Selkirk MTB Marathon

Monday 2nd August 2010

by MikeC

Two years ago a Scottish friend encouraged me to ride a mountain bike marathon event in the Scottish Borders, roughly an 85km route with some serious amounts of height gain. It was rather wet and muddy, I snapped a chain and went the wrong way twice (don’t ask) so I had a personal score to settle with this course. Last year was a no starter for my racing so I entered the 2010 event on the back of some good form and results. It’s a 5 round series and the Selkirk course is regarded as the best of the series, lots of moorland single and bouble-track, rock and root infested descents, 30 minute climbs up to 400m above sea level and a final descent where you can literally scare yourself silly………which I did.

Me, Tom and Nick arrived at Kev’s house on the Saturday afternoon where we met Neal and Jo who were also staying over for the event. We headed out for an easy mountain bike ride on the sweet, tree lined, snaking singletrack before ordering a curry and a few beers to finish off the evening and relax the nerves. The marathon series attracts a wide variety of mountain biker from serious (leg shaving) racer to the chilled out, relaxed weekend riders there for the fun and social aspect, giving the event a really great atmosphere. The extra bonus was the weather behaving itself giving us perfect riding conditions. After the nuetralised start a group of about 10 riders formed at the front pushing the pace and I let myself drift off not wanting to go too hard early on and blow after 40k. After the first descent I caught a Pedal Power rider (James Fraser-Moodie I’m told) and we worked together for about 60k, James pulling away on the climbs and me catching on the descents. We caught a Belgian rider who had legs the size of tree trunks (literally) and we worked together going through-and-off on the road sections. We were in 5th, 6th and 7th position. Me and James dropped the Belgian on the descent at Innerleithen and James attacked on the climb to Minch moor, an attack I couldn’t respond to. I was really pleased with my ride so far but I had made my mistake 2 hours before the start when I decided to use the energy drink at the feed stations instead of a camelbak. An important rule of thumb when racing is never try an energy product in a race when you haven’t tried it in training. This resulted in some quite bad cramps over the last 15km forcing me to stop a couple of times and stretch my muscles out. After dropping 5-10 minutes and 4 places I was able to continue at a slower pace. Luckily I was close to the final descent and tried to make up for lost time by braking as little as possible and scaring myself silly in the process. I finished 10th in a time of 4 hours 15 minutes, 30 minutes off the winner Nick Craig, a (super fast) legend in our sport. Tom claimed 3rd in the middle Marathon and Nick finished the big one in a personal best time. I think many riders will agree that the Selkirk Marathon is one of the best events on the mtb calendar and I will certainly be returning next year.

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