On 25th June, 42T engineers took part in the 10 under the Ben (10UTB) endurance mountain bike relay in the foothills of Ben Nevis, joining nearly 700 other riders to thrash round a 10.8 mile rocky forest circuit for 11 hours in the hopes of winning a coveted “No Fuss” Mug and a place in history.
The team consisted of Dan Ahearn (a cyclist so competitive he’s petitioned for the buses on the Cambridge busway to register with Strava), 10UTB newbie Sarah “Iron lady” Knight and David “Griff” Griffin (whose principal team contribution was to bring a gazebo).
Relying on 42T’s associate model, the team also drafted in highland based Andy Vickerstaff for his project-specific domain expertise (what tyre pressure to use for the course, what products most effectively repel midges and how Talisker should be deployed most effectively post-race)
The overall result of this combination of youthful enthusiasm and time served experience was that the team competed in the “mixed veteran quad” category, a niche division offering the potential of a less crowded podium.
Dan rode first, as the field were led off by the obligatory ceremonial bagpiper, and tore round to finish lap 1 well up in significantly under an hour. The stage was set, the sun was (occasionally) out and the omens were good, and as the race wore on, the team settled into a steady rhythm of off road athleticism and high calorie snack grazing, attempting to make a dent in the market moving purchase of bananas they’d inexplicably brought along.
Then, in what Lady Bracknell might have called extreme carelessness, Griff suffered 4 separate punctures during a single mountain descent on the far side of the course (lap 6) and it looked like the targeted number of laps might present more of a challenge.
But then, as the final laps approached, Sarah’s triathlon skills came to the fore as the Scottish weather reverted to type and the course turned aquatic. She got round in time for set Dan up for a final epic mud spattered lap which brought the team back victorious in their category with 9 laps overall.
It just remained for the team to carry out a thorough debrief in the “Roy Bridge” Inn, before embarking on the long Sunday trek back to the southern flatlands.
Team places for next year’s event are sure to be hotly contested…