They put together a nice course with loads of singletrack and attracted a perfect number of riders (maybe a 100 soloists... I'm rubbish at esitmating numbers). Even the start was amusingly low-key: we all rolled out to a patch of grass and the organiser shouts, "3, 2, 1, go!".
The cheer of the other riders, the unbelievable uncouragement from the marshalls, the funny announcer on the PA system, the cheers from the spectators in the arena - there was just a great vibe the whole time. As for the riding, it certainly felt pretty strange as the 7 hour mark went by. That's longer than I've ever ridden continuous and was still only just over half way. I was happy to keep it together for pretty much the whole time, fuelled by fig rolls and bananas on the course and oat cakes, peanuts, apples, and potatoes in my "real food" breaks. The potatoes especially were great, bringing back a section from a Terry Pratchett book
"I never worry about [religion stuff.] Never --ing give it a thought. I've got my potato."
"Oh, yeah. Keep it on a string round my neck." Mr. Tulip tapped his huge chest.
"And that's religious?"
"Well, yeah. When you die, if you've got your potato, everything will be okay."
and indeed it was. My only disappointment was that I came in at 11hr20min (plus a bit) and was lapping about 40min by there so I didn't push it to squeeze in another lap. My excuse (such as it is) was a puncture on the previous lap which cost me 10 minutes due to exhausted lack of co-ordination (even then I had to stop a bit later and put more air in).
All in all a top weekend, and next year I'm dragging some more people along :)
To linux hacking... I've had a spot of bother enabling dma on the optical drive of my Shuttle SD11G5. It uses a Intel 915GM ICH6M with SATA hd and an IDE optical drive. The way I had it set up,
hdparm -d1 /dev/hdc
HDIO_SET_DMA failed: Operation not permitted
which is no good because without dma, watching dvds and ripping cds both kill the cpu. Turns out that the solution is in the BIOS. In Integrated Peripherals/OnChip IDE Device, make sure that OnChip Serial ATA is set to "Enhanced Mode". Having done this, the cd drive becomes /dev/hda (it's no longer related to the hard-disk) and enabling dma works... woohoo! Now I can watch The Incredibles.