MarathonMTB.com’s newest blogger, Matthew Duggan, is a 27-year-old self-employed plumber from the UK. With a year’s mountain biking under his belt he’s been firmly bitten by the racing bug. Follow his trials-and-tribulations as he juggles his 80-hour-a-week work schedule with the demands of training and racing. The following is Matt’s account of his first crack at the Bontrager TwentyFour12 this past July…
A busy working week (60 hours in 4 days), a mad rush to get ready (45 minutes), a long drive south, to Plymouth (163 miles) and here I am on July 22, signing myself on to the Bontrager TwentyFour12 24 hour open male solo category. We’re here in just enough time to grab a bite to eat and get some shut eye ready for tomorrow’s event.
Up bright and early to start preparing my pit area and briefing my pit crew on the little knowledge I have of 24-hour racing. My crew is composed of three Superstars: my 10-year-old nephew, Lloyd, and my parents. I had some bike maintenance to carry out and before I know it the start line is full with riders waiting for the gun. I best get a move on. I finally make the start area and I’m exactly where I don’t want to be…at the back!
I spent the first two laps trying so hard to make up lost time from the bottle necks, it didn’t help that my gears were not selecting properly and therefore I didn’t have a granny ring.
Lap 1 – Trying to pass as many people as I can.
Lap 3 – I started to settle down and decided it would be a good idea to get my gears sorted. Or try should I say? After a shoddy attempt from myself and Lloyd, the gears still are not running right. With the same outcome after attempts at the end of Laps 4 and 5, I think it’s time to get a professional in.
Lap 6 – On my friend’s bike who, luckily, was riding in team of four at the same event, brilliant gears but the bike is just a little bit small for me.
Lap 7 – Come on! Bike is back, gears are selecting and away we go. Number 7 lucky for some? Yep, so were laps 8 and 9.
Lap 10 – My luck ran out…Snap! Nice little chest plant into the handle bars and I’ve got a chain to fix!
Lap 11 – Snap! You are joking, another chain repair.
Lap 12 – Snap! Getting quite good at fixing a chain by this point, then…SNAP! 6 km from the end and now my chain tool is also broken. Looks like a good old fashioned run back to camp it is for me. Also, can someone fit me a new chain please?
Lap 13 – Not looking forward to an ‘unlucky for some’ lap after all that has happened. What do you know? A problem free lap…Hooray! (And I got to see the sun come up). Bliss!
Lap 14 – Had a nice little off and my seat is stuck in a rather ‘un-friendly’ position. The Multi-tool is out again!
Lap 15 – Bike is working lovely and it’s only just dawned on me that I’ve made it through the night for the first time ever. Emotional to say the least! Big push until the finish.
Lap 17 – I peaked too early! Hard old slog. Legs are tired and my eyes are closing. So near but yet so far!
Lap 18 – Loaded up with caffeine, quick bite to eat. Let’s do this! A good lap here and I’ll have time for one more. Not even a quarter of the way in…What’s all that rattling about? The bush on my rear pivot arm had totally worn away and the bolt on the other side of the pivot arm has magically vanished. That is just brilliant! Finished the lap with a few minutes to spare.
Lap 19 – Back on my friend’s – what now feels like a child-sized – bike. I’m off for my final lap. What a feeling. I’ve almost finished my first 24 hour solo without any sleep and only resting when I’m fixing things. Ahh, superb! Then… Nooo! How can I be so stupid? No water bottle holder and I forgot to put my camelback on. 24 hours on my legs, a rather hot day and nothing to drink…Tidy! I did contemplate wetting my lips in a stream but thankfully my pit team were there with my camelback at the half-way crossing point. Thank you very much!
Last lap – I was so glad to see this! Feeling quite parched by this point.
That was me; I finished in 6th position, 19 laps in 25:07:08.
A massive thank you to Mum and Dad for taking turns to stay awake through the night and to Lloyd for washing my bike every lap and constantly filling water bottles.
I had an amazing time at that race and I’m rather pleased with that result! Only one small problem, I’m left wondering…What If?