Red Bull 24Hr 2001

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Updated 17 July 2001

 

Red Bull Mountain Mayhem - 24 Hours Of Mud, Sweat and Sweet Fizzy Drinks (without the vodka) - 23/24 June 2001

The Red Bull 24 Hour Race is definitely the countries biggest off-road event of the year and the race this year featured nearly 400 teams including top UK riders such as Barrie Clark and Nick Craig riding for Diamond Back, as well as the new hopes Liam Killeen and Jody Crawforth (more of him later). The Giant World Team also turned up with ex-world champion Rune Hoydahl and extremely fast Frenchman Christophe Dupoey. (Giant would eventually win the huge pot of cash set aside for the pros). De Laune had two teams this year with James' Lett, Lyon and Peckham and myself (non-James) in team 'A' and Bill Wright, Cliff Steele, Richard Hill and Simon Pamplin in team 'B'. We also had a mechanic, Andrew King, a cook in Cliffs wife Carol and a team timekeeper and general calm head Tig. We had finished 6th Sport team last year but all felt that we had the form to do better this time around.

Thankfully the weekend was dry and warm, perfect for racing. The race starts at 2pm Saturday with a 'Le Mans' start with 400 or so people doing a 800m run to their bikes. James Lett was our designated runner and managed to pick up his bike in about 100th place. He'd managed to fall over three times in the melee and was lucky not to get trampled by the hoards. We had soon settled into churning out 40-43 minute laps of the 10.3 very bumpy, rock hard course as the pros disappeared into the distance with 35 minute laps.

We went into Saturday night in about 9th place which was worse than expected but the race doesn't really start until the eight hour mark when darkness falls and the reality of having another 16 hours of racing left begins to hit home. We had been alternating laps between the four of us but then moved to our night-time strategy that meant a pair of riders alternated for 4 laps so that the other two could try and get their heads down. James Lett and James Lyon did the first shift whilst James Peckham and myself tried to sleep. I was up and ready for my 12.30am lap but half way around the freehub on my borrowed wheel came undone but after nursing the bike round I handed over to James P. Andrew had 40 minutes to get a new wheel on for lap 2. James P managed to do a lap with a 5w headtorch after the batteries on his lights gave up the ghost on the first hill. He still managed a 45 which was pretty amazing. Must be all that rally experience of forest roads at 100mph at night. We had steadily improved over the night and were now up to 6th, having made up 9 minutes on our main rivals Durham University over night.

They then bought out their ringer, Y2K rider Jody Crawforth who just happens to go to Durham in between World Cup races. He then proceeded to churn out the sub-37 minute laps and pull away again. With daylight on Sunday we were all feeling OK (as OK as you can after 16 hours of racing, no sleep and too much energy drink) and started to pick up the pace again for the run-in. Our lap times were still at about 42-44 minutes and that consistency was beginning to pay off as we moved into 5th, a lap ahead of the team in 6th but desperately trying to catch Durham in 4th. James Lyon set off on the final lap at 1.50 pm on Sunday and put in an amazing 40.58 to put us 9 minutes behind Durham and 12 minutes off of 3rd placed Cheltenham Cycles. We had done 34 laps in 24:29:41 with James Lett doing the fastest lap of 39:46 and us all averaging about 43 minutes a lap for our 8 or 9 laps.

We had improved one place over last year and 5th out of 200 Sports teams was a hell of an achievement for the team. We were 16th out of all the teams there, ex-World Champions and National Champions included. If we keep on improving like this we will win the Sports class by 2005!

The 'B' team had a few more technical problems than us with Richard having to retire late on Sunday when his eye, injured the day before, became too much. The 'B' team finished a very creditable 23rd with 31 laps completed in 24:08:47. I don't mean to gloss over their achievements but we were all focussed on our own races. All I know is that they were in as much pain as anyone but still did the laps and achieved a great result.

None of us can thank Andrew, Carol and Tig enough as at 4am it is all you can do to find your shoes and gloves, let alone tweak your gears, cook some pasta and remember how many minutes you have left before you need to be ready for lap number 5.

Ross Fryer

 
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