Debbie Davies will lead this club ride. It’s novice friendly but there will be some faster downward pointing stretches and a few long steeper climbs , but nothing that a nice walk can’t conquer, and as usual , no one will be left behind.
While this is not a technical ride, you will need a proper mountain bike and suitable mountain bike tyres.
Some lovely scenery is expected, skylark song if we are lucky ,and lots of chat so please come and join us .
Bring adequate water and some snacks as there is no cafe stop. I’m sure there will be cake at the car park though!
The Bontrager Twentyfour12 is an endurance mountain bike race around an off-road course at Newnham Park near Plymouth. There’s 24 and 12 hour races starting at midday plus a solo only 12 hour race from midnight (the torch bearer).
The venue is perhaps England’s finest with beautiful scenery, a flat arena/camping area complimented by a course that has been host to five rounds of the Cross Country World Cup in the 1990s and continues to have a superb reputation for variety and fun riding.
You can enter via the XCRacer website. If you already have a team then it would be great if you enter as an MBSwindon team. If you haven’t got a team then contact us with your preferences (solo, pair, team, race/for fun) and we’ll work on allocating teams.
It will cost £40 per person inclusive. Meeting at 9:30am at the Wolverest Training school. 21 Cherry Orchard North, Kembrey Park, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 8UH. Details such as lunch are not confirmed yet.
This was my third trip to the Bontrager Twentyfour12 race. See the pictures from 2012 (rain) and 2011 (dry). This has always been a favourite 24 hour event what with the interesting routes round Newnham park, the various marshal dj zones, the packed event village and the overall slight madness of the event.
This has been an exciting year for me – I’ve been working on fitness via a challenging rides and a lot more races. I gave up drinking in February, adjusted my diet, sorted back ache via working with a few sports therapists (Nancy at The Medical and Donna at Back2fitness extreme) and have been doing a lot of yoga and pilates. This has brought about a visible loss in weight and a lot more energy. A few days before the event I the encouraging sensation where the bike seemed to be picking up speed on hills without my legs feeling any pain. My hopes were that I could transplant that feeling to the race at the weekend.
I travelled down early on Friday hoping to find a good place for the club stand. I did have a bit of lie in to be fair and driving at a very zen 55.00 mph meant that I didn’t arrive until midday. As with the Mountain Mayhem camping free for all this meant that all the track side spaces had been marked out with several hundred metres of tape. I took a tour round the steep hill in the quiet zone before finding a great spot on the final hair pin bend. This was near the site entrance, several metres higher than the main camping field and right next to the course.
My task for the day was to set up the camp. My skin started to burn within ten minutes. This was a promising development after the floods of 2012. I managed to slot both gazebos into the space available and was feeling pretty chuffed with myself. Craige Goodson arrived in time to help set up our various flags and banners. He got the idea – we’re aiming for maximum club publicity at events like this.
We had a relaxing evening at the Luff Bus cafe, Craige sampled a load of free Dartmoor Jail Ale and cheese and we called round to insult Aaron at Cotswold Verijdan.
The rest of our riders arrived on Saturday morning. We had two teams:
“Proper job” (24 hours): Jerome Crametz, Craige Goodson, Nathan Lenehan, Gary Palmer and Tom Stickland.
“Half a job” (12 hours): Gary Lee, Nicky Harries (the other two couldn’t make it).
Gary, Craige and myself did a recce lap. The route was similar and different from previous years. After a short section through the first field it hit a steep road climb to the top of the hill. This did level off a bit but then steepened up a section of grass just before entering the woods. Speeds picked up on the compacted mud in the woods. A draggy climb up the main track finally lead to the first singletrack section. This was a fun line down through the trees with a few sharp bends.
A hateful section of bumpy double track was next. It went up a bit, down a bit and then up more. The top of this linked into the bomb holes and then on into a long section of downhill singletrack that’s probably the best part of the trail and has been used both previous years.
This was followed by a slog up the campsite field, the first river crossing and then the Silverfish section, an interesting and slippery route along the edge of the river with a great rooty drop in the middle.
A long and slight climb followed, up past the caravans and the terrapin buildings to a much deeper river crossing. This had a sneaky bridge option that I used in the early hours to avoid wet feet. The most challenging climb was next – first sticky mud, then saw dust and then mossy grass and slippery roots. The good news was that this gained most of the height and a short ramp linked to the farm. The route went through the barn that was part of the 2011 route. After skirting a field most of the work was done.
A short section through the ferns with a steep climb, a fast drop down a gravelly track, some fun singletrack and then a great section of double track where the bike seemed to accelerate even though it was uphill for half of it. The field descent towards MBSwindon corner was a blast, a bit of jump off the bridge ramp was possible, then rapid braking and finally a bit of an amble round the camp site.
The weather was spot on – warm enough, slightly overcast with some talk about rain but nothing too threatening. Gary Lee and myself set off in the middle of the start pack at midday. I was pretty pleased with a 45 minute lap considering the queues and the extra loop at the start.
Jerome went out and did a 39minute lap and later a 36 minute lap “35 is not possible” he said. He was only two minutes behind the best lap time in our category! I was pleased to scrape under 39 minutes and Craige was within a minute of that too. Our two slower riders both pulled in 45 minute laps which slightly better than the average lap times for the middle placed teams.
The event claimed a few bikes – we saw two riders running past with cranks in their hands.
Meanwhile our pair did double laps whilst we wound them up about how many laps they would have to do.
We saw a lot of people that we know: Fibrax brakes (race team sponsor), Mark Bonnes, Birds on Bikes, Bigfoot MBC, Tim Flooks from TFTtuned plus a few people who seemed to know us who we can’t remember how we know. We shouted encouragement/abuse at most of them and I’m most proud of “come on RAF!” at the navy team but they didn’t seem to find it funny.
There was a short burst of rain in the early evening but it didn’t come to much. Both teams put in a solid performance. Apart from the bumpy track I was really enjoying the route. There were a few places where the bike seemed to be picking up a lot of speed even though it was slightly uphill. I was getting up the steep climbs with ease and I had no back ache! I felt like I was easily picking off a lot of riders. That’s great for morale. Of course some proper fast racers would go past me from time to time.
According the sqiggle analysis below then Jerome’s average lap time was equivalent to the 4th placed team’s average lap time. I was equivalent of 9th and Craige wasn’t far behind at 13th (all out of 47 teams in our category). This was a team effort though and the consistent results from all team members is critical to the overall place. So big thanks to Gary and Nathan who worked as hard as anyone and kept our overall performance in shape.
The pair did 6 laps each and stopped for beer at about 11pm. Meanwhile the 24 hour team carried on like a well oiled machine. I snuck in a few hour sleep in the gaps between laps. The sound of the jazz singer echoing round the hills at 2am was quite surreal and great.
We saw a few crashes on the bridge outside our stand due to some slippery dew on the wood surface. The route was diverted around it in the morning. We had expected at least one rider to crash into our club banner over the course of the race.
We did some calculations and worked out that Jerome would be going out at 11am and if he did a regular 40 minute lap then I would be able to fit in a 33rd lap and finished by 12:30pm. That would make our average lap time just over 44 minutes. I seem to end up doing the bonus lap at every event. The team told me it’s because I like doing it and they’re probably right.
There was some great team work clearing up the club stand and we were all on our way home by 2pm.
I’m really enjoying these race events so plan on doing more this year. The next club race event is Torq in your sleep. See our events page for all future events.
Results on the TimeLaps website: “proper job” were 17th out of 47 and “half a job” were 7th out of 7 in the mixed team category. They would have been 7th out of 17 in the mixed pairs category if they’d moved to that.
The Savernake sizzler was a road sportive organised by Giveitsome, a recently formed local events company. Three route options were available: 35 miles (rare), 65 miles (medium) and 90 miles (well done). All started and finished (hopefully) at the Milton Lilbourne village hall.
Since I’d wanted to do the 80 mile off road route route at the Elan Valley Challenge I thought that 90 miles on road would be reasonably easy. Even the night before the event I was in two minds about doing this though. My other option was to meet up in the Forest of Dean and do a fairly relaxed ride around the trails there.
I prepared my kit, went to bed at 01:45am and set the alarm for 6:15am. I reasoned that if I got out of bed in the morning then I wanted to do the Sizzler. If I reset the alarm for 9am then it would mean a trip to the Forest.
At 6:25am I got out of bed in the mood for some Sizzler action. Part of the appeal was to prove that I could do it. I also liked the simplicity of just concentrating on keeping moving on a waymarked route with no real technical challenge. Just me, my fitness and the road. I also hoped I could be faster than at least one road rider out there.
I took my full suspension Specialized Camber with 26″ wheels, locked out the rear suspension and pumped the 2.2 tyres up to 50psi (I normally run between 25 and 35 psi). I had been offered some slick tyres but opted to leave them behind.
The event opened at 7:30am but I didn’t make it on site until 8am and then did some special pre-ride faffing. The guys in the car next to me looked at my bike, heard that I was aiming for the 90 mile option and said “good luck, you won’t be back before 7pm”. Also spotted in the car park with their road bikes were Matthew Kerry and Debbie Davies, both MBSwindon club members. I found out later on Facebook that Hazel Ross and Helen RA Rabello were also at the event. Hazel completed the whole route of around 90 miles by 2:10 (6.5 hours, 14mph average).
It was another brilliant summer’s morning as I set out with my free 9 bars safely in the bag. The bike felt light and I really didn’t seem to be having to work hard. This was good since the lane had a lot of small hills. I passed my first roadies. Mind you they were stopped and fixing a puncture. Not long later a few overtook me properly.
I had the upper hand on the optional avenue route through the Savernake forest (there are mtb trails, see Bertie Maffoon ride). The track gave me a proper win over a roadie plus one who punctured. This wasn’t a battle or anything! We met up at the end though since a lack of any signpost gave us a map reading or gambling challenge. The map wasn’t detailed enough for proper map reading and the signs had been a bit small and scant. Signs can go missing too. My choice to turn right and meet back up with the proper route paid off.
Riding the lanes through the countryside in the early morning was as much fun as mountain biking. It was high speed, low effort mountain biking. I discovered that road bikes were a lot faster at rolling along and down things. When the speeds slow down on steep hills then I could hold my own on the mountain bike. Everyone assumed that the mountain bike was harder to ride so I received much kudos for attempting it.
I was caught by a very nice woman on a road bike on the big descent towards Ramsbury. I remembered the benefits of slip streaming as I pulled in behind my cycling companion. Hmm, a lot of nice women seem to ride road bikes. I was quite warming to the idea.
I’d say that this section was the best for me on the route. Speeds picked up and I found myself part of a big group of riders. It really didn’t seem to be taking a lot of effort to keep the bike moving. I felt fit. One rider said to me “the only place we can have to you is on the downhills”. So I proved that one quite fit mountain biker is a bit faster than a slowish road rider.
It was a positive feeling to have the first loop finished as I arrived at the food stop. The route was arranged as three loops, each of about 30 miles with the food stop as the common point in the middle. I heard that a few groups had gone out from the food stop, followed the signs and then turned back up at the food stop ten minutes later. I rode off, followed the signs to the top of a hill and then found another sign which I followed….back to the foodstop. I wasn’t too happy really but I saw the funny side quite quickly. It cost me ten minutes at most.
It’s fair to say that this was something of a navigational challenge. The map didn’t have a massive amount of detail and the sign posts were small and easy to miss. These two limitations had be to be balanced with a mixture of judgement, guesswork and plain old luck. In this case a bit of trial and effort was added to the mix. We saw a lot of riders coming towards us and assumed that they were following some sort of return loop. But they weren’t! Everyone agreed that the route was great though.
The second loop had a steep climb up to Martinsell (as used on the Bertie Maffoon ride and the Wansdyke epic) , followed the road towards Marlborough and then spent a long time climbing up to the Wansdyke. The road had a lot less trees and the day was hotting up. So the level of exertion went up.
I was using Shimano MTB shoes on studded flat pedals. I found that at various times I would get a numb foot or a hot foot. I assume that the flex in the shoe was heating my feet. I had to move around a bit to keep it at bay. More concerning was the numbness in my glutes aka arse cheeks. I assume that the thin shorts and knackered saddle were to blame for the onset of deep vein thrombosis. I had to stand up from time to time to deal with it. On the plus side I didn’t have any back ache.
I discovered the downside of road riding: morons in cars. About one in ten drivers are mentally challenged with the idea of driving around a bike rather than over it or as close as possible. The problem is that you don’t know if any vehicle is part of the ten percent so you have to assume that they are. Every sight or sound of an approaching vehicle leads to a tensing up in preparation and then, when they do go past, the noise is quite aggravating and then a load of fumes from a knackered camper van or some badly tuned motorbike spoil the occasion a bit. Fair play, the majority of drivers were fine.
Continuing in a negative outlook, the return part of the loop seemed to go up the whole way and the wind was blowing quite hard and giving me ear ache. I lost track of the sign posts too and when I found one I couldn’t work out if it meant to turn left onto the road or to turn right and then follow it round to the left. So I guessed for a bit and eventually found some more signs. The road should be flat to Pewsey right? Wrong. We weren’t going to Pewsey…we were going back up to Martinsell. I’d recced this bit now so I knew where I was going.
The second trip to the food stop was very, very welcome. I had done 100km aka 2/3 of the distance at an average of around 18 km/h (including the stops). All I had to do was load up with flap jacks and water and then nail the last 30 miles which should take about three hours.
Some riders who I’d seen earlier arrived a the food stop and one of them had lost his keys so they were going to ride the route again and look for them. Codeword “keyman”.
Taking a guess on where the route went I rode off until I found some arrows. I must have gone off route quite soon after that. Or maybe not. I’d started to realise that the route on the map didn’t necessarily represent the route that was marked out. I’ll never be sure. Either way, knowing roughly where it went meant that I picked up the trail at Pewsey. This lead to the southern most point via a very big hill. It wasn’t actually that bad to ride up. More annoying was to find that the land undulated at the top.
I came out onto a major road and passed a turning thinking “that looks like the sort of place that the route would go”. A few miles later I stopped to rest my glutes, looked at the map and realised that the route possibly did go down there. By this time I was well versed in splitting the difference between the map and the signs so carried on to Upavon where I found a sign post that looked just right for where I’d come from.
With 125km on the Garmin I reckoned that another hour of riding at about 20km/h would take me to 145km aka 90 miles. Once again the road seemed to up all the way and the wind was in my face. I arrived at the road junction near the finish with 130km (80 miles) showing on the Garmin. I wasn’t happy with this: the target was 90 miles. So I turned the other way with a plan to add some extra miles via the lanes. I rode up the point that had sent me back to the food stop earlier. I did the triangle of lanes twice and then did some maths. This showed that riding back to the event finish would be 1 km short on total distance. So I rode up and down the lane and then back to the finish. That still wasn’t quite enough so I rode the lane back and forth. I arrived at the finish an hour after my first arrival with 145.1km showing.
There were about 5 cars left in the car park at this time. I don’t know if everyone else did 80 miles or whether I’d missed some distance out somewhere. I need to see the log for another rider to be sure.
I was really chuffed to have the 90 mile target completed. My average moving speed was 21km/h (13mph). Considering how hilly the route was then I was quite pleased with that. I’d love to find out how much quicker I’d have been on a road bike.
I was…wait for it….Savernackered.
There was still food and drink available in the hall so I had a few cups of tea and stuffed my face with falafels. I got talking to the organisers. They were well aware of the signposting and map issues and had big plans to sort it for future events. Every rider made it back and they had good records of who was out.
Overall a great fun day out. The route made great use of the countryside and the event had a charm to it courtesy of the organisers.
Cancelled by the event organiser due to low entry numbers. Sadly.
One day mountain bike event with a choice of 30, 50 and 75km routes held in Thetford Forest in Norfolk.
“Thetford Forest may be relatively flat compared to some of our other events, with only 400 metres of climbing for the 75k route, but it is surprising how tough it can be. A lot of the route will be on single track, which winds its way through the forestry.”
With a heatwave on our hands it was an ideal chance to ride the route that Bigfoot MBC had wanted to show us on our previous excursion with them back in November 2012. At that time the year of wet had wrecked the trails. Conditions had still been heavy going in March when we’d ridden some of the area on Gary’s Painful Painswick ride (including some video). After several weeks of blue skies and extreme temperatures we knew that conditions would be spot on this time.
We met at the Royal William pub with fourteen from MBSwindon including some from Worcester plus around ten from Bigfoot. This gave us the best part of twenty four riders (assuming my calculator app is working properly). It’s difficult to keep groups this size together as we proved after ten minutes of riding. I slowed to check that someone pumping their tyre up knew where to go and by the time we made it to the top of the hill with three others we no idea where the main group had gone.
Not to worry though. Utilising the wonders of the mobile telephone we were able to reattach ourselves to the main group who’d all been down on Janet (recycled joke from the previous ride report). Of course, when I were a lad we didn’t have mobile phones for moments like this. We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter either: we had a life. No doubt we’ll be using google glass live in the future to see where everyone is and carrying out virtual strava races. If there’s any signal.
Conditions in the woods were great. There was no doubt about it being a summer’s day but the shade under the trees kept it the pleasant side of warm. A dusty layer of woodland mulch had been swept to the sides of the trails and underneath the ground was rock hard after several weeks without rain. We were taken down several tight sections of singletrack with a few places where the wide bars had to be threaded through the trees.
A killer climb took us up to Cooper’s hill. This is where the cheese rolling takes place. It’s very steep and we were wondering if the houses at the bottom ever received the out of control cheese through their windows. I can see the local newspaper headline “breaking news….dreams shattered after out of control dairy disaster. Police are chasing the details. Supporters have leapt to the competitor’s defence. We’ll keep you in the frame. ” Sorry, this is descending into a farce. #wastedopportunity
After a classic descent down to the scout hut a long climb took us to “the racetrack”. We rode down some of this but not for long. Turning right off this took us to a special rooty steep section and then a ramp that even looks steep in the photos. Most riders made it down. A few walked and found that more difficult than riding it. Definitely a head trick.
The climb back up included a team building exercise – the challenge was to pass all the bikes through the branches of a fallen down tree in the allotted time.
A load more singletrack took us round to the hotel at Birdlip and then a quick loop around the woods out the back. I remember the big bomb hole at the end of this. Years ago on a ride with cccccc (Cheltenham and County Cycling Club Collective Cycleout) we’d tried this the other way round. That mean riding as fast as possible along the exit into the hole and then carrying the speed up the steep rocky bit. I’d got as far as my front wheel being over the lip of the rock before realising I wasn’t going to make it. I then rolled backwards into the hole and jumped off the bike into the leaves at the bottom. No pain was involved. The next rider had already committed though so there was a near miss. Those were the days. If it happened now then everyone would have stood around uploading photos to Facebook.
Next we road the racetrack properly. Being a bit wider and straighter than most of the other trails this gave some easy fun and the rooty drops brought a smile to my face. We nipped back down the steep section from earlier. It hadn’t changed much in the intervening hour.
A climb took us to the wall descent which was just as good as the last time. We all managed to miss the tree in the bomb hole unlike last time (there’s a load of photos and video in the March ride report).
We made it back to the pub in good time. A great ride in perfect conditions and a nice change to have a non-epic day. Big thanks to Jason and Bigfoot MBC for showing us around.