Team JMC had two teams at Mayhem this year – one quite serious and the other….less so. Here’s Budge’s account of the weekend’s racing.
(he was in the more serious team, by the way)
After the mud-bath that was last year’s Mountain Mayhem it was pleasing to hear that the venue was changing for this year and the event would be based at the guaranteed mud free (well that is how we all wanted to interpret the message) Gatcombe Park instead.
As usual Mayhem tends to be more of a social occasion for Team JMC (except for our solo nutters) so we decided to enter two vets teams – where the average age of the team is over 40. One was a combination of Phil Simcock, Lee Eaton, Andy Watson and me.
The other included Sally Burgess, Jacqui Simcock and anyone we could find to make up the numbers – in the end father and son friends of Phil’s (Rod and Joe Vann) who were great sports. Our ambition for the blokes team was to chase a podium place (we managed 2nd place in 2012), with our mixed team out to enjoy themselves and do as many laps as they could.
The weather always plays a key part in the whole Mayhem experience and pleasingly it was gloriously sunny when we arrived on the Friday and setup camp – result! Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way and we experienced rain, and gazebo destroying winds, for most of the weekend with the heaviest rain appearing just as we started to pack up to come home.
The course was interesting – on reflection not a good interesting unfortunately. And muddy. Doh! The overall opinion was that it just wasn’t exciting enough – certainly nothing like as exciting as the previous venue. It also lacked variety with too much samey safe riding. Lots of very steep climbs also meant that there was a lot of walkers making it difficult to make quick progress. Not sure many less experienced riders would have enjoyed it. That said it is the first time at this venue and hopefully they learn from the feedback and it is more entertaining next year.
Following a cracking start from one of our strongest riders, Phil Simcock, our blokes team really attacked the race and we worked our way up to 6th overall in the vets class (out of a huge field of 151 vets team) with just under 90 mins remaining. We all then put in a stint that saw us all set our fastest laps of the race allowing us to get Lee out for a final lap with only minutes of the 24 hours to go. Lee absolutely nailed this last lap and in doing so we gained another place and took 5th in the vets class. A great result on the basis that the quantity and quality of the competition had increased significantly since the year before. We also finished 10th in the overall open category having done 30 laps in 24 hours and 38 mins – a lap was roughly 7 miles and 1000 feet of climbing.
Our mixed team might have had a more relaxed approach but each member of the team (should have been five riders but one dropped out at the last minute) pushed themselves far outside their comfort zones. Each had plenty of tales to tell after riding a tricky course several times over in wind, rain, mud and at night. In the end they managed 13 laps and finished 103rd out of 151.
Sure we will be back next year, if for no other reason than we would be gutted if we missed out on the great weather we all hope for but never get.