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Old 2004-06-29, 04:17 PM   #9
BIG rides: 24"/36" on/off road
nathan's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Los Gatos, California
Posts: 1,523
Home from the UK

Scot Cooper and I made it home last night after a great trip to the UK for this race. I can't really believe that we beat 139 bike teams...I guess the horrendous conditions the first day hurt them more than us.

The race was great, but meeting so many great UK riders was the best part of the trip. One thing about this race that's different from all the others I've done is that there are SO many families and friends out supporting the riders. It wasn't just at our campsite either - bike teams all over had many many non-riders present all or at least part of the weekend. With something like 2000 racers, plus who knows how many in support, it was quite a scene - a HUGE campsite.

Scot and I stayed with Leo White and family Thursday night and made it to the race venue by 11am Friday. We staked out a large area near the showers and not too far from the start/finish. It ended up being big enough for about 10 cars plus 10 tents plus Roger's two HUGE (and vital) outdoor tent-buildings. Each one is about 10x20' so the two together are 400 square feet of haven from the wind and rain. With the stoves cooking pasta and other foods all the time - very nice.

After Scot and I returned from lunch at a nearby pub, people arrived all afternoon, and Friday evening many of us went for a test ride of a bit over half of the course. It was great and I was kicking myself for bringing the 29er instead of my Hunter36 - little did I know. One thing was a little scary on that test ride though - no one knew when we started, but we finished at 9:30 and it felt like we had ridden for way over an hour...and we had only done half the course (10.2 miles total). Lots of climbing and not much of it is easy cruising.

The race started at 2pm Saturday which gave the rain just enough time to reduce a huge part of the course to an absolute quagmire of mud. So much was unrideable. I was the last rider on our team and started around 8pm. By then, the first 2 miles was ok, but the next 3 miles or so was a joke. Imagine riding on wet ice. When you fall (sometimes straight onto your bum), you don't stop - you keep sliding. Dismounts onto your feet often leave you skiing through the mud desperate to not fall. But the second half of the course was better. Still I found myself WALKING on some downhills. Can you imagine that? It was so slippery that it was actually better for me to walk than ride and crash again and again. The steep sections were not even thinkable - bikes too.

My second lap started around 5am and was about the same - no drying out had occured. By eating many of those great power gel things, I was able to keep strong throughout the course and ride a lot of the uphills, and I was getting better at the surfing style of riding required on the moderate downhill sections.

My last lap started a bit after noon and was totally different. There was still a 2 mile "Landrover test track" section that was a slog through DEEP and disgusting mud, but the rest of the course was not only rideable, but actually FUN and fast. It was so great riding all the hard parts that weren't even a remote possibility before for me.

I had the option of crossing the line before 2pm which would allow (and require) someone else to do another lap, but a call to Roger told me not to do that. Instead, I hung out for a while before the line (this is called lurking) and crossing together with Phil and Joe which was awesome. Doing a 24 hour race with only a 4 person team is a bit harder than the more usual 5 person team. And in conditions like this, with a difficult course...I think we were all glad when it was over.

Many Thanks to Leo and family for hosting us and feeding us, Roger for bringing the tents and his great cheer, Des for being such a great teammate (Des and Roger are Coker Kings if you didn't know), Scot for going all the way over with me and toughing out a very difficult 2am lap, Geoff Faraghan for SO much help and support, and all the other unicyclists and family/friends who made it a fantastic trip.

Plan for next year: let's get as many riders as possible to go so we can have even more teams. And maybe we could assemble the ultimate 24 hour Coker team: Roger, Des, Ken Looi and Christian Hoverath!

Photos later...but attached is a quick scan of one taken by one of the photographers there.

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