With Beaumont and Glasgow
Since following Mark Beaumont on his North Coast 500 ride I’ve kept in touch and hoped we would get to work on another one of his wild rides. Thankfully I had a message on my phone from him asking if I was going to the Strathpuffer 24 Hour and am I interested in following his race? Hell yes!
Mark was teaming up with Alex Glasgow who is no stranger to endurance events, having won the Celtman Triathlon, Relentless 24 Hour, 6 time Puffer entrant with two wins and many more. Mark was definitely in good hands for his first mountain bike race. And what better rigs to have for a race than a couple of Cannondale F-Si Hi-Mods in a lovely green and black which were extremely lightweight. In the support team there was Orange Fox Bikes, Tim Winterburn, Amy Owen, Chloe Valentine and Paul Littlewood. Of course Alex’s and Mark’s mums were there in full force to support their boys!
Mark started the race in the traditional LeMons style with Alex holding his bike at the ready. I hit the shutter as Mark ran up to his bike then I sprinted to catch him again on the next corner. This was the wake up call my legs needed to get me going. After I caught Mark further up the course again I thought I would be waiting a while for Alex. But this was not the case. I was quickly reminded why one has the record for cycling the world and the other has plenty of endurance event wins on his mantle piece.
As the race went on the temperature dropped and the trail became hard packed and pretty icy. There were a few spots where competitors were sliding out, one managed to smack her chin on the ice but after a quick check was back on the bike and pedalling hard. At one point I was expecting Alex but instead was greeted with a fresh looking Mark shouting “Alex fell and cut his leg pretty bad!”. I wasn’t sure if this meant he was out but soon enough Alex, the happiest man at the event, came flying round a corner. I’m sure it takes a lot more than a deep cut and stitches to put him out.
I made my way back to the camp in the evening to catch them resting and found Alex getting a massage and Tim coordinating the arrival of Mark. The changeover was down to the second and executed perfectly to get the least amount of time in transition if any at all. It was a quick change of the dibber riding side by side. Mark was then straight into the tent to get warmed up and fed while Tim ensured the bike was running perfectly.
Throughout the night the guys plodded on at a great pace and in the morning still seemed pretty fresh after only having short 50 minute breaks! At 06:30 I found Alex resting up with a cup of tea. He was in their horse box which had a sofa as their resting place, cosy and warm. At this point they were sitting second but had put in good time between them and third which left them trying to push for final laps before time ran out.
Compared to last year, it seemed warmer on the Sunday but there was still plenty of ice sending racers off track and to the ground. Thankfully there were no more crashes for these two and they pushed on at a good pace with smiles, despite it coming up to 24 hours of riding. The cut off time was 10:00 but if you could get in before then you could go around for another lap. After shooting Alex on track again I ran to catch them at the changeover but his legs made short work of getting back despite my shortcut. Alex’s changeover was at 09:45 which sent Mark off on the final lap. I waited at the finish and Mark came in looking slightly weary but with a grin. After dibbing and hugging it out with Alex and the team, they made their way to record a few clips and were looking pretty chuffed with themselves! So they should be, taking second place with 30 laps!
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