Funny. I think I've physiologically adapted to mud riding to the point where dry 24-hour races just confuse my body. First lap at SITS in the hot and dry felt awful in an 'on the verge of viral doom' sort of way. Cue lots of debate over how few laps were needed and when to do them...
And then it rained for around 30 seconds, hard. The course turned into a familiar quagmire. And suddenly everything felt okay. On with the 1.8 Nobby Nics, a small dose of MTFU, a bit of gentle team efficiency and onwards into muddy familiarity washed in cool drizzle and a dusting - mudding - of Schadenfreude.
Awesome people watching. In no particular order: people who jet wash their bikes into perfect cleanliness between laps, when they must know that in five minutes they'll be back to muddy behemothness; people who fly into a massive strop at the first sign of mud because it was oh so unexpected; people who stand on the exit of lethally slippery corners pulling clumps of mud out of the bike seemingly oblivious to their own vulnerability; serious people who check out your numberplate just in case you're in the same class as them; and people, yep, just people.
Had an unexpectedly great time with nice people, 50% of them unexpected people at that. Big thanks to Rick and Steevo who stepped in at the last-ish moment and just got on with riding and being good company and tapping out the laps in somewhat trying conditions. No dummy-spitting, no complaining, even when Steve lost his rear mech in the small hours of the morning and Rick's meticulously prepped and cleaned bike got mud on it.
It was good fun. And interesting. Somehow, thanks to a combination of soloing and my old Dave Smith training programme - thanks Dave - 24-hour team races feel oddly luxurious; 1. Go as fast as you can. 2. Stop. 3. Eat, change clothes, eat more, chat, banter, drink coffee with mates, eat more, doze. 4. Hang around in changeover chatting with Ros, for some reason Ros always appeared to be there at the same time as me. 5. Go as fast as you can. 6. Repeat until noon on Sunday.
Easily pleased you see. And you can even sleep during the night.
But I think that's enough 24-hour racing. Next year something new, something different, something shiny and bright and fierce and mellow.