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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Ultan's 24hr TT report (worth a read!)

Ultan and I go way back. I first lent him a bike as a favour to Rapha as he was doing an epic ride for them. We clicked and next thing you know he was helping me with the design work and branding for when we moved to the new shop.
His latest obsession is ultra long TTs - and Ben has been helping him with his TT position, and last month he bought a lovely Trek Speed Concept from us.

Here is his cracking report of the National 24 hr TT:

The Mersey Roads National 24hr TT Championships 2012 was my third 24. The first was ‘have a go and survive’, the second attempt was to 'give it a lash', and the third time I aimed to 'empty the tanks'. 

I was much more organized this year, and had everything boxed off and prepped which allowed me to relax a lot the night before, but once we drove into the HQ at Farndon the nerves hit me straight away. The nerves were further heightened when I went to sign on and was told that John Warnock - the big favorite - had pulled out and the organisers said that maybe I could win it. I knew I had a chance and so did a few others, so I had to settle the head and go about making the most of it.

From the start I went hard and probably too hard, but I was thinking make hay when the sun is shining and follow the bike. I had a couple of comfort issues early on but they soon settled down. For the first 10 hours it was basically head down and get into it. The first 3 or 4 hours are always nervy and my eating and drinking was triggered more by this rather than necessity. But, after my first break the rhythm of eating and drinking became clearer. After this I started to think of all the training, stretching, tennis-balling and good nutrition that I had done in an attempt to prepare the mind for the hours ahead.  

I blew. I went out too quick and suffered for twenty odd miles. “This could be a long night” I thought to myself, but luckily I recovered just as darkness fell. I felt great for the first few hours of darkness so I rid hard, probably way too hard but I was trying to make up for the first blow, but without thinking I was drilling straight towards another. I still had the lead but knew that my number 2 was close. He remained too close for comfort for those first 12 hours, so with each blazing lap I was hoping to be putting time into him, it was never as much as I thought.

Thinking positively is critical to riding a good 24. You have to believe that everyone is going to crack or have a rough patch because 9 times out of 10 everyone has a dip. Looking back now it seems number 2 was trying to make pace with me rather than vice versa and maybe I drew him out of his own ride. After hauling my arse through some hard dark hours I started to get feedback that I was gaining on him. Luckily my wingman pulled up alongside me and told me to go handy and not put a huge effort in. The best advice I got. 10 miles up the road I spot him labouring his bike. Putting the boot down and around him, I drove it on for another few miles then cooled off to steady the ship for the long haul. Day had come again and I was energized from the change. I was sure he was going to attack me but it never came. That probably gave me the edge to pull it together for another few hours. But having dug holes too deep, too early on, I was always going to vulnerable. I had to go steady.

500 was my target but I wasn't settled enough to hit that marker this year. Next time. 489miles in total and a national title. I'll take that. I made the most of my chance and I am honoured the efforts of my crew who were exceptional; Oisín, Finnian and Bas. Bespoke have kept me moving smoothly all year from body to bike, so I owe them huge thanks also. Until next year. 

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