D2D 2011 Episode 3

Woodbridge Surfers 2011 D2D A Team, DP & DH and

What was he thinking entering Solo, IH

I wanted it all to be different from last year, warm, dry, no mud, less pain and definitely no urges to crawl into the undergrowth. So despite the onset of rain, I thought I would position myself in the top 50 or so riders to see if that would help. I desperately tried to resist racing off with the pack at a pace I would not be able to sustain, but inevitably as we completed the “thinning-out” loop and came around to the start again my legs were aching already.

I felt a little like I was in the wrong race as riders streamed past, my body was saying ease back, until we hit the single track. Suddenly I felt involved, keeping up with the faster guys was a possibility, I even managed with my superior weight, to squeeze past a few, the fire tracks saw them disappear into the distance, but it felt good at the time. All the time I struggled to see through my glasses for rain, they had to go, but what I did hold onto, in my mind, was the dry forecast I had seen the previous week. It had started to rain before we arrived and it continued to lash it down until after the finish, I had run out of clothes by 4AM, but at least the bacon sandwich (which got me through the 3rd lap) was in the sunshine.

The trails deteriorated quite quickly to a mix of edgy fire tracks, thick mud, sandy corners and exposed roots. The 2nd lap was acceptance that the rain was here to stay and it was truly going to be tough. All my concentration was on staying upright and holding the burn in my legs, just below cramp.

I didn’t mind been overtaken on the straights, but the woods and bends were mine, unfortunately one fellow rider did not understand this properly and in an attempt to make a turn towards some single track he did not quite make it. It was possible to make the corner at that speed but not together, I did only ride over his wheels. The hour and a bit rest while Darren screamed around was very welcome and I did feel more up for the 3rd lap than I actually was. My equipment was suffering as badly as my legs, gears jumping, brakes (not that I used them on the 3rd lap) waterlogged and jammed up cleats, eventually I had a little off, compounded by one cleat not releasing, causing a rather uncomfortable landing with one leg still attached. As the arena lights loomed through the rain, a sense of relief and achievement overcame the other stuff in my head and I forced a smile to a happily waiting DP.

I celebrated with soup, peanuts and a health bar, some water, another health bar, lucozade, pasta, some more peanuts another health bar and a banana. I really wanted the 4th lap, but needed some rest, set my alarm for 5am, which would give me and then DP, if he fancied, enough time to do a 2 hour lap each. Unfortunately my earlier knock had taken its toll and despite a small amount of encouragement my leg would not extend fully. All I could do was check DP was back, turned out IH headlight and grabbed a couple of hours sleep, reassuring myself I had done all that I could. 50% more laps than last year, faster and not last, not last by a long way. So very happy, 2 man team worked well, respect to IH for attempting solo. Next year will dry and awesome. Sign up here.

So until further notice Thursday nights are 8.30-8.30AM and then breakfast in the Cherry Tree.

Lasting memory from this, not noticing a small hole appearing in my shorts, giving a through flow of mud and sand to the crease, can’t remember feeling sandpapered there before.

D-2-D part 2

"The weather can't be that bad again, can it?" Not quite, but pretty close. So, sign up now for D-2-D 2012 because the weather can't be that bad again, can it?

The course was 10.5 miles, pretty straight forward for the first 5 miles, then big bomb hole which you couldn't ride out. Then some wibbly wobbly, another big bomb hole, some of the black run, then a dull final mile. Not very technical, but would have been good fun and pretty fast in the dry.

Dave and I decided to change over after each lap, which was the right strategy given the conditions, but it didn't leave much time to dry out and recover. Perhaps 3-man team is the best way to go? Respect to Ian for doing riding solo.

You can see results and lap times here http://www.timelaps.co.uk/assets/uploads/d2d2011.pdf

I rode our final lap from about 02:15 hrs and didn't pass anyone. Everyone else out at that time of the morning were so fast. Conditions were very tricky, but the speed and bike control of these racers was very impressive.

As we watched the final racers come over the finishing line we were already planning our rides for 2012. Come and join us, because the weather can't be that bad again, can it?

Dusk-2-Dawn, the brief, no photo's one

This will be a bit brief, expect more with photo's from DH & DP, and I'm only going to talk about my experience (seems a bit misleading to call what I did a race).

I'd been looking forward to it for a while, until about midday on Saturday when it hit me what was to come and I lost my appetite - and started about 3 hours of faffing around the house, getting bits & pieces of equipment/ batteries/ clothes/ food sorted out. In the morning I'd managed to change my rear disc-brake pads, but in the process had lost some brake fluid. The brakes worked, but they were pretty spongy. Good start.

However, we got to Thetford & got set up, gazebo for humans, clever half-gazebo thing for bikes & kettle. Race start was 8pm, and on the whistle I made sure I was right at the back - I've done enough races where I've spent a lot of time being overtaken, I wanted to do some overtaking. I think I managed about 5 people... My game plan had been to set off at a pace which left me breathing hard, but no more, as I felt that'd give me the best chance to last all night. I set off to plan, but most people seemed to have a very different plan, and if it hadn't been raining so heavily I wouldn't have seen them for dust. As it was, dust wasn't the issue. The first 2 miles were straightforward firetrack, then the other 8.5 miles were through Louisiana Mangrove Swamps. The first lap was OK, I managed to pass a few people, and felt good, until just before the end when the front runners lapped me. Stopped at the Solo riders tent to refill my water bottle & met DH who offered some words of encouragement, and let me know DP was on the course - they had decided on a 1-lap-switch gameplan. I then set out on the 2nd lap, at about 9:30, when it had been raining by then for about 3 1/2 hours...

Bike control through mud has never been my stronghold, and I proved that again on Lap2. Lost count of the people who passed me - I think I managed to pass a couple who had come through while I'd refilled my bottle, but that was it. One lovely lady came flying past, shouting out to everyone she went past 'Good work Bloke'. The laughter rang out for micro-seconds...

I eventually finished lap2 at 11. My original plan had been to do 2 laps per 3 hours, hopefully giving me some time to eat & rest at the end of each 21 miles. As it was 11, I should have been heading out for my second set of 2 laps. That wasn't going to happen. I picked up my food & slowly went back to camp, thinking about calling it a night, exhausted & soaking. Met DH back at camp & after a while he shamed me into going back out for a third lap at about 11:40. It still hadn't stopped raining...

This time the first few miles were again fine, but ominously quite water logged. The final 8 miles were hell. I felt like I had no control over the bike, the steady stream of riders going past was demoralising (although everyone who went past was incredibly polite, there was no crowding me out), and I'd forgotten to take my water bottle out with me. In my 'sensible' head I knew I didn't need any water, it was only 10 miles in the pouring rain. In my 'tired' brain it was a huge issue, and I was about to collapse from dehydration. I swung into the finish area & met DP, who told me it was 2:10am - that lap had taken about 2 hours 20! I decided to call it a night, maybe to see what the conditions were like in the morning. I went back to the campsite, had a drink of water, got some dry clothes on, and went to sleep in the car. It continued to rain all night, and when we woke up the thought of doing a 4th lap was abhorrent, so we went for a cup of tea and a bacon & egg sandwich at the finish line.

While filling our faces DP found the results board up, and as many solo riders had finished after only 2 laps I wasn't last by a good few slots. Suddenly that missed 4th lap became important, and from 'never again' I talked about 'next year'.

For me, solo was the way to go. I'm aware that a lot of prep was wrong, my food strategy was wrong, and the wet weather was a pain, but now I know what to expect, I reckon I can beat 3 laps next year.

I have just seen my speed profile though - I think I need to take up running... ( the fast spikes are at the beginning of each lap - the first lap had a longer fast spike, designed to spread out the field).

Huge thanks to DP & DH for all of their help & support throughout the night. Results now in as per DP's post above, interesting ones: