24 Hours of Exposure 2012. April 7 Newcastleton. Scott Swalling
The rain pelted the canvass and wind crashed into the tent as finally I drifted off, thinking that the course will be hell in the morning. In the morning I was keen, did my usual amount of faff and was ready to race. A point I wasn’t sure I would be at 6 weeks ago as I took a very long time to get off the ground after a sizable crash, I had done quite a bit of damage and really thought I’d not be riding in 6 weeks, let alone racing.
Well here I was, charged, ready to go, a great pit crew and a back up pit crew in Phil M and two awesome bikes to see me through. Things were going to be peachy and I was going to have a great race.
Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned, once racing started. A good and calm start, pacing with a familiar face Graham “Irish” McConaghy and the first few laps would see us checking on each other as we had a few mechanical problems. However, as Grahams got sorted, mine just changed and had me stopping several times each lap to resolve and changing bikes each lap. This was getting tiresome when I managed to get two flats on the same lap. With some help at the course aid station, Phil and Rory and some much need motivation I was on my way, but due to a long walk back to the aid station I had lost buckets of time.
But now despite the flats, the bikes were running smoothly thanks to Nik and Phil. I finished the lap and headed out again. But this time the engine started failing, feeling dizzy I reached for a gel in my jersey, as I did I veered to one side, I corrected and tried again, the same outcome. I’ve been here before and it is not a good place. I stopped, fired a gel in and got going again, soon I was stopped again and fired another gel in.
Things slowed down a bit from here, I managed to get more than 2/3rds of the lap done, before I forced myself to have my last gel. As I made my way back to the pit area feeling dizzier with each minute, I had a plan to try to keep going.
I got back and told Nik what was going on, I drunk water and electrolytes, ate fruit, chicken, pasta and some sweets over the period of about 30 minutes, but there was no change. Nik was a star as usual being totally supportive and offering advice. Watching the clock tick by and knowing that if I waited much longer I would not be able to overhaul the other single speed riders I had to think hard.
How bad was I feeling? Racing when dizzy in the dark (as it was now) was just plain dangerous, waiting around forever to get better just to finish is no longer my goal at these events. I can finish them and I can finish them well. If I pushed on after resting longer, would this just do more damage to my body? Would I go through the same thing and start feeling the same, but not have the clarity to ease up and make the right decisions as I’d certainly be more tired?
Clarity is a fine thing. Once back home and with some time to think, I know I made the right choice. Another crash could have injured me again and possibly worse than before. So I look at things to take the good from the bad. From the start I rode through the mechanical issues and kept calm and my focus, working with Nik as a brilliant team we got me to a point that if the engine hadn’t failed completely that I would have been keen for the hunt and calm enough to execute it. Something that is important for the long game.