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Red Bull Timelaps - 25 Hours of Fun

Since my update mid October I’ve had a pretty crazy few weeks travelling the length of the country and depriving myself of sleep staying up two Saturday nights in a row, such a crazy lifestyle I live! Two weeks ago I was in Scotland supporting a coaching client at World 24 Hour Championships and this past week I raced the 25 hour Red Bull Timelaps!

Red Bull Timelaps got mentioned a few months ago and quickly caught my interest. Happening this past weekend around my old training ground of Windsor Great Park it looked like a fun end of season social. The event is meant to be the longest team relay event in the world happening over 25 hours with the extra hour gained when the clocks go back in the middle of the night. With 2 teams entered (Ben Thomas Coaching and Ben Thomas Coaching Club) we were out on mass. There was some strong riders and team entered including some pro called Alex Dowsett, apparently he used to have some hour record before a guy with big sideburns took it and he rides some big bike races around France and Italy called the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia!! We had 4 quick riders including Graham who’d raced the event last year so were hopeful of a strong ride but had no idea how well we could do.

The main bunch speeds past after lap 1.

After the amazing summer we’ve had the weather was bound to break at some point and as we arrived early Saturday temperatures were absolutely freezing with a feel like temperature of 1 centigrade set to stay all weekend. We signed on, setup the Simplon EZ-UP in the transition area which would be the central hub of the race weekend and tried to stay warm until the race began at midday. Hadyn would begin the race for us and did a fantastic job of positioning himself at the front with all the quick team until 2 riders attached away off the front. The pressure was on as I was out next but with transition taking a couple of minutes the lead group was gone, with no other groups in sight I was left to timetrial for an hour at threshold! It was a pretty painful stint for the legs and lungs but I loved every minute.

Ben Thomas Coaching Club team and coach

You came back from a stint on course absolutely buzzing and left the transition area after some time off completely buzzing! The atmosphere on course and in transition felt so good, Red Bull know how to put on an event! You wouldn’t expect a road event to be so much fun but you’re consistently working to stay in a group or riding across to faster groups, plus the course was a full of turns, undulations and decorated with Red Bull coloured lighting weaving through the trees. Back in transition every team team had space for a 3x3 EZ-UP which meant everyone stayed in transition the whole event. Transition was therefore packed with loads going on, vastly different to many other 12 or 24 hour events where everyone disperses off into the camp site leaving the arena standing empty.

Both coaching teams started well and were inside the top 10 as sunset approached. Out came the Exposure lights and we steadily continued progressing up the results sheets. In a twist the hour where the clocks go back is a power hour, the race goes onto a different circuit and the laps completed in this time are doubled. Graham was our designated power hour rider and he ended up doing a 2 up timetrial with Alex Dowsett after the pair of them arrived to start the power hour a minute late and therefore missed the main bunch of probably 50 riders.

Our base for the weekend. Thanks Simplon!

When you invite 2 members of staff from Velolife cafe to be on your team you know they'll be plenty of yummy food and coffee. I can highly recommend the cafe's brownies and flapjacks after 25 hours of carb loaded racing. These sweet treats and spending extra time on the warm up rollers got us through the freezing cold night. After a few more stints I was struggling to stay awake despite the caffeine intake so went to sleep for a couple of hours. I was woken by a message just before sunrise saying one of the coaching club riders had had a bad crash and was off to hospital. Happily that person is now back home recovering and should be back on the bike in a couple of months, get well soon buddy!

Graham did the final stint and unbelievable after 25 hours had to out-sprinted the group to take 5th place in a photo finish! We were all buzzing and still days later can’t explain how 3 mountain bikers and 1 roadie who’d barely ridden together before the event managed to do so well. It was fun to share this experience with the Coaching Club and i'm glad they they battled on to the finish with just 3 riders. The 2 teams will be back next year to see if a podium is possible!

The Ben Thomas Coaching team.

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