The bet was “3 laps more over the 12 hours”. It was a fairly hastily conceived contest and probably not all that well thought out by either party, but it was agreed, done, hands had been shaken (well, OK, not actually shaken, but it had definitely been agreed).
3 laps more than Budge and Andy, over the course of the 12 hour race, or Jase and I would be facing Certain Death by Chili.
Most people would have been eyeing up their overall position in the race itself – looking for a podium, finding out who their closest rivals were as the race unfolded and battling against them. For Jase and I it was all about those precious 3 laps.
OK again I exaggerate. We were well and truly stuck in a battle with the un-aptly named “Bringing up the Rear” duo, who were blistering their way round the course while we got to grips with just how rutted up and, in places, worn out the course had become since last year (and in my case smashed myself into it, owch).
As the sun finished rising, baked the damp trails dry and shone down on lap after frantic lap by everyone racing, every second was becoming precious. A slip on a still-damp tree root, a missed gear change, drifting ever so slightly wide on the exit of a fast corner, it felt costly.
Halfway through and we were in 2nd place by just a handful of seconds, closing in on 1st, looking through the tightly packed trees for a flicker that might be ‘them’. 1 of the 3 needed laps up on Budge and Andy and closing in towards getting the 2nd. Fully immersed in the ordeal. Lungs hanging out on the climbs and everything hanging out on the descents. Flat out racing and loving it.
As the afternoon ground on and teeth became more clenched on the climbs we continued to push, taking a slender lead. Getting the 2nd lap up on our Team JMC rivals. Fighting all the way. A slow puncture on one of my laps may only have extended the lap time by a minute or so, but it felt like an eternity. It spurred me on, more pushing hard against race battered legs in the following laps. Jase’s teeth came out. Angry eyes locked on the trail ahead as we drove to stretch the advantage over 2nd and take the 3rd lap.
As the sun began to tumble back earthwards and rainclouds peered over the surrounding hills we got the victory. 1st place in a great race – the winning margin just 10 minutes over the whole 12 hours. We didn’t, however, get the 3rd lap, missing it by around 15 minutes.
15 minutes that may as well have been another eternity, as I sat down in the pub, faced with a plate of TerrorChilli. I wasn’t sure if it was steam coming off the food or the plate dissolving, I just knew it was going to hurt, but a bet’s a bet and tastebuds can heal (well, I hoped so anyway).
I ate. And after a few minutes, regained the abililty to talk, suggesting that I’d been given a slightly less thermonuclear dose.
It was, for Team JMC, a hugely successful race – Jason and I got the win in the pairs, our chilli combatants Budge and Andy took 3rd (after also being tightly wrapped in close racing all day) and Phil…well Phil romped away with the solo win. Impressively.
You can check the results here to see how close everything was.
Hopefully lots more fast, close racing to come this summer. That was ace