This weekend’s Kielder Chiller 24 was a bit of an epic, even by normal 24hr standards. Richie and Lisa Scott, both racing solo, summarise their races:
As the aluminium snow massaged my mud stained face. Keilder’s cold and desperate wind burrowed its icy fangs deep into my heart. Engaging a silhouetted tree line with a sorrowful wanting stare, I longed for the sunrise, a change in the deep, dark solid night sky, a wake-up call to arms. A harrowing sound of grinding dirt dissolving my drive train kept me awake to the point that when I had stopped pedaling and was freewheeling, the sickening crunching sound still echoed through my head. Revolving around and around destroying my sanity and my bike. This was 24hr racing at its best. A test against myself, the course, the weather and my inner demons.
The compressed grey darkness had been with everyone from the new day’s dawn. The cold metallic rain had been relentless in its onslaught, crushing the riding optimism that brims in every racer that starts a 24hr event. As the Team JMC outpost was erected, filled and stocked it became our own little Camp Bastion, our saviour in this forest of pines and pain, needles and nightmares.
As planned Lisa and I opted to ride this race solo but Lisa was also riding SSS (Single “stupid” Speed), just another factor to pencil in the box of broken knee caps as the climbing average per lap was over 1000ft. The wind and sleet applauded hard as the riders were set off into the distant glow of a rain soaked haze. The clock was ticking. How many would see this through?
There is two tales to this story. Mine and Lisa’s. Mine is a regimented looping ordeal of pedal, eat, freeze, moan, drink, cry, sweary words, pee and repeat. The weather was the most disgusting, rank, soul destroying, kick in the scrotum collection of pure cloud gobbing hell. A good day for product testing. I fought hard and forced myself into the witching hour laps. But my lasting memory will not be the cruel weather or the pain of the nighttime shenanigans, but the friendship. Team JMC are a great bunch of folk. Friendly and helpful, they were always there to lend a hand. The pit was sometimes a busy place with riders coming in and others mentally prepping for the hard yards ahead. Other times it was a lonely small bus stop in a large world of self doubt and misery. No free tickets here, you had to earn them.
What sticks out for me were my early hour laps with Tom Hodgkinson. We put a shift in and helped each other fight the elements. No faffing about in the pits. Just a quick bite to eat and then out. But as the morning erased the night, Tom was too strong for me. Like a scene from the film Titanic he drifted away from me on one of the fire road climbs, lost in the dark pools of the Kielder night drifting silently with the snowflakes that swirled and danced.
But there was another tale that was evolving. One that involved riding with one gear, looking after riders, riding with one gear, looking after riders. But this is not my story to tell. It’s Lisa’s……………….
I hate the cold. I hate rain. I’m a fair weather rider. I’m also not very fit, not very confident on my bike and am very good at falling off onto rocks, into bogs or trees that don’t jump out of the way. So I was questioning what on earth I was doing lining up to start the first (of hopefully many more) Kielder Chiller 24.
This race nearly didn’t get off the ground but thanks to High Fell Events’ hard work and perseverance we all set off in the sleet and snow at midday on Saturday.
And what an event!! It was a tough course with enough technical bits to keep you concentrating and some truly horrible brutal climbs. The far side of the course, across open high ground threw blizzards, brickwall headwinds and painful sleet straight into your face.
I’m not a racer. I plod. And plodding up those hills was so tough I found myself singing bits from “Frozen” and “Winter Wonderland “……quite apt in the weather.
After 5 laps I nearly went straight over a berm edge as my brake pads had disintegrated. On closer inspection in the pits I discovered my piston on the rear brake had jammed out completely. Fellow JMC members helped with much swearing and bashing but my rear wheel just wouldn’t turn. So I kicked my bike, swore a bit, got changed into dry(ish) clothes and got on with helping the other members of the team who were proper racers. I was still chuffed I’d managed what I did as last year was pretty hard due to family bereavement and redundancy and I’d hardly touched my bike.
Being part of Team JMC is great as everyone mucks in and really makes you feel part of a great team, whether you’re racing for a podium place or just giving it a go.
The witching hours were spent making warm food, hot drinks, helping with broken bikes……and cleaning a broken nose! Watching everyone coming in hollow eyed and spent and then making themselves go back out and push themselves again is truly inspiring and helped get my mojo back.
After help from a couple of fellow members, we managed to get my rear wheel turning (kind of) again so I set off to see if I could add another couple of laps. I surprised myself by doing 4 more laps and finished knackered but a little bit chuffed with myself for pushing on.
I was more over the moon for Richie as despite suffering from a dodgy chest which meant he could hardly breath, he refused to give up and bagged 5th soloist. Brilliant result!
Tom Hodgkinson did amazingly well finishing 2nd solo and must be the politest, most humble rider I’ve ever helped pit for.
Phil Simcock and Jason Miles romped the pairs win despite breaking bikes and noses.
And the mixed quad team of Budge, Sally, Carl and Jamie were in a fight all night, finally bagging 2nd spot.
Thank you Team JMC for making a brutal weekend fun and to High Fell Events for putting the race on!
We are looking forward to Mountain Mayhem now!