Ride Report: The H12 Mountain Bike Race with GripGrab

Earlier this year, I vowed that I would #ridemoreoffroad. I promised myself I'd add more variety to my riding; take to the trails, and kick up some dust and mud. A few weekends back, I completed a CX Century ride with some good friends; that was a step in the right direction. This last weekend, I was given the opportunity to race in Denmark, at the H12 Mountain Bike Race, with a team from GripGrab. I jumped at the chance.

Suddenly, spring has arrived! In the UK and in Denmark, temperatures have pushed up into the low 20's; the winter kit has been put away, and the trails have adopted a beautiful hard-packed dusty profile. Perfect!

Without a cloud in sight on the morning of H12, it was set to be an incredible day of riding in my three man GripGrab team; containing a German, Frenchman and Brit.

The Race

Christopher sprints into the transition area; our first lap complete. I clip in, and sprint out of the pen. Within seconds, my heart is pounding. 12 hours might sound like an endurance cycling event, but in a team format it is actually a brutal rotation of one or two lap sprints, broken by attempted recovery, whilst your counterparts are out on course.

I calm my heart rate, and try to control my breathing. I know from experience that I make mistakes when I push it too hard, too soon. I settle into a rhythm. I feel the bike move beneath me on the dusty singletrack; passing riders as I go.

A lap takes around 30 minutes, and as I've requested to #ridemoreoffroad, I'm actually making up two men in what would normally be a four man team; that means double laps for me, and about an hour on the track at a time.

My first hour is over quickly. Michel rolls out of transition, as I roll in. My initial pre-race nerves have dissipated, as I remember that I do have the ability to race off-road quite well; I've moved us up from 34th to 23rd over the course of the hour.

Eat, drink and recover; the time off the bike between laps is a simple formula. Before long, I'm back out on the course.

I might not be that quick, but my diesel engine is consistent. My second two laps come in at almost identical times to my first two. We make up a few places that we'd unfortunately lost due to a mechanical on Michel's lap.

My third round is fairly uneventful. I make a few slips, and I have to get off to walk up one section, due to traffic on the course; it loses me a few seconds, but nothing much. The power of a nice Danish pastry and sandwich is enough to keep me going.

On my fourth hour of flat-out fun, things go a bit astray. Perhaps it was the heat, or the constant high-revving that my diesel endurance riding engine isn't used to; or perhaps I just hadn't eaten enough. Either way, heavy legs and a slipping focus mean I put in two laps that are a couple of minutes down on my norm, and we seem to be struggling to make up lost places that we'd suffered when Michel had an issue with a broken BOA dial on his shoe, following a crash. On rolling into the team tent, I leave the bike and hunt down a couple of cups of coffee and some banana sandwiches (Danish bread is seriously tasty, thankfully).

My refuel seems to do the trick, and I head back out onto the course for my fifth and final set of laps; bringing my total up to a round 10.  I really enjoyed those last two times round the fantastic course which thoroughly made the most of the beautiful national forest that the race was set in. The setting sun shone through the trees, and highlighted the clouds of dust kicked up by the 1000+ riders that had enjoyed the course throughout the day.

Christopher put in one last final lap for Team GripGrab Vertical, and we called it a day at 9 hours 35 minutes of racing; placing us 38th overall, out of 300+ teams. It was a satisfying result for our three man team. The GripGrab Mixed Team put in a superb effort, and took the prize in their category. Chapeau! We had beers and large plates of chilli con carne to celebrate!

The H12 proved to be an incredible event, as I had suspected it would be. It was an awesome experience; made so in no small part by the fantastic company of my team mates from GripGrab. I'm certainly hoping to come back another year. Perhaps my diesel engine will take the full 12 hours solo, next time...

A HUGE thanks to the GripGrab Media Crew for the stunning photos used in this post. 

#ridemoreoffroad - with GripGrab

Roots and Ramps

Team GripGrab Base Camp

Stunning springtime weather in Denmark, made for superb riding

Out of the woods

Laughs and banter in the Team GripGrab camp

Final lap in the setting sun

Refuel time!

 A fantastic day with the team from GripGrab


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