There are good days in racing and bad days, but normally they don’t last a whole day…
Newnham Park is always good whether it’s XC or Marathon and so this year, having only time to squeeze in one 24hour I picked my favorite. This year’s Bontrager was my seventh solo so I knew the ropes, but the organizers always through something new into the mix and this time it was a short sharp grueling lap – perfect for a relay team, not so good for a solo who’s spent too much time on the road!
Starting at Twelve noon I knew that I wanted to stay near the front to avoid traffic jams in the singletrack sections. It may seem silly, but its better to expend energy staying near the front than it is stopping and starting all the time so I stayed well within in the top five solos for the first few laps. It almost felt too comfortable and I seemed to be getting a good rhythm – the downside though was that the lumpy middle section was already messing with my lower back.
The short lap was also starting to hurt – normally getting to the end of an hour long lap is a reward, a chance for a quick wash or just a gel and a bottle, but the 35/40 minute lap wasn’t enough to get excited about and it kept on fooling you into thinking that you’d done more than you had. By half past three I’d done four laps and was starting to suffer.
Next came a bazaar problem with my big toe hitting the end of my shoe on the braking bumps that littered the track and then calluses on my hands which hurt when I changed gear. By eight o’clock I was in a bad way and wanted to give up, but it had been my plan to stop at eight for a short rest and some food – luckily Pip was ready with dinner and wasn’t about to give up on the plan!
Back on the bike for the second stint I was at my lowest – the pain had been manageable up until now, but as time went on it started to show in my lap times and I dropped from the podium places to the ass end of the top twenty. But as they say the night is darkest before the dawn so I had a little sleep and then strapped on a pair.
With my Four4th Lights blazing a path into the night I got on with business and finally found a temperature that was more to my liking. I suddenly found that I could once again string more than one lap together at a time and the smiles were back. I think my lack of time on the mountain bike and not enough respect for a course I thought I knew were my issues, but they were now behind me and I was once again racking up the miles.
I remember seeing silhouettes of the fur trees on the hill and thinking, “thank fuck for that”, dawn was here! This also signaled the start of the final six hours and I was feeling really strong. Alex and Car (KTM Team-mates) were on course racing the twelve hour race and I was back into enough of a rhythm to hold their wheels for half a lap or so, which improved my mood even further.
I was now lapping at about 45/50 minutes and had worked out I could squeeze in three laps to finish just after twelve which was ideal. Pip had done a fantastic job with bottles and food through the night and now set about dismantling the camp and taking photos as I raced to the end. I realized at the end of the penultimate lap that I could gain one more place and so put in one almighty 40 minute balls-out lap, right at the end, to finish in 11th overall.
I absolutely couldn’t have done this one without all the support I had from the pits, from my team-mates, from Four4th, Helly Hansen and KTM, but most of all Pip – best support in the business!
Photos (and bottles, gels, cooked meals, cups of tea, hugs, etc) by Pip Jenkins.
Glen rides a Colnago Master and races a Scott Addict at local road races, both available via The Velo House. He races a KTM Aera Pro 27.5 hardtail in the UK National Points Series and the Eastern XC Series. He receives personal sponsorship from Helly Hansen, KTM and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY. He’s also supported by Lazer helmets. The KTM team is supported by Continental Tyres, Torq Fitness and Four4th Lights.