Back from red bull. Trina, anja and myself headed down with a surprisingly efficient packed car to ledbury, southern england for the 11th staging of the Mountain Mayhem. I joined team mates keith b, chipps and brian and set up camp. Brian had broken his wrist riding the course, so chipps had set up a few ringers to take some of the strain, but i guess we werent entirely serious about our placing so no worries.
After the usual late night with friends, which turned into an early morning and a wobbly walk back to the tent, we arose to sunshine and hurried preparations for the race start. Unfortunately, pat adams, larger than life organising legend was in hospital so after a quick rules and regs by chipps, off we all went.
As usual the le mans start was a pretty horrific affair with elbows out, acid in the throat and stiff soled running shoes knocking the feet to bits. After getting on the bike, i had the pleasure of riding with phil moore for the initial part of the lap, and then we hit the technical stuff and the traffic started.
A bench cut narrow single track had been cut out of the clay hill side after a series of steps on a built up section of trail. A tricky right hander was the entry and the exit was guarded by gnarly old trees with sharp branches.
Needless to say, the traffic here was pretty severe, and the alarm bells were ringing for the almost inevitable rain.
Laps progressed, food eaten, ringers found and a few pretty quick laps, with less efficient handovers followed. Then at 10 pm after i had dropped a thin wind proof off at the camp site to head out again, BAM! the heavens opened. The course had been increasingly slidey and sticky (yes, both! its a magical property of clay...) but the rain made everything go bananas. It took extreme power to drive the gear up the hills, with the rear slipping constantly and the technical stuff began to deteriorate. At one point, keith needed to lassoo a tree with his front wheel in order to get back up to a walkable section after spending 5 minutes doing some form of mc escher routine of trying to climb up only to slide down again. Hideous, but sort of challenging and perhaps a glimmer of fun in there.
At 3.30am, we called it a night, as double laps were becoming very tough and without those, any rest was out of the question in the rain.
Needless to say, in true mayhem tradition, the sun came out and the latter stages of the race were glorious and the sunday night again gave us all chance to bbq food, chew the fat and drink the left over beers.
After last years mud bath, i said never again. Well, seems i wasnt speaking sooth...there is a papuan tradition in the chimbu region to cover the face with mud in order to celebrate the dead...i dunno, maybe there is something in that...