It was the first significant anniversary of this brutal, challenging race, that had seen nine previous years of growth and growing interest. The endurance calendar is often held in awe, an almost unrealistic belief by many in the cycling world. We believe the Strathpuffer epitomises this with its famed tag-line printed on the shirts of every competitor:
“Ten years of wind-rain-hail-snow-ice-grit-suffering and glorious sunrises….”
I think each rider has to look at that line, and either be fearful of the conditions, or decide to embrace the event and the beauty of such a spectacle.
Muckyriderz – Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique quad comprised of:
- Craig Webster (The Ninja)
- Stevie Crowther (Stevie)
- Connor Johnstone (The Champ)
- David Glover (Ernie)
Like a bag of skittles, they couldn’t be much more different in terms of ages (16 – 39), personalities (guess the old one by the nicknames, or lack of!), and riding styles. However, after all meeting up just a year ago at Strathpuffer 2014, which ended in a successful third place finish and a desire to win the 2015 race, it has been a year of intense training, growing camaraderie, and unshakeable self-belief.
Everyone reading this will be aware of a Dave Brailsford or Sir Alex Ferguson, who get the recognition as being behind a team and giving them the necessary tools to compete at the peak of their potential. Well at the Strathpuffer each successful team must have a pit crew (usually 2 or more deep) who are integral to the success of the team. However, just like the crew in a formula one team, they are rarely singled out for their contribution. The pit crew here consisted of just one man, Gary Johnstone (The Champ’s Dad). And what a champ he was for the team, managing to stay awake and working for the full 24 hour duration. All bikes were cleaned, mouths were fed, clothes were changed, timing sheets were filled in, and he even wanted to steal the limelight as a relay runner signalling the arrival of each team member for the changeover.
Any spectators would be forgiven for thinking the race for each team begins at 10am Saturday with a famed Le Mans style start. However, the truth is far from this if you want to be part of a winning and successful team. The weekend begins at 9am on the Friday with a much anticipated meeting close to home. Adrenaline has started to flow, plenty of smiles and nods to show encouragement, with even the odd bit of bromance shining through with some hugs (but no kisses!). The Ninja was like a caged hamster looking for a wheel, and his infectious attitude was rubbing off on the rest of the team. So onto the road north, and that wasn’t without event. Blizzards at the Slochd Summit, Gary forgetting all the food and having an hour round trip to collect, hundreds of riders all descending at once for parking passes (honestly, cyclists will tell you they’re organised beasts), and capped off with the sight of Ernie pulling a gazebo past all the static cars on the fire road to claim the base camp. This unflappable, almost cheeky, approach by Ernie laid the final foundations of a year’s preparation. Now for the race!
Well the numbers are quite staggering for this race: 822 total riders, with 476 of those split across 119 teams in the quad category. Race day began with a fresh fall of snow, clear skies, and a buzz of excitement around the camp. Pre-race nutrition was now the order of the day, and would be the most important fuel for the riders as the 24 hours progressed. Good old fashioned porridge was a great base for the main course of nutritional supplements that would fill the specific needs of each rider. OTE products were in plentiful supply throughout the race, and allowed the body to cope with the demands of such high endurance. In the months leading up to the race it was clear that one area where vital minutes could be gained or lost would be the transition, much like an Olympic running relay, between each rider. This was worked on methodically, and all riders in the team, as well as Gary, were integral to a seamless process which undoubtedly gained minutes for the team.
Ninja was the go to man for the first lap, and if you remember the previous hamster analogy, he had now found his wheel and was off to a flier. With Ninja coming up the fire road in third place, it gave Stevie the clear road away from the pack to chase the two riders ahead of them. Stevie was able to overcome this deficit so that The Champ was able to start his lap in first place, after a second seamless transition. Everything was now set for the perfect race, and that’s exactly how it was to pan out. The Champ raced around in what proved to be the fastest lap of the race, inevitably keeping that first place open for Ernie to bring it home and then start again. This was atypical for the rest of the 24 hours, and they were now in a lead that they never relinquished. The conditions were living up to the Strathpuffer reputation with each rider having to contend with a combined 900ft climb over ice, snow, granite, and mud which was in abundance on the last descent. These conditions had to embraced or feared, and the Muckeyriderz/LBSBB boys embraced them all. Each rider completed nine laps each, finishing with an impressive 36 lap haul, a full two laps clear of the nearest quad team.
Muckeyriderz/LBSBB couldn’t have completed this win without the help and support from a number of organisations , family members and friends. They would like to thank Andy and Fiona from Leslie Bike Shop, Allan James (Jamesie), Billy McCord, Thomas Wibberley, Fiona and Finn (cook and bottlewasher).
Thanks to Stevie Crowther for the guest blog- if you have an OTE fuelled event to tell us about please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear from you!
Posted in: OTE Fuelled Athletes, Our Event Reports