Saturday, August 2, 2008

2008 Bontrager 24/12 :: Kate's Report

12hr mixed pairs
Originally uploaded by James Dymond
Ian and I have just returned from Bontrager 24/12 which was held at Newnham Park just outside Plymouth. I really have to control my finger tips as I type what should be a very serious ‘race report’, as Mr and Mrs Potter were teaming up to take on each other to work out who is the fastest Potter on the planet. However I think many of you know my writing style by now and realise that if I have had an awesome experience then expect to join me in that experience.....only a few days later when I finally finish writing about it. This event is going to be difficult to narrow down to the bare minimum of action packed mini adventures that took place within the overall weekend. Once again Martyn Salt and his merry men organised an event for the people, with a relaxed atmosphere that even the most serious of racers enjoyed, as well as Friday night rock band, midnight jazz singer, on course clubbing action, plus superb catering and showering facilities....and as we all noted glorious sun and moonshine with only a hint of mud that somehow ended up more on me than any other rider on course so I was told.

Now as I was saying I do have to control my typing for this ‘little’ report otherwise I will end up writing a novel with endless chapters on just how much fun I, and the rest of the Cotic Bontrager, AQR and the Yeti crew had across the Bontrager 24/12 weekend.

THE PROLOGUE.....KP wins Queen Faff title!

Thursday morning at 6am and I’m ready to roll....well almost. I decide I’m in need of a run before the 6hr drive down south. Ian reminds me that Cy will be arriving at 10am, plenty of time to faff. Before I know it the clock strikes 9:45am and I decide to finish packing. Luckily Cy is running late so I have more time to faff. Cy arrives an hour later and guess what I’m still packing. Naturally I’m the last to be ready, but the boys are talking bikes so I have time up my sleeve and quickly race back inside to ensure I haven’t forgotten anything. I just had this horrible feeling that I had forgotten something really important.....30 minutes later and I remember that I’m on a special course of these horrible looking iron tablets which must be taken for 30 days straight.....oops. However it takes me another 20 minutes to find the courage to ask Cy if we could possibly go back to Nottingham to collect them.....guess who is not in good books? Finally the Cotic Bontrager Racing Team that includes Cy, Paul and the Potters hit the road in the right direction. The time is 1:30pm and KP is not very popular....sorry.
Thursday evening after 6pm and the Cotic Bontrager Team pitch their tents, well Mr Potter rips our tent just in time for the rain. Cy has chosen a brilliant spot right in the centre of the camping area. At this point in time we feel like the entire grassy area belongs to the Cotic Bontrager Team as only a few other people have arrived early to set up camp. I’m desperate to move so head off for a walk leaving the boys to overdose on carbs and hydrate ready for the racing on Saturday....that be with a few bottles of beer and a healthy dose of pasta.
Friday morning, the sun is out in full force. I haven’t ridden my bike for two days and I’m desperate to check the course out. I round the boys up and we make our way around the 12km loop. The start involves a rough grassy straight that is a perfect section to warm up on, before heading to the first climb that leads to a flowing piece of single track beneath the trees....soooo nice. Then follows a short tarmac climb, before a bumpy wide trail that leads to another glorious piece of single track....may the fun begin! Already I’m battling my brain. Do I chase Ian down or do I conserve energy for the next day? There are some super fast corners and a couple of tighter bends around some trees, then a short section of wider trail before a super fast piece of single track, over a few roots, with a cool little switchback that drops on to another passing point....this is a yummy trail as I like to say! Then there is more fire road before my favourite section of woops....reminding me of a roller coaster ride.....yippees can be heard all round. Then a longer section of single track that drops on to a super fast fire road that leads to the river crossing; a successful attempt through the stream by all, but feet are feeling rather wet and the water is colder than I expected it to be. There is some more climbing to enjoy, where we check out some lines and make a few adjustments to the bikes to suit the course. A short fast rocky descent later concerns me as I hate sharp rocks and the last thing I want is to rip my tyres as I’m always the one who finds the sharpest rocks. However it’s soon forgotten when we hit the dual single track, racing each other to work out which trail is best. Then the course widens out and a fast grassy bumpy descent back down to the arena leaves the four of us smiling high. There is still about 500m before you head back through the timing point, and along the way there are a few bends where I attempt to block Ian by forcing him into the side, keeping elbows out in order to intimidate the ol’ guide...he is not intimidated in the slightest and pulls a wheelie just because he can...grrrr.
Friday afternoon and I settle back down at Cotic Bontrager camping headquarters (which has now expanded to include the AQR racing team and our friends from the Yeti crew) where I have the pleasure to chat to Keith Bontrager. The two of us talk racing, riding and living the life of mountain bikers who just love experiencing adventures by bike. Time flies when you’re having fun and soon it is time for more pasta, more water, a little head banging action as the rock band begin and then more sleep....I’m such a party animal. I leave the boys to party with the Trek crew as I can’t wait for the racing to begin tomorrow.

I nominate Ian to start because he looks like he has too much energy for his own good and needs to take a chill pill. Mr Potter is looking fired up, and is making the most of his new status as a racing diva rather than KP’s pit man....sorry Paul (our team mechanic who Ian is driving crazy). Ian is no stranger to the racing scene, but stopped racing seriously 15 years ago due to a chronic fatigue type illness that kept him off the bike for over three years. During that time Ian was a top expert racer, always just missing out on a podium place in a field of over 100 racers, except one day when he finished second.....but the weather was so bad that they cancelled the podium ceremony (doh!). Ian often reminisces about those racing days, even pulling out his bright purple and yellow lycra from the 80’s that he promises me was really cool back in the day....maybe. Since then he has raced 7 times over the past 15 years for a bit of fun, or rather because I have bullied him into it. Due to the nature of mountain bike guiding Ian doesn’t train properly, but every now and then he decides to accompany me up a long col out here in France and takes great pleasure in waiting for me at the top :) . Anyway to cut a long melodramatic story short I really hoped when Ian turned 40 he would catch the racing bug back again. For selfish reasons really as it's much better to say I can’t keep up with my hubby who is a top level Vet racer, rather than an ‘ol’ fat guide who wears faded fluorescent racing lycra from back in the day’, these are Ian’s words not mine, as he takes great satisfaction in beating me. To my delight Ian agreed to race me at Bontrager 24/12, yes race me, as I challenged him to a racing dual, even though we were on the same team. Fastest Potter average lap time over the 12hrs doesn’t have to do any housework for a month.

Anyway back to the racing. Ian had a great start and must have been in the top ten at the end of the starting loop. He was looking a bit too quick for his own good, but as he passed me he stuck his tongue out which meant he was cruising comfortably. The Potters were up against strong competition including the elite pairing of TORQ’s Ryan Sherlock and Mel Spath, national champion Jenny Copnall and partner Richard who called themselves ‘JC and Me’, plus local favourites Phil Morris and Madie Horton. I have to admit I didn’t think we would be strong enough as a pair to be close to these three teams, or to make it on the podium, especially as we decided to race equal laps. However we looked forward to the challenge and I was determined to see Ian become house keeper for a month.

The Potters weren’t doing too badly, in fact we were in second and doing much better than expected. For the first 6hrs we were within a minute to the leading TORQ duo, and at one point had gained a 20 second lead over them. Ian and I were feeling good and our lap times were consistent. As I expected Ian was 1-2 minutes quicker than me, but there was still 6hrs to go and I was saving myself for the second half of the race....I was determined to get out of the house work. On one lap I managed to keep Ryan in sight and knew Ian would be out against Mel so thought he might make up some more time. However Mel wasn’t too far behind when Ian came through at the end of his lap. I found out later that Mr Potter had ripped his tyre, and left his forks locked on by accident. As expected Ryan stormed passed me on the next lap, but then I experienced wobble on down an early descent and I heard somebody call out that my tyre was going down.....nooooooo! The strange thing was I kept thinking it was my rear tyre that was going down, but perhaps after 6hrs of racing my brain was feeling a bit muddled because when I stopped the rear one was rock hard, but the front tyre had only about 10 psi in it. Back at the camp Cy made the call, took my favourite tyre off and discovered all the latex had dried up and wasn’t sealing properly. I’m quite sentimental when it comes to my tyres and I really wanted to use the tyre I had started with. I think Cy sensed I was feeling a bit sad, but fortunately he sorted it in the nick of time and I started my next lap feeling like I had air in both my tyres :)

The second half of the race the Potters started to lose touch with the Torq duo. Ryan was riding two laps to Mel’s one, and though he was riding alot more laps than anyone else in the mixed category he seemed to look much stronger all of a sudden.....all that Torq fuel methinks. Then again I was using it too, so I guess it just comes down to Ryan being a very fast and efficient rider. It was pretty impressive. Ian and I made a few mistakes as we started to tire. Ian decided to ride the course again without any suspension and then twisted his rear hanger so that his gears were jumping all over the place. There was still less than 10 minutes in it, but then I decided to stop eating because nausea had set in. I couldn’t keep any food down. The frustrating thing is that the legs felt strong, and I loved riding the course, but the last three hours I wasn’t sure if I could keep going. Ian was finishing each lap and then riding over to the first bridge to cheer me on, but I felt terrible because Ian was still riding fairly consistently, still looking perky, but his darn wife was looking green and letting him looked like I would be house maid after all. I couldn’t face trying to ride a really fast lap as part of the ‘Queen of the Night’ competition, but then Ian encouraged me to push on so I tried to keep it smooth and went as hard as I could. On my 10th lap I was told we still held a comfortable lead over third place, but there was no way we were going to catch the Torq team who were too strong. I finished a cruisy 20th lap just after midnight in second place.....cheers all round!

Mr and Mrs Potter survived the 12hr mixed pair at the Bontrager 24/12. As a result the Cotic Bontrager Racing duo will not need marriage counselling after all, as it brought us closer together. Ian finally stood up on the podium after all those years of 80's race reminiscing, but this time it was alongside a wife, in much trendier AQR race strip than his battered purple and yellow lycra. I have accepted my role as house keeper for the next month, on the condition that Ian remembers that he is not a racing diva anymore and to revert back to his AQR guiding ways....until the next mixed event that comes our way of course.

Congratulations to all 24/12 competitors across the whole weekend, and a special mention to our friends A Quick Release.Com and Yeti for winning their categories. There must have been some magic surrounding our campsite, or just plenty of team spirit....even AQR rider Iain made it ‘til the end after illness and wife slamming his fingers in car door made the whole experience a memorable one for all of us.....perhaps you two should team up next year :)

Thankyou Martyn Salt, Keith Bontrager and the Inevent Team for another superb event, already looking forward to next year.

Plus special thankyou to Cy and Paul from Cotic who made up the racing team and who took great care of the Potters across the entire weekend.

Thanks to AQR's James Dymond for the mixed pairs podium shot....Ian is going to frame it.

As always Special thanks to –
Cotic –
Bontrager –
A Quick Release Holidays –
Torq & Torq Australia –
Magura Forks –
Hope –
Skins –

And co-sponsors Crank Brothers, SRAM, Catlike Helmets, Lumicycle, Bigfoot bags, 661 gloves, Sundog eyewear, Ergon bags and Purple Extreme Lubricants.

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