Red Bull Timelaps challenges cyclists to compete in the world’s longest one-day road cycling event. As summer fades to winter, teams of four will race through the night on the weekend the clocks go back in the UK, making it a gruelling 25-hour race against time. In a twist, at 0200 a ‘Power Hour’ is activated; and riders shift to a shorter course where laps count double
When Hannah and Emily (you will probably know them as Twice The Health) messaged me to tell me I was on their team for Red Bull laps, I probably should have had a look at what exactly it was. I was in full Ironman training mode at the time, and just assumed it was probably a bit of fun and nothing too tough. LOL.
About the week before the event I had a look at what it actually was and got in touch with a friend who had previously done the event, for any tips he may have. Chris (said friend) immediately asked if he could give me a call – turns out my reputation for being a tad un-organised and not very well prepared for things, slightly concerned him in regard to this event (and rightly so!). I soon learnt that the bike I planned to ride wasn’t allowed… and basically I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Obviously, I took none of his advice and still turned up VERY under-prepared.
I travelled to TTH HQ Friday evening ready for an early start to Windsor park on Saturday am. Thankfully, Emily and Hannah organised a camper van (named Flash), which was the BEST THING EVER – I genuinely think I may have had to quit if we only had a tent! We (Me, Chloe, Emily & Hannah) arrived to Windsor and it started to concern me that I was freezing in joggers and a huge puffy jacket.
We may have been feeling pretty smug about Flash, but that soon disappeared once we realised we were pretty much the only team in transition without a gazebo for our bikes and ourselves when waiting to take over for our laps – big error.
I was up third for my stint and it soon became apparent after 1 lap that I was definitely not Ironman recovered, and that this was going to be difficult. I had nothing in my legs or my engine… I felt shocking. As soon as I finished my first hour stint, I shovelled in ALL THE FOOD in an attempt to recover and make it through the long day/night ahead.
By the time I was up again, the darkness had arrived! I turned up without lights and had to do some borrowing from the team (and still managed to pick up the wrong ones!), which meant the ride was VERY scary! It was a small lane, it was hard to see the edge, and huge pelotons of extremely speedy cyclists came flying by on the right. Also… I don’t know quite how to say this without sounding like a complete IDIOT (Which, I guess I am), but I was wearing sunglasses. Yes, I was wearing sunglasses in the pitch black. No, I could not see a thing.
The next few stints where marginally less scary once I lost my sunglasses. LOL.
After each stint, you had roughly 3 hours before your next one. This may seem like a long time, but by the time you had switched over, taken off your shoes/helmet and swapped some of your wet clothes for some warmer layers, had some food and calmed down… it was basically time to go get ready again. Basically what I’m trying to say is I didn’t sleep AT ALL.
I couldn’t actually decide which part was more painful.. riding or waiting to ride. It was so cold, and we we’re all so tired. The clock seemed to stand still from 7pm-7am.
Despite the pain and suffering… the atmosphere, support and solidarity in suffering was amazing. The people that kind of event attracts are the best kind of people – I can say now that we had such a great time, though at the time I would have said something more like; “why are we doing this”, “I would never do this again”, “this is ridiculous and awful”. It was ridiculously tough and a whole new kind of challenge, but I feel super lucky that I got the chance to do it with the most awesome team!