Take two mountain bike legends, one July weekend and the Cotswold Farm Park, add a dash of sun, a large helping of rain and voila - you've got the Bontrager Twentyfour12!
Now in its second year, the race of two halves has really established itself as something different amongst all the other endurance events. You get the choice to tackle 24 or 12 hours solo, or in a pair or team with everyone setting off at noon. While some get the luxury of finishing at midnight, others prefer to plough on for the full 24 which this year was a real challenge.
As the twelfth hour passed the first riders took to the seven mile course under sunny skies. Somewhere amongst them were designers Rob Lee and Keith Bontrager who had worked hard to make this event challenge the best riders without destroying the first timers, with a few twists.
Keith is a man with love for all things two-wheeled and so it proved with his mogul field resembling a maxi BMX track with plenty of natural kickers and berms, before spitting riders out into the path of a large cyclo-cross inspired log jump. Rob's trails were much more varied but all took from the same theme; slippery off-camber roots, with some corners thrown in for good measure.
The first few laps were tough - weeks of rain prior to the event made the final section quicker to run than ride, but soon there was a racing line and by sunset the course was spectacular.
As darkness came so did the end of the 12 hour event. Team Torq convincingly wrapped up the mixed, solo male and open male races, while the XC Racer girls dominated their pairs race. Mountain Mayhem solo winner Anthony While took it easy and paired up with Adi Scott to take the men's win, as Jenn Hopkins did her usual solo thing and took top step.
But as some took to the beers, others were coming close to tears as the British weather dealt a cruel hand. In the early hours a massive rain storm erupted from the skies turning parts of the course into a running river. Some decided to finish early, those more optimistic were sadly misguided and would finish in the rain some nine hours later.
For their perseverance some were rewarded, nobody more so than Rob Lee who went on to win the 24 hour solo race racking up over 200 miles, with wife Sally taking the women's solo crown for the clean sweep. Cheltenham Cycles were men's team winners with 30 laps, Woo Ha Rammit took the pairs with the London Phoenix Chix topping the all girls standings.
After a testing weekend Twentyfour12 has certainly established itself as the race to try if you like a tough course with a laidback atmosphere trackside. Thanks to the hard work of Martyn Salt and his team the race should return next year at the same venue with even more improvements and endless sunshine. Here's hoping!