It was all about me. Normally my races are half a mind on the race and half a mind on getting the kids fed/sent to bed/waking in the night worried as we might not be there/breakfast/the packing up and staying awake on the long drive home as soon as the race is finished. This Bontrager 12hr Solo attempt was different. My race was finishing at 12pm, I was then going to go to sleep and when I woke in the morning, I was not loading the car and driving the kids home immediately, I was looking after them, slowly packing the tent, and cheering on Phil in the 12hr torchbearer.

So I started off with a clear goal of just riding the whole 12hrs non-stop, with support from Phil and the queen of pit crews, Debbie, who was supporting Jase in the 24hrs. First lap of the course showed it to be highly varied. There were tarmac climbs, slidey gravel, wooded roots, stony single track down hills and even a section through post-industrial buildings. The climbing was good but not completely back breaking, so I settled into a pace I felt was strong but sustainable and invariably found I chatted to many riders as the day progressed, usually on that long uphill climb. Hello specially to Cowbell man and Benji Fat bike. The mud remnants of the storm the night before slowly dried, making the course more enjoyable as the laps unfolded. The atmosphere was highly congenial. All riders were polite and no-one seemed to have the aggressive attitude of some races when faced with slower bikes. Once relaxed with a few laps under my belt, I started to really like the course’s nuances and quirks.

After about 6/7 hours I started to feel the tiredness start. I had completed about 5/6 laps by then and had my favourite espresso treat to help. This did me a world of good and I felt good considering I had now cycled the longest solo time I’d ever ridden. However a couple more laps in I took a pretty hard fall and slammed onto the rocks of a single track section. Stuck on the floor I needed a couple of folk to untangle me and lift me up. Though no bones were broken, I was shaken up. It meant that I took the subsequent laps at a more gentle pace, especially the tricky rocks, and then also started counting the hours until I was finished. I had one comical moment where I slipped at the top of a bomb hole, another rider came up, stalled, slipped and then pushed me off the top into a thorn bush, saving himself from the fall!

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Throughout the whole race I had asked not to know about positioning. Debbie and Phil kindly didn’t let on and as experts in knowing what motivated tired riders, they still kept me buoyant and pushed me out again after quick snacks. As it came to the last hour or so I had to ask ‘what position am I?’. I was amazed to find I was 2nd, and had been for most of the race! I was elated but also worried that in my tiredness and pain from the crash, that I wouldn’t be able to manage many more laps. I headed out for another with Debi checking on what needed to be done. Upon my next return to the pit I received the best news ever. I only had to finish this lap, not head out for one last one as I had thought. I was secure in my 2nd place and had completed almost 12hrs of riding.

I am absolutely delighted. I want to give big thanks to Phil and Debbie, as if I’d been let to my own devices I am not sure I’d have pushed through the pits quite as quickly. It is always great to see the USE Exposure team both on the track, and after for a chat – their lights are always awesome. The Revolution physio team were stars for unknotting my shoulders the next morning and of course @Cookson’s Bikes have supplied me with my new fantastic bike, the Trek Superfly 9.6. Also not to forget, of course, well done to Jase on his phenomenal 24hr win and Phil on his 12hr torchbearer 2nd place podium, as after all it’s not ALL about me !