#pivot2412 – 4 Years, 4 Laps by Gary Cooper of Loaghtan Loaded.

4 Years and 4 Laps

So the time had come for the annual leave from work and the family holiday, not some beach / pool holiday in a hotel or villa somewhere foreign….no…..camping in Plympton!

The date was Wednesday 20th July, the time was 6.15pm the location was Douglas Sea Terminal in the Isle of Man.  We were sat in the queue waiting to board the Ben My Chree to Heysham, not sure who was more excited, Clare (my wife) or my two daughters (Grace 8yr and Emily 6yr)!  Finally we were waved on to the boat and quickly located our cabin for the 4 hour crossing to Heysham…plan was to get a few hours sleep before the drive down to Plymouth.

The boat docked early as the tide was with us and we landed at just before 11pm so it was straight on the motorway, next stop Plympton!  I didn’t get any sleep, the kids were far too excited so it was Monster Ultra to keep me going as I didn’t plan on stopping.  Thankfully the roads were quiet and the kids soon fell asleep in the back of the van and we made good progress; arriving at Newsham Park a little after 4.30am.

Will, Sue, Brian and Phyllis had already arrived the day before and had marked out a pitch track side for us which would soon become “Celtic Corner“.  The field was quiet, those campers still asleep so we quickly and quietly pitched our tent and unpacked the van ready for the next few days.

Thursday was spent catching up and in the evening Will, Brian and I were very honoured and lucky to get the chance of going for a lap of the course on the Brand New Pivot Switchblades, courtesy of Rory (Hitchens), Volker (Knaus), Adam (Dawson) and Dave (Froy) all of #PivotCycles.  I was extremely privileged to be the first person to ride the Brand New Pivot Switchblade 27.5+!  A thing of beauty!

Friday was a day of relaxation and welcoming our fellow Celts to the camp in the form of Ger and Ciara (Jackson), Conor (Conneff) and Ian (Heald).  There was still space for the late arrival of Gareth (Hayes).  With “Celtic Corner” now complete it was time to chill and relax before the big event on Saturday!

Saturday arrived, bathed in glorious sunshine, first up to race was Ciara in the 24 minute under 16’s kid race.  This was Ciara’s first time at Twenty-four Twelve and took to it like a natural putting in a good steady ride completing 4 laps of the kids shortened course.

Next up it was my eldest daughter Grace’s who was racing in the under 12’s 12 minute race, this would be Grace’s third race at Twenty-four Twelve and she was really looking forward to it.  Competition was always going to be tough and Grace managed to complete 2 laps of the course and ended up crashing in to the barriers after HIGH 5’ing Matt (Carr) after crossing the finish line.

Now it was time for my youngest daughter Emily’s race, the under 8’s 12 minute race.  After a good performance last year Emily was determined to better her result.  The field looked strong and Emily rode well to complete 3 laps and finish 12th overall and 4th in class.  All the kids races were tough fought and congratulations to all the category winners, there are some really strong young riders coming through.

A quick breather before the main event and just enough time to get in to my cycle gear and put my race number (48) on my weapon of choice, my Cannodale SL 29 Trail Single Speed Rigid.  I had ridden this bike the previous year and loved it despite the tough tarmac Clif Climb in the early stages of the lap.  This year I had done a lot less riding than I had hoped for but this was all due to the fact I was busy organising my 7th annual  24 hour mountain bike event (Longest Day Longest Ride) on the Isle of Man….so for me Twenty-four Twelve was a way to relax and enjoy someone else’s (Martyn Salt) hard work.

The countdown was on and I was back round the last corner before the start/finish arch waiting with Conor, then we were off!  The pace was steady as everyone jostled for position  and got settled in to a nice rhythm, the opening lap was always a short lap to enable the field to get themselves spread out.  I got settled in to a nice steady pace sitting comfortably behind a few riders on full-sus geared bikes and we weaved our way through the team camping field, across the river and on up to Clif Climb!  The climb itself wasn’t particularly long but it was steep, dusty and loose which meant traction for me (and some others) was difficult when getting out of the saddle to pedal, the back wheel just spinning out, so I resigned myself to pushing it up the hill.  At the turn near the top the Ice Cream van was out handing out ice lollies which were a welcome break as it was HOT!

As the lap unfolded I found myself picking off the odd rider here and there and surprised myself at how quick I was over some of the rougher terrain and through Topeak Traverse and Cottage Return, which was difficult at times following another rider down because of the dust being thrown up it obscured the upcoming rocks and roots!  Lap 1 was nearing an end and as I rode along the river bank back towards the solo camping field I could hear the supporters cheering on my fellow competitors.  Celtic Corner came in to sight and everyone was cheering me on, Brian’s HUGE cowbell was getting rang loud and the girls had their own little cowbells.  Lap 1 completed in a time of 46m 39s.

My second lap was pretty much the same albeit with less traffic in front of me on the fast fun bits so I was able to go a little harder as I could see what was coming up.  Lap 2 completed in a time of 44m 36s.

Lap 3 completed in a time of 43m 32s.

I pulled in to the team transition area after my third lap and made my way over to the Pivot demo area where I had a good chat to Rory and Dave.  Rory asked what I was riding and when I showed him the SS he asked if I was riding as part of a team….”no, solo 24!” I told him.  His response was along the line of “well you better get out there and ride instead of standing here talking to me, come back and see me before 4pm and I’ll buy you an ice cream!”  Well that was it, the time was 3.05pm and I’m a glutton for ice cream so off I went with the bit between my teeth determined to get back before 4pm.  The lap felt good and Matt (Carr) passed me along the gravel road back up to the river bank run, he was also riding single speed, albeit with suspension forks.  I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to follow a top team rider and see what lines to take (Matt rides for Pivot Boompods Racing and finished 3rd in class after sustaining a fractured collar bone and concussion in a crash a few laps later).  Lap 4 completed in a time of 42m 13s.  YES!  I had done it, I had got round and back before 4pm now where’s that ice cream Rory?

That was me, I did what I came to do and now it was time to relax and do support for my fellow Celts.

For me this is the only event I ride in the year and I love it, this years course was great, fast flowing, technical, dusty (in the early stages) a great mixture, well done Martyn and all your team for putting on yet another great event.  Roll on Twenty-four Twelve 12!  On a final note, I’d like to thank all the competitors who got in to the spirit of Celtic Corner and rang our bell….we will be back, bigger and better!

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