The Kielder Chiller 24hr race saw a number of great Team JMC performances including a brilliant 2nd place for Tom Hodgkinson in the solo competition. Here are his thoughts on the race:
With us having to travel some distance to the race, my wife Mel and I traveled up on Friday and stayed over at one of the cottages (quite close to Kielder) that fellow Team JMC racers Lisa and Richie Scott look after. Me and Richie went for a 14 mile ride in the afternoon and we talked about the race ahead. That evening Lisa cooked us a lovely meal and we called it a early night. Thanks Richie and Lisa for the hospitality.
The next morning we headed over to the course around 6am so we could help get everything set up. As we were setting up I kept looking at the weather and it was looking grim – nothing like the forecast had suggested. Hopefully it will be alright I thought.
Right then! 11.15am so I best start putting my kit on. Before we knew it it was time for the rider briefing and off to the start line. And we were off! I went off a bit too fast but I didn’t want to get caught up in traffic as we hit the singletrack sections. As the race started to calm down I came in for some food. Mel said ‘how is it?’ My response was ‘it’s alright but there is a lot of snow, hail, wind, rain, I have cold hands, a cold face and cold feet. ‘Man up’ she said. I smiled and set off again for another few laps. I was thinking this is not good, I’m too cold on the long downhills and getting sweaty on the climbs, it was making me shiver and my teeth chatter.
I came in again later for some food and a warm but after a few minutes Jason Miles pointed at his wrist and said ‘come on, do one’ I thought this was great motivation and headed off.
As the long night began my body started to warm up and was feeling OK until around 1am, at this point I was really struggling and could have chucked my bike into the trees. As I came in the pit area I saw Richie was just about to go out for another few gruelling laps, so we headed out together. One lap turned into another and another whilst we were chatting. Can’t remember what we were chatting about though. It was brilliant to have company and took our minds off the crazy adventure we were on (thanks Richie). As we plodded along the sky became clear, quiet and peaceful. Eventually we drifted apart and I started talking to myself and singing (I’m Spinning Around by Kylie Minogue) making up the words as I went along as I only know the chorus. I had lost track of all time at this point.
Another pit stop, this time for a coffee and jam sandwich (mmm that was nice).
As the morning approached I was falling asleep on the bike, this happened about 4 times. I started to wonder how I was going to get round the course safely. As soon as I heard I was in 3rd position, I woke up a bit and powered on, forgetting about the pain and cold feet and urging myself to ‘Come on Tom!’.
Some time after this I had a chance encounter with Lisa, grinding out laps on her singespeed (hardcore) and received some welcome support and encouragement.
A few laps more and somehow I had managed to move up into 2nd place – my best placing ever in a solo race. I knew that there was only time left for another couple of laps, but with 3rd place only 15 mins behind me I couldn’t afford to ease off at all. I had to keep my concentration and soldier on.
On my last lap I knew I could finally take it easy. I had opened up a bigger gap on 3rd place and knew that if I completed the lap I was on I had 2nd place in the bag. There was no chance of catching Rich Rothwell, he had 2 more laps on me (what a machine). Approaching the finish line for the final time was a huge relief. 2nd place solo in a 24hr race! ‘ That’s alright’ I thought ?
A massive well done to all the Team JMC racers for a number of great results. Thanks to High Fell Events for putting the race on and the marshals for braving the daft weather. And finally a huge thanks to everyone who supported me and cheered me on, especially my wife Mel!