Four Team JMC riders took part in the Relentless 24-hour mountain bike race in Fort William at the weekend and each one of them came away with top honours in their category.

Andrew Burgess, competing in the pairs event, recounts his race…

Relentless 24 is the 1St time me and my mate Andy Watson have stepped up to race 24-hours as a pair and the 1st time we have stood on the top step of the podium.

The race itself was awesome.  We had a real ding-dong battle for the first 12-hours with a Hope sponsored team containing the legendary Isle of Man TT star Guy Martin – a team that had some form with a 3rd place pairs finish at Strathpuffer.  Luckily we were able to gradually build a lead until around 11 hours in we managed to gain the upperhand by lapping them.

Our race strategy was defined by our need to drive home on the day the event finished, so it was going to be essential that we somehow got some sleep during the night.  At the start Andy got us off to a flyer and we did one lap each for the first 6 – learning the tricky technical sections before the night closed in – and then switching to longer stints.  First I did 5 laps whilst Andy slept, Andy then did 6 laps whilst I dreamt of being awake, before I went back out for two more before we went back to one lap each.  Neither of us felt that this strategy gave us the best chance of winning but needs must.  As it turned out our laps times, bar my last one before my break, were all done at a decent pace and we managed to keep extending our lead.

Once the sun rose we decided to put in a real effort to give the chasing team little chance of catching us and we managed to extend our lead to one and a half laps.  At this stage it was clear that we couldn’t be caught but, never having won a race before and not wanting to do something stupid and give it away, we kept going until there was no chance that we could be caught.  Pleasingly this meant we could end the race a little early!  Always a welcome outcome especially when you have a six-hour journey home.

Our final stats were 28 laps (4th highest total in any of the team categories), 210 miles, around 28000 feet of climbing in 23 hours and 15 mins.  We won the vets category by 2 laps and would have been the second pair overall if that had been a recognised category.

Standing on the top step for the 1st time was a great moment, made even greater by Guy Martin describing us as {expletive} mustard.  Our prize was a bottle of single malt, a medal and some great memories.

Highlights were a great course with some tough technical sections that were very satisfying to clean, passing Guy Martin on a fire-road descent at 30mph, the views on the way up there through Glencoe, watching my mates Jase and Dave smash the solo categories and some top racing with a great riding buddy.

The final members of our team who deserve enormous thanks are Debbie and Angela who were the pit crew for us as well as Jase and Dave.  Both were absolutely fantastic.  Keeping us fuelled, tracking lap times, spreading misinformation to the competition, keeping us out racing and sorting out a mistake with the lap counting .  A huge thanks to both of you!

Will we go back?  I suppose it is what defending champions have to do I guess!

Jason Miles’ account of the solo race can be found here