On the hottest weekend of the year so far, some 120 riders prepared for the UK’s first ever 24-hour solo mountain bike championship, the 24hrs of Exposure.
With seven categories in total – male and female open, veteran and rookie races, plus a singlespeed category – the massed throng of riders included hardened endurance specialists and a strong showing of first-timers, proving that 24-hour racing isn’t merely the preserve of the elite.
The race, organised by SIP Events – the folks behind the Kielder 100 – took place on the 7Stanes trails of Newcastleton, Scotland, and was hailed as an “unquestionable success” by Exposure Lights’ Rory Hitchens. Hitchens, himself a 24-hour rookie, finished fourth in the veteran category after completing 18 laps of the punishing course (each 12-mile lap included 500m of climbing).
The racing was as close and satisfying as any true national championships should be. With Josh Ibbett (Syncros Endurance) setting a blistering pace after settling into the first lap, the favourites were suddenly – and unexpectedly – put on the back foot.
Ibbett continued to ride at a searing pace and at one point managed to form a 30-minute advantage over the chasing group that included last year’s Mountain Mayhem solo winner, and postman, Matt Page (Wiggle/Focus), Rich Rothwell (Enigma/Exposure) and Ant White (Exposure/Skins/KCNC).
However, 18 hours in, the relentless pace and heat began to take their toll and Ibbett started to slow down. Sensing this, Page began to reel him in and succeeded in catching and then passing him with just a few laps to go.
Matt Page battled his way to top spot on the podium
“I won’t say Josh was an unknown,” Page told BikeRadar afterwards. “But no-one thought he was going to last as long as he did – it was only halfway through that I started to think he wouldn’t slow down, but I never thought I wouldn’t catch him.”
“Normally I don’t really have a strategy,” answered Page when asked whether he rode to a plan. “But because it’s been so hot I deliberately didn’t push hard during the first day: it meant that I wasn’t sweating so I wasn’t dehydrating. I left pushing hard until the sun went down and it got cooler. That was my only tactic really: wait until the night and keep pushing and then keep going hard by the next day.”
Page eventually claimed his title as the British 24-hour solo champion after completing 22 laps, in the process reserving his place at the 24hrs of Adrenalin Solo World Championships in Canberra, Australia in October.
This left Ibbett in second until Ant White (Exposure/Skins/KCNC) caught him on the final lap and, after a pat on the back for riding a strong race, passed him, leaving Ibbett to take the third step on the podium.
Rickie Cotter won the women’s open and rookie categories
In the women’s open race, rookie 24-hour racer Rickie Cotter (WXC Racing) took the win to build on her previous endurance form shown at the 2009 TransWales. There she finished a close second to Italy’s national marathon champion, Marika Covre, but at the 24 Hours of Exposure Cotter convincingly dominated to finish with 16 laps under her belt, a clear two laps ahead of second placed Nicola MacLeod (Adidas Terrex). This meant that Cotter also claimed the Morvelo Rookie title.
Sally Daw (Team Sludge Racing) cycled a brilliant race in the veteran women’s category and racked up 14 laps – enough to have placed her third in the open category. Second-placed Anne Dickins (Petra Cycles/Oxted MTB) completed a total of 11 laps; a result that would have placed her halfway down the overall field. She hoped it would “inspire more ladies to enter this race next year who would look and think, ‘Yes, I can relate to them – I could do that too!”
The first singlespeeder home was Jon Hobson (Chevin Cycles/Bang & Olufsen) who buried himself to complete 16 laps of the super-tough course. The male Morvelo Rookie title was taken by John Fettis (Team Corley Cycles) who completed 18 laps, which would have placed him ninth in the open category.
“It was awesome. It surpassed all of our wildest dreams. The weather was ridiculous – 29°C at 6pm on Saturday,” a very jovial Sara Randle, of organisers SIP Events, said. “Absolutely everything, everybody and all the riders just surpassed our expectations – it was just brilliant.”
With some riders writing on forums that this championship has changed the British mountain bike events landscape, the infectious praise would seem to be universal. What is certain is that SIP Events have again produced another successful ‘first for the UK’ with the 24 Hours of Exposure, following on from the UK’s first 100-mile race, the Kielder 100. But, as Randle told BikeRadar: “We’re not done yet – there are plenty more firsts to come.”
Jon Hobson was the first singlespeed rider home
BikeRadar can exclusively reveal that next year’s event will feature a 12-hour solo championships alongside the 24-hour race; it will remain at Newcastleton; there will be more facilities and services for riders, as well as a tweaked course; and it will take place on the weekend of 7-8 May. See www.24hoursolo.co.uk for full results, images and further information.
1 3 22 23:21:00 Matt Page (Wiggle/Focus)
2 4 21 22:51:12 Ant White (Exposure/Skins/KCNC)
3 12 21 23:03:25 Josh Ibbett (Syncros Endurance)
4 2 21 23:55:02 Rich Rothwell (Enigma/Exposure)
5 7 19 23:01:07 James Leavesley (Genesisbikes.co.uk)
6 10 18 22:43:43 Jason Miles (Ragley)
7 38 18 23:06:20 Luke Morris
8 9 18 23:34:45 Mike Hall
9 15 17 23:44:36 Andrew Howett (SWCC/Chandlers Mitsubishi/Solo Club)
10 16 16 22:38:12 Anthony Jordan (Cloud9Trails)
1 76 16 21:45:20 Rickie Cotter (WXCMountain Bike Team UK)
2 75 14 22:15:48 Nicola MacLeod (Adidas Terrex)
3 73 14 23:42:04 Jane Chadwick (Chevin Cycles/Bang & Olufsen)
4 74 13 22:55:40 Nicola Duggan (WXCMountain Bike Team UK)
5 71 13 23:45:56 Amy Baron Hall (Cookson Cycles)
6 72 11 22:59:51 Jac Marquis
1 113 19 23:09:50 Keith Forsyth (Innerleithen MTB Racing/i Cycles)
2 102 19 23:29:26 Ifor Powell (Severn Road
3 103 18 22:32:26 John Fettis (Team Corley Cycles)
4 100 18 23:14:07 Rory Hitchens (USE-Exposure)
5 122 15 23:05:34 Ski Sharp
6 117 14 22:49:11 Nik Pullen (Marjislarge)
7 111 14 23:10:49 John Pitchers (thebikelivery.com)
8 109 14 23:21:41 Glenn Campbell (Bedgebury CC)
9 106 12 23:04:24 Dave Blackburn
10 121 11 20:47:53 Simon Catmur (The Filth & The Fury)
1 82 14 22:38:45 Sally Daw (Team Sludge Racing)
2 81 11 22:41:57 Anne Dickins (Petra Cycles/Oxted MTB)
12 34 16 23:18:30 Jon Hobson (Chevin Cycles/Bang & Olufsen)
3 103 18 22:32:26 John Fettis (Team Corley Cycles)
1 76 16 21:45:20 Rickie Cotter (WXCMountain Bike Team)