Ride 24 REVIEW (+Video)
by Mark Tearle
I can't really remember the conversation we had at the Cyclosport.org meeting back in January. Someone somewhere planted the seed in my head that the Action Medical Research Ride 24 would be a good idea, turns out I wasn’t alone as Howie J, Sean and Caven eagerly put their hands up too and a Cyclosport.org team was formed. I won’t even attempt to get behind the psychology of such an undertaking but sitting here at the desk now, the overwhelming sense of achievement has me giddily sitting on top floor!
Event Set Up
Action Medical Research (AMR) is a charity that fund medical research to help stop the suffering of babies and children caused by disease and disability. AMR have successfully managed to develop high quality cycling events to support fundraising and increase the profile of the charity – the ever popular ‘100’ and ‘DIVA 100’ series, End 2 End or London to Paris to name just a few of their 22 events.
Action Medical Ride 24 is an extraordinary event managed and organised by an extraordinary charity. If you have learnt the skill of group riding and long distance endurance cycling whilst taking part in Cyclosportive challenges, and perhaps you want to take that challenge motives a little further then maybe Ride 24 is for you.
Action Medical Ride 24 is a race. A team event, unless you are mad enough to ride solo, riding relay over 24 hours on 23rd and 24th June at the Goodwood Motor Racing circuit. On arrival the teams, solo riders and solo riding support crews register and then set themselves up with their tents and a ‘garage’ – a place to convene, store bikes, kit and a car and to relax after each effort on the track. With over 200 registered riders, including 1 6-man team, 2-women’s teams, 24-men’s teams, 6-mixed teams, 7-veterans teams, and 34-solo riders – 3 of which were women.
Before The Heavens Opened
Other than the heroism of the riders, the teams, the solo riders, especially that guy on the walking running machine thingy, more on that later, 2 things mark this year’s event. Wind (a cyclists worst enemy) and rain. If having to ride for 24 hours wasn’t enough the British summer brought us the most horrible wind and lashings of rain. Our team tactic to tackle the event was to ride an hour then relay with the other riders to enable a decent rest between efforts - judging by the hand offs other teams were doing the same. Rider transition was carefully managed for rider safety. Each bike was fitted with a timing chip behind the team number attached to the bike, and during transition a timing chip anklet was swapped between riders before continuing the race.
The Goodwood circuit is a 2.4 mile track, the serious teams aiming consistently for an average of 5 or 6 minutes per lap for a competitive time - whilst riders were handing over to their team mate’s solo riders continued their test of endurance and staying power around the track.
Catering Tent Was Always Busy
Ride 24 has the status of a qualifying race for Race across America (RAAM), and there were a number of riders, marked out by their blue race numbers who were under strict race instructions not to draft behind other riders – team and solo riders given the luxury of being able to ride behind others to shelter from the wind and save energy. To qualify for RAAM the 6 registered entrants were to ride over 400 miles solo within the 24 hours. I doff my sombrero to the solo riders – not only was this an extreme test of endurance but they were also racing against each other, competing for the most laps covered over 24 hours.
First of Many Great Meals
The team race was a hard fought and exciting spectacle – the more competitive teams fighting hard for the honour of winning the event and for a place in the Le Mans event taking place in France in August.As day is inevitably followed by the night, here the rains came, not just a light drizzle, but a torrent of precipitation for a full 10 hours. Howie J was taken ill after his second outing on the track, and he was advised to rest by the Red Cross medics – his disappointment was strongly evident, but as a team he had our reassurance and support and whilst he rested me, Sean and Caven took up longer turns on the track.
The darkness hours were the hardest test from my point of view. To find that motivation to get back on the bike in the darkness and follow the blinking red lights – kudos to both Caven and Sean who took on the graveyard shift – those hours between 2am and 5am. Idai Makaya – my hero... 24 hours solo on an ElliptiGO (the walking running machine thingy that I mentioned earlier) - was awarded with a special bottle of rum at the prize giving ceremony for his efforts and entertaining us all with his delightfully positive attitude.The catering at Ride 24 was exceptional – Extreme Hospitality we thank you sincerely for your sustenance. We also thank Complete Wellbeing for their massage services, both hot food and massage available for the full 24 hours. Sports nutrition was on offer from High 5.
Mark, Howie and Caven
Sarah Stevenson of Action Medical Research said “Huge thanks and massive congratulations to every rider who took part in this extremely enduring race that not only pushed riders to the limit with the hours to ride but also with ten hours of rain and strong winds to contend with they are all heroes to action medical research!”
Cyclosport Rider Howie J took up the race again in the morning after his rest.
I now leave you with the other riders thoughts and feelings from throughout the event:
Preparation for this event has, for many reasons been virtually zero, but with a sensible schedule of one hour on and three off, it was a manageable target of six one hour efforts. What none of us factored in was the weather, and I brought almost every piece of cycling kit i owned as the forecast was wet and windy.
Once tents were erected, and rider briefing over, it was time to get into action with Cav taking the honour of the first session. Whilst Cav was keeping pace with the faster guys, i prepared myself ready for the second hour.
Switch over was quick and simple and it was time to settle in. The start/finish straight was a block headwind, and with no shelter you just had to grind it out, with only a tailwind on the back straight. The time flew by, and just as i was getting warmed up, and learning the track, it was time to come in and hand over to Sean.
First, I needed a massage, and was seen straight away, where some knots and lumps were expertly eased from my legs. Then it was time to eat, and I can say the caterers deserve a huge pat on the back . There was enough choice, and enough food all times of the day and night.
Howie Pleased After Ride
My next session was due for 8pm, so i had an hours sleep, and bang on time, i was back out on track. Recently i have had some personal issues to deal with, and this has had a serious impact on my mental health. Pushing hard, making the legs burn would not turn off turmoil in my head, and once i was back off the track, an hour later i felt rather unwell. So i decided to best to be safe than sorry, and asked the Red Cross team that were there, to check me over. My blood pressure was very high and my blood sugar very low. I was asked not to ride for at least six hours, and to come back before for another check up before i went back out on track.
The hardest part of the whole weekend was telling my Team Captain that I had to withdraw for some time, knowing it was going to put additional riding time on them.
By 6am, with some rest and food inside me, I was cleared to ride, so I got back out and tried to recover some lost laps. A good 90 minute session was put in, with the wind and rain. With the ride schedule now adjusted, i was asked if i would like to complete the final hour, and the honour was duly accepted.
The final hour went too quickly, the sun came out, the wind dropped and the final two laps were nothing short of cathartic. So much so at the end i was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. My team mates were exceptional with their support and understanding. Would i do it again, OH YES.
The support from Action Medical for the whole event was just fantastic, and may i say huge thank you to Dan and Shirley at the Red Cross.
This was the event I was really looking forward to. I have had another full calendar of events which provided ample physical training for the challenge, but mental preparation was difficult to quantify.
Having been to Goodwood a number of times I know how long the journey can take from Shropshire so my weekend started early with a day off on Friday to travel down and stay with a friend a few miles away from the circuit. Just as well, the trip took over 5 hours as the traffic conspired against me on every motorway on the route! Once down south I had been invited to my host for the evening Alan Thew, to his club’s curry night. A good time was had and curry is always good pre-event nutrition, right?A reasonably leisurely morning being so close was nice and when I arrived, Caven and Howie were already setting up.
Fast forward to 2pm and race start; as mentioned Caven took the Le Mans style skitter across the track in cleats while I held his bike and shoved him off. Once underway the three of us headed over to the catering area for some lunch. It has to be said that Extreme Hospitality provided a stunning service throughout the event; the food was plentiful, varied and exceptional in quality. I ate proper meals after pretty much every stint as it was so good.
On to the racing then – I was on at 4pm and although it had cooled it was dry, this ended up being the only session in short sleeves and shorts. Full of adrenaline and with fresh muscles it was quick from the word go, and plenty of others were out on track. I managed to hold a 21mph average for the hour which I was pleased with, but going out hard right from the off didn’t do me any good and my quads were not happy, so a trip to the massage area was next. Being so early they were fairly quiet and I was seen quickly, where a good (if painful) massage of the quads got them back to a fit state.
My next session was another quick one, but I soon realised I would have to pace better if I wanted to make it through the night. We had a slight panic ahead of the third round of sessions when we couldn’t find Howie, but Mark made contact and we were told about his health and the enforced rest. Howie was understandably upset, but we were there as a team, and the three of us assured him we would work to get the job done until he felt fit enough to ride again.
Here was also where the weather changed and provided the most testing environment I have ever had to ride in. It had been windy all day, around 20mph most of the time, but when the rain started just after 9pm all hell broke loose with 30+mph gusts to add to the constant barrage. My next two shifts were two of the hardest rides I’ve had on the bike. I hadn’t managed to sleep due to the tent amplifying the noise of the storm and if I’m honest, getting into cycling kit in the middle of the night, wet before you have started was tough mentally. Once underway though, it was immense fun – I never once had a dark ‘I want out’ moment throughout the event. I was glad once my 90 minutes were up, sure, but never desperate for it to end. My last night session, between 3:30-5am was quite surreal. The wind and rain hadn’t abated, but 20 minutes or so before the light crept back into Sussex the swifts started to sing, and all I could think of was summer! I had the soundtrack at least.
Another restless hour and a half in the tent saw me up and about with time to spare, and the good news that Howie had been passed fit and was already out putting some miles in. Another excellent feed and I went for a second massage, a general rub down this time which left me fit and eager for my last 90 minute stint at 10am. This one, although in the light and the rain had stopped (not that damn wind though) was inevitably the hardest. Any decent average speed I had been carrying was gone and the field was shattered with no groups working together at all. Caven had sat on the pit wall for my last three laps and could see the change. I smiled on the first sighting, grimaced on the second, and must have looked destroyed on my third and last pass.
My race over, I had a few minutes to myself to reflect on the experience. I was dog tired but physically OK but was thrilled that I had completed the sessions expected of me and performed to my expectations. I had set a personal target of 100 miles over the 6 hours I was to ride. I managed 119 in 6 hours 10 minutes, so was more than happy. This, along with the realisation we had all made it saw me on a high, and watching Howie ride the final hour in style was awesome.
It was a truly fantastic event, expertly run by all at AMR Events, with sterling backup from the other event support crews. A big thanks to my three team mates Mark, Caven and Howie who kept the spirits up and worked well as a team, Sarah and all the volunteers at AMR who kept us well looked after, Colin at OneLife ID, and to all the other participants who made it such an experience.Unfortunately though, I enjoyed it so much that I may well have developed an addiction to endurance events – let’s take a look at that calendar.
After having the honour of being first out I suppose it’s fitting I have the final word on an extraordinary weekend. I must echo the sentiments of my team-mates in thanking everyone who made the event possible. Enough cannot be said of the organisation, the volunteers who make these events possible and the terrific catering that kept all the riders fed, watered and in good spirits.
The setting is unusual but that in itself makes the event unique. I have ridden Mountain Mayhem a few times, the off-road equivalent and the weather proved a nightmare for those riding this year’s version. The guys have already mentioned the testing conditions and apart from a lot of standing water you could ride with confidence. Don’t get me wrong riding into a head wind is never easy, doing it every couple of miles and knowing it is literally round the corner plays games with you!
The beauty of this event from our point of view is the shared experience.
Caven Lost In Thought
We normally attend events as individuals, ride and then produce our copy. This time we could relax in the mutual challenge but support and cajole one another. You are struck by the competitive but friendly nature of all those riding. To all those solo riders and their supporters, chapeau! I spent some time talking to various non-riders and the commit from them is almost on a par with the riders they are supporting.
I have ridden some great events over the years but this is right up there with the best. Perhaps not the scenery you would encounter abroad or even the weather but one I would rush to get involved with next year.
I have mentioned everyone apart from my fellow cyclosport.org team riders. Simply put it was a pleasure. Supportive and enthusiastic we had a pretty good time. We all exceeding what we set out to and that’s all you can ask. Oh and it was for a very good cause.
Finally I leave you with a note from Marty McCrossan, the commentator for Ride 24:
Having been lucky enough to be the onsite MC/Commentator for the Action Medical Research RIDE 24 for the past 4 years, I can honestly say 2012 was the best yet.
RIDE 24 is without doubt on of the most unique, challenging and inspiring events on theUK cycling scene its not a sportive, its so much more than that.
The racing element sits alongside those who are there just to finish in a way that so many other events would love to be able to re-create. Out on the circuit the support for each other is evident, mutual respect and admiration bubblesover as you pedal around. In the first year, we had a couple of nutters who wanted to ride solo for 24 hours. In 2012 wehad 35! Some of who were looking to qualify for the fabled Race Across America.
Each year I leave the event humbled and inspired by the people I meet and proud of how thesport I have been involved with for almost 30 years is growing in the hearts of so many peoplewho want to throw their leg over a bike to take on this challenge!
If you want and event to challenge you or your team, RIDE 24 2013 should be in your diary.
From the team at Cyclosport.org a huge congratulations to all riders who took part in Ride 24! Full results are now available here HERE – if you were there as a rider please stop by and add your thoughts and rate the event.
Relatively Fresh Mark At The Finish
If you’d like a taste of an Action Medical Research cycling event their next challenge is the Ribble Valley 100.
Take a look at the video we put together from the event:
- 23/06/2012 - Goodwood Motor Circuit, West Sussex
Rating: 91.9% based on 6 reviews - See Previous Ratings
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