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Following a nice relaxing week in Newcastleton I lined up at the start of this year’s 12 (not 24 this time, remember) Hours of Exposure. Somewhat nervous for some reason, maybe because I knew that soon after the start and the incredibly slow trundle through the village, the crazed sprint up the first climb would no doubt have me gasping for breath with 11 hours and 55 minutes of the race remaining.
Yep, here we go. 12 and 24 hour racers all caning it up a dusty hill trying to get as close to the front as possible before the first climb of the “Twisty Muddy Bit Up Through The Trees” as I think the section is called. (I’ve worked out that I’ve ridden that horrible section of roots and ruts around 52 times now – yay).
I was feeling pretty rough. I’m not one for moaning or even dropping out of a race if I think I’ve got a cold (I didn’t whinge too much, honest!) but I was a bit concerned when I was coughing up ‘matter’ in the few mornings preceding the race. I was definitely less than bob-on but decided that I’d take my chances on kicking whatever bug I had in the goolies by riding really really fast ;-)
After a couple of laps of riding really really slowly and whatever bug I had kicking me in the goolies I decided that my best course of action would be to moan about it to the poor people in the Team JMC pit.
When this didn’t seem to do the trick I decided to switch to my lighter rigid bike – the very hilly course and the large number of relatively smooth fireroads meant that it wasn’t too much of a gamble and after all, I’ve been racing on rigid bikes for years now.
I immediately started to get faster. Still dribbling quite a bit and quite glad I’d not bothered to wear a HR monitor (cos I felt like my heart rate was approaching 3 million bpm) I spent a few laps overtaking people who had earlier ridden away from me, apparently quite effortlessly.
“You don’t look very well”, Debbie said to me during one brief pit stop, which wasn’t at all surprising.
And that was pretty much that for the next few hours. Riding somewhat half-arsed for most of the race I struggled to keep abject boredom at bay and also found it really hard to ride at a reasonably quick pace. I’ve absolutely no idea what was wrong – whether it was the course, my (admittedly mild) cold, my apparent lack of any kind of strength to challenge anyone in front of me…I didn’t even know, or had any desire to find out, what position I was in. It was a good 8 hours into the race when I learned that I was in 5th place in the vets category, which was 7th overall. I suspect I spent most of the race in this position, and that’s where I finished.
I also had no idea until very late on in the race that Dave was winning. And then the next thing I knew the race ended and he’d won. A National and European 12 Hour title for a friend and team-mate was a real tonic and more than made up for my race of snot and grumpiness.
So rather than a pic of me looking surly, here’s a pic of Dave, wasting good alcohol.
Oh, and I’ve got a proper stinker of a cold now. What are the chances eh?