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Scotland Adventure

The Strathpuffer 24hr is held 30 miles north of Inverness, unique in British mountain biking as it features up to 17hours of total darkness! Chief Designer Brant and team rider Shaggy headed north to pit their skills against "The Puffer", in training for an even dafter, more northern race that they're racing with Ed Oxley in mid February. Brant takes over…

Shaggy suggested the puffer would be good for a bit of training for our Lapland race. I've not really ridden my mountain bike much, if at all, in the last eight months, having just been doing road work, developing new frames, getting fit and just enjoying riding road bikes at speed and for a distance. The three days before the race was a manic build up, borrow and buy of parts, but Friday morning saw me heading north with a single speeded Lurcher with ice tyres and a 50mm stem. 

Shaggy and I were riding in the pairs class. I'd suggested riding 12hrs each, straight through, but this got dissolved down to 4hrs each, and then down to 3hrs each by the time the race came around. He'd taken his Fatty prototype set up 1x10. We were quite an odd pair.

Ably assisted by his dad Jim and Jim's lovely camper van "Braveheart", along with logistical assistance from Shaggy's wife Mel, I waited anxiously by the track as he put the first four laps down giving feedback on the course. And then my go… with the electronic "dibber on a string" stuck over my head, I set off on my first mountain bike ride of the last six months, my first race for three years… It's fair to say that I didn't really know what I was doing. Geared a bit high I hammered the first few climbs, zapped through the technical sections, screamed down the fun descents… it was a blast. Drifting icy corners on spiked tyres was brilliant and the Lurcher (with a two degree slackset fitted) was a beast. 

Screaming through the start finish area and back up to our pit, Shaggy and Mel looked amazed and worried as they indicated I'd gone "quite fast", pointing out that we had an awfully long way to go yet. And then it sunk in… Yes… Pace, food, sense, planning… ah… My legs hurt. My head was dizzy… I carried on.

My times were but faded at my fourth lap, handing over to Shaggy to pull another four block and keep us in the running. And so it continued, as darkness came, sleep, dozing, food, pot noodles. The rain heard on Braveheart's roof at midnight which turned the slushy compacted snow into a sheet ice. The wonderful camaraderie of riders out on course. The number of On-One riders out there hammering - it was great to see so many 456's, Whippets, Lurchers and Race29ers out there, even a couple of El Guapos.

Brilliant to see former team riders Jason Miles and Dave Powell do amazing things in the solo class, great to see Guy Martin hammering around to an amazing fourth place. We rolled in 7th in Pairs, which we were perfectly happy with. I'm now trying to unwind the knots in my back and get set for Lapland. Though I haven't got a bike for that yet either! Can anyone lend me their Fatty? 

Thanks to Jon Brooke for the night time pic below! He was taking photos out on the course for most of the 24 hours (like a proper trooper) and has pics of most competitors to view or buy from his website www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk 

Thanks also to Mr Trout who lent me a set of the awesome SpiderEyes lights to help me see where I was going.Shaggy with Fatty at Strathpuffer
Brant takes on the Strathpuffer

 

31 January 2013

Comments

  • Doug Dawson 1 February 2013
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    Well done all the people taking part. A couple of videos with your guys http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-UJWTdVl_c and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-UJWTdVl_c

  • Chris Moorhouse 1 February 2013
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    Hi guys,i was there too and on a Whippet.the track changed so much that every lap was different.that made it quite a challenge as well as riding solo,that is.the whippet performed fantasticly with no mechanicals.i saw you both knocking around shouting "On One" at some very tired riders.it was a great weekend.good luck in your Finnish race and i hope you finish.cheers lads, Chris