Saab Salomon Mountain Mayhem ride report
Jenn O’Connor, silver medallist at the World
24 Hour Solo Championships, reports on the Starlet Specialized Race Team’s SSMM efforts.
We were treated to glorious weather for the biggest mountain biking event of the year. Despite a patter of rain in the early hours of Saturday morning, the track stayed dry and dusty, and was a shortened course from previous years, making for short, fast laps.
This was the first time in 5 years that I would not be racing solo at Mayhem, and it was a strange feeling to be sitting in the team tent during the race, and not out on the track for every lap. The Starlet team entered in the four-person mixed category, along with MBUK reviews editor Matt Skinner. Matt was pleased to be back in good shape after a long rehab from a broken knee. Specialized fitted him up with a new Stumpjumper FSR for the weekend, and he was soon smiling despite falling off and dirtying his new jersey on a practice lap before the race.
The odds were against our team from the start, as we were the only elite mixed team to field three women. In fact the top 5 teams in our category had just one woman in each team, and sent them out for only half their share of laps!
I took first lap duty, which meant fighting my way through the run. I never run in training, even when I have to run for a solo race, and it always amazes me just how inefficient I am without wheels under me. Nonetheless, I got through the first lap in good time, and the big open climbs really helped in breaking up the field and providing plenty of room to overtake. Matt went out next, followed by Kate P, then Kate G.
Our team riders all put in a great performance, riding fast, steady laps and doing 9 laps each to finish 6th in our category.
Congratulations to Jenn Hopkins, who rode 25 laps to win the womens solo, all on a singlespeed. Every time I saw her was on a climb, and she was riding past guys pushing their geared bikes. Awesome. Longtime soloist Paul Murrin won the men’s solo with 33 laps, another heroic Mayhem effort.
The next race for the Starlets will be the third round of the British National Points XC in Drumlanrig in the Scottish Borders on July 8th & 9th, before we start the long drive to Germany for the Transalp on the 15th.
MBUK will have a full review of SSMM in issue 202, which will be on sale on August 2nd.