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Perfect Imperfection - D2D 12 Hour 201011th OCT 2010

Seven years ago I entered my first Dusk 'til Dawn and it also happened to be my first attempt at a solo 12 hour. Up until that night my mountainbiking focus had been mostly cross-country with the occasional dabble into DH or Enduro. It started me on my adventure into the mind-bending world of endurance racing and shaped the next period of my life. In the car on the way home from winning that first big enduro I cried the tears of happiness that only someone who has given everything, both before and during, an event can understand.

The years that followed are the most vivid I've ever experienced. Maybe the memories are more recent but I think that it's actually the case that my life has been that much more intense. Endurance racing takes a certain amount of energy and a certain amount of focus that I've not found is required in many other parts of my life. I crave that, I seek it out, I aim to find something of that in the rest of my life. Five years ago I went back to Dusk 'til Dawn with the Masters 24 Hour Solo World Champions jersey on my back. I didn't race solo though because I don't believe in trying to repeat history. So I got some friends together and we entered as a team. I stood on that D2D box again, this time with some of those around me standing there with me. It was a good return to the event.

My life took some turns. There were highs, there were lows, and in 2007 I reached such a low point that I decided to retire from racing. I didn't know what else to do because I couldn't cope. I decided to end my racing at Dusk 'til Dawn. I entered the mixed pairs category with my team mate and friend Fi. But the race didn't go as it should of and at the halfway stage, whilst lying in second position, we withdrew from the race and went to bed. Incomplete. It was reflective of my life at the time. So three more years had now passed since my last visit to the forest where my solo career first took off. I'm still racing. I didn't know how to quit and retire because it wasn't something I did because I wanted to but rather because I couldn't cope with the pressure to go on. In that time I've started to heal, to refind my way, and myself. This year in particular has been a climax of emotional healing and new beginnings. Off coming round full circle and finding myself at the start. The end and a new start? Yes. I like the sound of that.

In my minds eye I saw 2010 as a year of saying goodbye. Of doing it my way and putting it all to rest on my own terms. I felt robbed by the madness of my own mind and the problems that took me to that low when I retired. So I prepared myself and trained properly through the Winter. I choose 3 races. A 24 solo, a 12 solo and a 6 solo - the distances of choice - and when push came to shove I had it within me to win two of these races and then I paid my respects to my peers at the third.

And so that just left Dusk 'til Dawn...

As we started, it started to rain. It just rained and rained. It rained like it was going out of fashion and all the rain had to be used up before tomorrow. Bikes were ground away in the grit and sand of Thetford. It crept in, it broke bikes. It broke riders. It broke hearts.

But for me it was all and everything it could have been. It was perfection despite the imperfection of the conditions. It was racing, it was attrition, it was suffering, it was starring yourself in the mirror and asking yourself if you had what it took to even carry on.

I broke my bike and so I ran like I'd never be allowed to experience tomorrow unless I did. I cracked physically and I made myself continue. I embraced the cold and the wet and the horrible sound that you know is the end of every moving part of a couple of thousand pounds worth of equipment!

I smiled, I grimaced, I cried, and when the sun rose on the morning after the race of the night before I stood on the second step of the podium and completed two circles in one.

It was perfect. The perfect end. The perfect place to prepare to start again...

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