Sun Shines on Mayhem Masses
Rob Crayton reports from the UK's leading MTB endurance event, Mountain Mayhem.
"I went along with cameras in hand and found myself wanting to just keep riding all weekend. This great event was host to over 2,500 riders and 10,000 spectators, who tucked into a weekend of festival cycling, riding, eating, drinking (and we're talking re-hydration here), catching up with friends. There was also a retail therapy angle for those looking to upgrade, barter, speculate or just drool, with trade stands, freebees and well stocked shops galore. With free camping and the sun shining what more could you ask for.
Rob Crayton's slideshow - hundreds more images on www.robcrayton.co.uk
Mountain Mayhem is the biggest mountain biking event the UK has to offer, an all off road mountain bike endurance event with over 2500 people racing around the course with roughly 500 on the course at any one time. The race starts with a Le-Mans style run out of the start line and back around to the start where you collect your bike and start your lap: what this does is spread riders out and helps to prevent a bottle neck start where riders have to get off their bikes. Once you have done your one lap you come back through the timing tent where the chip on your ankle records your time. You then either pass over to another rider in your team or get back out for another lap. This carries on all night for the full 24 hours until your last rider comes through the timing tent and results are taken. The more laps you do the better the position you will finish.
With the chance to win some great prizes like a £300 GPS and bikes, everyone has chances to really push themselves to get either the fastest night lap or the quickest Kenda tyres climb. This year's Kenda climb was short and smooth but with a little kick up at the end, just to really finish you off and slow you down. There was a timing gate at the bottom and one at the top this took you results and put them onto the chart, just another reason to push yourself that little harder even if some photographers thought it would make a good picture to see people pushing themselves.
Over 2500 riders of wildly mixed abilities take part. Top pros like Nick Craig from Scott rub shoulders with gritty solo riders like Ant White. Alongside them are riders from all manner of clubs and teams, turning up in force, aiming perhaps for that magical sub 1 hour lap. Some riders rode the event solo: that's right, no team mates to hand over to and perhaps no sleep for the more committed. All solo riders have a large marquee to keep food and spares in so they are not messing around. It's all done for you, you just have to keep riding, but of course that's the hard bit!
Solo rider Ant White who won the men's solo cat did an amazing 24 laps. I rode the course with my gps on and found out that the course has some 1300ft of climbing per lap. In other words, Ant climbed more than the height of Everest in just 24 hours.
As always event organisers Patrick Adams and Gill Greenfield provided facilities such as hot running showers, flushing toilets, quaver catering with hot food all night and day, recycling bins on site, a huge campsite with a main fire road down the middle. This is perfect to ride along and warm up especially when its 2am and you don't want to be standing too long. If ever you wanted an event you can just turn up and ride then this is it not only is it the biggest but by far the best.
Course designer Ag put in some nice twisty technical sections, the course was dry and dusty making lap times that little quicker than last year even though it had more climbing in over 1300ft per lap. With some long steady climbs and some twisty off camber descents this was up there with one of the best courses I have ridden this year.
With blue skies and a dusty singletrack the course held up really well, I even saw the muc-off stall almost empty just a few people cleaning the dust off. One part of the course was closed and a easier route used as riders getting tired found a slippy dusty decent to much, but with British Cycling commissaries on hand to look over the course all changes were made perfectly.
Quote from a rider out on the course,
"This is my first time here at mountain mayhem and I only got the chance to complete one lap but im gonna be back next year and im gonna do this till I die hahaha I love this"
For full results, more information about Mountain Mayhem and details of next year's event see www.osmountainmayhem.co.uk