Relief, so I’ve discovered, is a very temporary feeling.
At around 3am on Sunday morning I took my helmet off and slumped into a camping chair in the pits. I’d just come to the end of my 12th lap at Mountain Mayhem, the last two of which were particularly painful. I felt I’d started quite well, not too hard on the run but far enough towards the front to not get caught in traffic, and settling into a good rhythm which I kept up into the darkness. I had the usual difficulties of not fancying most of the food I’d brought with me, but Beth managed to find the right combinations of things to keep me going.
Once the dew settled the mud (which had been drying out nicely) became very sticky. My lap times slowed, the singletrack descents that followed the tough climbs on the second half of the course became a slog. In a way it was challenging to keep upright and surf the mud, but at the same time you couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated to have to work so hard to get back to the bottom.
That was it for me at that point. The last lap was through a fine rain that was just beginning to get harder, and the prospect of another 11 hours of riding seemed beyond what I felt I could manage, both mentally and physically.
The relief of climbing off faded quite quickly. What I’m left with is an enduring feeling of disappointment while I try and work out why it all went wrong…