Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fifeing Eejit Six - The Strathpuffer 24 - 2013

Modified from a club report as I've left it too late to write this first...

After the assault on the 2012 Strathpuffer Lite:

It was time to take on its Big Brother, the Strathpuffer 24.

The Camper
For this I enlisted Alex (again) along with a long term friend Al and his wee brother Wes.

In addition to the team I also found myself the owner of a 1991 Talbot Express camper van, and even managed to rope my Dad into joining us for the jolly.   

The Camper in the Snow on the Drumochter climb
We set out from Dundee in a snowstorm and were concerned about the possibiliyt of not making it there as traffic slowed to 10 mph over Drumochter Summit, however as we descended the snow started to reduce from snow blanketed summit down to a wee bit of road snow at Dalwhinnie and by Newtonmore there was only a dusting on the Verges. Not to be outdone by the neebur Kingussie didn't even have any snow.


This race is billed as "Probably the only Winter 24 hour Mountain Bike Race in the World", and over the years it's had just about every possible weather condition you can get in the North of Scotland (so that rules out Sandstorms and Heat waves).

Wes exiting the singletrack above the camper onto the icy fireroad
Wes started the race in dry conditions despite overnight rain at 1000 on the Saturday clocking laps of 00:53 and 1:07, the fire roads were still icy and as we waited Wes to come out the corner off of the single track up from the campervan we watched many drop the bike and themselves on the ground.

Finishing my 2nd lap
Niall took over and did both laps around the 55 minute mark (record keeping is suspect here) during this period the main fire road climb was icy as well as the single track sections showing ice in places, however with 2 hours more sun on it the road past the camper was fast turning to mud.

Although Ice Spike tyres seemed to be all but compulsory, that doesn't stop some from trying to race without them, although one team were seen passing our camper having purchased 2 new sets of Ice Spikes at £80 an end from Square Wheels in the Marquee, some of those did stay on their bikes without them.

Alex continued and set our fastest laps of the race at 48 minutes and 53 minutes and arrived reporting that the fire road was beginning to de-ice and that the rest of the track was pretty much ice free.

Al passing on the way to completing his first lap.
Alan took over and calmed the pace down as the light diminished to a comfortable 1:09 and 1:30 a pace which Wes maintained that pace with laps of 1hr 32 and 1hr 20, the 2nd lap being all the more remarkable as he ran out of lights not long after the start of it.


When Niall took over in Darkness he retained the spiked tyres for the laps although conditions would have allowed a normal tread to be used, however since they were working they were kept on and lap times of 1hr and 1hr 6 mins and Alex completed laps of 1hr 7 and 1 hr 12 on normal tyres for rooty/rocky conditions.
Disaster struck for Alan as his bike broke taking 1hr and 50 mins for his 1 darkness lap and was bundled off to sleep out of the way while Wes hurriedly got ready Although taking 1hr 43 minutes to do his lap there was 30 minutes of downtime in him getting ready, a strategic failure as Niall was in a Snoozing state while Alex was sitting ready to go again albeit asleep!  Unfortunately Wes then took 2 hours and 6 minutes for the next lap despite having fully working lights it was hammering it down with rain during that lap and he returned reporting it was “very muddy”.
Alex heads down the hill just after 10am to complete our 19th and last lap.

Niall then set off to complete another lap in 1 hour followed by Alex completing the final lap in 1 hour and 11 minutes.

Wes gets stuck into some food

Jon Brooke captures this fantastic shot of Niall at the
summit of Haribo Hill as daylight broke on the Sunday morning

19 Laps completed in the allowed 25hrs and 55th  place in the Quads competition we succeeded in our aim of finishing “Not Last”, and also in all spotting motorcycle racer Guy Martin although it did take until 2pm on Sunday for Alex to spot him.
Oldest and Youngest Entrants

In addition to achieving a "Not Last" Wes was awarded the prize for youngest entry at the age of 14 and 8 days, he was joined on the podium by the oldest entrant, if I can still move my legs in a walking motion unaided let alone cycle by his age I'll be happy.

Will I do this event again next year?
Next Year? I'll be back to do the Lite solo, and see about a Pair for the 24 for 2014.

Waiting for Wes to complete his first laps

Sunday somepoint after the finish, event T-Shirt group shot