Yep, it’s that time of year again when we pass the middle of January and the heavy stubble becomes a slightly annoying beard. Yep it can only be Puffer time!
In the last week before the Strathpuffer I’m usually in a state of excitement and even dare I say euphoria. But the few weeks leading up to the Puffer are far from pleasant. Even though all the training and hard work on the bike has been done and dusted a fortnight before the big day, the mental state often goes into a negative tailspin.
Even the top riders go through similar emotions. It's a big deal and a big race. Singletrack magazine list it in the top 10 UK races you really should do. Last weekend I sent a message wishing Keith Forsyth the best of luck, asking if he was all set for this third consecutive male solo win and even he mentioned another week of paranoia leading up to the big race. It’s reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone in my preparation and maybe it something we all need to go through in order to perform and get on that podium?
But this mental conditioning doesn’t seem to affect everyone. Amanda Tweedie who’s making her Puffer debut with partner-in-crime Anna (Bannana) Blair can’t wait for their pairs race to begin. Amanda’s literally buzzing and can’t sit still. I wish I could bottle that (I'd make a fortune). I guess everyone has their own way of preparing to race for a maximum of 25 hours, multiple times around a 10km circuit?
This year, I’m in a totally different state of mind. For once I’m buzzing too and have been since mid December. Yes, the training has been the same, but there’s a question mark over whether or not this is my 4th Puffer as I’m not actually racing it. Instead I’m accompanying or chaperoning my eldest daughter, Katie, who at the tender age of 12 is to become the youngest female ever to race the Strathpuffer – and as a soloist too! A racing category I haven't managed to race thus far. So I’m already getting outdone by my girls. I don’t stand a chance in the forthcoming years. Ace. This is all your doing Tom!
So there will be a new Entwistle on the results website come Sunday. What are her aspirations, well I daren’t tempt fate, but it’s a stretch target and a high bar she’s set herself. She’s typically her father’s daughter. But I reminded her all she has to do is one lap and she’s made a wee bit of MTB history. How many laps she manages doesn’t matter to her Dad, he’s just made up she nagged him to do it with her for this is undoubtably going to be a difficult and challenging endurance event. But she doesn’t seem that phased. She’s just excited and looking forward to getting up at 4am to do the “doldrum” lap, the traditional Puffer nadir, when all seems hopeless, pointless and lost.
Brings a tear to eye (in more ways than one) and we’ve not even started the race!
Full report on Monday. Best of luck friends/clients/teammates/everyone!