Finally got round to it. It only covers things from my viewpoint as i can remember at this current moment. There were 3 other 4 man teams also riding, and you’ll have to pester them for their story:
Friday at last and it’s time to relax for the weekend. Sorry, did i say “relax”?. You must be kidding. after months of waiting it’s finally that time of year again, time for my birthday and time for 24 hours of knackering exertion in the name of fun.
Fighting through the heavy traffic on the way there it strikes me as it does every year, “where the hell round here are they going to hold the race?”. My fears are quelled a few miles later however as i cruise into the controlled mayhem that has taken over sandwell park.
The atmosphere is electric - riders zooming by, friends shouting hello and the constant humm of thousands of cyclists all help to unsettle my nerves. Only one thing to do, it’s recce time.
Blimey! It seems much shorteer this year, and much bumpier. Chipps assures me it’s the same length which helps boost the confidence, he also apologised about the bumps, which was nice.
There are times when the disadvantages to being a unicyclist outweigh the plus points - a field of hard, close-packed ruts has to rank up there in the top three. Oh for suspention!
Nevermind, I digress.
A few beers and a few hours sleep later and it’s dawn already. Just time to register, get changed and do a bit of fettleing before the off. Roger is away first, I’m so glad I’m not in the first hill scrum this year.
Just over an hour later and it’s my turn, I get a cracking lap in with only a few offs, it’s dusty though. Time for sleep.
Or that’s the plan at least, didn’t happen. By the time i’m showered, massaged, fed and watered my long break is all but over. Time to fish out the lights and go again, Horay!
I love night riding and all is going really well, I know I’m setting a faster pace than i ever have before. Then it happens, 5 (ish) riders overtake and BAM!.
The lead rider goes down and there’s an explosion of bikes and riders like he’d ridden over a landmine. Down I go, narrowly missing impaling my eye on a pedal, grazing my cheekbone, and stabbing my chest with my unicycle. Ouch.
I finish up the lap and my ribs are killing me, thanks to our team tactics i have only got a one rider break till the next one. One hour later then and my ribs are fine and I set-out strong.
The first half leaves my knees aching, if only we got to coast, but it’s a few miles later that it finally goes wrong.
Out on the course there’s a low bridge with broken half-bricks in the trail. I rode under it fine but just as I’m stepping on the gas again I clip one of the bricks that’ve been dragged out and fall heavily on my knees.
That’s it, I’m done. I can barely walk. My knees are bad anyway and I’m forced to hobble all but the flattest sections and the slightest downhills. I’m even defeated by most of the campsite downhill.
We change over and I’m faced with the worst thing ever, I have to tell my team I’m going to let them down. It’s crushing, but luckily we’re all in it for the fun and nobody seems too upset, I’m due for sleep now and it’s decided to see how I feel (later) in the morning.
I wake to the now familliar sound of teams ticking over and it takes me nearly 10 minutes to get out of the van, I can still barely walk. My race is over for another year.
The others in the team are also looking finished and most of us call it a day after 4 laps, all suffering from the choking dust, the heat and the relentless 10 mile laps with no rest. There’s no gliding on a unicycle, it’s pedal or walk.
Roger’s excellent fitness now shines through, dispite a cold he’s out for another lap, his 5th.
The bell goes, the race is done and so are we. Shattered we pack our bags and go our seporate ways.
Another year gone and already the bad moments are fading from my memory leaving only the good and an itching desire to do it all again.
My thanks to all the other compettitors for their support, my team for theirs and to all the other unicyclists for their company - I hope you enjoyed it all as much as I did.
Finally a special thanks to the huge organisational team - keep up the good work, roll on next year.