Thursday, 25 July 2013

Stupendous Steve

Steve Day is one of the very original Mules, he is an awesome rider and recently came 1st singlespeed rider and 2nd overall at the Mayhem 24hr Enduro

Here is how events unfolded, as told by Steve

Mayhem was really an unexpected surprise... Riding this year has been a bit hit & miss due to work at Triumph being a bit hectic and taking on more responsibility meaning getting out has been more difficult & not really helped by the weather. My aim on the Friday before the start was just to finish. However, with a large group of riders from the Godiva Trailriders being there for the team event, Friday turned in to a bit of a party... This was however preceded by a lap of the Gatcombe course that turned out to match some of the comments about us single-speeders having to get off & walk some of the climbs – make that most of them, however the descents made up for it. The lap did however confirm my thoughts about running 2 extra teeth on the rear cog would be the best thing...

The rain started early on Saturday morning and changed course conditions somewhat. The lovely dry trails from Friday turned a little more slippy, but the promise from Pat Adams was that the ground drained really well and wouldn’t turn in to the mud fest that was last years Mayhem! Considering the amount of red wine consumed on Friday evening, I felt good on Saturday & no signs of a hangover, unlike one or two of the GT crew that were looking a little worse for wear! 12 o’clock rolled around and everyone lined up for the start. Instead of heading down the front, I opted for a more relaxed start and planned to take it easy for the first couple of laps which turned out to be the right choice.

The first lap was very relaxed, the first descent caused a bit of a jam due to it being so slippy and causing a lot of walking. The slippyness of the course highlighted that my preferred bike needed some better tyres, so after lap 2 I left the bike with the wife and picked up my spare that had mud tyres fitted, with the instruction to find some better rubber. The plan was to pick it back up after another 2 laps and try to stick to a 2-lap routine with clothing changes every 8 laps... A big thanks goes to the Kenda guys who really help out my wife in sorting out some new rubber.

As the hours ticked by and the rain held off, Pat’s predictions started to come good. The ground was draining really well and only a few areas had a single line. However the first big descent stayed pretty slippy and took some commitment to hit it at speed, especially as those less confident riders were still walking the steep sections. Lots of broken up rock and exposed roots kept things interesting right to the end of the race. Staying on the bike gave a big benefit as it allowed a lot of speed to be carried most of the way up the next rise.
My gear choice seemed to be working a treat – a nice gear for being able to attempt the bottom sections of some of the steeper climbs, and also meant that I didn’t get carried away on the flatter sections and kept a slightly more relaxed pace compared to previous years. I was also keeping up with the 2 Godiva singlespeed teams and we were swapping positions between 4th, 5th & 6th. It wasn’t until 2am that I was given an idea of where I was placed in solo overall. Matt Carr was hanging over the arena barrier shouting “Steve – you’re in f@*”ing 3rd! This was a great time to find out as I was about to go in for a longer break, some food and a kip! The morale boost made me re-think and I decided to stay out for a few more laps to see what happens as dawn approached.

At 6am I decided to have a look at the timing screens and found I was still in 3rd and decided I would try to make it to the end without a big stop. Legs were feeling good and my head was in a good place. I had also been told by one of my GT mates that the weather forecast was that it would stay dry until the end of the race.... so head down and plough on. I was also less than a lap down on the GT lead team and within seconds of the second GT team. I was also entering new territory – I had never completed a 24-hour race without a stop for a kip in the night...

Those last 6 hours seemed to fly by... After lap 22, I pulled in for fresh drink and a bar to find out I was nearly a lap down on the leader and a lap up on 3rd. This made it easy to make the decision to take an easy last lap and hit the finish bang on 12 as there was no way of getting first and no way of 3rd catching me. I did get a massive surprise on the last lap when the lead Godiva team rider passed me a few minutes from the end of the lap – the first time they lapped me! Stotti was so pleased to do so and managed to cross the line for another lap with seconds to spare – I didn't care as I was chuffed it took them so long. They ended up finishing 4th in the solo combined (team & solo’s) category.

I rolled across the line a few seconds after 12pm, still in 2nd overall for the solo category and 1st solo singlespeed. I was also 6th overall in the singlespeed combined category, a mere 49 seconds behind the second Godiva singlespeed team who were so pleased they managed to stay ahead of me. I blame Mr Carr for stopping me for a chat just before the line... It was a great end to the day to get the Nick Wallis trophy back for the 2nd year and to receive my 2nd place award from Princess Anne. It was also great to have 2 singlespeeders on the solo podium!

Thanks to the Mule Bar guys for their support since we ran in to each other at the Trans Scotland all those years ago. Also a big thanks to my wife Ingrid and friend Bev, who saw me through the night, kept me fed & watered and kept my bike lubed.
P.S. - Monday was tough at work – never been so tired!
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