Except it wasn't really a race.
More and extended period of disappointment and enough rain to make me seriously consider heading for high ground*
I've struggled to write this post for a few days, a blow by blow account would not only bore anyone who happens to stay longer than the first paragraph to tears, but I think I can safely say that you could drive a horse and cart through any claim I make of completing the event.
I'll get this in early, I was really looking forward to this race.. I even trained for it, my mileage in the month leading up to it was around 100 miles a week and I was feeling good, especially following the forest enduro. I arrived home the weekend before the event to find a family with a joint cold. By Sunday I had the makings of my own, stubbornness saw me stick to my planned mileage Monday and Tuesday despite an increasingly annoying cough and sore throat.
Dusk Til Dawn, for those who have only heard of the rather fine film by the same name is an 12 hour enduro held during October each year at Thetford Forest. The concept is the same as countless other multi hour races that are so popular these days, except this one takes place solely during the hours of darkness.
Thetford plays host to a couple of race series during the year and I can imagine the races are full on flat out sprints from start to finish. Coming from the Forest of Dean where everything involves hills, a course which contained only 'inclines' took some getting used to. I wasn't convinced for the first five miles or so of our spotting lap but the course started making sense and, although the cold I was fighting left my legs feeling weaker than I wanted I started enjoying the pump track feel. A thought did enter my head though, Thetford is all about the size of the thighs.. a couple of riders proudly stated that although flat, Thetford was a relentless course.. that's southern for it's as boring as fuck and you need to pedal like a twat to gain any sense of fun out of it.
Last year it started raining 15 minutes before the start, this year, it started raining 4 hours before the start. Great.
The area is sandy and, with the rain the course soon turned into a cutting paste capable of destroying chainsets and brakes in only a matter of miles. Jim went through his pads in 2 laps, My bike seized itself only slightly slower than my body did and Rex's bike fared little better. It's taken him the best part of the week to get it clean.
So, a mere 6 laps between the 3 of us and jacking it with 5 hours to go, not our best performance but to be honest, a few hours of quitters guilt on sunday soon disappeared when I realised that my cold was made worse from riding in constant rain, I'd been cold for 2 days straight and I hadn't actually enjoyed the feel of the event anywhere near as much as I'd expected.
Things I Enjoyed
1) Nic agreeing to us having his whole range of shop Exposure Demo lights about 2 grands worth.
2) Having Kate with me, in other races she's stayed at home, there's generally a point during a race when I become a miserable bastard and want nothing more than to go home, she has the ability to cheer me up.
3) Spending a weekend with Rex and Jim, one my brother in law and one a mate of long standing, both more laid back and easy going than I believe possible.
4) Feeling fit, even though a nagging cold got worse from constant rain, and left me with a cough that is still hanging around and, if anything, getting worse.
5) Getting in from my final lap, chucking the gas stove on and sitting with a hot cup of tea in my hand, happy in the knowledge that the next thing I'd need to do was climb into my sleeping bag.
Things that pissed me off
1) Miserable locals that hate the race, gladly tell anyone that will listen that they hate the race, but turn up anyway, obviously to remind themselves that yes, the race is still shit and they still hate it. We were told that D2D has a unique attitude, hugely friendly and a great sense of camaraderie on the course. Bollocks, riders were head down and introverted (probably from the weather).
2) The organisers not providing showers. Sounds petty, but being told at check in that there was no need for showers because it was only a 12 hour race really pissed me off, the race was 12 hours, but we were camping there for 3 days, the race was in October and last year was widely acknowledged as being 'damp'.
3) The first lap where, from my position towards the back of the pack, I saw nothing but 8 miles of wheel to wheel stop start crapness where riders were unable to stay on the bike and actually ride when faced with roots, stones, sand, mud, grass, trees or puddles. I got increasingly more pissed off and made some rather aggressive passings to just stop myself from having to kill the very next person that stalled on a bump in the trail.
So, safe to say I won't be back, I'm going to get rid of this bloody cold and start getting the miles in again ready for Wentwood.
*which, given that we were in Norfolk at the time could been an issue