In a hugely tough 24 hour race last weekend – the last of the year and the UK’s Solo 24 Hour Champs, a mere ten minutes separated the first two male riders, with the first woman soloist making the men’s top ten. We’ve only just surfaced after the long drive home, so here’s the slightly belated event report.
Having pushed the boundaries of the UK’s 24-hour mountain bike racing scene with the WEMBO (World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation) Championships in 2014, Relentless 24 has showcased some of the most exciting endurance racing in Scotland; and looking at the start list there was no doubt that the 2016 event was going to be a thriller. The event attracted the crème de la crème of the UK’s mountain bike endurance talent and with a field of almost 100 solo riders it is clear that the interest in 24hr racing in the country is alive and kicking. And with the WEMBO World Solo Champs set to return to Fort William in 2018, it was clear that many riders were there to test themselves against the mountain.
The atmosphere on Saturday morning was amazing; riders were clearly excited by the course choice, one more than worthy of the Championship status. The fact that every rider had trackside pits and that the weather gods appeared to be playing ball meant there was time to concentrate on the finer details including tyre choices and nutrition plans.
For the top riders the 11km course of tough terrain, flowing single-track on a mixture of man made and natural trails and of course some stinger climbs was all that lay between them and the coveted UK Championship jerseys that; and the fact they had to complete 24 hours on their bike. It was clear from the outset that racing was going to be fierce and at the four hour stage of the race there was a little over four minutes separating the top 10 riders, at eight hours that was extended to a very close 15 mins. There were whisperings of concerns around the pit area “they’ll never sustain this” and “who is going to crack first?”. A couple of the early favourites, Steve Day on his singlespeed and Jason Miles (with his bald tyres) were forced to drop out around the half-way point – Steve due to a leg tweak caused by some off-bike jogging and Jason due to a rare attack of ‘Why am I doing this?’
Mathew Jones, Michael McCutcheon and Peter Nadin were the eventual top three solos with Mathew completing 29 laps in a time of 24hr and 10 minutes. Michael was a mere 15 minutes behind after an astonishing 29 laps, a little under the 200-mile mark. In the ladies’ race Lee Craigie and Sally Buckworth tussled all day and night with Lee taking the victory with a creditable 23 laps, which would have earned her a top ten position in the men’s race.
In the team categories it was Stefan Macina and Bob Addey from Aurelius Cycles who took the men’s pairs with 32 laps and the girls from Sandy Wallace Cycles taking the win with 23 laps. The quads and the eights categories were dominated by the boys and girls from Dunoon with the Benmore winning the eights and Team Pin it Ya Fairy taking the fours with a monstrous 32 laps. Russ Baker, one of the WEMBO organisers and President of Mountain Bike Australia was at the event over the weekend and is certainly looking forward to returning to the Outdoor Capital in 2018 for the World Solos Championship.
Frazer Coupland from No Fuss Events, said: “The standard of racing over the weekend has been exceptional. We have been delighted with the numbers who attended and as usual the team at Nevis range are a pleasure to work with.”
No Fuss Events’ Relentless Exposure 24 is scheduled for the weekend of 28 and 29 October 2017. And, yes, that’s the weekend that the clocks will be going back – but don’t worry, they’ll keep the race at 24, not 25 hours…