Bringing home silverware at Bristol Bikefest

On June 13, 2013 by Alan

Aston Court rock gardenHalf-arsed Racer paired up with Scott Cornish, physio, Tech Ed for Cyclist No. 1, and endurance rider for GoreBikeWare and together brought home some silverware at the Bristol Bikefest sponsored by Ritchie components and Stans Notubes.

The Bikefest and its little brother the Oktoberfest are run by local gents Paul Newman and Mike Wilkins. You could travel far and wide to experience the atmosphere and racing found at my local event. I’ve done it every which way you can, including 12 hour solo. I’ve seen it grow into one of the largest mountain bike races in the country. Wonderfully, Paul, Mike and the team have maintaining its unique atmosphere, which is infectious to riders and spectators alike. There’s a degree of magic about the race. The sun appears just for the weekend, which is attributed to Paul’s lucky flip flops. I suspect to guarantee the sort of weather we had this year, Paul must be in league with beelzebob himself. In Autumn, with the days closing in, I’ll think back over the races I’ve done this year, and smile widely when I think of the Bristol Bikefest.


The 12 hour race
I opened for us taking on the mayhem of the Le mans start, the run up the hill, and first two laps. Having not located Scott before the race, there was no one to hold my bike. Finding it amongst the hundreds of other bikes wasn’t easy. I missed the helping hand of a team mate to push me off up the hill, as Gary Lake had done so well in the Oktoberfest the previous year. At the top of the hill, I tried to put it into the big ring to really get going, when the chain jumped off. A quick dismount, chain on, and I was off hot in pursuit of those who had taken advantage of my misfortune. Coming over in the top twenty after the first lap, I put the head down for the second lap and put in a decent 27 minutes and 05 seconds, which would be our second fastest lap of the day. I handed over the a relaxed Scott on his Niner. I have to say, it was a relief to see Scott there, otherwise it was 12 hour solo for me. Scott was off like lightening on his big wheels to put in a 26.15 lap, our fastest lap of the race.  Our tactic was to double up on the laps, which paid off and I’d do again. It gives the right amount of rest and enough time to get the legs up to speed again by the second lap. My own tactic, unknown to Scott, was to race as long and hard as I could, for as long as I could. I knew my longest ride this year was only three hours, so beyond that, I was unsure but didn’t want to hold back and regret it.

What followed was 8 hours of 27 to 29 minute laps. Putting us a lap up in the Old Gits (Vets) category. As Scott handed over for the 17th lap of the 9.1km course, he said “we’re a lap up, relax and just stay on”. Wise words, were I to heed them. Hitting the rock garden at speed on my next lap, I tore my Schwalbe, Racing Ralph rear tyre to shreds. Second time in two months I’ve been let down by Racing Ralphs. Time for something more reliable I think. No air canister could save it. There was sealant everywhere. It was back on foot, just as I had begun the race. I made my way to the finish line, found a surprised Scott, seeing me without my bike and a lap early. Without question, Scott was on his way and I was left to repair my bike. Thanks to the mechanic at the Zero G stand and fellow participant and business partner, Jon Waring, I was up and running again with a Rocket Ron on the rear. Phew!

Over the remaining 7 laps times fell away a little, not surprising in the heat. We managed 24 laps in 12 hours, with 25 minutes to spare, only minutes away from the magical 25th lap. Getting 25 in the bag would have made the day perfect. Scott was up for doing it. We finished first in our category, two laps up, and second overall across all the pairs categories to a team from LVIS, who did mange to sneak in the 25th lap by a minute. Not too shabby for a pair of old fellas!

Topping the podium was very special for me. I’d never won a mountain bike race. It was all the better coming as it does, after a major accident, and being half-arsed.

The race video by Alex Tyler of can be found here.

Here are my tips for riding the Bristol Bikefest:

  • Don’t eat anything during an endurance race, that you want to enjoy again
  • Bring spare tyres and such, just in case
  • Have a good plan for meeting your teammate beforehand
  • Have someone hold your bike, it will give you a target to aim for, and prevent you loosing your bike and valuable time
  • Get in a good first lap, you and your team will have many laps free of other riders by getting ahead at the start
  • If you are doing it in a pair, double up the laps, it gives you adequate rest time
  • Pair up with someone you think faster than you, you’ll push harder not to let them down
  • Apart from pretty decent burgers, there’s not much else to eat, so come prepared
  • Arrive in plenty of time, the traffic builds up on the lane way in
  • Take in the atmosphere, it’s ace!

Nutrition on the day
As well as keeping hydrated, my nutrition (all gluten free) consisted of:

Thanks to:
My wife Jane and daughters Amy & Esme, who support and inspire me
Zealous Bikes, who I pitted with all day and were great fun
Bad Ass Bikes, for all the help, support and mentoring
Paul Millard, who has helped rebuild me
Matt Gigg, for Crossfit training and race home after
Scott Cornish, for being kick ass

See you next June for Bristol Bikefest 2014!

A few people’s photos from the day:

If you’d like to add a link to Bikefest photos you’ve taken, just let me know.

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