“I like to keep breaks as short as possible. Absolutely no sleeping. I take some caffeine during the race and then I don’t have any issues staying awake for 24 hours.
“I don’t let myself sit down to eat. I just take a full water bottle and grab something I can eat fast. Then I have my gels, bars and candy while I’m riding. My regular stops are 30 seconds max.”
The man speaking is Matti Tahkola. Matti is 22 years old, from Finland, and works full time as an electrician. He’s also a dedicated endurance mountain biker, and is speaking to me after winning the solo category in the ‘Relentless Exposure 24’, a 24-hour mountain bike race run on the famous trails of the Nevis Range in Fort William, Scotland.
It’s the first time Matti has ever raced outside Finland, and only the second 24-hour mountain bike race he’s competed in. He’s won both.
“I really don’t know how it’s possible but it has given me more confidence to keep on doing this,” he says.
You can enter the Relentless 24 as a team of eight, where the workload is split between the group, as a team of four, a pair of riders or alone as a solo rider. Matti entered in the latter category on his full-suspension Cube AMS 100 – and his 29 laps in 23 hours 45 minutes and 36 seconds were enough to beat his nearest competitor by 52 minutes and 42 seconds.
“I’m so new in 24-hour racing that I haven’t fully figured out the ‘why’ of it yet,” he says. “I’m enchanted by the feeling that I get when I race long hours.