It was all change for the 2013 edition of Mountain Mayhem, the UK’s biggest 24 hour mountain bike endurance event.
Moving location from Eastnor, Herefordshire, Mountain Mayhem’s home for the past nine years, this year competitors descended on Gatcombe Park over the weekend to test their endurance skills through the night.
Riders were welcomed by none other than HRH Princess Anne, owner of the Gatcombe Park estate. Although the prestigious venue had never been used for a cycling event before, it definitely lived up to expectations with a technical 7.5 mile course that kept competitors entertained as they took on as many laps as they could handle.
It was great to see so many take part in a new chapter for Mountain Mayhem, especially after the biblical rain that hit the event in 2012. There was also a strong female contingent, quite a rarity in the world of 24 hour endurance racing.
What is a 24 hour mountain bike endurance race?
First off, you don’t need to be a pro to take part in Wiggle Mountain Mayhem, or any of the events listed below. Essentially, riders, either as soloists or in teams aim to complete as many laps of a set course within 24 hours. The winning rider(s) in each category are those that do the most laps within the 24 hours.
Much like the original 24 hour, Mountain Mayhem starts with a “Le Mans style” run to the bikes! Usually it is about 400m but a few years ago someone got a little carried away and it ended up being 2 kilometres! With the teams it’s usually a case of drawing straws to see who is the unlucky one, but not everyone takes it seriously and there are plenty who will gently stroll around the “run” before heading off on the bike.
The number of categories can be a little confusing, so here is the low down:
- Solo – Like it sounds, one rider against the track for 24 hours. Pit supporters are allowed and absolutely vital for a successful race.
- Team – all in a relay format so at least one rider is on course at all times.
- Elite – A team of 4, with at least 1 woman. There is big prize money at stake and you can expect to see several big names racing.
- Men/Women are teams of 4 single sex with Mixed being a 5 person with at least one female rider.
- There are also various sub-categories such as single-speed, university, forcesand a 10-person team category, all of which are hotly contested, especially the forces with the usual Army vs RAF battle!
As someone who’s taken part in this event as a novice mountain biker AND in the apocalyptic year of 2012, I still recommend 24 hour MTB endurance racing to anyone with a penchant for blitzing trails and testing their limits.
Mountain Mayhem is an incredibly popular, unique event, with a festival atmosphere, and more importantly none of that snobbery so often associated with cycling.
If our photos have inspired you to become part of the 24 hour MTB endurance family, here are a couple more events later this year that still have spaces available.
Bontrager TwentyFour12: An endurance MTB race similar in style to the Mountain Mayhem, this time with options for a 12 or 24 hour race. Held near to Plymouth, Devon in July.
Relentless 24hr: An October race up North of the border in Fort William, the track takes in Witch’s Trails and part of the World Championships course.