Racing The Scott H12 MTB - 12 Hours of Mud, Blood, Dust, Sweat and Gears

I had forgotten how much I love mountain biking. I had forgotten how much it hurts. 12 hours of constant drama, constant concentration, and constant excursion was enough to remind me. A podium finish, in Denmark's biggest mountain bike race - the Scott H12 MTB.

The race comes at the end of a great week in Denmark with the GripGrab team. Office meetings are bookended by rides through the forest on the way home with the Krøyer brothers. These brief laps of the forest trails are enough to bring back some recollection of what it is to ride MTB; I am ashamed to confess the last time I rode flat bars was 15 months ago; not the ideal prep for a 12 hour mountain bike race.


Race day arrives. The weather is perfection; with the early morning light breaking through the trees. I rode this event in 2016 as part of a team, so I know what is coming, yet my stomach is still a bucket of nerves...

The start gun fires. 500+ riders clip in, and kick up the dust.

Position is everything in this first lap; that much I know. I fight hard to stay near the front, watching my heart rate hover dangerously close to the red. I need to hold the wheel, but at the same time hold it steady; 12 hours is a long time in the saddle.

The first three laps are fast. Perhaps, too fast. I hung to wheels, not sure if they were solo riders or part of a four man team doing flat-out relay laps. Those initial efforts placed me firmly on the top of the leaderboard.

Lap 4. 50 kilometres. My front wheel hits a tree root at an obscure angle and I hit the deck. The landing is luckily the soft forest floor, but my saddle rail takes the brunt of the impact and snaps clean off. I straighten up the bars, and pray that the now very wonky saddle will not turn out to be a showstopper. Miraculously I hang onto the top position.

I rein things back in for laps 5 to 8; setting a sustainable pace, and consistently clocking the fastest solo lap times.

On the ninth lap I begin to fade a little. It is well past lunchtime, and despite wolfing down two energy bars and a packet of energy chews already I can feel my levels dropping. At the end of my tenth lap I pull in, grab a sandwich from the catering tent.

The stop costs me precious time, but I return to the course with renewed vigour. Too much...

I clock splits back up near those of my initial laps, and can feel the power returning. Then, BANG. The bike slips on one of the now well-exposed tree roots, and I hit the deck again; this time with a lot more force.

I pick myself up, and brush myself down. A hip and knee blooded, but nothing too serious. The bike looks okay except my computer is hanging off like a pendulum. I continue on, cursing my over-enthusiastic competitiveness.

I lose the computer to the forest trail twice on the remaining part of that lap; forcing me to stop in the service pit and tape it on with electrical tape, costing me more valuable time on my lap 11 split.

Idiot.

Lap 12. Calm it. Get back into this, Tim.

Respectable lap times return, and the diesel engine continues to function, albeit with a waning turbo.

Then the fatigue really kicks in. I have been on the bike for 10 hours now; the longest I have ever raced for (previously at the Mallorca312). My laps times start getting longer and longer, and I watch in desperation as the second placed rider comes past me. I am barely able to haul myself from the saddle in a failed attempt to follow his wheel.

Watching the top spot slip away from me, I adopt a conservative approach: hold steady, and don't risk crashing again in a likely futile fatigued chase.

My final few laps aren't quick, but they are consistent. It is enough to cement me in second place. I roll over the finish line wide-eyed and barely able to stand.

Everything hurts. But, what a race.

I think I need to do more of this...

Flat out through the forest


Singletrack trails


Concentration


Still able to smile. Just.


Note the taped on computer and torn shorts



Solo Men's Results


A great end to another great week with the GripGrab team


#RideMoreOffroad

Many thanks to Martin Paldan and Peter Ebro from the GripGrab team for the fantastic photos. 

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