Sunday gone was Torq 12:12, 12hr at Minley Manor (darn sarf). Yes, it was a long drive, but with my dodgy race sparce year, I felt like I needed a good hard event ahead of Kielder 100 and I also fancied racing somewhere new. Torq 12 didn’t disappoint and it was definitely worth the journey.
Despite concerns resulting from heavy rain the day before (and I mean heavy; reduced to 30mph on the motorway because visibility was so poor) the day of the race brought lovely warm sunshine and reassurance from Craig Bowles that the course would dry out in no time! Unbelievably, a pre-race pitch inspection actually confirmed that! How could this be!!! Why don’t they, dare I say it, hold a 24 there, (or somehwere similiar) as oppose to the other crap fests we normally have to endure?
Standing on the start line, the atmosphere was great; I think everyone was pleased with the prospect of a dry race: such a rarity in 2012.
Similar to UK12, I felt all relaxed on the start line. This is good I thought, and far preferable to the old heart jumping out the throat. However, I was justifiably concerned about Tim Dunford just down the start line… I know I’m a vet but I’m still gunning for the highest place I can get in ‘the race’ and genuinely feel like I’m getting stronger each year. Look, it’s my mid life crisis m’k?
My start was terrible; no snap and got stuck in traffic while Tim pulled away. No panic; it’s a long game and too much effort here can come back to bite you later. I initially struggled with the twisty turny, generally flat (but great fun) woodland trails, so alien to my home riding but I didn’t try to force the pace, instead focusing on staying smooth and efficient.
I passed Tim who had punctured. Always sorry to see someone puncture but it soon meant I had at least a ten minute lead. Riding felt easy, I was getting into the course and felt very confident.
Then I slashed a tyre… I blasted it with c02. It held then went down. I stopped again. More air. Went down again. 2 miles to the pit… just f-ing stay up for 10 minutes!!!! Nope, had to stop and put a tube in. Tim flew past…
My rythm was broken. I felt slightly panicky and things didn’t feel so smooth anymore. Regaining my cool, I chipped away, trying to find that balance between chasing and conserving energy. Tim was pulling away slightly but nothing drastic. As it was his first 12hr solo, my window (or so I thought!) was hours 8 to 12. Nope! Tim powered through and I lost significant time in those final laps. Regardless of the racing aspect, I really enjoyed the dark hours; getting into the course, enjoying the conditions, the atmosphere on the course and the support from the crowd; this was a super fun ride.
The vets win was safe, as was 2nd solo overall. Tim was about half an hour up so at 11:45, I called it a day, prefering to get organised before the presentation, rather than complete a 17th lap for no gain.
This was a fantastic event. The course was superb (even though flat (ish)courses are not my bag) and helped by the fantastic weather. The organisation was excellent. And the atmosphere was competitive but very friendly. I’ll be back next year for sure.
Well done to Tim; it was a fantastic debut 12! Thanks to Sean Wratten from Bertie Maffoons Bicycle Company in Marlborough for his superb pit support. Thanks also to his wife and mine for releasing us on Bank Holiday weekend!