned at about 5 am Sunday morning with a few zomby like riders wandering around after catching very little sleep. Some even took to using other team members facilities as Dangerous Dan found out when he'd returned from a night time lap hoping to get a couple of hours sleep in his tent, only to find T.P, who had been evicted from his 'Max and Paddy' wagon curled up in his sleeping bag. We are a close nit team but lets leave this sort of shananagans out of it, maybe Brokeback Mayhem was an apt name after all.
Still as Sunday morning proper came we all tried to remain enthusiastic but the consumption of numerous energy bars, gels, drinks, recovery bars and way to many bananas started to grate on our stomachs. But as the time counted down we all seemed to get that 'this is my last lap' second wind and managed to put in some good lap times once again.
'Ding Dong' Mark was sent out with just 1hr 10mins to go which meant that if he did his very consistant lap time it would give us 5 minutes or so to either fit one more lap in or wait for the time to tick down. We had a 'discussion' and despite Dan and myself offering to do the final lap, knowing it wouldn't matter how long it took, Jasper 'the heinrich manoever' Heinrich, stepped up and got himself ready to be the hero. We stood by the track, counting down the final minutes waiting for Mark. But the clock beat him and he crossed the line just after 2pm to our applause, with Jasper cheering the loudest! ( Mark had taken a few rests on his final lap to drag out the time)
Both our teams had finished and had done brilliantly, continuing throughout the 24hrs and posted a great result. But more importantly we all had a great time, had enjoyed the ride, were very tired but I'm sure I speak for us all, in saying we all thrived in the friendly relaxed atmosphere that we had within our teams and in the event in general. We'll be back for more next year....maybe!
I'd like to thank our 'pit crew' of other halves and kids who looked after us all so well and I'm sure they also had a great time. The kids loved the British cycling challenge, the gaming caravan and mostly, it seemed, the mud!!
The motly crew all looking amazingly awake after 24hrs of Mayhem!(although Dan maybe asleep behind those glasses!)