Took part in the Wiggle Mountain Mayhem 24hr race / event at the weekend. This is the first 24hr event I've taken part in and me and 3 mates entered. As far as I could tell, it was well run and the camping and facilities were very good although I'm pretty sure I managed to find the windiest spot on the campsite to pitch a tent and gazebo!
The weather could have been better, especially when it absolutely hammered it down about 50mins after the start and just before I was due to start my first lap! This resulted in a complete mud bath and I was covered from head to foot in about the first 10mins. It had dried out significantly by the time I did my second lap and I managed a decent sub 1 hour time although the majority of the time I was on about the hour mark.
The course itself was reasonably brutal from a fitness point of view with some very steep hard climbs - not necessarily that technical other than their gradient and the slippery rocks and mud covering them. I rode everything in the practice lap on the Friday afternoon but come race day just jumped off and pushed, saving my legs for the rest of the lap. It never ceased to amaze me watching riders powering up these as I walked, the levels of fitness there were something I've never seen before. One solo rider I was talking to on the lap was matching my pace after about 20hrs of non-stop riding, I think he was the winner overall in the solo event with 26 laps - our team of 4 managed 21 and that wasn't going slow either...
There were all sorts of bikes being ridden there although I suspect the fastest riders were all on 29ers, either full rigid or with front suspension only. It was great to see everyone coming and having a go on what was in their garage.
The Cube Stereo was brilliant all weekend long. I still find it hard to believe a 160mm AM bike can pedal so well. Had it in trail mode all weekend, the only time it felt like it should have been on descent was on the grassy mid-section before the red bull run as this was bumpy as hell going flat out on it (before the brutal climb to the top!).
I flew up to the first descent (Kenda Coffin I think) only to barely stop in time at the procession of riders easing their way down. On my second lap though it had spread out a bit more and I was able to hit this nice and fast although my enthusiasm nearly resulted in me hitting a hay bale strategically placed around a tree! Each lap thereafter it was a case of trying to go faster and faster down this, most of the time it worked but I nearly ended up in a bush during a night lap as the mud caught me out on one of the fast corners! It was a great feeling ploughing past people on here although they'd normally caught me back up a few minutes later as their superior fitness blasted them past.
In certain areas this played out repeatedly, fly down a descent passing people and then be passed back on the following straights or climbs. I didn't mind this though as I'd gotten the most out of the descents and was happy to bow to someone else's better fitness.
I was looking forward to the Red bull timed section initially as I figured with all the xc country riders here, I maybe (just maybe) stood a chance of doing reasonably well on this (day out with the Athertons in Wales here I come!). Then I re-adjusted my expectations before I arrived figuring there were probably some quality riders there, ex downhillers, etc. and just see how I do. But when it came to it, the section was all about fitness, there was no real technical difficulty to it other than controlling your bike at speed and I just didn't have the fitness on the day to match the top guys blasting down it. Plus it was unusual to get a clear run so you were always having to past people. I did see the guy who was leading it cross the line whilst I was waiting for my lap (he didn't win it though) and he had thighs of steel and I think a full rigid 29er, so I definitely figured that day out in Wales was just a pipe dream!
My best position was 24th with 1.49 until I got knocked down to a lower level a little later on (assume the course dried up a bit and there was some healthy competition between the fastest riders), so I was pleased with this (I'm guessing there was about 1200 riders there) - the winning time was about 1.28 I think. Plus, I never got bored of nearly having a chaotic crash in to the hay bales at the bottom of the run trying to take the corner at full speed - nearly took a photographer out on the last run as I skidded my back tyre around whilst simultaneously crushing my meat and two veg - specifically the meat - between rest of body and seat post!
The bike rolled really well, I could blast along the smoother single track / dual tracks - not sure if that was down the 650 tyre or not, but I continually caught people up along the flat section after the first descent even without much pedalling. I guess you'd have to go out on a similar 26er to see if you could notice the difference.
The only issue I had was with my chain nearly failing in the middle of the night. Basically, only a SRAM power link saved me. So the Shimano chain is being ditched for a SRAM at the earliest opportunity.
The single worst point was having to get up at 2:15 in the morning to complete a lap. And as far as lights go, more is definitely better, over do it, especially if you wear glasses like me, rather than under do it.
All in all, the bike was great, the course good fun, it was knackering but in a good way and the banter with my mates and one of their dads who came along to assist was spot on, always a laugh to be had even in the cold and wind.
I think our team ended up 50th in that category, out of 80 plus teams.