Despite years of 24 hour racing experience, it’s always fun to try something different and to stick your neck out, especially in the winter when feels right to adopt a more relaxed approach to things– that way I can enjoy Christmas a bit more and I can save the enthusiasm for the “proper” pain and suffering until the summer.
So, for the second year in a row, I was racing in the solo category of the Strathpuffer on a singlespeed – which as the name implies is a bike with just one gear.
In reality, this is far from a “relaxed approach” – as it turns out racing for an entire day on a bike like that starts off uncomfortable and just gets worse as time wears on. There are mechanical advantages in certain circumstances, especially in muddy, wet and freezing conditions, but it’s mainly hard work and suffering.
I’d started well, I’d stayed out of trouble while the course was covered in snow and ice early on in the race and resisted the urge to overdo it. I just rode fast but steady and made sure I stayed in touch with those in front of me. As time wore on, the course became easier to ride for a few hours but then the rain during the night ensured that a thick layer of ice formed again. My strategy to keep a metal-studded ice tyre on the front wheel paid off.
Eventually I rode into second place overall, I wasn’t too far behind friend and race leader Dave Powell but I knew that Dave wasn’t going to be either easy to catch or to pass. Unfortunately Dave crashed during the night and sustained a painful injury that put him out of the race for a few hours. In that time I was able to move into the lead and create a gap – a gap that would remain until the end of the race where I took the overall solo win.
Dave had meanwhile re-joined the race in 5th place and rode an amazing series of laps to finish in 3rd place! Team JMC teammates Andrew Burgess and Phil Simcock also put in a fantastic performance to secure 3rd place in the incredibly competitive pairs category.
The Strathpuffer, despite me approaching it with a supposed relaxed attitude, turned into quite a serious race in the end and the result starts 2013 in the best way possible. It’s just a shame it took 8 hours to drive home afterwards – but at least we all won prizes.