On Christmas Day I’d tried to cycled to Farellones, but given up after starting to get cramp due to dehydration on a savagely hot day. On New Year’s Day I tried again.
Again I planned to leave extremely early, and again I failed, but I failed a little bit less badly and I was on the road at 8.15am. And whereas last week I’d had the feeling quite early on in the ride that I might not make it, this week I felt right from the start that it was going to go well. It was strange to cycle the same route again so soon and a lot of the way to Corral Quemado felt pretty boring, but much easier than it had last week. Then, I had expected there to be lots of cyclists and there were almost none; this week I thought there would not be many and there were quite a few.
I got to Corral Quemado a bit more quickly than I had done last week. The weather was perfect, sunny and clear but still cool by 10am when I got there. So now the hard work started, and it was awesome. I powered up the first 8 curves, as last week, then found the section to curve 9 far easier and powered up the next 6 as well. Then began the long slow drag up to curve 15, which was way easier than last week, with no dehydration or cramp to contend with. I got to Yerba Loca at curve 15 and stopped to fill up my water bottles. There were a couple of other cyclists there, and some people out for a new year drive. “Tired?”, one of them asked me. “Nope”, I said. “Arrogant jerk”, he probably thought. But it was true. I didn’t feel at all tired and I knew I was going to make it to the top.
I refilled my water bottles and headed on. Things got tougher, with fewer hairpins and more long harsh gradients. And here there were lots of huge and vicious flies, which kept on biting me. I kept on wondering why I had a sudden sharp pain in my knuckles, only to look down and see another fat fly biting me through my gloves. But they were easy to deal with, unable to disengage before I swatted them. I must have killed hundreds.
After a long slow ride up with few hairpins, I reached curve 26, two miles from Farellones. I was getting slow at this point, tired but really loving the climb. 40 minutes after curve 26, I got to Farellones.
I had some lunch and then headed down. It had taken me 4h45m to get from my house to Farellones, and it took me 1h45m to get back. 3200m of climbing was a great way to start 2016.
Sadly the camera’s memory card filled up and the video stops at turn 28
It’s very dark at Paranal but there’s still background light that we can’t do anything about: the atmosphere itself glows at night. It can be surprisingly bright. Often it’s green, when oxygen atoms are glowing. It can be red, too, when nitrogen is responsible. And it can be orange, when sodium atoms are being excited. Tonight, it was extremely orange, looking a lot like streetlights on clouds, except there were no clouds, and there are definitely no streetlights near here. It got really strong while I was taking a time lapse and you can see huge waves in the upper atmosphere rippling.
On my second trip to La Silla, I had plenty of free time. We were observing for three nights, but the transport from La Serena to La Silla only goes three times a week, so we had to arrive three nights before our run started, and leave one night after. So, we did a lot of photography. I made this image by stacking 700 individual images, each of which was a 20s exposure at ISO 100, using a 24mm lens at f/1.4. I started the sequence about 45 minutes after sunset, so that there was still some twilight to light up the sky. The moon was full, so the telescopes and the desert got illuminated by that.
Paranal does the majority of its work in service mode, where we, the observatory staff, carry out observations that have been requested and designed by other astronomers. This has the advantage that if they need certain weather conditions, then we simply wait until we have conditions as good or better than needed and take the observations then. But for the astronomers to come and carry out their own observations also has its advantages – they can see much better how the observatory works, and make sure the data is exactly as they want it. But though the weather is good here at least 90 per cent of the time, there’s still a chance that a visitor will get no data at all. That happened tonight, and it was sadder than usual because it was Christmas night. People had travelled thousands of miles to be away from friends and families, in the hope of better understanding some of the mysteries of the universe in compensation, but it was cloudy for most of the night and we couldn’t do any observing at all.
From our first sighting it took us almost another hour to get to a good viewing point. The ground was so slippery it was unbelievable, but eventually we reached the crest of a hill, and there before us was the fissure. We could see three craters, one with a constantly frothing lava fountain, and two more where occasional explosions showered the ground around them with hot rocks. The seven jeeps in the convoy left their engines running, and a howling gale was blowing, and we couldn’t hear any noise from the volcano at all. It was viciously cold. I quickly trained a video camera on the volcano, and then stepped away from the jeep to take in the view.
It was incredible. Words can’t describe and photos can’t possibly capture what it is like to see a volcano erupting. We stayed there for almost an hour, watching the spraying lava. While we were there, a small lava flow at the foot of the new cone suddenly began to grow dramatically. Strange blue flames flickered over the two intermittent craters. Meanwhile, the wind whipped snow into our faces, and even though I was wearing two coats, two pairs of gloves, two scarves and a hat, I still felt freezing.
I climbed up a small hill and listened to some Sigur Rós on my mp3 player. The epic music made the epic view even more impressive. But all too soon it was time to head back down. Árni gave me a shout at about 10pm, and I headed back to the jeep. I slipped on some ice on the way, smacking my shin on a rock and giving myself a souvenir bruise to take home. With a last glance at the show, I reluctantly got back into the jeep, ready for the long journey back to Reykjavík.
Six weeks after the muddy horrors of Mountain Mayhem, we were back on the race track, returning to Catton Park in Derbyshire for our second go at Sleepless In The Saddle. Last year we’d covered 24 laps, finishing about two thirds of the way down the field in our class. With 36 hours more competitive racing under our belts, we were hoping to do better.
So Mayhem had been disgustingly wet and muddy. Surely SITS would be like last year – a sunny weekend in the midst of the wettest summer the UK had ever seen. Sadly, no: the forecast was similar to Mayhem – it would be deceptively sunny on the Friday, start to rain some time on Saturday, be apocalyptic during the night, and then be sunny again on Sunday. It was so deceptively sunny on Friday that I just couldn’t believe there would be rain, and this made it all the more heartbreaking when the rain arrived right on schedule, a couple of hours before the start. We listened to the rider briefing huddled under an umbrella.
Eldrik got us under way at 2pm, and set a blazing pace. When he got back, he was coated from head to toe in mud, but he’d enjoyed it, and we were in the top 20. Ian went out second, and maintained our position, but the mud was getting a bit stickier and Ian was much less enthusiastic than Eldrik had been. Andrew and I went third and fourth, and we were about 20 minutes slower than Eldrik had been as the mud thickened.
By nightfall we were running around 40th out of 160 teams in our class. It was heavy going on course, but it seemed that the worst of the rain had passed, and it would be mostly drizzle throughout the night. Ian came in from a lap pretty much at nightfall, and then Andrew went out. By now the mud was making the course every bit as unridable as Mayhem had been, and Andrew’s lap took just over two hours. When he came back, astonishingly, he was keen to go out for another – our plan was to do doubles in the night. Eldrik, Ian and I cleaned up his bike while he grabbed a quick bite to eat, and off he went into the dark muddy night. Almost three hours later he was back – it was a heroic stint, at a time when the course was almost deserted as willpower dissolved in the rain.
And then it was my turn. Just like Mayhem, I was heading out at 3am, and just like Mayhem it was filthy mud from the start. But the first two miles here were fire road, which was a lot easier than Mayhem’s vicious climb followed by single track. The fire road had a slick layer of mud about two inches thick on it, and I slopped through, powering past quite a few riders. My mud tyres were working nicely but it was still pretty slippery. I called out “on your left” at one point only to lose the front end and almost hurl myself off as I corrected. “On your right, sorry…”, I said, and slid by.
In the forest, for the first half of the lap, things were quite ridable and I didn’t have to spend too much time pushing the bike. But later in the lap things were more and more muddy, and eventually I was spending most of my time pushing. Trudging through the woods at Mayhem had been the least fun thing I’d ever done voluntarily, but this was worse if anything. The utter lack of fun was compounded by outrage at the sheer stupidity of doing this for a second time. After the first half of the lap I thought I might get around in less than two hours, but as the second half dragged on I realised I’d be lucky to make it in three.
Few people were riding. All the talk on track was about how we couldn’t believe it was turning out the same as Mayhem. Towards the end of the lap things were getting a tiny bit more sensible, and after a stop to pull lumps of mud out of my wheels, gears and brakes, I jumped on to ride up the last long climb of the lap. But there was a nasty crunch from the rear as soon as I pushed, and my rear mech hanger had snapped. I was going to have to push all the way to the end.
At the bottom of the long descent into the arena, a South African by the trackside asked me what it was like out there. It was his turn for a lap, and he was looking for excuses not to go out. I was happy to give them – unless you had really skinny mud tires and a huge masochistic streak, lapping right now just wasn’t fun. I said if he was here to challenge for positions he should go out, but if he was just here for fun then leave it for an hour or two. The Sun had just risen, and there were blue skies overhead, so things would be looking up before too long.
Finally I got back to the finish line. My lap came in at a few seconds over three hours. I pushed back to the van, hurled my bike down in disgust and went to bed. It was 6am.
Ian was pretty happy with the way things had turned out. He’d got a good night’s sleep, he hadn’t had to do any night riding at all, and now he was due on course just as things were cleaning up a bit. He did two laps in slightly less time than my one had taken. Despite the conditions and my mechanical failure, we were still running about 45th. Our aim now was to maintain that and finish in the top third.
By midday, with just two hours left to go, the weather was uncannily similar to Mayhem and strong winds were drying the course. Andrew went out for a fifth lap at about 12.45. We weren’t sure whether he’d get back in time for someone to go for another, but he appeared on the back straight just before 2pm. I told him to go for it, he could make it back to the start, and off he went, suddenly finding enough energy to overtake three people on a sharp climb and power off around the final few corners. But sadly, just as he was overtaking the third person I heard the hooter go. The race was over.
Our final position was 44th out of 146. We’d held onto a top third position, and put in our best performance yet in a race. I vowed never, ever to ride in such ridiculous conditions ever again, and hoped that our next race in October would be a dry one. After all, it had never yet rained at Dusk ’til Dawn…
I guess there are two clues in the name of this event. Even so, the amount of mayhem at our second 24 hour race was far greater than we could have imagined. Steve had emigrated back to Australia since our last event, so the team this time consisted of me, Andrew, Eldrik, and Ian who Eldrik and I had known at school.
Before the start
Our preparation for this event was better than ever before. I had not bought a bike just the day before, I’d been riding lots and I was much fitter than I had been for our previous races. And we managed to get out of London early. The journey there was enlivened only by Andrew’s constant struggles to get the van into fifth gear, and a brief confusing detour through a small town in Oxfordshire due to roadworks.
At the site we drove around looking for a spot to camp, but it was already quite busy. The spot we ended up in looked far from ideal at first, seemingly miles away from any water and a long way from the start. But it only seemed like miles from the start because of the windy road we’d driven in on, and in fact there was water just at the bottom of the field. Not only that, but shower blocks as well.
We set up camp. Improvements over previous outings were one tent each, two stoves instead of one, and a big blue inflatable rubber sofa. The only drawback with the sofa was that it took a couple of hours of strenuous pumping to inflate it. I hardly had any recovery time from that before we set out for a pre-ride of the course.
On our pre-ride we quickly perceived a difference between this and previous events. Dusk ’til Dawn in Norfolk is obviously pretty flat, and Sleepless In The Saddle in Derbyshire only had a few short sharp climbs. But this course had a brutal 385m of climbing per lap, most of it concentrated into two vicious hills near the start. We shifted down into very low gear and spun up the first hill, enjoyed a little bit of single track downhill through the woods, then tackled the second climb. After that, the rest of the course was pretty straightforward, with just some nasty off-camber single track to worry about. I wasn’t looking forward to the hills during the race, but at least we’d managed to pre-ride the entire course – something we hadn’t managed before.
Friday had seen glorious sunshine, but Saturday morning dawned grey and threatening. All the weather forecasts we’d seen were predicting apocalyptic rain at some point during the 24 hours. Andrew decided to take on the Le Mans-style start, and so at 2pm he lined up with a few hundred other people to get our campaign under way. I watched from around the first corner, amused to see the people at the front trying to sprint the 400m back to their bikes, while people at the very back just sauntered around, obviously taking a ‘marathon not sprint’ attitude. I didn’t see him go by but I presumed Andrew was somewhere in the middle.
Just over two hours later, Andrew was back and Ian went out. Ian had arrived late on Friday, and hadn’t had time to pre-ride the course, but this didn’t stop him from setting a blistering pace. He was so quick, in fact, that before I’d even started to psyche myself up for my two laps and go over to the arena for the changeover, he was racing towards the camp shouting at me to get out there. I rushed out onto the track.
After a quick easy sweep through the arena, all too quickly I was at the base of the climb, looking up at a terrifying angle. Down the gears I went, and slowly up the slope I slogged. But once the first climb was out of the way, the rest of the lap seemed easy in comparison. A bit of drizzle had made the course pretty slick, and I did have one high-speed off going round an off-camber left-hander, but otherwise there wasn’t too much mayhem to be had at this stage. I completed my two laps in just over two hours, and handed over to Eldrik. Eldrik had no major problems, the apocalyptic rain was not around just yet, and the early part of the night went as smoothly as could be expected. At about 10pm, we had all completed the two laps required for our team to be counted in the results, and Andrew went out for his second stint.
At about 11pm, I was sitting in the van updating our whiteboard with the lap times we’d done so far, when rain began drumming on the rooftop. It quickly got heavier, and soon enough it was apparent that the much-feared apocalyptic conditions had arrived at the worst possible time. I hoped Andrew was doing alright out on the course. Suddenly he was back at the camp. He dived into the porch of his tent and began furiously stuffing his face with jaffa cakes. He hadn’t taken a lot of food with him and said he needed some more fuel for a second lap. But before he could swallow the eight jaffa cakes, Ian emerged from his tent, all ready to go out for a stint, and decided to head out.
I was up next. Rain was hammering down, and lightening was flashing around the skies. I wondered what the chances were that they would red flag the race and save me from a lap of misery. Suddenly Ian appeared back at the camp. He’d done one lap, but needed to change tyres to an extreme mud set. As he started sorting this out, I decided that rather than waste time I might as well get going. What I didn’t consider was that I had a mud tyre on the rear but not on the front, and I was going out into the muddiest conditions you could ever get in a mountain bike race.
With the error of my ways yet to become apparent, I headed out. The rain had died down a bit, and the course through the arena was slippery but not horrifically muddy. The first climb was actually quite fun. I overtook a few people going up, and the track was grippy, gravelly and dry. But then I hit the single track. Within seconds, the mud was so thick that riding was impossible, so I got off and pushed. After three quarters of a mile of pushing I was not particularly enjoying my lap, but it soon got worse. The mud was so thick that even just pushing my bike became impossible. Every couple of minutes I had to pull great lumps of mud out of the front and rear wheels, just to be able to push the bike.
I was close enough to the start of the course that I thought about giving up there and then. But the rules say you can’t do that so I carried on. Earlier at the camp site I’d spoken to a Welsh guy who said him and his team mates weren’t bothered by the mud, as they cycled in the Welsh forests every weekend and were used to these conditions. Now I met him again, walking back down the trail saying “This is ridiculous! I’m giving up!”. But I pressed on, painfully slowly. I met another person on the trail who was offering to sell his full suspension bike for three pounds, so useless was it in tackling the seas of gloop.
A long section of single track on a fairly steep slope was the nadir of my lap. I moved out of the way of one of the few people still riding, and slid slowly down into the bracken. It was almost impossible to climb back up, and I spent a miserable twenty minutes or so struggling to get me and my bike out of the woods and back onto the track.
I’d gone out at 3am. By 5am I had covered just four miles, and it was getting light. The rain had stopped, and the dawn light was beautiful, but I was not appreciating it at all. I was angrily thinking that this was the least fun thing I had ever done of my own free will. I fractured my skull once, and even that was probably less unpleasant because I hardly remember any of it. After four and a half miles, I reached a part of the course that was just about ridable, and rode the half mile back to the arena. I decided I wasn’t going to spend potentially another two hours out on course to do the second half, so I broke all the rules and quit my lap.
I went to bed, and slept deeply. I wasn’t planning on doing any more riding unless conditions improved drastically. But Eldrik had two mud tyres and set out. Although the rain had now stopped, high winds were now battering the area. Apparently, though, this dried out the course remarkably quickly, and most of the course was now ridable. But disaster struck on Eldrik’s second lap when he came off his bike, hit his elbow on a rock, and cut himself deeply. He had to be picked up in a quad bike and ferried off for medical treatment, which turned out to be 18 stitches.
That clearly ruled Eldrik out of any further proceedings. Fortunately, the track was dry and rideable now, and the last few hours of the race were much less horrific. Ian did two more laps, Andrew did one more and then at about 1pm I finally got up, and went out for what would be the final lap of the race. My team mates were all telling me that the course was totally fine, but with 4am mud-walking memories still fresh, I didn’t entirely believe them.
But in fact, they were right. The wind had dried out the course, and I really enjoyed my last lap. I took my mp3 player and some mini speakers, and listened to tunes as I did the nine miles in about an hour and a half. It was great fun doing the last lap, coming into the arena with crowds of people spectating, but embarrassingly, as I came around the final corner onto the start-finish straight, my chain fell off. I leapt off and finished the race pushing my bike at a sprint.
We had done 15 laps, and our total climb between us was some 6,545 metres. We had hoped to do an aggregate climb of more than the height of Everest, and we would have made it had it not been for the hellish mud and Eldrik’s major elbow injury. In our class, we finished 144th out of 246, and if we’d have entered in the class above we’d have been 27th out of 60.
We packed up wearily, with the blue sofa taking hours to deflate. Our bikes were all still caked in mud but no-one felt like cleaning them now. My night lap had been an extremely unpleasant experience, but now the race was over I was already looking forward to Sleepless in the Saddle in seven weeks time.
Two years after our first outing, we returned to the forests of Norfolk, hoping to put our SITS experience to good use and improve on our 2005 performance here. Surely, after we’d finished a 24 hour race, a 12 would be easy?
In 2005, ridiculously, we’d arrived barely two hours before the start. We found ourselves camping miles from the arena, we didn’t have time to ride more than a couple of miles of the course, and basically we were terribly ill-prepared. We did much better this time, making an early start out of London and arriving at the course at a sensible time. We’d only been able to get hold of a small-ish van, and Eldrik had taken one for the team by volunteering to get the train up instead of joining me, Steve and Andrew in the van. Thanks to his efforts, we already had a great camping spot bagged by the time we arrived.
We managed to pre-ride half the course this time, and it seemed infinitely better than the 2005 course. That had been fairly monotonous and flat, and was just a long circuit that went out into the forest, wound around for 11 miles, and then came back into the arena. This year’s course looped back in twice, breaking up the lap nicely, and also went through six bombholes – lots of fun in the daytime but a slightly worrying prospect for the night.
The 2005 race had been in September, and had started with just a little bit of light in the sky at 8pm. This year’s was in October, and it started an hour earlier but night had long fallen by the time Eldrik lined up to do our first lap. The race got underway with a rolling start, to spread out the field a bit, but just around the first corner some people got entangled and triggered a minor pile-up. Luckily Eldrik was already through, and he got us off to a great start by coming round in 56m54s, placing us 15th out of 53.
Steve and Andrew were out second and third, and put in some solid laps – Steve’s interrupted by a high-speed fireroad crash but still a decent time. I was the last rider to go out, and was looking forward to my lap, not least because I was on a brand new bike. This was not ideal for preparation, but my previous bike had been stolen a couple of weeks before the race. I bought a new one on the evening before the race, and now, barely 24 hours later, I was giving it its first proper workout.
Everything went pretty well for about eight miles. I got through the first bombhole with no problems, then flew through the second and caught a whole load of air on the exit. I looped through the arena in good time, gave my team mates a wave and then headed back into the forest. A couple of miles on, disaster struck – without really knowing what happened, I suddenly found myself heading groundward with my bike following rapidly behind. After a couple of startled seconds lying on the trail, I picked myself up and moved to the side. Then I noticed two forlorn pools of light on the trail. Both my lights had been ripped from their brackets.
I managed to get one of the lights fairly well fixed on again, but the other one was properly broken. After a few minutes to catch my breath I got back on the bike and covered the last three miles of the course as quickly as I could. I was pleased that I still managed to overtake a couple of people, despite a painful knee and limited lighting.
Back at the arena, I handed over to Eldrik, and then investigated my injuries. I had a pretty decent cut on my knee, and went off to a medical tent to get it cleaned up. Eldrik did his second lap in just over an hour, and then Steve was out for his second. Unfortunately, trouble struck for Steve when his light batteries started to run low, and he had to do most of the lap with the lights in flashing mode. This is not an ideal way to cycle through a forest in pitch darkness.
Andrew’s second lap was quick, and then theoretically it was my turn again. But in the three hours since I’d crashed, my knee had become painful enough that I couldn’t bend it at all easily, and I decided that my race was run. Steve was also now suffering the effects of his earlier high speed crash, and he wasn’t sure if he could do any more. While we grumbled about our wounds, Eldrik went out for a third lap.
By the time he came back, Steve and I had both decided we were out of action. Andrew needed more rest before he could go out for a third, so unfortunately an hour and a half passed with no-one from our team on the track. By 6am I wondered if Andrew was really going to be up for another lap – I remembered two years ago waking up at 6.30am with the idea of doing another lap, feeling horrific and deciding emphatically against it. But he roused himself, jumped on the bike, and went out for a swansong lap. It was getting light when he started, and day had more or less broken by the time he finished, just a few minutes after the 12 hours was up.
So in the end, we did nine laps between us, covering about 105 miles. We had a rider on course at the end of the race, unlike last time, but still had not managed to have a rider on course throughout the entire race. But it was more experience gained and a fun end to our racing season (of two races). As the sun rose over the forest, we wearily packed everything up, and by 2pm we were ready to go. Eldrik had to cycle back to Brandon station and I didn’t envy him at all. Next year we’ll get a bigger van, and hopefully our incremental improvement will continue. We might even finish in the top half.
Our first attempt at an endurance race had ended ignominiously in retirement after 70 miles, when our target had been 120. So having failed to complete a 12 hour race, obviously the logical thing to do is enter a 24 hour event and see how that goes. Working in our favour was a comprehensive upgrading of bikes and lights for all of us, and the experience of D2D which taught us to get to the venue more than two hours before the start of the race.
We left London on a Friday morning in August. The team was the three of us who had done D2D, plus Steve who had cycled across Costa Rica with Eldrik the previous year. The race was in Derbyshire, and after an easy drive up there we found the venue and set up camp. An early mishap was the back of deckchair falling apart, pitching Steve unexpectedly out the back of it. A second mishap was that Eldrik had drastically over-estimated the size of his tent. If it was genuinely a two-man tent, it was for two very small men. I slept in the back of the van.
Race morning saw us up early, and out on the course for a pre-ride. Here, Steve’s bad luck continued with his crank unexpectedly and very unhelpfully falling off after only a couple of miles. Someone with a set of Allen keys soon passed by, so Steve put the crank back on and carried on. Mechanicals aside we were feeling good, and as 2pm and the start of the race approached, I hardly felt terrified at all.
The race started with a Le Mans-style run to the bikes. Eldrik took it on, and got us underway a few minutes after 2pm. Andrew took the second stint and I went out third. We were each doing two laps, and I did mine in just under two hours. I had a fun ride, overtaking a few people and managing not to fall off in the single-track. There was one steep descent that gave me the fear on both laps, but I made it down unscathed. By the time I got back for Steve to go out it was about 7pm.
As Eldrik went out for his second pair of laps it was getting dark. The day had been beautiful and sunny and it looked like in the middle of the worst summer for years we might actually avoid rain. Andrew got his two laps out the way, and it was my turn to get out on course again at about 12.30am. It was a whole different atmosphere now – the friendly banter of the early hours had been replaced by short and to the point on-your-rights, and the occasional “alright?” when passing fallen riders. About twenty minutes into my first lap, to my horror, I felt some spots of rain. I couldn’t believe it – it had been such a nice day. I hoped it would pass, and it was still dry in the forest sections, but by the time I was in the open air again it was noticeably heavier. By the end of the lap it was a steady drizzle.
The second lap saw the rain get heavier and heavier, and parts of the course were pretty treacherous. In a set of S-bends swinging into and out of a small depression I misjudged my gears, ran out of momentum, fell off and slid muddily back into the bottom of the depression. But other than that I made it around again with no problems. Steve looked perhaps not as enthusiastic to start his stint as he had the first time, and it turned out he had a nightmare when his lights failed half way around. After a lap of frequent offs he decided he wasn’t up for another one, and Eldrik went out again, having hurriedly got ready after being woken half an hour earlier than he’d expected.
By the time Eldrik got back from his third stint, the rain had stopped and dawn had broken. We’d made it through the night, and we had just over eight hours to go. But Andrew hadn’t slept well and said he couldn’t ride again without a bit more sleep. None of the rest of us were fit to ride again, so we ended up having a two hour break with no-one out on track. This was a bit disappointing, but we’d always thought it was possible – in a 24 hour race, problems are inevitable.
After the two hour break, it was my turn again. This lap would prove to be my last – I was starting to get major knee pains, and a cramped sleep in the back of the van probably hadn’t helped. By the end of the lap I knew I couldn’t do another, so I handed over to Steve a lap early. He did his two laps with no problems, relieved that it wasn’t dark and he didn’t need a light any more. When he got back Andrew was fit to go, and by the time he got back from his stint, there were just 45 minutes left until the end of the 24 hours.
Eldrik went out for a fourth stint, and he was a man on a mission. Somehow he managed to put in a 40 minute lap – the fastest of any of us and even faster than his very first lap, 23 hours previously. He got around with two minutes to spare before the 24 hours elapsed, and set off for another. After 24 hours and 48 minutes, he was back and our race was done. We’d done 24 laps. Had it not been for the time with no-one on track, we would have done at least another two and might have squeezed a third in. We were pretty pleased with the result of our first 24 hour race.