Sunday (14th June) was my first six-hour endurance race, The Merida Summer Monkey, run by Gorrick.
I was quite nervous and not sure what to expect as I lined up with Karen ready for the mass start. I had in mind than I wanted to get a good position going into the singletrack. I got a good start passing other riders and going into the singletrack in a good position.
We were not allowed to pre ride the course which was something I wasn't used to so I took the singletrack steadily to make sure I was ready for what was coming up!
The course was fantastic made up of twisty singletrack with lots of roots to tackle linked together by fire road, it seemed most of the climbs were fire road too which made them easier, but the chance of being overtaken was increased.
The weather was over cast and there were spots of rain at times, riding for such a long time I was glad for the shelter from the sun, it would have been a lot harder had the sun been out!
I had a plan for my nutrition which was to keep fuelling every 30 minutes, this worked really well I spent the first 3 hours eating real food (malt loaf and bananas) and then moved to energy gels this combination worked well and I felt strong through most of the six hours. I kept my bike bag fully stocked with jelly babies and munched them in between.
As I came into my second lap I had made good time, completing it in 44 minutes, but wondered whether I could sustain this pace. I decide to keep pushing and eating, keeping an eye on my heart rate. I had decided that as long as I stayed aerobic for the majority of the time I would be able to keep going.
The first 3 hours were good fun and I enjoyed learning the course, unlike a cross country course which are short and easy to remember this long circuit kept catching me out as to how much was left to go!
Hours 4 and 5 were hard I spent a long time without seeing any riders and when I would it would be passing them or them passing me too fast for me to stay with them! Having done most of my training alone I am used to my own company luckily. I always find it interesting the places your mind drifts to when you’re in that zone where your feet keep turning and the bike eats up the ground and yet your mind is in a totally different place.
Coming into the pit I was relieved to find out this would be my last lap as my body was starting to feel tired, I ate my remaining jelly babies and pushed on. Half way through the lap was a sharp right hand bend which had caused me no problems for the 7 previous laps but being tired a lapse in concentration sent me sliding along the bank, I didn't hurt myself but it made me panic I felt sure that I was going to be over taken and after having worked so hard for the last 5 hours and stayed in the lead the last thing I wanted was to blow it now!
I pushed on composing myself, it was just after this I decided I wouldn't have an energy gel because I was so close to the finish.... This was potentially the wrong move.
Just as I was approaching the last singletrack drop and hard uphill part, a girl came hurtling past me I shouted to find out what category she was in and thought she said 6 hour solo, my body filled with dread and suddenly my legs seemed to have been sapped of energy, I gave it everything I had left to stay with her and although I couldn't over take her I did manage to stay with her, just about!
I finished the race really happy with my achievement but slightly annoyed at being pipped at the post with so little of the lap to complete. It was then that I found out she was in the 4 hour category solo so I had kept my win.
It wasn't until podium that I found out I was the only girl in my category so had been competing with girls in other category's but this didn't matter, I had worked hard for 6 hours given it everything I could and had consistent lap times.
I came 2nd girl overall for the 6 hour race completing 8 laps which was a total of 56 miles in 6 hours 7 minutes.
Lap 1: 44.56
Lap 2: 46.30
Lap 3: 46.27
Lap 4: 46.40
Lap 5: 45.12
Lap 6: 45.35
Lap 7: 47.17
Lap 8: 44.59
Thanks to Bike Fixers, Grip Grab, Silverback and DogTag for your support.
Words - Hannah Attenburrow