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The Accidental Race…


That’s me there (Liam) delivering the first race briefing at the first Solstice Sprint. Excited, slightly nervous and well out of my depth, how on Earth did I get here I remember asking myself, all I know is that I never planned to be there, it was a bit of an accident.


Not many people know the story of how we came to be, but seems as we are getting more popular, so now may be a good time to tell the story.


If you want the short story…I tripped over my cat(ouch), dislocated my shoulder(ouch) and then got rejected from a “rival” event(also ouch) and started a bike race. If you want the long version…read on.


2022 was supposed to be the year that I made the leap from bike tourer / Dot Watching to become the actual dot itself, I set a long-term goal of completing the TCR or TransAm. To get there, I had a 3-year road map planned, which included prior participation in the leading UK Ultradistance events.

With training in full swing, I planned the first iteration of a training ride that would eventually become the Solstice Sprint 2023 route, a collection of my favourite places to cycle, plus one or two places on my ‘to visit’ list. Strategically set on the longest days of the year, in a similar format to some of my favourite events to DotWatch and around ~1month before the “big” events started, a perfect opportunity to test “human and machine”.


Unfortunately, in the early hours of December 31st 2021, in a rush to feed a very hungry and incredibly persistent cat, I managed to slip down the stairs and dislocate my shoulder(again, for the ~8th time, but the 1st since my stabilisation surgery in 2015), Warwick A&E was not how I envisioned spending NYE…

Around this time, I also received the killer email, “your entry into ‘X’ event 2022 has been unsuccessful”. It may be slightly to early to suggest they inadvertently awakened a sleeping giant as what resonated with me most from this mail was that ~200 other people were also unsuccessful, clearly there was room for one more race to squeeze into the calendar.


After a solid 2 days in the pity pit following my injury, binge watching the Mandalorian, I decided that I would use my recovery time constructively and see if any of the 200 other unsuccessful entrants wanted to do my solstice training ride instead, after all it was not likely that I would get to do it so I might as well live vicariously through them. The Solstice Sprint was born.


By the time that I had taught myself web design, photoshop, Instagram and started advertising the event it was early February, most people had already planned their 2022 calendar, and nobody had heard of the Solstice Sprint. I managed to attract ~8 entries, whilst I was (and remain) very grateful for these leading pioneers, I felt that the organisation was very rushed and I was not ready, so decided to postpone the race to 2023.


The Solstice Sprint 2023 was much more successful with ~65 entries and ~45 riders making it to the start line. Being honest, I would have been over the moon with 20 riders, my wife and I celebrated every 10 entries, the interest was much higher than I could have hoped for and I am grateful for all of those pioneering riders who gave us a chance and took us of the ground.

So there we have it, I planned to race my bike in events and ended up organising them. We are now looking forward to 2024 where we intend to establish ourselves as a staple in the ultra calendar.

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