We entered the Tweedlove festival 2012 “Glentress 7” as a mixed pair. The format is 7 hours of riding on an 11km loop course of pretty technical singletrack and 450m ascent. We didn’t really know how long each loop would take us. I was thinking we’d maybe hit 6 laps… Si went first so that if we hit an odd number of laps it would be him that did more, but we didn’t allow for the fact that the first lap was much easier with a neutralised start – up the fireroad – instead of the first third of technical climbing and descending.
I went out FAR too fast on my first lap, keeping up with the traffic around me and nearly blew up entirely about a quarter of the way round, stopped for a bit and pulled it together then carried on finishing in 1hr13min. Went out much steadier for my second lap and maybe took it a bit too easy (even having a quick toilet stop) but only added 5mins to my lap time.
The cut off for the end of the day was 5:30pm and the cut off for going out for a last lap was 4:30pm. Si was due back from his third lap at 3:20pm so I didn’t think we’d have time for two more laps as I didn’t think I could make it round in 1hr10min so I was going to offer him the next lap as it would be our last and I was ambivalent about riding another one or not. But when he got in he made me go anyway… I headed off knowing I had to put in my fastest lap of the day but also had to not blow up like I did in the first lap… I decided to start steady and ramp it up.
In that last lap my heart and lungs and head felt better than they had all day, but my legs (left knee) and lower back/hip were really starting to grumble. I also somehow got engaged in two conversations with guys on climbs on that lap who kept asking me questions despite my gasping one-word responses(!?!). Knowing the course by this time made it go much quicker, and knowing where to push hard and where to ease up helped. I also concentrated on taking every bit of speed on the downhills that I could. At the hour-mark I knew I had gone further than the first lap so I had a chance. There also wasn’t too much traffic at that point so I really picked up the descent speed. I hadn’t managed to clean the off-camber rooty traverse near the end on either of my two previous laps and was worried about crashing messily on that bit but the extra speed seemed to help. On the final descent I heard the tannoy down at the finish saying two minutes to cut-off and I was caught by the crazy soloists and really fast male riders who were all aiming for the 4:30 cut off too, I was going too fast to pull over and let them past so I picked up even more speed in an attempt to not hold them up too much. I FLEW down the last section of rutted grass as fast as I possibly could (topping out at 29kph according to my gps) and crossed the mat with 30 seconds to spare!
Si headed out with an hour to finish his fourth (and our seventh) lap. He’d been hitting 55-56min laps all day so he’d be ok if he didn’t crash badly or have a mechanical…
He finished four minutes before the final cut-off and so we had our seven laps. We were 88 out of 101 pairs overall (though only 15th out of 16th in our category which doesn’t sound so good) but both of us rode well, and I in particular rode far faster than ever in my life before so a good day all round 🙂