Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
WOW! What a race…..
Its taken me a long time to get round too writing something about the race. Partly from being busy with various bits and pieces in Bath but I think mainly it was such a crazy few days I hadn’t really had time to think the race over and work out what I wanted to say.
So Kim and I headed over to 24Doce just out side of Madrid. This was my first time in mainland Spain and my first 24 pairs race. We were met at the airport by the really friendly guys at Canyon Spain and they showed us around a bit and treated us really well. I tried so hard to pay for dinner but it never worked!
The race itself was on an awesome course, on the Thursday I got to ride it IN THE DRY with some of Fernando’s (Canyon) friends. Lots of variation and lots of single track, after a pretty nice techy climb there was the toughest descent I have ever seen in a 24, it even rivalled Dalby World Cup circuit in places!
When race day came, the cultural differences between Spanish racing and the Anglo-Germanic style was pretty clear. We arrived at the race two hours before the start without a proper pit set up and even without water! But this seemed to be pretty standard fayre; the race was much more relaxed than the 24hour races I was used to, even some of the expo area was still being set up.
Some mad dashing around and we just about got ready in time for the start. With the forecast for awful weather all race Kim and I decided to just ride our own race and plug a steady tempo early one to save energy for the dark, the rain and the mud. That said it wasn’t long untill we settled nicely into 2nd place and the laps started to roll. This is a photo from the first couple of laps before the rain came and it was still really muddy!
It rained on and off for pretty much the whole race. It was one of the toughest races of my (albeit short) career, conditions were brutal. The course was always rideable but was such a slog in places and the constant drain of the cold and the wet really took its toll. In the darkest section of the night we started to reel in the Trek duo ahead of us, first unlapping ourselves but the funny rule about the fastest lap meant that we would have to catch them and then lap them to take the win. We soon realised we didn’t have time to get the win unless we could break them. I dug a little too deep in a move to try to break their spirits but it didn’t work and I put myself in a hole I couldn’t climb out of. The last couple of laps were horribly slow glycogen depleted affairs – not my finest hour!
The Trek team were obviously very strong riders, and there support crew was absolutely dialled. It was hard for Kim and I as we only had a bike bag of stuff for the whole race rather than the usually truck load of bikes, spares and food that we are used to. I think with a bit more support we could have a closer race but in the end the Trek pair took the win. Kim and I were 6 laps up on 3rd place in the end so decided to stop riding as we were secure. I was pretty gutted not to take the win after travelling so far and riding hard for so long but I am proud of our fight in atrocious conditions. One thing I have definitely learnt is how hard pairs racing is!
Unfortunately I caught some food poisoning whilst my immune system was suppressed. The not so glamorous side of international racing was lying on the floor of my hotel bathroom vomitting at 4 in the morning after the race. Not a pleasant experience by any means!
After the race we all headed in to Madrid for a couple of days to relax and play tourist. Kim and I even got to grab a recovery ride in the park!
Big thanks has to go to Sarah, my girlfirend, for coming over and suffering all through the night helping me and Kim, as well as Manuel and Fernando from Canyon Spain for inviting us out to their crazy race!