Published: 26th February, 2012
Back in November, when we first held our war council about how we planned to train for 12 Hours of Exposure, it all seemed so simple. We had some lovely spread sheets, nicely coloured in without going over the lines, and this image of us battling across the moors in mid-winter, heroically bashing out 10 hour rides.
Since then, there have been many, many updated versions of the spread sheet, and with 6 weeks to go we are in the mountain bike equivalent of 'cramming'. Most of our time is spent finding increasingly inventive ways of fitting a 9 hour ride into an hour and a half of training and justifying why a 30 min run is EXACTLY the same as a monster training ride in horizontal sleet.
With this in mind, we planned an overload week with 6 weeks to go before the race. Not exactly sure what it means, or what it does for you, or how you are supposed to do it, but we reckon that as long as you have to go up to bed each night on all fours you're probably doing it right.
So the plan for the first weekend of The Week was a ride in the Chilterns. What do you mean, a 6 hour ride the ideal session the day before a duathlon? Due to the freaky drought conditions, the trails were in summer-like state and anyone in the south-east who isn't out on their mountain bike EVERY day at the moment should be dragged out into the street and shot. For some reason that escapes our very best Inspector Frost analysis, we managed to set off for our ride armed only with a bag of Moralibos and one of Jelly Babies.
And we wondered why we ended up dribbling back in to Henley 6 hours later in rag order, which soon troughed even further when we realised that Henley is too damn posh to have a Subway there. Hope their stupid rowing boats sink.
10 hours sleep and a complete change of blood later and we were ready to race. Should have read the pre-race info more clearly and it would have avoided the "Who's fault" conversation we had in the woods when we realised that we only had 15 mins to go to the start and we were halfway through our practice lap. It was all good, quick gel, change into running shoes, swift knees up Mother Brown and we were off.
The usual Horton policy of 'go off too quick and keep going' applied. I came in 4th off the first run and dragged out the secret weapon - my brand spankers new Stumpjumper Expert 29er. Light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance. Took the lead halfway through the first lap, shock and awe tactics all the way, didn't see anyone else for the rest of the race. Finished miles and miles ahead of 2nd place and was not surprised to see Maddie come in 4th place overall. Job done.
So from deep despair about our fitness prior to the 12 Hour National Champs, we are now on the crest of a wave and know for sure that we will be bringing Champion jerseys back to Certini for the second year running. Clear a space on the wall of fame someone!