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24 Hours in LE MANS on the world famous Bugatti Car circuit

Finish Le MansWhat an awesome track, great facilities which were certainly stretched with the 2000+ cyclists sharing the 35 or so vehicle bays.

As I was preparing for the start a call came over speaker system for me to line up with the VIPs and about 50 others for the first unofficial lap. This caused a fair amount of confusion as it was some 20 minutes from official start time, and no one enjoys being bustled at the start of any event. Anyhow we were soon on our way off around the track at a more than steady pace, only to then have to stand around on the opposite side of track whilst all countries present had their respective National Anthem played—and it was Very hot!!


Then it was all go, riders charging across the track to grab their cycles & head off UP the rise for the first time- This rise was a very similar gradient to heading out to Linton & up the hill past Old West road cnr,-just longer! Certainly after cycling up it 135 times it was starting to feel more like Mangone and the small chain ring was getting a real work over.

With the fast early pace & the extreme heat, after 4 hours and having consumed over 4 litres of Hammer Heeds/ Perpetuem/ Endurolytes I was in a really distressed state with severe cramping. ( a problem I’ve never encountered before).

My normal stops up to this point had been for 4 minutes, this stop took me over 50 before I was recovered sufficiently to get back on the bike, and really annoyed with my pre-ride hydration that I’d obviously let slip a bit during my 3-4 days of being a tourist.

Guessed I’d gone from a vip guest to the dole queue in just 4 hours, certainly took some resetting of the head games to get re-focussed on the 20 hours of riding ahead of me, which is pretty difficult when ones calves quads etc are still cramping up at the slightest exertion.

Around midnight with the temps still around 30 degs wind @ 14km, a most impressive & noisy thunderstorm struck- was really quite pleasant to ride in the moist air- the wet track had absolutely NO effect on the faster relay groups who tossed themselves with almost reckless abandon into the semi flowing corners. Certainly the various Ambulances around the course were kept fully occupied for some time with riders no doubt losing a bit of bark.

Of the 2000+ riders most were in teams of 8 and the winners covered just under 1000km, but as with me the Temperatures were a major factor so most teams had pulled their change-overs back to around hourly stints to allow complete rest/rehydration.

The organisation pre & during the event was great & although a tad disappointed that my 24 hour cycle turned out to include just 19 hours 45 of actual cycling (the other 4hr15 in the pits for various reasons) I took some delight in completing 556km and won the sprint of my group on my final 24 hour lap-kitted out in my old NZ Veterans Club top, finishing 21 or 22nd of the 58 solo riders, all in all a hard day at the office—with a hankering to save up & head back- just one more time!!

Finish Le MansNow it’s time to clean/strip bike & repack for USA, well better wash my helmet also methinks- and leave it on the bin in my room to drain/dry– fantastic idea- but those damn French cleaners, have in their efficiency tossed it in the main rubbish. Some frantic arm charades etc & finally they understood what I was wanting & my helmet was returned and packed away also.

USA- Bike all re-assembled- bugger what’s that Hurricane IRENE is on her way towards the Washington area. Finally on the Thursday prior to the Saturday ride the news comes through that the Police have forced a safety cancellation of the ride- bugger- Oh well all is not lost a few have decided to do an unofficial ride on the Saturday ( & invited me along) IF ,the weather is okay.

About 60 riders turned out & although I only got to ride for a few hours before the wind/rain took a steady turn for the worse I’d covered about 90km & the body was starting to feel like it was recovered well– would I have managed another 24 hours—guess I’ll never know now, but it was all a great tour with great company. This particular 24hoursof booty ride still raised in excess of 185,000.00 usd, for the Ulmar Cancer fund usa, and the locals will still get their chance to ride in a rescheduled event soon.