Mountain Mayhem is one of the biggest and most prestigious 24hour races in the World, I've never raced one before but when Rory Hitchens of Upgrade Bikes and boss of the Pivot Boompods offered me a place on defending champions team of serial Gorrick Brass monkeys podium rider Rich Penning, Xterra pro and xc whippet Euan Adams and the inhumanly strong and fast Al Fairburn I was more than happy, if a little apprehensive to accept the 4th place on the team, we all ride Pivot Les 29er's and its great bike for xc and endurance racing.
Towards the end of the week the scale defending the team title dawned on me, scanning through the pre entered teams there were no names that worried me, but then there was a team missing.....Fellow Pivot sponsored team of Acycling/Pivot, consisting of Endurance supremos George Budd, Solo Mayhem Winner Matt Page, Elite XC whippet Scott Chappel and all round fast boy Ross Adam.
Mayhem starts with a run, Rich was our man for the job, at 12 o'clock the race got underway, just under 3minutes later Rich was out on his bike and in the top 20, he put in a flying lap whilst Acycling suffered an early puncture, we were slightly ahead, next up Euan put in nearly the fastest lap of the entire race to gain us yet more time.
We managed to hold of A-Cycling for around 5hours, but eventually they past us, it was relief to me that this didn't happen on my lap! after my furious and scrappy first few laps I had settled into a more achievable lap effort, at almost the same speed. The course suited the race well, few fun bits, few super fast descents and enough stinging climbs that 42T cassette helped me limit my efforts!
The team was working well together, no second was spared, the key for me was staying as warm as i could during the time off the bike, and it seemed to work, my legs felt reasonable after each lap. The first half of any 24 hour race seems to take the longest, but with vibes in the camp high with tales of racing the time flew by, the great cakes from George's mum also helped!
Thanks to the Solstice sun lights weren't required until 8:30pm, we were still around 6 minutes behind, and it was still all to race for. The course quietened down significantly throughout the night, but enough to keep me on my toes when passing backmarkers flat-out in the dark! we each put in one set of double laps, mine not coming till 4am, which gave me a chance for 2hrs of kip.
Dawn broke on my double lap, we were still 20 minutes behind, my legs felt surprisingly good and my double lap wasn't much slower than a single. The whole team continued to keep the pressure on, but with A-cycling still lapping so consistently fast it was going to take a mechanical or disaster to catch them. This never happened, we kept the pressure on till the very last lap but in the end they squeezed in a 44th lap just before 12 o'clock.
Few stats from our team performance, 43 laps ridden, 292.4miles, 38,000 feet climbed with average lap time of 33minutes 45seconds.
Words - Chris Noble