Current St Andrews student Luke Bradley and St Andrews alumni Lettie Chambers formed the Spokes Full Beam Full Frontal Megadeath team and together they rode a superb but closely-fought race to gain an astonishing second place in the Mixed Pairs category.
The Strathpuffer has been named the world’s toughest mountain bike race by a US cycling magazine, plagued as it always is by snow, ice and – even more of a challenge – over sixteen hours of darkness.
This year the course was covered in sheet ice, thus necessitating spiked ice tyres. Furthermore, the tricky course climbs over 500 metres over seven miles and takes in stream crossings, a number of rocky descents and several vicious ascents.
After lap one, the pair were in second place, but they were soon knocked back to third by the One Bad Fall team, who had the successful precedent of finishing first in the category in 2010. During the next three hours the St Andrews team fought hard and did brilliantly to reclaim second within a short distance.
By the midway point Bradley and Chambers had a lead of over 40 minutes on their rivals but, unfortunately, these efforts were taking their toll on their bodies and bikes. Bradley’s brakes had been pretty much destroyed and he had to swap bikes after 3 laps, while tiredness overcame Chambers and Bradley had to do a double lap to allow her to return to form.
Despite these problems, the team powered on through the night and by 2am had opened up a seemingly unassailable one hour lead on One Bad Fall.
However, this high pace was not sustainable. While Bradley’s bike had eaten four sets of brake pads by this point, it now was their bodies that were suffering most – over the next 2 laps the third-placed team took back almost half an hour.
At 4am, disaster struck as Bradley’s lighting system failed halfway around the course, yet – as dawn was breaking – Spokes Full Beam maintained their lead.
As they were three laps behind the team that would go on to win (consisting of the respective male and female UK 24 hour champions, Matt Page and Rickie Cotter), the competition now was about maintaining their precious second place in the category.
Bradley and Chambers powered on and managed to start their final lap before the cut-off time, and finished one lap ahead of One Bad Fall.
Thus Spokes Full Beam claimed second place in the Mixed Pairs category, having completed 24 laps (Chambers completing 11 and Bradley 13), covering a distance of 180 miles between them and climbing the equivalent of Everest almost one and a half times. They finished eighth overall, itself a remarkable result.
That result would have been impossible without the aid and support of the duo’s helpers: Huw Oliver, Tim Holden, Annie Le, Mich Curtis and Stephen Haley. They would also like to thank their sponsors (Spokes Cycles, Woof TMT and Full Beam Lighting systems).
Highlights of the race will be featured on The Adventure Show on BBC Scotland later this year.
The Cycling Club achieved another terrific result at the Innerleithen Enduro downhill race as club captain Rosie Holdsworth rode to an extremely solid third place.
The course was demanding and technical, covering some of the toughest downhill race tracks on the steep Traquair hillside.
The race comprised of three runs. The first run was steady, allowing participants to get a feel for the trail yet Holdsworth rode fast enough to overtake her nearest competitor who had set off 30 seconds before her. The second run posed more problems, with some very rocky trails resulting in a crash.
The final run was her best, on the steepest and toughest trails. Holdsworth rode a commanding last run to finish in third place, only 30 seconds behind second place and a full nine minutes ahead of the fourth-placed rider.
Other club competitors Luke Bradley and Kieran Curran also performed well, finishing in the mid-field placings of the men’s race.
Luke Bradley (Cycling Club member)