The first weekend of the school holidays means only one thing – Pivot 24:12 at Newnham Park, Devon! This is more like a mini holiday with a few bike races thrown in for good measure. This year racing for Pedal 2 Pedal were Fred and Edith in the Islabikes Stage Race and Karen in the vet women’s 24hr solo race. I raced the open mens 24hr team race with the legendary 😉 New Mills Massif race team. We arrived on Thursday and marked out our spot; the same as last year with trackside frontage for Karen’s pit-stops and river access for messing about in the river. You can’t have a 24:12 without kids in the river most of the time! The forecast looked awful for the Friday through to the early hours of Sunday – perfectly timed for all the racing. Not that we were concerned – this was 24:12! Best course around regardless of the weather and it was the first weekend of the holidays!
On Friday Fred and Edith raced the first 2 of 3 stages in their stage race. Sponsored by Islabikes and new for this year, the kids raced a 2km off-road time trial, a dirt elimination criterium and on the Saturday morning, the traditional xc race. Points were awarded per stage result, all contributing to an overall stage race result. The time trial course was a loop taking the riverside part of the campsite before a steep climb up onto the woodland traverse and a long descent back to the campsite with a few tight turns before re-entering the arena. Riding in descending age order and starting at 1 minute intervals, Fred and Edith were towards the end of the start. Fred set off with a very fast start. When he reappeared on the long descent Fred had already passed the rider 1 minute in front and now had just caught the 2 minute rider, before losing the place again in the tight turns. Sprinting for a finish, Fred re-passed the 2 minute rider and came in first in his category. Edith took some time out of her minute rider, and came in 3rd . We then had a rest and time for some food before returning for the evening elimination criterium.
The elimination criterium coincided with Dartmoor Brewery’s free beer session, thus ensuring a good crowd for the race. Good beer too, especially the IPA. The elimination criterium was raced over a short loop starting in the arena. Every other lap, the final 2 placed riders were eliminated. The quad bike then neutralised the race for ½ a lap before pulling off and the race re-started before another elimination. Once down to the final 4, it was then a race for finishing positions. The older riders went first, giving the younger riders a good chance to watch and see how the race worked. It worked really well too, with a full-on sprint for position every time the quad bike pulled off. The rain was lashing down, but this didn’t deter the kids or the huge crowd cheering every elimination lap. Eventually it was Fred and Edith’s race. Fred had decided he was going to boss this from the front and put a big acceleration in on every elimination lap to get the lead into the first bend. Challenging Fred every time was Toby and the pair battled it out through the race for the first bend lead. The sprinting at the other end of the race was just as frantic with huge sprints put in to avoid the dreaded elimination. Edith rode really hard before finally being eliminated in 4th position in category. Fred made it to the final lap and with another close sprint to the first bend, got a gap and won the race. This was an amazingly popular kids format of racing and was loved by riders and the crowd. Definite thumbs up from us!
Following another wet night, the kids then lined up for the 12 and 24 minute xc races on Saturday morning. The stage racers were also lined up with riders just out for the xc race with Fred and Edith in the u12s 12minute race. A big field of 49 riders meant a good start was essential. Fred was on the front row and Edith just behind. After a crowded start, Fred moved up to 5th overall and leading his category in the stage race. Fred maintained this and secured 5th in the race, the stage category win and the overall stage race win for his category! Edith came in 33rd overall, and 4th in her stage giving a 4th overall position in her stage race category. Good racing by all.
Overall this was a great addition to the Pivot 24:12 programme and gave the kids far more racing over a number of formats. We all loved this, especially the evening elimination race. Really exciting racing.
The 24hr race started at midday on Saturday. Hannah (read her report here) and Karen lined up for the solo 24hrs and Mark lined up for the opening lap of our open male team 24hr race. The rest of the New Mills Massif team comprised Paul, Tricky, Bennet and I. The solo race was also the 24hr solo nationals, resulting a big solo field. By the start the rain had been falling steadily for some time and the course was already running with water and mud. Nonetheless, it is always a great course at Newnham with favourites including the Bluebell Woods and the fast and flowy Cottage Return descents present. The climb was longer than last year, but more than half the lap’s height gain was over and done within minutes after the start. Karen started quite fast and seemed well placed after the first lap. We in the team started well, albeit the odd full body ‘dab’ on the early laps…ahem. Anyway nothing amiss, and a few tyre swaps later to some more substantial rubber and we were all riding fine in the wet conditions. Karen looked quite consistent early on, with a reasonable amount of food consumed per pit stop.
We in the team switched to doubles through the night. During my double the rain stopped and almost immediately the clag started to from. The weather was improving from 1am onwards, but the course became heavy in places. Karen slowed towards 14.5hrs in and after a few crashes pulled in feeling sick. In hindsight, she wasn’t eating enough as the lap times extended. The nausea didn’t abate so Karen went to bed for a few hours. Meanwhile the team doubles were ticking by, albeit taking a bit longer per lap as the course slowed. Into daylight, and our one and only mechanical struck – Mark bent his mech hanger and snapped the mech. A bit of running and a bike swap and he was back on it. We finished on 24 laps for 11th male team overall and 4th in category. Not too shabby! Karen woke feeling better and went back out for a final lap and finished 8th solo women overall and 6th solo vet on 12 laps. This was Karen’s first 24hr race, and despite her 12hr race experience, there were lots of lessons learnt here in the 24hr. We are already making plans for next year and have agreed some strategy improvements!
It was quite an attritional race on kit too. Between Karen and I we went through 3 sets of brake pads, 2 bottom brackets, 1 set of front and rear wheel bearings and failed air spring seals on a fork.
Well done to all for some great racing and many thanks to Martyn and the Pivot 24:12 team for another hugely enjoyable long race weekend. See you next year!