Mountain Mayhem has been an event that we've been to once before. This blog is written from a different perspective, not from a rider but perhaps the reason why the riders make it through the 24 hours......the back room support!
OSMM is a 24 hour race, where riders can enter in teams of 4 or 5 (mixed or all male or all female) and those who are called crazy (the soloists!). Kath was asked to join the Cyclewise team after riding for them at 'Wild Boar 24' a few years ago in the Lakes.
The event is held at Eastnor Castle which is a beautiful location - although I have to admit I would love to have a wander around the Castle - but not sure we're allowed that close!
The event is not just about the weekend - the preparation is key! The riders are all training hard in the months and weeks leading up to the event and it is the support team who make sure the cupboards are stocked and no one goes hungry. Kath was putting in the miles on the mountain bike and the road bike (when time was permitting around work commitments) which also involved some 'lovely' hill sessions on the local fell. I of course supported this and joined in when I could ! With the thought of bring part of the Cyclewise Team being in the back of the mind, this was motivation enough to give the men a run for their money!
The Cyclewise team got to Eastnor Castle nice and early and set up camp - enabling the 2 teams of 5 riders and the solo riders the opportunity to stay together and have a communal area to discuss team tactics, eat and relax. The area was in a good location, not far from the start/finish line and more importantly close to the showers and the massage tent ! There are lots of stalls at the event, and it is customary to have a walk around and buy things you 'may' need but will probably never use, and there is always a place for a panic buy too!
OSMM is not just for the competitive, it is a very chilled weekend with riders enjoying the challenge of the 24 hour race. As well as Scooby Doo (below) at the mass start you see plenty of riders in fancy dress! And with around 15,000 spectators there are lots of people enjoying the atmosphere.
The Cyclewise Teams, a competitive bunch both between themselves in the team and with their rival Cyclewise Team were ready and with changeover techniques discussed, everyone headed up to the mass start to give encouragement to the first riders. The riders starting, had a 'Le Mans' style start - the bikes were lined up with the riders on foot having to run to collect them. This helped to break up the field and the first tactical battles were drawn, with the runners of the teams kicking off the race.
Kath's first lap was late afternoon with approx 12 miles to cover each time. To ensure there is no wasted time during the changeovers, the riders give an approximate time of when they will return so each team member can be warmed up and ready.
To try and minimise cramp and help to combat muscle soreness, the turbo trainer was set up in camp, so a warm up could be done before the lactic work started on the course. This was repeated with a warm down after each lap.
To make things harder for themselves, some riders even did the event on unicycles!!! A very hard skill and over the terrain, a lot of practice and some nasty 'offs' in previous attempts I am sure! This unicyclist making it look easy while I was waiting for the Cyclewise Teams to come into view (as official photographer!)
At around the halfway stage, the route went through the campsite, before climbing a killer hill (especially after a few laps!). This was a good place for the riders to get some welcome encouragement from the crowds and 'resting riders'. Encouragement is often the only thing that keeps the riders going during this tough event!
|The start of the killer hill !|
The campsite became quiet not long after dark - and this is where riders wonder how they managed to get involved in this crazy endurance event. Kath had a night lap at around midnight and then as the sun was coming up. With 5 in a team, there was a bit of respite and chance for a little rest - rest was perhaps the word rather than sleep as we were always waiting for the alarm to go, which signalled the time to start preparing.
With both batteries fully charged there were no risks taken with not having enough light to get around the course! And with a headtorch as backup, we were well prepared. One of the riders had a mechanical during his night lap which meant a longer wait in the changeover area, it also cost the team a bit of time in the race for places.
Kath's early morning lap started in pitch black and finished in the light - a very bizarre feeling; with the campsite starting to wake up, it certainly helped with the tired feeling !
|Fresh as a daisy!|
|Coming into the changeover area|
|A solo rider still smiling after 18 hours in the saddle !|
|Team Cyclewise chilling out between laps|
Throughout the weekend, the leader board shows each category and changes all the time.
With Kath's last lap at around 11am, the sight of the Cyclewise jersey in the changeover area was a welcome sight after some tough riding.
Once the last lap was completed, it was time to pack up and wander down to the main central area to watch the prize giving. The event is a well organised show case of endurance riding with a whole range of ages and abilities taking part - they have now introduced a kids event to the weekend.
Once packed, the journey back to Cumbria was the only lap left, and this did prove to be the most difficult! With the bad traffic (it was sunny so everyone was out in their cars!) and the lack of sleep, we got as far as North Wales (due to an accident and detour off the motorway - not what we needed!) before pulling in for a well deserved chinese.
Quote of the weekend has to be from my brother, who came along to offer some moral support. When driving through the grounds to get to our camp, he was stopped by the marshall's as the riders (probably around 700) had just gone through the mass start and were crossing the road and his first words to us after waiting for around 20 minutes were "I couldn't get through for all these cyclists!!!!" It was a good job my mum and dad were there to laugh at him too - fancy there being cyclists at a cycling event..........