In contrast to my team's slightly lackluster performance, here's an altogether more upbeat account of Mountain Mayhem 2011 from our friend & European 24 hour solo champion rider, Matt Page - in his own words:
My cycling career has moved forward very quickly over the last few seasons, going from working as a courier in Cardiff and racing as a hobby, to racing a little more seriously and having a “normal” job to now where I train full time and race for a living.
I enjoy my cycling, so it isn't a chore, but sometimes I forget why I started riding and what I enjoy most about being on a bike. After my win at the 24hr UK/European champs I went back to “just riding” and enjoyed the rides, rather than turning every ride into a training session.
Last weekend I was at Mountain Mayhem, the biggest festival in Mountain Biking and somewhere that really ignited my pasion for cycling. My first experience of the event was way back in 2004 when it first visited Eastnor Park in what was very much a fun team. The weather was really bad, I certainly wasn't very fit and I remember one lap in particular taking almost 2 hours because of the mud and terrain but I loved it and I was totally hooked and in awe of the solo riders, including Tinker Juarez who won that year. I've been to every Mountain Mayhem since and each time since it has been quite serious. In 2005 it was in a fairly fast team, and we narrowly missed the podium in a team in 2007. The came the solo attempts in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and despite coming close in 2008 I managed to win the following year, celebrating by proposing to my now fiancée, Nia on the finish line. Last year it started as a bit of fun, but soon turned into fast racing as I was joined by a team mate and two Wiggle mechanics in a team where we made the top 10 in the Open Men category.
So this year I decided that I would go right back to the start and enter a fun team and really enjoy the atmosphere of what is really more of a festival than a race. As a solo racer it is impossible to enjoy what goes on and in a serious team you are always busy with no time to wander about. This year was different, I was asked to join a team with the people from USE/Exposure lights and although we were entered into the Expert Mixed category (thanks to my elite XC licence) we were there to enjoy the event more than anything else.
I volunteered to start, which meant doing the run. Normally a couple of minutes and about 800m in distance, I can just about cope with that. I wasn't expecting to be running over 10 minutes in a pair of super stiff race slippers! It hurt quite a bit and I was glad to get to the bike.
From that point onwards every bit of the event was fantastic. The slippery mud was good fun and quite challenging then it started drying out and it became really fast. In between laps I chilled out, walked about the arena, cheered everyone else on and just got stuck into the atmosphere that makes this event unique. I only managed 4 laps, none were that quick but as a team we did keep someone on course at all times. Mountain Mayhem reminded me of why I love this sport so much, to go back to where it all started for me and recapture the magic I felt back then.