I sit there, in my old Peugeot, in a field surrounded by a rapidly dismantling race area. A tub of chamois cream that’s be illusive for the past day or so lies on the dashboard. It’s in sight but I’m not registering it. I’m too busy feeling dejected, ill and disappointed. My team say I’ve done well but I know I haven’t. I had amazing form for much of the season but today I felt empty from the start and 4hrs onwards was just misery. That’s it. That’s me done with 24hrs races, this is not for me this game, I quit. – My exact thoughts following Mountain Mayhem, 2006.
Fast forward 6 years and deja vu sets in. I’m at Mountain Mayhem, 4hrs in, feeling empty, still 20hrs to go, only this time it’s muddy, wet and generally horrific with the promise that it wont get any better. Still 20hrs to go, 20hrs. Is 2006 playing on my mind? Am I cursed at Mayhem? Is history about to repeat itself?
No! No it bloody well isn’t!
The run was terrible. Running is in general; terrible but I defiantly didn’t do myself any favours at the start of this race but at least the ground was soft and I didn’t roll an ankle. Finding the positives already it would seem…20minutes in to the event.
The prospect of rain doesn’t fill me with glee but I am also aware the worse the conditions are usually the better I do and with the form I should have I should on for a good ride. The form I should have…
Several hours into the event, no idea were I am, just aware I’m covered in mud and the fact I’m already walking sections doesn’t feel right. I look at my HR monitor, at least 20 beats lower than I’d have anticipated. I then start seeing other solo riders on course, the bits of course that are going to take me at least 40min to get to. Bollocks! Something isn’t right here. I start to get a bit down but plod on. 4Hrs in and I’m feeling empty. Is it 2006 all over again, just wetter? Soft git. I have a word.
‘You’re here because you want to be. You knew what to expect. You can see the conditions. It’s a war of attrition. Start having a bit of crack with people. Smile. Enjoy it. Stop think about going fast and just think about going forward.’
And just like that I perked up. I wasn’t going any faster but I didn’t feel like crap and I was enjoying it. I didn’t think I was anywhere worth while in the field position wise but didn’t care. I was doing this because this is what I wanted to do! I crossed the start/finish line on that lap just at the point when the commentator was reading out the top10 solo. I was positive I was somewhere in the top20 but not threatening the top10, I listened intently, interested if nothing else.
‘1st…2nd…3rd…4th…5th…6th…7th Nathan Judge’…
Hahahahaha WTF?! No way?! Awesome! I’m roll around to my pit with a massive grin on my face, they almost look surprised to see me looking so cheerful, ‘7th!, ha!’.
From then on it was just a chase of plodding on. Bit of banter on course, in the pits, with myself. I was happy as a pig in proverbial, which I could relate too given the state of the course. It was constantly changing mind, which kept it interesting. There was a period in the night when it well a truly threw it down for quite a long period. It looked awful, I bet it sounded awful in tents too, on the bike though, it was great. I was warm so didn’t mind plus it turned the course from porridge into soup and so easy to cut through, which meant most of it was the most ridable it had been all day!
Dawn rose and I had progressed into 5th! Just had to keep tapping them out. I couldn’t believe how slow I was going and yet was still actually racing and racing for a good position, the position I wanted. Was hard to get my head around but as I say, I just plodded on.
By late morning I was still 5th , feeling tired and sore but solid. Nothing was going to stop me, well aside form the drying course where in sections it would clog you bike within seconds! Part and parcel of the beast I suppose.
I went out for my last lap, ready to finish but happy to do one last lap. I crossed the line in 5th positon. 5Th! 5th at Mountain Mayhem, I could feel my eyes welling up. Goal achieved. Job done. Time for sit down.
Big thank you to my pit crew, my Dad, Fred, my brother, Matt and my good mate, Rob Lee. It gets said quite a lot but it’s so true; A solo rider is nothing without his pit crew. I’m the only one riding but it is a team sport, especially in the biblical conditions seen at Mayhem this year. Thank you, your support means everything to me! Also like to thank Exposure for lending of some great lights and to Weldite for powerwasher support. Cheers ya’ll.
Now, what race to do next?