Red Bull Timelaps is a very unique race and challenge, not least because it's the longest one day race in the world. How is that, you might ask, with so many 24 hour challenges going on these days. Well, in full Spinal Tap mode, this one goes up to 25. Falling on the weekend that the clocks turn back, there is a sneaky little extra hour at 2am (1am for the second time), that anyone who is taking part is just super thrilled about. Confused? Read on, all will become clear.
Dirty Wknd have taken part in every edition of the Red Bull Timelaps so far, the first falling in 2017. No one really knew what it was back then, and our one men's team gamely muddled through the race, actually doing pretty well in the end. You can read all about it in our 2017 race report. The following two years we upped the number of teams by about 700%, and practically took over the whole event. You can watch a video of 2018's many teams below:
However, this being 2020, Red Bull Timelaps was never going to look like above this time around. Getting 600+ people to huddle round the same portable heater in Windsor Great Park wouldn't have been the most prudent of decisions, given the current climate. Like your Boss' weekly catch up meeting, it went virtual
The premise remained the same - teams of four, all riding in shifts across the whole 25 hours, with the team that covered the most miles in the allotted time being crowned the winner. Whether you rode on Zwift, outside on the road or around you local BMX track was up to you; as long as you logged your ride to strava, it counted towards your team total.
With such a rich history and relationship with this race (four years from years is a pretty big deal) there was no way we were not going to enter, 2020 or no 2020. We put out the call to our members and of course they responded as expected - with overwhelming enthusiasm. Four teams were quickly formed, an almost exact 50/50 split of women and men - something we're very proud about. You can read about each team and how they got on below:
Dirty Wknd Race Team
Riders: Tom Austin, Alex Evangeldis, Will Taylor, David Bavin (capt)
Key strengths: 'Influencing abilities', admin, tyre pressure analysis, exact distance in metres of any and all cafes from the Inner Circle
Total distance: 1054km (655 miles)
Finish Position: 5th in division, 8th overall
The run into the 2020 RBTL wasn't ideal for our men's team, as nailed on starter Savvas picked up an injury in a training ride before the event. It was a big blow, and it looked like curtains for 'one of the top 50 most promising amateur Zwift racing teams in the South East'. However Instagram 'person', photo taker and all round good guy Tom Austin stepped in to save the day.
Hoping to finish in the top 50 (free socks are free socks), the boys ended up doing a bit better than that, finishing 5th in the men's cat, and 8th overall. After the opening stint they were in and around the top 10, pushing 25+ miles per 1 hour stint. Keep this up, they were looking good for the top 10.
The teams that do well at Timelaps obviously have to be fit (and more than a little bit nuts), but they also have to have a lot of luck. A mechanical, a crash or even just a duff change over, can cost a team lots of places. Despite a huge power hour (where miles are doubled) from Will Taylor, and consistently high speeds throughout, it was the seamless change overs and great communication that put the boys in such a strong position.
Even at the lowest, when influencer extraordinaire Tom Austin accidentally slept through his turn (we don't talk about it), the team didn't panic, reordering the schedule and getting on with it. Well done lads, a great performance and the highest Dirty Wknd finish at the event so far! Here's to next year and trying to replicate it on the mean streets of Windsor Great Park. That Polo field is intimidating!
Dirty Wknd - A Punch Of Salt
Riders: Marissa Beatty (capt), Ben Bolt, Kirsten Brown & Cat Rennison
Key strengths: seamless transitions of bikes on turbo trainers, consuming snacks in industrial quantities, Guiness Book of Record level cheering, riding 100km to Cambridge the day before (good idea, Ben and Kirsten)
Total Distance: 766km (476 miles)
Finish Position: 8th in division, 126th overall
The women’s team started RBTL 2020 strong with a two-hour shift from captain Marissa Beatty. That was until she managed to get not one but two flat tyres. On a turbo trainer. A feat which none of us thought possible. Luckily housemate/pretend rival Amol was on hand with a track pump for some F1-style tyre pumping before Kirsten Morgan could come to the rescue and start her first session 15 minutes early.
Ben Bolt (in a totally understandable bid to avoid the turbo trainer as much as possible) braved the elements and completed the majority of her shifts out in the real world. Her teammates would like to apologise for assuring her that the rain had finally cleared up ahead of her 4am to 6am shift. Regents Park looked more like Regents Lake by the time she got there.
The PoS women buddied up with their love-to-hate / love-to-love rival mixed team - 'Dirty Wknd Talk is All We’ve Got'. This mostly led to some beautiful moments of camaraderie, shared adrenaline rushes of stopping and starting Strava recordings to avoid overlap penalties and, in Marissa and Juliette Denny’s case, spending the night watching videos of dancing corkscrews together instead of actually getting some sleep.
But for Cat it brought out a competitive streak that was nothing short of incredible to witness. Small but mighty, there was no chance she was ever going to lose the 'power hour off' to pantomime villain Amol from 'Talk'. The only all-female Dirty Wknd team did the club proud this weekend. They threw themselves into the challenge and overcame every hiccup throughout the 25 hours with humour (and snacks).
Dirty Wknd Turbo Force
Riders: Rich Trindall (capt), Judit Szarka, Dave Mcphail & Nick Kuzman
Key Strengths: Umbrella choice, Going-to-pub legs, Shares in Jelly Babies, Dare devils in untried race fuel strategies (don’t do this kids)
Total Distance: 886.6km (550 miles)
Finish Position: 24th in division, 78th overall
With a Timelaps veteran in the mix, someone who had once said "never again", DWTF were always going to be a force to reckon with. Three time veteran Judit joined last year's team DS Rich to create a knowledgeable partnership. Rich told the press he was so inspired by last year's exploits, he just had to give it a go this year. 2019 meant 25 hours under an umbrella, directing 7 teams around the course. 2020 meant 25 hours on the turbo under an umbrella in his garden!
With the promise of a mid-ride cafe stop (making own coffee and supplying his own cake) plus beer at the end, Dave was eager to join. Wanting to test his endurance legs, and see how far he could push himself, Nick completed the team.
DWTF Capt Rich: "Bang on midday the race began with much excitement and fanfare - everyone full of energy. Fast forward the clock... wait no, the clocks went back this weekend? I'm still confused as to what actually happened.
Despite putting in extra efforts to get back on track due to mechanical issues within the team, the cycling gods did not look favourably on us, especially during the critical power hour. We were completely spent. Takeaways from the race - if you’re promising a cafe stop, have a cafe stop. Don’t go off your fuelling plan and have a hot chocolate just before your race. You can never have enough jelly babies to help with recovery."
Good tips for next year team.
Dirty Wknd - Talk Is All We've Got
Riders: Amol Chalisgaonkar (capt), Juliette Denny, David Tomkins & Lynn Luong
Key Strengths: Utter determination, relentless cheering/optimism, turbo troubleshooting, winding up Marissa's team
Total Distance: 812 km (508 miles)
Finish Position: 38th in division, 112th Overall
A rather self-deprecating name belied a steely determination from our second mixed team. Kicking things off with a punch of power, Juliette put in a storming two hours on the turbo (while an actual storm raged outside), quickly followed by an equally blazing performance from resident Aussie Dave (every London team has to have one, right? It's legit in the rules).
Capt Amol then took over, discovering the delights (or should we say horrors) of Zwift and the turbo for the very first (and probably last) time. Finishing the team cycle, was Lynn, having casually undergone surgery less than a day beforehand. With unwavering commitment, she stepped out into the wild winds of Victoria Park, achieving an incredible speed in the face of 40mph winds, as darkness began to fall. Chapeau Lynn!
Throughout the night, the team fought off fatigue, maintaining a smooth cadence and even smoother transitions. As the small hours loomed, the power hour kicked off with a battle between Amol and Cat (whose idea was it to put a couple on rival teams?). Not at all bitter team captain Amol took to Twitter at 3am, threatening to take Cat, the result and the race organisers to the European Court of Justice. Sleep deprivation and losing to your mates will do funny things to a cyclist!
Throughout the night, the team kept the KM/snack ration nice and consistent As the sun came up, so did hopes of a dry morning: soon to be dashed by intermittent downpours. However, the balance had firmly shifted in favour of outdoors in any weather: the prospect of yet another hour on the turbo just too much to bear.
Several team members took in laps of Victoria Park for their morning shifts, before riding over to Lee Valley for the grand finale. The VeloPark was set for some last gasp half hour pushes, with incredible cheers from the literal tens of people on the sidelines. Strong performances from Lynn, Juliette, and finally Amol, brought Timelaps to a close for 2020, and proved that, perhaps, talk wasn’t all they had.
Differences of Virtual vs Outside?
Dirty Wknd RT capt David Bavin:
"Is it any easier? I would say yes it is, but only marginally. The big difference was not having to sleep in the tent, continuously was it any less of a challenge? But the challenge is still incredibly hard. You're still riding for the same time, pushing as hard as you can, trying to do your team mates proud. Riding on a turbo trainer is dull work, even with your team mates in your ear via Discord. Forcing yourself to do that for 6+ hours is very tough.
The similarities to taking on the event outside in Windsor Great Park are also huge. If you want to do well you have to get into a group, change over seamlessly and avoid any mechanicals (virtual mechanicals are real). So despite being at home on the trainer, you're still chasing groups, trying not to get dropped, thinking about your next change over, hoping your internet doesn't drop out... all on less than 2 hours sleep (unless you're Tom, but we don't talk about that). Virtual Red Bull Timelaps is still knackering. So sign up next year, yeah?"
Red Bull Timelaps 2021?
Who can even begin to think about what 2021 is going to look like? Next October and the next RBTL feels like a million miles away, but whatever the set up - completely outdoors, camping in the cold again, a virtual challenge like 2020, or a mix of both - we'll be fielding teams again. This is a unique event, and one that has never failed to exhaust, stretch, possibly overwhelm but ultimately delight our members. Why do you think we keep coming back year on year!
Join the club to join next year's Red Bull Timelaps teams, as well as weekly group rides (year round), great routes and loads more.