This race report has been provided by Michael McCutcheon.
The Relentless 24hr took place in Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis which is the highest mountain in the UK, right at the base of the Nevis Range ski area, which is a spectacular setting for a mountain bike race. Run and hosted by No Fuss Events, who also hosted WEMBO on a similar but slightly more challenging course in 2014, the course will also be the venue for WEMBO 2018. There has also been several World Cup DH and World Championship races here, often with the XCO events running on the Witches Trail, a great challenging XC loop, part of which has been used for 24 hour races here over the years
This year the Relentless 24hr was a 12km course, with about 287 meters of climbing. A good mix of steep ups and downs, some natural rooty muddy sections, and some rock gardens (all of which got challenging after some heavy rain during the night) . It was a lap made up of two loops both entering and exiting the start/finish area, and taking in some of the bottom of the World Cup 4X course from previous years. It is definitely one of the most physically demanding 24 hour courses, but also very rewarding with some stunning scenery.
Relentless 24hr for the solo riders
The solo field was a stacked field of 87 riders and was sure to be an exciting race with Jason Miles (6th in Wembo 2014), and Matthew Jones (European 24 hour champ 2016). Some strong single speeders looked like upsetting the overall results also.
It was great to be a part of such close racing. In the men’s solo, it was me and Matthew Jones riding largely together as part of a four man group for the first five hours.
Some time in the 6th hour, I decided to put in an attack. I thought I had grown a small gap when about 3 hours later he was back on my tail. It was a case of exchanging places with very little time between the two of us for the following hours until after midnight, sometimes only 10 seconds between us. With about 6 hours to go, Matthew started to create a small gap between us which I tried to close and battled until the end, but he took the eventual win with 15 minutes separating us.
From the mouths of racers
Photographer Joolze Dymond was on the winning team of female Vets – “That certainly was Relentless! From the massive amount of climbing, followed by nerve jangling technical descending, through epic scenery it’s gotta be the most mountain bike fun I’ve had in ages. Coupled with the relentless amount of laughing & camaraderie with team mates and other competitors, this should rank highly in the bucket of events to do! I’ve started training already for next year. A big thanks to Garage Bikes for asking me to ride.”
Ger Jackson, was 28th overall in solo men – “Relentless 24 is the toughest 24 hour race I have taken part in, both physically and mentally. This race should be on every 24 hour racer’s bucket list. My worst results in 24 hour races have been here so I will definitely be back!”
Matthew Jones, eventual solo winner and UK 24 hour champ – “Relentless 24 in my opinion is the best 24 hour course in the UK with some physically demanding ups and downs. It plays to my strengths and knowing the body breaking to come I had been working hard to make sure I was ready for it. I went in without too many expectations having moved house and job in the week before and a very long season before that. Still as the race went on the magic feeling of consistency feel in to place and I felt really strong throughout with no major energy lows. The conditions were fairly kind but overnight I managed to get in the lead and stay there despite a slashed tyre on the second to last lap which was a bit of a panic. Congrats to all the riders who competed and fought their own battles, the positive energy between riders out there was amazing. It was great to see such a stacked start list which is rare for a 24 so that made taking the win even more special.”