Friday, October 09, 2009

Racing News
Recent weekends have seen the last couple of outings for Team Singular in mountain bike guise before we delve into the depths of winter, and along with it 'cross. First I had the honour and pleasure of attending Singlespeed Italy in Finale Ligure, which I have to leave for another post the report is so big. Then last weekend was the 2009 running of traditional season closing cold and often wet 12 hour night race Dusk 'til Dawn.

Grant congratulates Steve on a fantastic 2nd place at Dusk 'til Dawn 2009 - Picture ©Andy Armstrong

Thankfully this year's was not wet at all, and only cold in the wee small hours. A bone dry week prior raised everyone's hopes for a dry D2D, in fact there was some concern about excessive dust. Racing for Team Singular were Steve Webb and Grant Taylor - both in the solo men's category. Steve, to the extent he does such things, had mentioned this was one he'd 'like to do quite well in'. He certainly didn't disappoint himself or anyone else on that front.

A wonderful set of photos from Andy Armstrong

We arrived mid-afternoon in an endeavour to be early enough to secure a trackside position for ease of pit-stops and on course heckling. Unfortunately we were nearly early enough and though Grant had arrived a little before use our compound was still not quite trackside. We were also seemingly surrounded by folks who like power so much they need to keep generators running the whole night...

A brief thunderstorm from around 6 lowered spirits and raised worry it would continue all night. It lasted but half an hour, just enough to dampen down the dust and keep things fast and firm. By the time 8pm came around I was ready for bed; and Steve, Grant and around 1000 other people were ready to ride for 12 hours through the night. Thetford is quite flat, but unrelentingly winding. A few roots to keep you on your toes in the middle of the night but nothing too technical. Steve was on a rigid Swift with Reynolds carbon wheels and Dugast tubs, Grant was on a Pegasus also rigid running tubeless Maxxis Crossmark tyres. Both ran a bit bigger gear than normal at 34-16 on the flatter terrain.

After the first few laps Steve came in for his first stop ('stop' meaning quickly guzzling a couple of gels and me cleaning and lubing chain) in fifth position overall and in his words 'not really feeling it'. A quick pep talk from the DS got him back out there but i wasn't sure whether he'd make it through the night.

A while later Grant came back in, and had been doing well up until that point holding down 21st position from 150 solo men. He managed to hide his fury at my mechanical oversight (not having tightened crank bolts sufficiently during my hasty bike build....) and maintained he'd had just about enough after his four laps anyhow.

Steve kept his head down and thankfully no mechanical mishaps were to befall him. Among the soloists Andrew Cockburn and Matt Page had gone out very fast indeed. by mid-way through the eventthey had near on a half hour on Steve, with another two competitors still keeping him in 5th. As is his usual style, he ground out the laps at a relentless tempo. Page was unable to maintain his early blistering speed, and Steve overhauled another two by dawn locking him in a battle for the podium. He kept it on - heading out for his 18th lap a little before 8am. Second place was a well deserved and excellent result. A huge thanks to USE Exposure lights, the Maxx-D and Joystick combination was just perfect.

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