It seemed mad not to do the 12 hour after all the effort that went into preparing for the 24 in June. How hard could it be to pick up from the two week break at the end of June. It was almost a complete break, the only exercise being to and from the kitchen table to eat even more food to get back to a more sensible weight.
Coach Neil Colvin came up with another great plan to get the mileage back up but without the late night/early morning ride combos. Just more dawn patrol rides of 5/6 hours and some longish commutes home. August brought the KMs ridden up to the 1500 mark, on par with the pre 24 months. Usual bargain cost of entry @£12 and ready to go apart from the critical support. You would think with 12 hours to play with there was time to stop, pick up drinks, gels, rub in some more Chamois cream and still get a good finish. This was going to be my 4th 12hr and I have learnt that every minute counts and with a target of 250 miles I was going to need some help. Some of the regular TT crew were down to marshal this event but were already committed to competing at Southwater in the morning. Luckily Neil C and Richard Bryant were able to help and I had cover.
A 30 minute delay for fog was frustrating, Neil would have appreciated being picked up at 4.45 rather than 4.15am! The mission was to stick to a 130HR (low Z2) and high cadence and ignore any of the fast guys coming past in the first hour.
Having had no time to practise the handing up of a drinks bottle the first attempt was (typically) in front of an admiring audience of experienced support crews who jeered loudly as I didn't slow down enough, tried to grab the bottle and sent it flying across the road. I had to stop while Neil grabbed another bottle. Next time was perfect, approach Neil at 5mph, throw empty bottle at him and grab new one. Loads of time saved. Ditto with food although bananas got a bit squashed in the handing over process.
The Marshes are a great place for a long ride, flattish roads, a canal, the sea, sheep, the beach, flint covered churches, an airport and the wind. Luckily not too strong but there is always a hard section and the trick is not to panic and blow up trying to maintain the average speed, just make it up on the tail wind sections, simples.
8 hours in and Richard takes over from Neil and I now have more support from the club. Sam, Stephen Jon and Tony are all marshalling and we do a great pit stop (more drink, gels, bars, deep heat for neck and lower back) with Jon, Tony and Neil.
The last 3 hrs were on the 9 mile finishing circuit with Richard passing up peanut butter and honey sandwiches, my gel limit is definitely 10, and Nuun tablets a better drink than SIS near the end of the ride, a good cramp stopper.
HR and cadence dropping but encouragement from the supporters rising and finally one last circuit. I passed one of the 6 time keepers at 11:59:20 which meant I had to keep going until I passed timekeeper 6 another two miles on.
Encouragingly we were one of the last to arrive at the HQ and the Garmin had registered 413KM, 255 miles, 34.7km/h, and only about 5 minutes of stoppages. The winner was on 267 (I would have to find another 45 minutes to beat that - impossible without ditching work, family etc) and I finished second on around 254 (exact milage down to 3 decimal places subject to final confirmation). 3rd to 6th covered by just 3 miles so very close and proved the theory correct, you can't stop to admire the scenery.
Next year it's going to be short TTs and still no triathlons.......