Fort William hosts top UK 24-hour marathon
FORT William’s No Fuss Events hosted the UK 24-hour Mountain Bike Championships as part of their Relentless Exposure 24 event at Nevis Range. Matthew Jones is the new British champion, covering 29 laps of the 11km course of flowing single-track on a mixture of man-made and natural trails combined with some stinger climbs.
Having pushed the boundaries of the UK’s 24-hour mountain bike racing scene with the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation Championships in 2014, Relentless 24 has showcased some of the most exciting endurance racing in Scotland and, looking at the start list, there was no doubt the 2016 event, on October 29 and 30, was going to be a thriller.
The event attracted the crème de la crème of the UK’s mountain bike endurance talent and, with a field of almost 100 solo riders, it is clear interest in 24-hour racing in the country is alive and kicking.
The Outdoor Capital of the UK – Fort William and Lochaber – and the riding at Nevis Range has a world-renowned reputation and with the recent announcement that No Fuss would again host the World 24-Hours Championships in 2018, riders knew claiming the 2016 British crown would be the perfect line in the sand.
The atmosphere on Saturday morning was amazing. Riders were clearly excited by the course choice, one more than worthy of the championship status.
The fact that every rider had trackside pits and that the weather gods appeared to be playing ball meant there was time to concentrate on the finer details, including tyre choices and nutrition plans.
For the top riders, the 11km course of tough terrain, flowing single-track on a mixture of man-made and natural trails and stinger climbs was all that lay between them and the coveted UK championship jerseys. That and the fact they had to complete 24 hours on their bike.
It was clear from the outset racing was going to be fierce and at the four-hour stage of the race there was a little over four minutes separating the top 10 riders.
At eight hours, that was extended to a very close 15 minutes.
There were whisperings of concerns around the pit area ‘they’ll never sustain this’ and ‘ who is going to crack first’.
Matthew Jones, Michael McCutcheon and Peter Nadin were the eventual top three solos, with Matthew completing 29 laps in a time of 24 hours and 10 minutes. Michael was 15 minutes behind after an astonishing 29 laps, a little under the 200-mile mark.
In the ladies’ race, Lee Craigie and Sally Buckworth tussled all day and night with Lee taking the victory with a creditable 23 laps.
In the team categories, it was Stefan Macina and Bob Addey from Aurelius Cycles who took the men’s pairs with 32 laps and the girls from Sandy Wallace Cycles taking the win with 23 laps.
The quads and the eights categories were dominated by the boys and girls from Dunoon with the Benmore winning the eights and Team Pin it Ya Fairy taking the fours with a monstrous 32 laps.
Russ Baker one of the WEMBO organisers and president of Mountain Bike Australia, was at the event over the weekend and is looking forward to returning to the Outdoor Capital in 2018 for the World Solos Championship.
Frazer Coupland from No Fuss Events said: ‘The standard of racing over the weekend has been exceptional.
‘ We have been delighted with the numbers who attended and as usual the team at Nevis range are a pleasure to work with.’
Next year’s Relentless Exposure 24 is scheduled for the weekend of October 28 and 29.
Action from the UK 24-hour mountain biking championships in Fort William.