The first lap of Torq 12:12 was my fastest, the fifth was a barnstormer, but on the fourth I really felt at home on the bike. Just like in the dark at Bontrager Twentyfour12 I suddenly found the right rhythem and flow. When you’re riding your bike in this state you’re reminded of just why you are where you are, doing what you’re doing…basically it rocks…
It’s been a funny old season, full of promise, littered with false starts and bad luck. But if you keep your head up it’ll always come good in the end. Torq 12:12 is one of the last marathon races of the mountain bike year and for riders in the South it’s a bit of an end of season party. It’s one of the few races in the UK that I’ve never raced so when the KTM team suggested that we pull the team together for a crack at the four-man 12hour race I packed up as much team kit as I could find and jumped on board.
Carwyn drew the short straw which meant he was doing the first lap. Realistically, though I was pleased that we’d made that decision – Carwyn has been consistently fast all season and was the obvious rider to get us off to a strong start, which he did. After a lightning quick changeover I headed off for the second lap, made easier by the lack of traffic, but harder because of my nerves – I felt like one little mistake could jeopardize our whole team result. As much as I could I put that to one side and focused on finding a smooth line through the sandy singletrack. Handing over to Alex for the third lap I was relieved to have got that first one out of the way!
Alex blasted round and then handed over to Gaz for the fourth lap who likewise nailed a fast one. When Carwyn handed over to me again I’d settled my nerves and was ready to race – not such a quick lap but I was happy with my riding and kept us in 6th position fighting with several fast teams. There was a bit of confusion over a few riders lap times but we were pretty evenly matched with Kings Lynn and Singular so we started to keep a close eye on the two of them.
My third lap was a tough one, not sure I’d eaten (or digested) the right thing, but I was working hard to up my pace from the last lap. After plenty of hard overtaking on backmarkers I came up behind a rider from the Singular team, who was having a hard time staying upright. This made him very upset and he explained that I wasn’t allowed to pass him. I couldn’t quite see his logic so on the next wide section when he’d slowed down, perhaps to do his make-up or something, I rode past him. With grumpy bollocks behind me I got on with chasing down the rider from Kings Lynn – we rode together for the last quarter of the lap with me just piping him in the final mile.
Lights were now a requirement, but only for the wooded sections. This didn’t seem to slow Alex, Gaz and Carwyn down at all and it was on my fourth when everything seemed to come together. I don’t know what it is about the dark but suddenly all my worries were gone and I was just riding along. Everything seemed to make sense and my lap times were pretty much just as quick as in the day – maybe I should just race night races?
Whilst the others were out on their laps we’d worked out that if we kept up the current pace I may be able to get my fifth lap finished before midnight, meaning that we’d get one one in the bag if we needed it. We’d slipped behind a few teams , but were holding strong against Kings Lynn so when it came time for my final lap I put in everything I had to make it back before midnight – I was pushing harder than I thought possible, but the short lap allowed you to go a little beyond what your body was saying no to. The final few hills were punishing and several lurkers gave me a fright but I big dogged it for pretty much the last three miles, finishing a minute before the buzzer!
I’d made it round for Carwyn to seal our result. He made a strong attack on Singular and was narrowly beaten, but we’d secured a strong 9th place in doing so. Reading through the list of riders ahead of us it’s an impressive who’s who of the Southern Mountain Bike Scene with many Elites and the odd National Champion so I reckon we should be pretty pleased with ourselves.
The main thing was that we’d been so consistently quick throughout the whole twelve hours and had a good time doing so – it really felt like the first time we’ve really bonded as a team which has to be good news for next year. Big thanks to all of our ladies for putting up with us for twelve hours (and the rest) and to Four4th Lights for lighting the way. Cheers to Helly Hansen for keeping me warm and to KTM for the bike.
Photos 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.