Surviving 24hr bike races - Strathpuffer

Surviving 24 hours of Strathpuffer

By Alpkit>

Strathpuffer is a 24-hour mountain bike race in the small Scottish town of Strathpeffer. Over 1000 riders race in teams of 4 (quads), pairs, or for the most extreme, solo. Taking place in the dead of winter means you deal with 17 hours of darkness and all that Scottish weather can through at you: snow, ice, wind and rain. The atmosphere is amazing, so you’ll have a smile on your face while you suffer.

Endurance racing is about pacing, staying strong for the duration. Here are our top tips for surviving a 24-hour mountain bike race:

  • Use mudguards and take plenty of changes of clothes changes to keep warm and dry
  • Keep your head, hands and feet warm: pogies are great
  • Keep fuelled: regular food such as gels, soups, proper food and good coffee
  • Overcome mechanicals: take tubes, pumps, minitool, spare bike lights
  • Ride with flats to deal with very mixed conditions

When it comes to clothing and kit, the Strathpuffer kit list is built on layering to deal with mixed winter conditions:

We have had a few riders in the Strathpuffer over the years. Each rider is different, each year presents it's own challenges and new stories get written. One thing that never changes is that it is never easy. But let's not let the riders suck up all the glory, share a thought for the hardy support crews shivering through the night keeping the riders fed and cleaning the snow and mud off their bikes.

Rich and Tom Seipps story

Ride: Sonder Evol and Sonder Transmitter

Rich: Tom and I have previously ridden the full 24 hours as solo riders. But we have also ridden as part of a team. This might sound easier, but it has it's own challenges.

Riding for the full 24 hours, you try and conserve your energy, making sure you've always got plenty in reserve. Racing in a team of four, you plan to ride much faster, as there is some time to recover between your laps.

Due to the go stop go, you'll need plenty of clothes changes and can take advantage of the luxury of a few hours sleep. We have used our Viso 2 tent, with Skyehigh 900 sleeping bags to keep us warm.

Take a selection of gloves! From cool to warm, we have taken riding gloves along with warmer Pola and Gabbro gloves, and of course the Bear Paws pogies.

**TOP TIP**One bit of advice for first timers…do not forget your waterproof shorts or trousers. This is one event where you don't want a muddy and wet bum for lap after lap.

As for the bikes… Tom has ridden a Sonder Evol with dropper post, carbon wheels and NX groupset and Rich has ridden the Transmitter with carbon wheels and an NX group.

Neil Cottams story

Ride: Sonder Signal Ti

ThePuffer…I’m a Puffer solo veteran but I have also ridden as a team.

My last ride was on a Sonder Signal Ti kitted out with Maxxis Ardent 29 x 2.4 tyres (tubeless) because of the wide variation in trail conditions throughout the course over the 24 hours. If the course is particularly icy then I would switch to Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro tyres.

**TOP TIP** Front and rear mudguards are absolutely essential for keeping dry! (there’s a theme developing here...)

I like to carry a 500mls Swig bottle but probably only half filling it as we’re likely to be riding single laps of the course and stopping regularly to refill between efforts.

On the bike I carry a medium Fuel Pod with a spare tube and trail tools and Love Mud Pfft pump.

I prefer to ride on flat pedals because of the very mixed conditions, clipless pedals can fill with mud or freeze in the conditions and flats offer more comfort and grip if it gets really icy and need to walk a section.

With regards to what I wear I stick to a tried and tested system of Kepler Merino base layers, Parallax waterproof pants, (with gaiters), an Arro vest and a Squalline jacket for when it gets colder or wetter.

Keeping warm and dry really is the key to a successful Puffer. On top of that, lots of good coffee and easy to eat food. I use Torq gels for instant hits of energy or for when I’ve had enough of proper food and then it’s fingers crossed that weather, conditions and mechanicals go our way… Brilliant!

Pete McNeils story

Ride: Sonder Broken Road

My last ‘puffer experience was 2 years ago in a Quad team so I’ve a good idea what to expect.

I have ridden with my trusty Confucious bars for multiple hand positions, a dropper post and Sram NX groupset. I usually take a few wheelset options so I’m covered for all conditions, including some 27/5+ WTB ranger, a 29 x 2.4 WTB and some 29in ice spikers – just in case. When it comes to footwear; I’m a clipless pedal user and I’m sticking with them, I’ll also have spds & shimano winter boots!

Like the other guys Mudguards!! I like the extra protection offered by MudHugger guards and they are always a vital piece of kit for the weekend…

I like to keep all my tools, spares, a light battery, tube and pump etc in a Possum framebag, it means I know they are always on my bike and the segregated pocket.

Sonder Bikes

  • Sram Apex AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€2.349,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 13 May.
  • SRAM Rival AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

€2.699,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 13 May.
  • SRAM Force AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

€4.549,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 13 May.
  • SRAM Rival AXS XPLR 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

€3.999,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 13 May.
  • SRAM Apex 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€1.549,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 6 May.
  • Shimano Tiagra R4700 10-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€1.549,00
Buy Now. Be Riding in 10 days.
  • SRAM Apex 1 11-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€1.599,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 6 May.
  • Shimano Tiagra R4700 Hydraulic 10-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€1.899,00
Buy Now. Be Riding in 10 days.
  • Shimano 105 R7120 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€2.049,00
Buy Now. Be Riding in 10 days.
  • Shimano GRX 610 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€2.049,00
Buy Now. Deliveries from 6 May.
  • Shimano GRX 610 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Nova 700c UK Made wheelset

€2.149,00
Buy Now. Be Riding in 10 days.
  • Shimano 105 R7170 Di2 12-speed groupset
  • Sonder Alpha 700c UK Made wheelset

€2.699,00
Buy Now. Be Riding in 10 days.

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