Lee from our Support Team (and member of local club Crawley Wheelers) recently got convinced to sign-up to his first 12 hour MTB XC race. With a little help from Exposure Lights, and some serious problem solving post mechanical Lee and his partner for the race made it through the night. Read his race report below.

Well, that escalated quickly.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was idly browsing my cycling club group chat and a friend suggests I join them in a 12 hour MTB race.  Two hours later, I have a partner and we’re entered for the Veteran Pairs category (and half of that time was attempting to think up a witty team name).  Intentions were good, but this wasn’t really a serious effort.  The day before the race little had been planned out, and most the talk centred around what everyone was going to eat and whose bike would brake first (Sandy’s, always…)

Welcome to Team Camp!

We had plenty of time to roll out for a recon lap together pre race.  I had my doubts about this, it was already going to be 12 hours, did I really want to spend another hour riding just to have some warning of the course?  I guess it’s a good idea…

An extra lap before a 12 hour race is always a good idea, right?

Just like that it was time to go.  Ryan was my partner for the day and we sent him off first as our more experienced, faster rider.  He made a blistering start getting ahead of all our other teams.  Did he get the memo I was just here for some fun?  Am I going to have to make a real effort to stay in front if he comes round ahead of all my mates?  Damn!

And they’re off!


Turns out I had something else to worry about when he didn’t come round near the front. Rather, he didn’t come round at all.  Sam from Chasers Collective came through for their rider change and I frantically shouted out asking where Ryan was.  He had broken his crank and was having to run 2 miles of the course with his bike to get back to the rider change area!

Thinking I’m in for a long wait, I head back to camp for supplies in case I’m left to ride solo for another 11 hours!  Eventually 20 mins later I see Ryan finally running back to the pit area.  We have a quick chat about potential ideas on how we can fix it, but we cant make a decision so I just head out for my lap, to stop next time around for an update whilst Ryan comes up with a plan.

My lap was fun, we were right at the back now so I felt like a hero doing nothing but catching people despite my meagre offroad abilities.  I roll round to the pit to meet Ryan and the decision is we will just share my bike for the rest of the race.  Were similar build and it turns out Ryan had no problems riding it all, so it just cost a little time making the rider changes compared to teams that were ready to go.  Not that were racing for anything after that first lap, or were we?

Mid Race Update

Were not even half way in and everyone looks a state. 

Spirits are still good in camp, having a laugh in between trying to force feed ourselves after every lap!  Crawley Wheelers Senior Team and the other Vets team are still rolling laps together trying to get one over on each other, but its pushing them both into the top 3 in their respective categories.  Ryan and I are in 10th.  Well, its not last I guess! 

Pretty soon we’d have to turn out attention to running lights as the sun goes down.  I’m so grateful that Balfes Bikes and Exposure Lights provided me with support on this front, so we had no fear of the dark.  I hadn’t even planned to run a light the whole way thinking we would share riding duties, but the MAXX-D Exposure light I was lent was an amazing piece of kit.  Having the run time visible removes any range anxiety you might have from it running out mid lap.  Truth is, this light would have seen us through to the sun coming back up if we had needed it.  I just might have to get myself one.

With the light fading over the course, I decided to check on the lap charts again and much to my amazement we have now worked our way up into 3rd place.  We were still riding strongly, and I knew we could maintain this if we just got round without too many hiccups.  A crash in the dark did cost me a few minutes, and caused me to be a bit more cautious but for us at this point we just needed to bring it home and churned out the final laps.

Things were a bit more eventful for our 2 other Crawley Wheelers teams.  The seniors had moved up into 2nd and were trying to hunt down the leaders, but it was a gap that would never really be threatened.  The Vets team were leading with 40 mins left to run and 2nd place sitting literally on their wheels.  Ultimately, they were pipped to the win in the last 90 seconds of a 12 hour race, but absolutely everyone was satisfied with their effort and we all had an amazing day.

A great result all things considered.

Thanks to Gorrick MTB for running such a great event!

If you want to keep up with Lee’s cycling escapades then give him a follow on Instagram! You can also find the Crawley Wheelers here.

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