Like many it’s been a tough job keeping motivated during lockdown. Add in a pregnant wifey and a psychotic toddler to the mix, plus two adults attempting to work from home it’s been a somewhat challenging time! We welcomed baby William into the world just over a week overdue but successfully delivered at home. Despite a post birth ambulance adventure Mum and baby were all well and 3 became 4 (plus Marshall).

We should have been racing at Exposure 24/12 at the end of July and I had tentatively earmarked an appearance of some sort (post baby fatigue levels dependent) but with this cancelled the Trust Races stepped in to provide an alternative challenge where you could make your own mountain bike course and race as far/high as you could within 6,12 or 24 hours. I thought 6 hours would be more than sufficient so plotted a fast loop round Ashton Court in Bristol, a venue I’ve done many times at the Bikefest event so knew I could hold a fast average speed whilst being almost entirely on MTB trails.

Unknown to some there are a few short sections of off-piste trails in the woods there which I incorporated which also helped with the elevation gain. There was about 200m of tarmac on the whole route and the rest was a mix of built trails, some flowy natural singletrack and sections of fire road. I was happy that it was a proper MTB course if any questions were asked by my peers.

The boys at Pedal Progression were on hand to help if needed but for 6 hours I didn’t need any. I even tried to get my head in to full race mode so ritually got the race table out and bottles ready to grab on the move. So much so that I didn’t have one second of none moving time according to Mr Garmin.

I had started a bit later in the day to allow for parental duties earlier which I thought might help me also dodge some of the stormy weather. No such luck and at times it was biblical but fortunately warm enough that a few extra hard turns on the pedals kept me toasty enough.

I was surprised at how I managed to keep motivated in the most part during the ‘race’ despite my only competition on course being other trail users that I politely navigated. I came across a lot of dog walkers but due to the rain not many cyclists which was good for average speed as I wasn’t going to be shouting at people out for a leisurely ride whilst I was trying to smash round.

I had some tunes playing in one ear to keep me motivated and had a thought to see if I could check the fastest times set to date. It was so wet I couldn’t even unlock the phone so I had the thought of calling racing mate Chris for some live updates. He listened to me panting whilst relaying that it looked like I might have a shot at the furthest distance if I didn’t hang around. This ‘virtual’ pit advice was really handy and I do feel a bit bad that other competitors didn’t have this option if they had started earlier in the day. Nevertheless it was cool to have the incentive to empty the tank rather than just roll to the finish which I cracked on and managed.

I was surprised that some PB’s were appearing at Ashton Court, a place I have raced and ridden a lot. Given everything going on at the moment and a sleep deprived state this was a pretty good testament to the work Lee Eaton has being doing with me at Transition Endurance Group coaching.

So it turns out I ‘won’ and it was close with another rider less than 1 mile distance behind!

One of the ideas of Trust Races is to bring in a charitable element. For this if you’d like to donate please go to:

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/le-tour-de-fran

For those who don’t already know Fran lost his young life to cancer. I didn’t know him very well but his story touched me deeply and if you can help out his family please do so. With all the utter shit that’s happening in the world right now my heart was warmed when I asked a couple of random girls in a car to take a picture of me at the end whilst I was packing up. They listened to the story about what I was doing and instantly handed over a tenner, such a cool thing to find kind humans like that. Admittedly as the kebab shop didn’t take card after and that was the only cash I had, I did spend it on a dirty kebab haha (I of course put the money back in to the pot after).

I’m hoping to race Kielder Chiller 24 later in the year providing I’ve caught up on some sleep by then. In the meantime I’ve got another big road adventure planned to keep the motivation going.

Thanks to all the race organisers and Exposure Lights for the prizes. Well done everyone who gave it a go despite the challenges of making it happen. Hopefully see you between actual tapes soon!

STATS

Animal count:
4x deer
3x suicidal squirrels
Many dogs
5x horses
1x bird of prey?

Incident count:
1x chased by a dog
2x instances of logs appearing on bridleways

Bike stats: