Thursday 26th May 2011

by MikeC

Epic: Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size.

Epic is certainly one word I would use to describe the events of 20th/21st May 2011. After Jason and myself won the senior pair’s race at last years 10 @ Kiroughtree I was hounding him through the winter to attend 10 Under the Ben, the first race in the series on world class trails near Fort William. For anyone unfamiliar with the format it’s a Mountain Bike Endurance race for 10 hours, teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 try and complete as many laps of the course in the 10 hours. Tough, but very rewarding. A last minute change of schedule meant we could make it so we headed up on the Friday morning towards a met office weather warning of heavy persistent rain. 7 hours later we arrived and a short break in the weather meant we could set up camp. We decided against a practice lap and headed up the swaying gondola to get our free pasta meal. The rest of the evening was spent in the van talking tactics and laughing at the heavy rain and strong winds. If we didn’t laugh we would have been crying!

The following morning the weather gods must have been in a good mood as they let us start the race without rain but someone must have angered them and once it started it set in for the day making the course wetter and muddier by the minute. My first lap was a bit of a mare as I got tripped in the le-mans style start and lost a minute or so to the leaders. I fought my way towards the front but was aware of 10 hours more racing so tried to keep it steady. We had decided on a lap-on-lap-off strategy and I was soon handing the timing chip to Jason and getting cleaned, fed and rested ready for my next lap. It went something like this. ‘Go on Jase, have a good lap’. Back to van, clean drive-train, lube drive-train, get muddy kit off, get clean, put clean kit on, get food & drink, stretch, make warm drink and listen to motivating rock music, make drink bottle, eat energy bar, put wet muddy cycling shoes back on, get to course, take dibber and smash another lap. That was pretty much it for 10 hours, I had a big dip in motivation after lap 2, thinking ‘this is just stupid’ but some encouraging words from Jason (thanks mate) and some banana bread lifted me back up and we pressed on. The course got quieter and quieter throughout the race as competitors pulled out and some just stayed at camp deciding the conditions were too bad to continue. Muddy sections of the course got taken out as the rain continued to pelt down, making the going harder and harder. We completed 6 laps a piece taking our total to 12. Not having any support meant we knew nothing of our position and were just happy to finish and get cleaned up. On un-steady legs we headed over to the main tent to find out where we finished. A long wait for the leader-board to go through the categories but one worth waiting for when we found out we had come 2nd, 1 lap behind the winners and 6 minutes in front of 3rd place. A well deserved pint of Belhaven best went down very quickly while we waited for the podium presentations. One of the hardest races I have done to date and not one I will choose to repeat next year if the conditions are the same.

The previous weekend was the Nutcracker Round 2 which doubled up as the North of England Championship race. A good ride by Alan Nixon to take the gold in the masters race with me taking 2nd, the silver medal and the series lead. No races for 4 weeks now but with a holiday, rock festival and dry trails there is plenty to look forward to.

One Response to “Epic”

  1. Dan Says:

    Just read all your blogs Mike – you should post a link to the page onto Facebook / Twitter when you post one!

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