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Gorrick 12 Hour Team Win!5th SEP 2012

If you’ve been reading my reports for a while you’ll know just how much I enjoy riding marathon and endurance events. This year I was especially looking forward to the Gorrick 12 hour which is sponsored by my team’s title sponsor Mountain Trax. The event takes place around an 8 mile circuit I know pretty well so when the heavens opened the day before the race I was fairly confident it wouldn’t be a complete mudfest like many other 12 or 24 hour races. The venue and much of the surrounding area has a loamy surface which quickly absorbs water keeping mud to a minimum. The track is made up of some super fun rooty singletrack and a few short, sharp climbs which perfectly suit my snappy power. The rain stopped on Saturday evening, come Sunday morning riders woke to blue skies and breezy conditions which would quickly dry the track as the last of the summer sunshine beamed down onto Minley Manor.

With a central base in the arena Mountain Trax had the perfect setup for its riders which included the race team, its shop staff, a few select customers, and a couple of guests. In total Mountain Trax had 4 teams - including the customer team. I’d be racing with Will Simmons, Scott McCarron, and Calum Chamberlain who was racing his final race in the UK before moving to New Zealand.

The aim from the start was to lead the race out trying to crack the strong opposition which existed in particular from my former team TORQ Performance. From the gun the race followed the lead quad bike in a loop around the arena field, the idea being riders would spread out before being let loose on the full lap and into the tight singletrack. As soon as the quad pulled off after the start loop I took the lead allowing perfect vision through the first twisty trail. Exiting this trail I had a small gap and capitalized by attacking up the next hill and along the next fireroad section. Quickly the elastic began to stretch, soon I was alone thrashing through the trails on my Santa Cruz 29er having huge amounts of fun. Although the track was drying quickly there were a few slippery patches which meant you needed to stay aware; the Kenda Karma tyres found the grip though and kept me going in the right direction. Entering the arena after the first lap in one of these 12 or 24 hour endurance races is always a thrill because the crowds in the arena gather to see who will be in the lead. First lap glory with 2 minutes lead over 2nd place at Mountain Trax’s home race was a pretty special but in reality as Calum headed out onto the next lap there was still over 11 hours to go.

Between laps there was some great banter, laughter and general comedy at the Mountain Trax tent which made the 12 hours pass by quickly. After Calum completed his lap he’d extended the lead over second place TORQ. Will and Scott then put decent lap times but TORQ’s strong 4 man elite team were piling on the pressure bringing the gap back down to a minute. As each hour passes the gap to second would increase and then close back down. Cracks eventually appeared over at TORQ and at this point we finally began to pull out a few more minutes, the gap never really became comfortable though, a puncture or crash would flip the situation completely.

As darkness fell over Hampshire the Mountain Trax team strapped on their Exposure Lights ready to illuminate the dark forest trails. Evidence of how well these lights work was proved by the lap times, my dusk lap time was just as fast as my previous 2 daytime laps, my final lap at night was just a minute slower around a tight twisty rooty 35 minute track! As the 12 hour mark approached riders, family and friends gathered in the arena to cheer home the rider’s still racing out on track. The race organisers from Gorrick had pulled off another fantastic race and under clear skies team Mountain Trax crossed the line to take the win by 16 minutes. Thanks for reading. Ben Thomas

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