Who in their right mind would enter a 25 hour bike race with a team of 4 triathletes – one of which raced 70.3 the weekend before and two of which hadn’t sat on a bike since the 70.3 Worlds in Nice? The answer is……. Helen. It will be fun she said. And so team Goalspecific ladies – Helen, Becky, Jules and Fran, with me in tow as the team mechanic, headed up to Windsor Park last weekend.
The race is simple. It starts at 12pm on Saturday and finishes at 12pm on Sunday. The aim of the game is to complete as many laps (6.7km) of the park as you can in that time. At 2am, the clocks go back and the power hour begins when the riders merge on to a shorter lap and every laps counts double. One rider is out on the course at a time and each team has a pit area where riders swap. Drafting is allowed and if you get get in a group the benefits are huge. Also it was bound to be fun because Becky and Fran had assured us that it was all just a bit of fun and not competitive………..Mmmmmmmmmm.
Fortunately Jules and Helen saved us a great parking space – partly by telling the marshalls that we were a sponsored team arriving – and all was looking good. Then the hurricane arrived. This is not an exaggeration. And the first 8 hours of the race were in pouring rain, very strong winds and latterly darkness. I got through it ok though
As is the way with these ‘non competitive’ events, the GS girls were showing their endurance credentials, gradually moving through the field until by the start of the power hour they were up to 2nd female team behind the Bianchi pro team only. I had two jobs. 1. mend punctures. 2. get the tactics right for the power hour. Well I mended the 1 puncture we had. Anyway suffice it to say that the key to getting the laps in on the power hour is to make sure your rider is ready to ride out of the pits with the peleton at 1.59. Unfortunately I sent Fran out on an extra lap instead of pitting early to line up Helen – oops.
Undeterred, the girls continued to lap at a very consistent pace – unlike many of the other teams, and as the sun came up, the wind died and it all seemed like a much better idea again. And….. when Helen produced freshly baked croissants and a hot coffee from the campervan at 8am all was good. This reminded me of an economic principle called the law of diminishing marginal returns – which basically means the more you want something the more you are willing to pay for it. Frankly, I would have sold one of our children for that croissant (only joking kids).
Great laps by all the girls in the morning session – with everyone recording their fastest laps of the event – and Becky finishing it off with a flying 4 laps with the customary massive grin on her face. In the end, they finished 7th out of 31 female teams but cycled the second furthest with a massive 106 big laps and a total distance of roughly 700km – very impressive and mostly down to that puncture I repaired I think.
In summary, 3 things you need to compete in this event:
1. A disregard for the benefits of sleep
2. A better tactician
3. A Helen
You’d have to be mad to do this event. So who fancies it next year?????