Idiot's Guide to beating a Multiple World Champion
Ray had only recently purchased a mountain bike and was about to embark on only his second MTB race. His first had been on a track ideal for a road rider. Tamworth was an altogether different proposition. Tight and twisty pinch climbs with a plethora of rocks and hairpin turns, making the track a technical challenge for even some of the more experienced riders. The adrenaline charged downhills with a scattering of jumps and steep-sided berms would surely test tired riders later in the night.
The event organizers had attracted some of the biggest names of endurance mountain-biking to their inaugural event. Multiple World Champion, Jason English, would be pushed all the way by an ever-improving Andrew Lloyd, while dual 24 hour under 30, WEMBO champion, Sean Bekkers, and Michael Crummy would be sure to set a lightning, quick pace from the outset. Meanwhile, child prodigy, Guy Frail, aged just 16, from the TBSM team, had assembled a formidable team consisting of Brett Holl and Stefan Merriman (former four time World Enduro Champion) both of whom would be much more accustomed to winning races on a Yamaha.
I was now being chased by Sean, and I was able to hold him off for the majority of a lap before finally succumbing to his superior pace. He now started his second lap with Ray following. Only days earlier, he had given Ray some lessons on mountain bike skills. As Sean came through, to hand over to Crummy, he retorted on the fact Ray was only just behind. Ray had tracked him all the way and it was now all too clear that we would win this particular battle. As Crummy left for his double lap I joked that he was the hare and the old greyhound, Selkrig, was about to chase him down. On being caught on the first climb, Crummy jumped on Pete's wheel. The old pro came to the fore and some suspect lines through the rock gardens left our poor rival in a heap and the game was up for Team Ay Up.
Relaxing from the regime of drinking and eating after each lap, I went out at 5 am without enough sustenance. I began to feel faint and lost three minutes of time. I felt unable to continue and even asked Pete to do a double lap to finish the race. A quick nap, a plate of pasta, a caffeine and sugar hit, and I found myself on the start line, six minutes before the 7 am finish itching to make the most of the morning light, the heart rocking to a melody of legal stimulants.
Jason English came in just before Pete and he was content to forgo a final lap. Pete appeared soon after, and I was able to finish on a high with a respectable time. I pulled in to see the final result, and soon realised that the last lap had catapulted our team into second overall. TBSM had taken the race win, but there was much consolation in the fact we had beaten the World Solo Champion. It had taken three of us, riding solidly, to do it, but we had achieved a rare feat.
It had been an amazing weekend, and I really enjoyed the experience of racing in a team with two great competitors. With Ray's amazing performance it is tangible proof that you can truly teach an old dog new tricks!