This weekend we were at Minley Manor for the Torq 12:12 endurance race. I was part of the Mountain Trax 4 man team. I loved this event last year as I did a pair with Matt Page - loads of riding and we won by miles. This year was to be a bit different...
Our main competition was Isaac Pucci's team - he'd managed to put together a strong team with a couple of younger riders. Ben rode the first lap and came round neck and neck with Isaac and handed over to me. I put 2mins into their rider, had a smooth lap and handed over to John Whittington who did the same. Scott rode the last lap in our rotation and was up against a flying Chris Minter who has really found some form recently. Chris managed to close and even (just!) pass Scott, meaning we were back to square one and tied again. This pattern continued for the entire race with us yo-yoing with Isaac's team for the lead depending on who was out on a lap.
After 22.5hrs of racing we were still together. I went out for my final lap (the results showed I only slowed by 45secs per lap when it got dark - thanks to Exposure lights!) with Martin Turton in tow. I started attacking on every fire road, launching the bike as fast as I could as I knew this was Martin's weak point. He stayed with me until the first climb where I gave it everything and put a gap in so he couldn't continue to draft me. It's so much easier riding behind someone at night as you can see where the trail goes, so as soon as I dropped him I knew he'd slow down, so I kept attacking for the rest of the lap and we ended up with a 1.5min lead. There was an awful lot of shouting and fairly committed overtaking going on at this stage... Apologies if we upset anyone but what Elite and casual riders perceive to be a passing place can be a little different... John went out next and managed to hang onto the gap in front of a flying Chris Minter. Both riders ended their laps having left everything on the course!
We started thinking tactics - we decided to put Ben out for the final lap instead of Scott, Isaac had similar thoughts and rode the final lap for his team. Ben went out last against Isaac with a 1min 45sec advantage. Scott and I went to watch the time gaps out on the lap as it looped over and under a bridge. At the half way point Isaac had closed to 1min but at the end Ben managed to hold this gap. It turned out Isaac does get tired after all!
It was probably one of the closest enduro races I've ever done and certainly one of the most exciting. The course was fantastic, especially given the heavy rain for the two days prior to the event. Now if only they could make this a 24hr race...
Salsa Factory Racing