Strathpuffer 2019: Part 3. The Aftermath - Pedal Progression


23 January 2019

Strathpuffer 2019: Part 3. The Aftermath

It’s 9am on Monday 21st January and I’m writing this whilst sat in an epsom salt riddled, steaming hot bath. I’ll let you ponder that as much as you’d like but the reality is, it’s my first wash since Thursday afternoon. There is dirt visible in places that haven’t been exposed to the outdoors this weekend, fresh scabs are taking shape up and down my shins and on my knees and old KT tape is hanging from my left shoulder and hamstrings! I’m a mess but a good soak feels delightful.

Ollie and I have just got back to Bristol after racing pairs at 2019 The Strathpuffer 24; perhaps the most gruelling 24hr mountain race in the UK.

From our leaving Bristol by rented camper van at 7pm on Thursday evening, to the return journey last night, it’s been a weekend of little sleep, too much caffeine, temperature lows of -8, 1200 miles driven and an accumulative total of approximately 225 race miles ridden. Exhausting is the word!

We had no real game plan, other than to have one rider on track at all times throughout the race and with the little endurance focussed training we’d done in advance, finishing 11th of 120 pairs is a dream! We were 30th overall out of 382 entries.

Local boys MBUK, finished 3rd in pairs with one of their riders (Ben Cannell) smashing the fastest lap of the race at 39 minutes and 26 seconds which was nothing short of superhuman! Early on our fastest lap was set at 50 minutes and 58 seconds but throughout the race we settled, lapping consistently around the hour mark. Consistency is key with endurance racing and I thought we did this really well.

Having evaluated our performance on the long drive home, we think had our changeovers been more slick, we could have made up significant time. We never faffed at changeover, however we could have adopted the moving transition, which we predict could have improved our overall time by up to 25 minutes, getting us into the top 10.

Anyone who is competitive will always think they could have done more training and while that is the case for us, I believe training on a singlespeed bike really helped me to find a good cadence rhythm and to make the most of my momentum going into climbs. Before the race, I thought the fact that most of my training had been done on the road and on a singlespeed bike could have been detrimental so I was pleased it worked out.

A supportive team was key. Ollies brother Will and my wife Ally did a great job. Although they didn’t have an ounce of mechanical knowledge, they were encouraging, patient and gave us what we needed when we needed it – namely laughs and nutritious food. Having a crew made the road trip experience more fun too. We played a lot of Monopoly Deal in the back of the motorhome on the drive!

Would we race the Strathpuffer again? Probably, yeah… It’s pretty expensive once you’ve considered motorhome rental (you really need one), fuel, extra kit and the £70 entry but there really isn’t another race like it! Maybe not an annual thing for us but we’ll be back at some point for sure and we’ll be chasing the top 10 when we do!



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