Words and pics by Joolze Dymond…
It was time last weekend to make the pilgrimage down to the spiritual home of mountain biking to pay homage to the UK’s fastest growing fun enduro event – The Bontrager Twentfour12. Well over 1500 competitors from all parts of the UK and occasionally beyond, turned up to take part in this respected event. In the 24hr solo race it looked like there was to be a real clash of the enduro titans, with Anthony White, coming head to head with Mayhem rival Matt Page, while Ian Leitch fresh back from injury was keen to outwit them all.
With the weather prospects around the country looking a bit drab and dreary, our BBQ summer being replaced with a sub aqua mid year it was a relief to see blue skies and feel a warm breeze as race day dawned, we were on track for near perfect conditions. The 14km course had been tweaked to remove the worst affected moist section leaving miles of sinuous singletrack weaving effortlessly through ancient woodlands interspersed with a few killer climbs (thanks to Cliff Bar for that!) just to remind you it was a race and that you were alive! Oh and not forgetting the obligatory river crossing, any visit to Newnham Park would not be right without a dip in the river!
The Bontrager Twentyfour12 offers a race within a race, within a race, with riders starting at 12miday competing in the 12hr or the 24hr, then as the first draft of 12hr competitors retire with beer and carbs at the stroke of midnight the next draft is unleashed, the Torchbearers, bringing new legs and fresh motivation to those pedalling away in the 24hr.
For the first part in the12 hr race TORQ dominated everything they entered, with them whisking away the Men’s team, the mixed team, the mixed pairs, the solo veteran women’s race and the men’s solo race with James Lister opening up a blistering pace to take his 3rd win of the event. Anthony White took the hardest route to victory in his race, deciding to take on both the 12 hr and the 24hr simultaneously. The plan was to go as hard as possible for the first race picking that up and then hanging on for the 24 and hoping to take that one too. His hopes were dashed by Lister’s furious pace in the 12hr, he had to concede the win and take second. The 24 hr was going to be a whole different ball game with some strong contenders, but one by one they dropped out leaving White pounding home for gold, with Iain Payne chasing hard for contention. After 27 massive laps White took the win just one lap ahead of Payne. Sally Daw showed great strength and determination taking the win in the women’s 24hr at her first attempt of the distance, racking up a mind boggling 20 laps along the way.
The biggest shout of the day has to go to Team Certini; the mixed 24hr team, led by Plymouth’s mountain bike queen Maddie Horton, dominated their race to take the win, recorded the most laps of any 24hr team and to cap it all Maddie picked up the Queen of the Night title after completing the fastest night lap. The Exposure sponsored event saw Torq add one more victory to its stable of wins too, with Anthony O’Boyle taking the King of the Night title with his trail-scorching sub 36 min lap.
In all 21 titles were won, but most of all, everyone who competed was a winner in their own right and despite the onslaught of rain in the closing stages of the race, faces were beaming as tales were recounted of their best and worst bits, over bottles of beer, steaming mugs of tea and lashings of pasta. Twentyfour12 had delivered all it promised and a heck of a lot more! See you next year for a heck of a lot of fun!
For full results pop over to http://www.timelaps.co.uk
For more photos check out http://www.joolzedymond.com
Keith Bontrager: “Yeah it was good fun, it that endurance sport sort of way; way more fun after the event than towards the end! The course would have been easier if it hadn’t rained, a lot of the climbs that were just middle ring rolls last year were just slogs this year. It wasn’t boggy out there just technically challenging. I’ve done so many of these races now and the chance to participate and help design the course is the fun bit for me. It’s a great scene in the UK, the English riders are brilliant, well all the ones that do this one, they all seem to get it and enjoy themselves. I’ll be back next year for more of the same fun but I may go for a team, this solo lark isn’t really working at the moment. It always seems like a good idea at the time, I dunno we’ll see what I end up doing.”
Anthony White – 12-24hr solo: “I wanted to do the two races as it takes the whole endurance race for me onto a new level. It’s quite hard to keep going particularly if you go out hard like I do. I had a chance of hunting for the 12hr and I wasn’t quite sure about the 24, both races had stiff competition. In the 12hr James Lister was amazing and it became apparent that I was going to totally waste myself with the effort of chasing him, so I started to think about the 24hr and by now both Ian and Matt had pulled out, so then it was just a case of self preservation. The course was incredibly hard with some really difficult climbs so yeah it was a tough one, but good for me. I was a bit under prepared for Mayhem so I got a bit of racing in-between the two to sharpen up a bit. Now I’m up for drinking loads of beer in celebration I think I deserve it!”
Maddie Horton – Queen of the Night: “The course was great it pre rode very well and then it just got greasy which made it more difficult. There were lots of riders around, it was difficult to get past and difficult to stay upright, but it was fun, it always is here! It was one of my goals to go for the queen of the night though I didn’t think I was going to be able to, my only chance as I knew there were 3 other girls here that I know are quicker than me, but were doing pairs, so they would have done more laps by the time it got dark, where as hopefully I’d be pretty fresh. 1min past one I gunned it with the intention of getting a quick lap and it obviously paid off! Amazing event and we won everything! Well nearly!”