I’ve had ‘President Gas’ by the Psychedelic Furs stuck in my head on loop for the last 24 hours and getting rid of it is going to be the least of my worries over the next 24 hours.
“You have to have a party when you’re in a state like this you can really move it all, you have to vote and change you have to get right out of it like out of all this mess you’ll say yeah to anything if you believe all this”
I’m competing at the WEMBO (World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation) World Championships and I dislike riding in circles, riding at night and doing that combination for 24 hours – the holy trinity.
I’m in Scotland – the Highlands to be precise, home of the Morrison’s ‘Scottish Breakfast’ (like an English Breakfast but with added waitress snarl if you order an ‘English Breakfast’ in Fort William…) and Carol Kirkwood with her cold front and rolling hills (sighs).
Indeed the Highlands where we are doesn’t get much higher or gnarlier as we’re in the shadow of a large volcanic rock thing called Ben Nevis. And I’m going to race the next 24 hours on a rigid singlespeed – 32:19 to be precise trivia fans.
“Line up, put your kisses down, say yeah, say yes again stand up, there’s a head count president gas on everything but roller skates”
The Jones Spaceframe is a wonderful titanium machine; it is supple with equal stiffness and spring and it encourages you to ride quickly – like you’re being pulled by a pack of wild dogs; it should be perfect for this in the right hands.
And I’m super confident that my training plan will stand me in good stead. Ok, so I can’t recreate the terrain in Sussex to practice on but I am swearing in Scottish as I practice on bumpy lumpy local trails. And then I discover that the vertical height gain is almost 460M of climbing per lap, not the 287M that I’d trained for and things take an interesting turn all of a sudden. Oh dear, spanners to my plan. With knobs on…large spannery-knobs.
The fast flowing rocky rooty terrain takes its toll on my hands and wrists by Lap 2 and I wish for rubber grips and padded gloves. I have neither and my new blisters, despite their increasingly spongy nature, don’t absorb the descents and they can’t cushion the bars when I pull on them. Thankfully, Rory Hitchens appears from nowhere like the shopkeeper from Mr. Benn and ushers me to the van where he produces a padded pair of fingerless gloves and my race continues.
The Jones continues to look after me as darkness falls and the truss forks and loop bar steer this tiring rider over some of the technical challenges with assurity. I’m riding with a smile on my face as Richard Butler continues to snarl in my ears.
“It’s sick the price of medicine, stand up we’ll put you on your feet again; open up your eyes just to check that you’re asleep again”
I complete 10 nine mile laps in all (with over half the height gain of Mount Everest) – not enough to trouble the scorers but no-one of my age or older did more singlespeed laps and I’ll take that small victory. I’ll take anything, even a ridiculous No Fuss bobble hat. And that’s got a monkey on it (I don’t like Monkeys).
WEMBO at Weaverville next year looks like a hoot and a damn good excuse for another road-trip. I’m in, you should go too.
“It’s so heavily advertised that he wants you and I, it’s a real cowboy set, electric company, every day is happy days – it’s hell without the sin”
Huge thanks to Rory Hitchens, Matt Carr, Jeff Jones, No Fuss and Anthony Pease photography.
Words by @scatmur