It's a while since I posted, in fact it was the 2013 'puffer.
Since then I've ridden:
The Highland Perthshire Enduro
Selkirk MTB Marathon
10 Under the Ben
and Strathpuffer 24
Since Strathpuffer 24 I've been going over my new bike (well it was new...) looking at what needs repaired, the thin film of mud collected during my first winter rides on it and the 'puffer itself has destroyed:
1 set of gear cables
2 sets of brake pads
1 tyre (ok that was a big thorn)
2 inner tubes (the thorn and a 1st lap pinch flat)
and my will to ride bikes.
The forks are also now past their 1st oil and seal change (waiting for the bits to arrive) and the headset bearings look and feel a bit done for.
I submitted a report on the puffer to both Dundee Mountain Club and Trail Scotland, so you can read it here
There isn't really anything I can add to that here.
Relentless 24 was my physical/mental recce for the 'puffer, to check that I could do it (so I knew if I should enlist someone else to do it as a pair) and to check that I could work with a mechanic/psychologist/feeder.
I asked Bill from DMC if he was interested and didn't need much convincing, it's great having someone to sort the bottles out for you and to speak to you at the end of each lap, and I reckoned Bill would be perfect for the job, a former Helicopter Engineer, who's now shifted into the Art world and is brilliant at the mental side of things too. He really made a difference, as do other people on course.
I found this at both Relentless and Strathpuffer:
During Relentless Wayne from Aboyne and Dezzy and John McLaggan from the Trail Scotland forums were also riding, Dezzy to an excellent 4th in class (IIRC) and John in a Quad who I think were 2nd in Class or possibly won it, I really can't remember now.
Dezzy and Wayne are both miles head of me in speed, so couldn't chat for long although there was a couple of time I would be on the edge of hopping off to walk when Dezzy arrived for a brief chat. But the non-walk that I remember most was on my last lap, I was just setting out on the first big climb to the middle of Lazy-K when behind me I heard "Niall!, Hi I'm John, thanks for the info on the brake pads..." I had walked this climb since the early hours of the morning, and having John to speak to at this point in time gave me a hint that I hadn't been walking for fitness or energy reasons.
Again at the 'puffer, I've been trying to get out more with a bike club in Glenrothes, their heavily aimed at XC riding and have a good bunch of guys racing in SXC, SCX and in the "Events", and one of their riders caught me on the fire road climb, again I rode past various points where I had walked during the night, I don't think I once walked on that lap just because of the psychological boost it gives.
This makes me wonder, is Endurance MTB riding really about fitness, how fit do you actually have to be to complete these (as in ride for 24hrs or at least as close as possible while not finishing after the cut off point, which I didn't at Relentless as I told myself I was on the last lap due to messed up tired maths)
To win, or at least be quick through the night there is no doubt that good training and fitness are necessary.
Jason Miles (32 laps, 320km) and Guy Martin (30 laps, 300Km) were well within my 1st lap time all through the night.
But I was rather happy with 29th and 180Km (18 laps)
Think about that for a minute, 180Km off road, in 23 hours 50 minutes, last time I did an Imperial on the road it was around 6 hours and it wasn't exactly flat.
Are the "off road Kms count as miles" or "off road Kms count double" rules valid, really?
What makes the off road tougher? The Strathpuffer course isn't all that technical but some bits are still pretty slow, and why can't I do the slab any more (Between laps 13 and 16 I walked the slab before Old Bill), it's all a mind game.
Forget Pain Caves, I currently can't push that hard even for 30 mins, but I can keep those cranks turning for a long time.
I don't get bored, some do.
But I give in, I walk, I rest (On the last lap I took a pause at the top of the last climb, I wanted to be as close to 24hrs as I could, but within 5 mins of stopping I was cold, that stop could have cost me 29th place as 30th place was 15 mins behind me at the end)
It's all a mind game this,
Don't go too fast, it's 24hrs no 2.4hrs
Keep climbing on the bike, it may be slower than walking, but...
Speak to people, they'll get you up that hill
It'll be worth it in the end, maybe, once you've got over the pain of the repair bill.
Roll on Puffer 2015... maybe...