The UK 24hr Solo MTB Championships had been in my thoughts, but I wanted to see how the Euros Champs went first. After my disappointment in Portugal, I felt good within a few days, confirming what I already knew that for whatever reason I hadn’t been able to give it my all over there.

I spoke with my coach Jon at E3 Coaching and decided we’d plan for Fort William but hold off booking until nearer the time. No hard training regime was required, just recover initially followed by sufficient miles to sustain my fitness. I did a lot of soul search during those hard laps in Portugal and, after a pep talk from my wife Fiona, I decided I had to install more fun into my riding. Within a week I’d rebuilt my singlespeed and made sure I got out riding at least once a week with my mates. If I was going to do this, a more relaxed attitude was going to prevail. I had four weeks between the events, but many doubted I could get anywhere near fitness to be competitive in such a short space of time.

With about 10 days to go I took the plunge and booked myself as solo in the UK 24hr MTB Championships in Fort William aka – Relentless, returning to a course I knew well after three 10 under then Ben’s and the WEMBO World Champs in 2018. I had run out of holidays for the year, so up and down inside a weekend it was to be. And fortuitously I came across a couple on a local ride who were travelling to race themselves and just happened to live around the corner from me.

So Jo, Paul, Indie, their border collie, and I set off after work on the Friday arriving at precisely midnight. A quick unpack and I’d settled down to sleep in the five-star offering (aka Team JMC pit area) in my bike packing tent. After 6 hours good sleep and I was ready to race.

[Steady off from the start]

The start was good, with a small field the teams and the super-fast were on their way and after a pacey couple of laps I settled into a good rhythm. Things were going pretty well, coming in, taking on more fuel and getting back out there. It rained a little, but nothing like Portugal and no real wind to speak of either – most unusual. However, about 7 hours in I really hit the wall, not tiredness so much, my legs were heavy, felt awful, taking on more energy didn’t help and trying just plain water didn’t do much either.

I did another lap which wasn’t too far off my earlier pace, but I still wasn’t in a good place physically. I decided to have a clothes change, take on a pot noodle and see how it went. I spoke to the team, got advice from Rich Rothwell, discussed whether it was too soon after Portugal, which we more or less concluded it was. Anyway, only you as rider can make these decisions and I dragged myself back out and felt good, did another lap and felt great, the Rudd-meister was back and this time back for good.

[Churning out those early laps]

It was pretty much to plan after that, I’d been up to 3rd earlier in the race dropping down to 5/6th after my wobble, but was heartened to find out I was sitting 3rd 12 hours in, and into 2nd place soon after. I just did what I usually do and churn out the laps at a steady but consistent pace. I love night riding and at the end of October in Scotland there is plenty of darkness to go at, this is where races are won and lost. News from the pits was that 1st place was way off; he was a good few laps ahead of me but I was pulling away from my teammate Richie Scott who was lying 3rd.

[Having some fun along the way!]

[That look of utter relief as I reach the finish line]

The lead was out of reach, so knew I had to just keep going, look after myself and the bike, and second place would be mine. That’s what I duly did, with no real pressure I enjoyed the end of the race, I didn’t take any risks, I didn’t need to.

I missed not riding the last hour at Portugal, so even though I didn’t need to I put in an extra lap, this was ‘my lap’ on a course that whilst brutal was also one that I’d grown to love. I’d had two fourth places at Fort William in the past, but this time I’d broken that duck and I crossed the finish line as 2nd placed MVET in the UK 24hr MTB Championships, truly amazing.

[Job done, time relax and claim my prize – UK 24hr MTB Championships 2019 – MVET Silver Medallist]

A big thanks to all my supporters and sponsors; Team JMC (@teamjmc) – especially Budge, Jon Fearne at E3 Coaching (@e3coach), Magicshine Lighting for providing reliable lights with plenty of spare batteries (@magicshinelighting), Torq Fitness (@torqfitness, #TORQFuelled), MTB Guisborough (@mtbguisborough), Indie, Jo and Paul Barnes (@barnsey_j) and above all others Fiona, Jacob and Hannah.

Chris Rudd (@endurancemtber)