I think my mental preparation was crucial, I don't think I had the right fitness but I set out my plan and never took my eyes off the finish line, even managed 2 hours sleep! I knew in a worst case scenario 12 laps was totally doable, reckoning on 2 hours per lap, so that was my base, I had to do 12. From there on we kept an eye on the guys around me and how they were lapping, so when I finished my 15th I had enough time for a nap and one final lap without losing my position, to have squeezed an extra lap would have been feasible but may have left me depleted or losing focus and not necessarily gaining any places. I finished, pretty strong actually, fuelling my final lap with a half litre of water, a Hammer gel and a large Tomintoul whisky! Apart from feeling a bit achy and a bit sleepy on Sunday night I don't feel bad at all. Feet hurt from trudging through mud, where riding would have drained me even more, just kept the focus, I know it sounds like sports psychology crap but I never lost that sight. I had two mates helping who were superb, every lap they asked me what I wanted on my next and when I rolled in it was there, had plenty of breaks; they kept the Curtis clean and running sweet too. Got through one pair of ceramic pads and only other mechanical was my Lumicycle lamp rattling lose. Only one real low, at the end of the 14th, my head was starting to go wandering and ugly doubts were raising their heads, I sat in the chair my head hunched on my knees with a blanket over me for around 20 minutes just having a quiet word, before heading out for the 15th. 176km, 4976m of climbing, wicked.
At the time I was stoked to have done the 16 laps but I never really thought I had achieved that much, it wasn't until after it, lots of riders I respect telling me what a superb ride I had and how amazed and in awe they were, it's pretty mental I tell you. Without a doubt the most beautiful thing I have done on a bike, bordering on spiritual. I definitely will do it again. The other crucial factor I think was not riding totally on my limit at all, if a climb started to hurt bad, I hopped off and walked a little, likewise with descents, kept it safe, just kept it moving along and eating a lot of food rather than gels and the likes. A lot of solo guys seem to suffer bad stomach cramps and nausea which I desperately wanted to avoid. I ate cereal bars, fine noodles, pasta, bananas, cuppa soups, Soreen malt loaf with honey and cheese and a lot of peppermint tea especially through the night. In fact the tea would be my top tip, the guys just kept my thermos cup full of the stuff, very good. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as a team, it would have felt much harder, and my helpers looked more tired than me at the end! But those guys earned their slap up lunch in Aviemore, the real heroes cleaning my bike at 3 in the morn -5 degrees, stars.