Bontrager Twentyfour12

Bontrager Twentyfour12

Home » Mountain Bike (MTB)

Days leading up to the race were awash with torrential rain leaving parts of Newnham sodden, so decisions were made early on to reroute parts of the 14km course taking out the soggiest bits and replacing them with some epic descents, masses of sinuous singletrack and a couple of killer hills, oh and not forgetting the water crossing which is synonymous with racing at Newnham, it just wouldn't be the same if you weren't expected to splash through the fast flowing water! For those much happier with dry feet there was an alternative option of a bridge.

Twentyfour12 is a race within a race within a race, with three main events running concurrently! Starting at 12pm Saturday were the main field consisting of hundreds of competitors stretched over 19 categories, racing either for 12 or 24 hours - or in the case of one rider both! Then come midnight as riders come home to beer and mech needed sleep, the Torchbearers set off in pursuit of dark trails, pedals pounding in the still of the night.

Despite the grim weather we've been experiencing in our supposedly sizzling BBQ summer, the outlook for the race was good, with crisp blue skies dotted with faint fluffy clouds offering a perfect backdrop to this popular event.

For many the 24hr/12 hr enduro is the chance to partake as part of a team of friends and family in an almost festival like feel. Mountain biking at it's friendliest best. Some riders were taking it seriously but most were just relishing in the chance to test their skills on some of the UK's best XC trails.

Forget riding in ever decreasing circles around flat mud strewn fields - at Newnham riders take in many strength sapping climbs, with the rewards of a superb view back towards the event village knowing that what goes up must come down...eventually! Diving off into Bluebell Woods riders were greeted with masses of singletrack weaving effortlessly trough the fairytale like terrain, ancient silver birch reaching skyward, sunlight filtering magically through leafy canopies, highlighting thread like trails that ducked and dived, up and down in and out, weaving a complicated spiders web of mountain bikers as they went in search of that elusive transition line...

Highlights of the course had to be of course the DJ's at the bottom of the notorious Cliff Bar Climb, the endless rhythmic beats adding and abetting hundreds of weary riders as they slowly made their way to the peak. Tunes were picked up too as riders hurtled back to base via the shooting grounds, where fortunately no one was practising! Then it was a quick choice of wet and dry, as the river crossing loomed large, before a last singletrack blast heading to the final climb. Then it was a quick and welcome descent into the tented village the end very nearly in sight!

For the soloists it was a time to either keep going or a quick pit stop before heading out again and again, for those on teams it was a chance to hand over and relax until it was their turn again.... A time to recoup and recharge and fill up on carbs and maybe a bit of sleep.

The solo categories are possibly the ultimate test for rider and machine, overcoming physical/ mental and mechanical demons in pursuit of pushing yourself that bit harder. One rider who wanted to test himself further than before, was enduro specialist Anthony White, smarting from his close defeat at Mountain Mayhem just weeks ago, White gave himself a double challenge, racing both the 12 hr and the 24hr solo. The idea being he would push himself hard in the race for the 12 and then see if he could hang on for the 24! Utter madness!

With James Lister, Josh Ibbett and Adrian Scot in the mix it wasn't going to be a walk over for his first 12 hours though. Lister started as he always does, fast. His speed on a par with riders in teams, he consistently churned out sub 50 minute laps increasing his lead every lap until he clocked up a resounding 17 lap total to take his third win of the event. White realised by the ten hour mark that he was on a hiding to nothing trying to stay with Lister and eased back his race, concentrating instead on his 24 hour campaign. He scored 16 laps to take second, while Adi Scott racked up 15 to take third.

In the women's 12 hour solo, the only drama was in the vet's field with leader Lydia Gould, face planting on a descent, knocking herself for six and covering herself in blood. Battered and cruised she carried on to take the win a clear three laps ahead Anne Pitman. In the Open Women's 12 hour solo Meggie Bichard continued her winning ways by adding this win to her growing tally of endurance victories. Colin Smith racked up his second win in the vets 12 hr solo after a tough battle with Patrick Meldrum, he just had enough in the bag to get to the finish line before 12 to eek out another lap to raise his tally to 14.

The 24 hour solo race had the look of a possible grudge match with Mayhem winner Matt Page coming up against Ant White yet again with Ian Leitch thrown into the mix for good measure. Carrying on into the night, White already knew both his main rivals had pulled out, leaving Iain Payne and Trevor Allen to try and wear him down. During the next 12 hours he clocked up another 11 laps his pace slowing considerably towards the end, but he'd done enough to hang on and with just one lap clear he took the win from Payne whilst Allen came home in third a further two laps adrift.

Riding her first 24hr solo Sally Daws pushed her boundaries to take a convincing win one lap clear of rival Lorraine Staley, all good preparation for her Ironman race sometime next year.

Torq more or less cleaned up in every category they'd entered taking wins in the 12 hour men's solo, open team, mixed pairs, mixed team and women's veteran solo categories.

This left just a few categories for taking including the women's pairs which was eagerly snapped up by enduro specialists Sally Bigham and Myriam Saugy, though pushed all the way by Ako Ducati pairing of Carla Haines and Nicola Duggan.

As soon as midnight was chimed in it was time to end one race but start another and while hundreds went onto to celebrate with beer and sleep 30 hardy souls joined the affray taking up the challenge of the Torchbearer, joining the trails with those midway on their 24hr challenge. Chris Peddar took control of the solo race pounding out a rapid 14 laps. while the boys of Progression Fitness made the journey south well worth while taking the men's pairs, outwitting Boywonder and the Comeback Kid along the way.

As dawn broke, all eyes were nervously looking at the dull grey skies, crossing everything in the hope that the dreaded rain would just hold off till the end. However with just two hours left it began, the dreaded downpour, which refused to abate, riders just gritted their teeth and got on with the job in hand.

West Drayton MBC took a comfortable win in the mixed pairs 24 clocking up 28 laps, whilst their team mates went on to take another win this time in the women's pairs. London Phoenix Chix made it four wins out of four as they brought home the women's 24 hour open race churning out 26 laps; seven more than their race last year. Defending their title from last year were the 24 hour men's pairs representing Back on Tracks, after 30 laps they happily took that title home for another year.

The closest race of the day had to be the men's 24 hour team where the top three teams all finished with 35 laps and no more than 14 minutes separating them. In the end it was XCRacer who pipped the master team of Morvelo, who in turn pipped the singlespeeding Trek 69ers. The team that out did them all though were local team Certini, priding themselves on having riders selected from the local area, they brought to mind the phrase, ‘a local race, for local people...'

This mixed team of four clocked up an impressive 36 laps, with mountain bike Queen Maddie Horton picking up Queen of the Night along the way for the fastest female night lap, making the Certini crew probably the most successful of the day! King of the night completed he tally of wins for the Torq crew with Anthony O'Boyle blasting his way round to pick up the title and a grand set of lights thanks to Exposure.

Despite the continuing rain, riders crowded round the podiums to cheer on the worthy winners, all happy if not a bit tired, another successful Twentfour/12 that even a bit of weather couldn't put a dampener on. See you next year for more of the same, fun with a capital F!

James Lister - 12hr solo

It was very hard out there, it was quite hilly so that made it hard, but I love climbing so the hillier the better as it suits me! I felt good from the start and went off quickly as normal and just kept going with a good pace. Ant White was my real competition but he was riding both the 12 and the 24hr! I kept a good distance gaining about 4 mins per lap. Ant was racing the 12 and trying to hang on for the 24 but I think he backed off after about 10hrs when I guess he realised he wasn't going to win the 12hr. It was good for me to be pushed like that and with Josh and Adrian out there too it was a good race.

Lydia Gould - 12 solo vet women
I was feeling so good at the start of this one I went out like a bat out of hell and tried to ride it like a 6hr and after about 3 hrs I started to feel the hills! It didn't help that I had a huge crash and stunned myself a bit but I got over that and loved it in the end. I think I turned a few heads riding round with all that blood on my face, but it was all just from a tiny cut on my nose, that bled like anything and of course just got smeared everywhere.
Despite the crash it was an excellent course it was good to see they made the right decisions regarding the course and the weather it made sure it was 100% ridable, but very enjoyable.

Tim Dunford - Torq 12 men's Open team
24/12 was my first enduro style event for a while and I was well motivated for it. Teamed up with Nick Collins, Anthony O'Boyle and Ben Thomas. A couple of good laps and we had a nice gap, plus some "healthy" competition between team mates meant we pushed each other on.
As midnight approached we had a fairly comfortable lead but with a few minutes to go Nick tore into the arena leaving poor Ben to start his 6th lap much to the amusement of his team mates. So while he valiantly rode on we did the supportive thing and cracked open the beers! Overall, a great event. A massive thanks to the other riders for moving over, even when I couldn't decide between left and right. Finally, a massive thanks to the organisers and the marshals for such a well organised event.

Mel Spath - Mixed 12 hr
Successfully defended title from last year.
The course was harder than last year very tough, it felt really greasy so you felt your tyres were being held back all the time and the Cliff Bar climb that was just evil and every lap I was conserving energy with that in mind. You were on the rivet virtually all the way round. It was fun, but so much harder not helped by the fact I wasn't feeling too well, I felt I was just surviving this race. It would have been a very close race if Kate and Ian where here again, I'm glad in a way that they weren't!

Ryan Sherlock - mixed 12hr
That was a really fun race Mel and I enjoyed the race last year so we looked forward to coming back to have another go. 12 hours is a long event but not too long that you take ages to recover from it and we enjoy riding as a pair. It was a similar experience to last year the course was different but it was still perfect. We tried to use the male pairs as a benchmark for the 4-man team and also ourselves too, but Torq had a very good team and I don't think I could have kept that pace for long! We actually did get ahead of them at one point but by Mel's last lap the got past and they got us by 2mins in the end. After the collarbone it was actually nice to be able to ride my bike for 7 hours!!

Jay Horton - Mixed 24hr
Maddie, our cycling ‘Queen' organised the team to perfection it's been fantastic and of course she's been a valuable part of the team too. We had a good race we ended up beating the men's 24 hr team by quite a margin in the end. We beat our rivals by 3 laps and it's getting a bit embarrassing really! Obviously we're delighted! The team is comprised of all local riders, 5 chancers having a go. We were all well motivated throughout the race, which is brilliant, even after 24hrs we're still sprinting out of the transition. The course was awesome, Newnham is always good and it was a good decision to take the moorland section out as that was literally under water. I do know why I've never ridden 24 hr races before; it's that 3am moment when you're expected to drag yourself out of a warm sleeping bag to do your lap. But it's awesome now it's time for that bacon and egg bap!

Sally Daws - 24hr solo
For my first 24hr that was tough, it was good fun for at least the first 6 hours and I think I got a bit carried away and went off in race mode and then realised I needed to settle down a bit. I nearly lost my sense of humour at around 2am, but I got over that and just kept going. The course designer made it particularly tough especially the climbs, that Cliff Bar climb was a killer. I had no idea how I was going, I just went out and did my own thing and told my support crew not to tell me where I was until near the end. I have to say it's enjoyable as I've another 24hr event coming up in 2 weeks.

Charlie Wigfall- XCRacer 24hr mens
This is the second year in a row that we won this which is pretty good, A great race and very hard the 69ers certainly gave us a run for our money, the key part was not sending me out again too many times as that's when we lost all the time when I was out there! Hard race with a few mechanicals thrown in for good luck, along with one broken rider, it was a toughie, but I think pretty much all of the teams suffered some hardships out there. The course was excellent much harder than anything else we ride in the UK this makes it much more enjoyable. Being an established course it's always going to hold up to any conditions and it proved it this weekend. Excellent fun!

Maddie Horton - Queen of the Night
The course was great it pre rode very well and then it just got greasy which made it more difficult. There were lots of riders around, it was difficult to get past and difficult to stay upright, but it was fun, it always is here!
It was one of my goals to go for the queen of the night though I didn't think I was going to be able to, my only chance as I knew there were 3 other girls here that I know are quicker than me, but were doing pairs, so they would have done more laps by the time it got dark, where as hopefully I'd be pretty fresh. 1min past one I gunned it with the intention of getting a quick lap and it obviously paid off! Amazing event and we won everything! Well nearly!!

Anthony White - 12-24hr solo
I wanted to do the two races as it takes the whole endurance race for me onto a new level. It's quite hard to keep going particularly if you go out hard like I do. I had a chance of hunting for the 12hr and I wasn't quite sure about the 24, both races had stiff competition. In the 12hr James Lister was amazing and it became apparent that I was going to totally waste myself with the effort of chasing him, so I started to think about the 24hr and by now both Ian and Matt had pulled out, so then it was just a case of self preservation. The course was incredibly hard with some really difficult climbs so yeah it was a tough one, but good for me. I was a bit under prepared for Mayhem so I got a bit of racing in-between the two to sharpen up a bit. Now I'm up for drinking loads of beer in celebration I think I deserve it!

Meggie Bichard - 12hr solo women
I'm not sure about 24hr solos but I can handle 12 hrs okay. It wasn't a doodle in fact you ride a lot faster than you do for the 24 hr so it makes it just as hard the only benefit is that you get to go to sleep! The course was good, if not a bit hard on the knees, those climbs were really hard, but they were part of what made the course so enjoyable. Great race and now I'm ready to go to bed again!

Progression Fitness - Men's 12 torchbearers
It's pretty lonely starting at that time of the night, there's no one in the campsite they're all sleeping and were just out there. We only entered in duress we wanted to do the 12 hr but it had sold out so this was all we could do. It was the short straw but it worked out okay but never again! It's bad enough riding something like this in the day but starting at midnight...People said they'd stay up and support us but they all went to sleep! Good course we really liked the climbs and but it got a bit slippery towards the end and the river crossing gat a bit tedious after a while we went over 9 times. But no it was good, we've never raced here before and we were a bit concerned that we'd gone off a bit hard but it paid off. We kept on singles where as I think the others did doubles and that worked well for us, we took the lead two hours in and maintained it and just kept pulling away. No chance of catching us doing this for 24 though!!!

Sally Bigham & Miriam - 12 ladies pairs
SB: That was great fun, it was so nice to be part of a team and be able to relax between laps. I wanted to take it easy and have a fun time though I must admit the race head came on a bit. The season has been so hectic and this was just a nice break. The course was excellent it, so good to have a course with so much singletrack and not much fire road it keeps you interested. I loved the climbing it was perfect for me. Miriam made me work really hard... not! We both worked well together, it was brilliant to be able to ride with Miriam I hope she comes back and rides another one.
M: That was my first race in the UK and it was great, good event, nice people brilliant atmosphere, great course. I've only ridden a 10hr enduro before and that was as a team of 4, so this was so different! I just needed a change of scene to try something else, I was excited at the start of the season in Italy to meet Sally and she told me about this race so I agreed and it was worth it. Great fun.

Colin Smith - 12 solo vets
The course was a lot harder than last year, I won the vets last year too and this one now was so much tougher. The climbs they put in really wore you out but it was a fantastic event, loved it! It was a tough race too, with my closest rival running just minutes behind all through the race; you couldn't let up and had to keep going despite a puncture!

London Phoenix - 24hr women
The team were great as is the event we just want a few more women to come along and give us a harder time. We got 7 more laps in than last year even on a tougher course, we've won this now 4 years in a row and as I said we really want more women to test our skills against next year.

Keith Bontrager
Yeah it was good fun, it that endurance sport sort of way; way more fun after the event then towards the end! The course would have been easier if it hadn't rained, a lot of the climbs that were just middle ring rolls last year were just slogs this year. It wasn't boggy out there just technically challenging. I've done so many of these races now and the chance to participate and help design the course is the fun bit for me. It's a great scene in the UK, the English riders are brilliant, well all the ones that do this one, they all seem to get it and enjoy themselves. I'll be back next year for more of the same fun but I may go for a team, this solo lark isn't really working at the moment. It always seems like a good idea at the time, I dunno we'll see what I end up doing.