Bristol Bikefest was next up on TORQ Performance's extensive tour around the country. Ashton Court was home of my mountain bike training for 3 years while I studied at the University of West Of England. Its a tough and demanding circuit with its energy sapping climbs and miles of singletrack with huge rocks and roots battering your bike beneath you. On a good day when you're riding well Ashton Court can be a massively enjoyable experience, however it will punish anyone who doesnt give it the respect in deserves. Perhaps that's what team TORQ forgot to do.
Ive raced Bristol Bikefest now 3 times, twice in a pair with my previous teammate Calum Chamberlain winning last year, and now for a 3rd time with TORQ. It was an event we were hot favourites to win, however there was several teams on the start line who could quite easily pounce should we make any mistakes. The event started off well enough with Anthony O'Boyle appearing after just 22 minutes in the lead having had the chance to experience the thrills of these wonderful trails on the front of race, Andy Blair was next, then me, finally followed by Nick Collins. We quickly started to pull out a gap over Bad Ass Bikes who are also now lucky enough to be riding the same fantastic carbon Kona Kilauea hardtail frames we have.
After a few hours we'd built up a comfortable 10 minutes gap, however the TORQ team management never lets the riders relax and we were ordered to keep drumming out the fast lap times. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and setting consistant 20 minute laps. Disaster would soon strike though with Nick Collins having a huge crash substituting some of his skin for some nice gravel from a high speed fireroad section, a combination of road/ gravel rash and a massively swollen knee meant we had lost a rider before we'd even reached the 5 hour mark. It was a major blow to the team but the other 3 riders were feeling strong and ready to battle on.
Disaster struck again and again repeatedly for the next few hours with Ant and Andy both suffering multiple punctures. We still maintained the lead but by just 2 minutes, at this point when we really needed to get control and rebuild a lead I had random mechanical failure deeming my bike unpeddalable. I was forced to run for over 10 minutes in which time Bad Ass Bike slipped passed taking the lead from our grasp. We were 10 minutes down, luck really had gone against us.
The riders pulled it together though and chased hard, unfortunatly we just couldnt close the gap down, we fought hard but lost in battle, Ashton Court had beaten us. We'll be back next year to try once again to claim the top step.
Next blog on the TORQ sponsored Magnificat Sportive will be online in a few days.