red bull timelaps 2019
Saturday 2nd November 2019
Well that was one wet and windy weekend at Timelaps! If it wasn't the flying gazebos, it was the rain, if it wasn't that, then it was the inevitable puncture which affected every member of the NITP team, some more than most! Massive shame because the overall position of 139th did not truly reflect what the team were capable of, at one point, NITP were as high as 21st before the puncture curse hit super hard!
Now in it's 3rd year, the Red Bull Timelaps feels like it's become a social event in the cycling community with a who's who walking around the pits. Dirty Wknd had returned with no less than 6 teams! There was even an appearance from James Ward (who we went looking for to finally meet in person but his team had their game face on and wouldn't leave their campervan unless racing!!!), even Ineos sent a few staff teams but with a ringer in the form of pro rider Pavel Sivakov. The winning men's team, domestic pro team Vitus Pro Cycling clocked an impressive 148 laps with a 9 lap winning margin. Women's trophy went to Bianchi Dama with 126 laps, good enough for 29th overall and the mixed accolade went to Clapham Chasers with a very competitive 134 laps. New for this year was the solo category (mad people!) Tamala Mcgee and George Kirkpatrick with a total of 79/101 respectfully.
Once the dirt and grime had washed away, we posed some questions to the NITP team about the weekend and even after the bad luck, they sound like they have unfinished business with this brutal race! Don't forget to check out Rob's and ours videos from the weekend down below...
First and foremost, thank you for representing notinthepeloton at the Red Bull Timelaps 2019 in probably the most horrific weather we have witnessed at a bike race, gazebos flying everywhere, strong headwind around the course, torrential rain, bitter cold… did you know what you were getting yourself in for?!
Rob: I definitely knew what I was getting myself in for but underestimated how cold the night was going to be.
Nick: Yes and no… I’d seen a few posts on how brutal it can be, but, thinking an elapsed ride time of ~6 hours over a 25 hour period – cant be that hard surely ? I did have the foresight to pack 5 different full kits + 2 pairs shoes + multiple gloves and overshoes.. needed them all!!
David: If I’d have known what I was getting into I’d have said no. But I said yes and want to do it all over again! How does that work?!
So how would you evaluate your own personal performance despite the endless punctures some of you experienced?
Rob: I never really felt super tired, more of a feeling of just wanting to warm my hands and feet up, due to no gloves and soaking feet haha! But found the course fun with some interesting sections.
Nick: Overall and on reflection good. I definitely could have fuelled better and did struggle during the 0430 to 0600 shift, partly due to the fact I was so cold and could not warm up!! Had I not punctured in one of the stints meaning a 3 mile walk/jog, I would have completed more laps. That said, 110 miles over 5 hours 35 mins riding I was happy given its not a flat circuit!!
Mark: Coming into the Redbull laps my fitness was on a slight decline due to illness and fatigue. Saying that once I got going I felt good to crack on with some good laps. After Nick’s 45 min walk it ended up me taking over for the power hour which was meant to be Rob. Firstly I rode two laps of the normal course which brought me to the start of the power hour spot on 2pm. After four laps I felt really good and had it in my mind to finish the laps and kick on for 2 more normal ones which would given me a 2hr stint, this wasn’t spoken about to the team at the time but it wasn’t to be due to the blow out.
David: All things considered I’m fairly impressed with my performance. Many lessons learned including the need for a better fuelling and hydration strategy, a better sleep and rest strategy, and warmer clothes for the night time. The last bit would have saved me a £140 purchase at DryRobe. Proper consideration of the conditions would have meant a different tyre choice.
Probably a silly question considering the flats and the grim weather, was there ever a moment where you considered quitting or caving into the appeal of a long sleep?
Nick: Only once and prior to the 0430 stint did I say to Mark “Can I just stay in bed?!?!” but aside this 1 minute, never once thought of quitting, cant let the team down.
Mark: The lowest point for me was the walk back from the power hour, just so disappointed that I couldn’t complete the laps.. I never felt like quitting I was more concerned about not finishing it due to the lack tubes left.
David: Yes, at about 2.00am when it was my stint. If anyone had said shall we bail I may have said yes but once I got out there in the dark I really started to enjoy it (if that’s possible). As the weather changed and we passed the halfway point thing got better and better.
It was a team of varied age and experience and you all pulled your weight in hitting laps and getting the most out of each other, how did you find working together over the weekend considering some of you had never met before?
Rob: I found that the team worked really well together, and we managed to work out who did what stints and times, with no questions asked or argument.
Nick: I felt we all bounced off each other well. I’m fairly outgoing anyway, so I find this relatively easy to do. It probably also helped when at the lowest point, you don’t want people to have a poor impression of you, so you battle on!
Mark: I found we bounced off each other really well.. there was not bickering or arguments we just cracked on with the task ahead.
David: Robert added a special dynamic and us older ones seemed to behave like great Dads. Possibly having a much younger member was key to creating the positive dynamic.
So the obvious question; would you do it again and if it’s a yes, what would you add/change to Timelaps?
Rob: I would definitely do Red Bull Time laps again. I think planning way in advance would help out a lot, so we knew exactly who was doing what stints, as would save us time, and be a lot more efficient
Nick: Yes. I would hire a motor home to have a place where I could warm up and sleep. The pit area is too noisy for people to sleep, so in reality, getting 1-2 hours cat napping over 25 hours does not really help you… Other things I’d change, firstly, they should have installed more blue matting to the car park and toilet facilities. The mud was atrocious. One other thing would be more food and drink available. Hot water in the main tent sure, but put a load of tea bags and large coffee pots would not be too expensive. Red bull is fine, but its too sugary over time.
Mark: I know I said once is enough but now on reflection I probably would. What would I add? Decent sleeping arrangements having as little as 2 hrs it played a part in the end. But to be honest the issues with punctures wasn’t allowing us to do a 2 hour stint. So may be a proper sleeping tent or camper.
David: Never again, well not until next year. Just being better prepared would improve things massively. As for changing Timelaps maybe nothing as it’s the brutality of it that makes it special.
What did you make of the event overall? Anything missing or could be added to ease the stresses of endurance racing?
Rob: I think the event was very enjoyable despite the bad conditions, I just think as I said earlier, more planning would’ve helped keep stress a bit lower and the event easier to work with.
Nick: Amazed by the endurance of some of the riders. I am pretty strong, but a lot made me look ‘average’. Very impressed by the number of female riders, was great to see.
Mark: I personally think they should offer free tea and coffee, I know that there was a earn of hot water which was fine as I brought tea bags. But when temps are dropping you always need a hot drink to warm you up. Also bike support 24hrs so at least you can buy tubes or tyres etc.
David: Loved it! The security was excellent -- and a pain at times -- as they kept checking armbands; the white tent, and the hot air blowers, were a godsend in the middle of the night; the toilet facilities were excellent however crossing a mudbath to get to them was a bit unnecessary; more catering choice would have been good but with so few participants maybe not economically viable? Oh! And a puncture repair kit stall!
Final question, have you treated your bike to a good wash yet?!!
Rob: My bike deserved a thorough wash as soon as I got home. I hate it being dirty and wet so I was cringing about that the whole of the event.
Nick: Yes, as soon as I got home on the Sunday afternoon!
Mark: Yes bike is cleaned and awaiting new boots...
David: In the shower!
Thanks again and you’re now part of an elite club who can say they have raced in the world’s longest bike race!