17hours of Darkness and Mud

So this weekend was my second 24hr MTB event. The first one of these I did several years ago was based in the midlands during the peak of summer – very different to what I experienced this weekend!

The event history from their website 

The Strathpuffer started in 2005 – it was meant to be a one off local event but somehow nine years later we have a national event with a legendary status.

Over the years we have had every possible type of weather conditions – gales that blew away our marquee, iced roads, 2ft of snow the week before the event, temperatures down to minus 10 degrees, rain, hail and even sunshine . . . . you get the picture but then if we insist on staging a 24 hour event in the Highlands of Scotland in the middle of winter what do we expect?

We now attract competitors from all over the world – probably because we were included in the US Bike magazines top 10 toughest Mountain Bike events on the planet – and we are widely recognised as the event every decent mountain biker needs on his palmares.

The Race 

My brother lives only a few miles from the race venue so he knows the forest and the trails really well, I’ve ridden part of the puffer trail a couple of times over the last few years but I’ve ran it more often than I’ve ridden it.  My brother and his friends went to pitch the tent and park the transit van (my personal changing room!) on Friday afternoon and then we all went along at 8am on Saturday morning to set up and get ready to race. We had a tent with a stove and a gazebo with bike maintenance stand etc for repairs and brake pad changes etc.

Burt was to take the first lap, then myself, Leigh then finally my brother and the plan was to keep this order for the 24hr period.  The weather was great – for the highlands, first couple of laps were still quite icy but the trails thawed during the day, but the rain started so it got very muddy.  The format of the race means there is 17hrs of darkness – and i haven’t done much night riding at all so I knew my dark laps would be a lot slower.

My first lap was a 47min, followed by 50mins, 56mins (first one with lights), 57mins, 59mins and a 63mins for my final lap at 4:30am by which point i think i was seeing double and imagining all sorts in the dark….during my 6th lap it was obvious that time wise we would have time for 3 of the members to do a 7th lap – as the only female member, i kindly offered my 7th lap to my brother as he would missed a final lap if i had gone out for my 7th – i pretended i was doing this as i knew he would never hear the end of it if he was the only lad not to do a 7th but in truth i was worried i would have a bad crash if i did another one as i was having all kinds of silly mistakes on my last lap, and my self preservation kicked in!

Our teams fastest lap was a 40mins put in my brother, a very respectable lap time.

Overall we placed 40th mixed quad team out of 85 – not bad for a mixed ability team doing it for fun.

Congratulations due to my sister in law who took part in an all female team, they placed 2nd out of 4 female teams so came home with some goodies too! Well done Kate and team.

The whole weekend was amazing and i can highly recommend these 24h events – great fun if you can survive 24hrs of no sleep whilst doing a fairly technical MTB 7miler at regular intervals – certainly redefined ‘interval’ training for me!

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