What’s it all about?

Tuesday 26th July 2011

by MikeC

For the last 3 weekend’s I have raced my Mountain Bike every Sunday, 10 hours @ Kirroughtree, XC National Championships and a 100km Marathon, so quite a good variety. I blogged about Kirroughtree the other week and here is my take on the other 2. It was the first time I had done the National XC Championships, it was only a 1 hour drive away in Richmond and the competition was………well, the best in the country. The master’s race was a little down on numbers but not on speed and we set off at a blistering pace. Not wanting to do a ‘frosty’ and spectacularly blow up I tried to hold back just a little. The new sections of technical trail were made very physical because of the mud, a factor that suits my riding style. A highlight of the course was a 45 degree steep, muddy chute lined with spectators awaiting the inevitable wipe-out which I’m sure there were plenty even if I did disappoint by staying on my bike. I settled into my pace and tried to hold on for 4 laps. I made a few places in the early part of the race and faded a little towards the end making the mistake of not eating and drinking enough during the race. I crossed the line 10th master absolutely wasted and satisfied with my placing.

The following weekend I opted to ride the Dalby On One Hundred MTB Maraton, an event that’s in its first year and hopefully one that will continue. This time I rammed my jersey pockets with as much food, fluid and spares as they could take, not wanting to make the same mistake I did the previous week. If you blow with 40km to go on open exposed moorland, that’s going to be a very hard, lonely journey back in a world of hurt. We set off at a fairly comfortable pace with 4 of us pulling away from the rest of the field. I soon realised that one of them was last years Kielder 100 winner!! Oh dear, this will be tough. We dropped the fourth man after 15 minutes and it was 15 minutes later when the two leaders started to edge a gap on me. Not long after I could see them stood still on the moor and when I came flying past one guy said his back wheel had dropped out! As I was thinking, man that must have been frightening I clipped a pedal and went crashing head first into the ground. A quick check of bike and body and I was off again, behind the leaders again. I soon realised that my pedal axle was badly bent but pushed on. The next incident happened on some single-track over Goathland, I had hit my rear disc rotor on a rock and had to stop to bend it back into some sort of working shape. This was shaping up to be a tough day for my bike. All alone on the moor top racing hard got me to thinking what mtb racing is all about. For some it’s about winning but for most it’s about pushing your body and mind to it’s absolute limits then seeing if you can push it some more. On every climb my legs were screaming for a break and I knew I was sporting my ‘race face’. That didn’t matter as I had some potent caffeinated gels in my pocket to get me through the last 30k. After stopping at the feed station to fill up on water I knew there was still 40k to go but it seemed to pass in a blur of fast fire-road and caffeine concentration. A long, steep fire-road climb compounded the fatigue into my legs and as I approached the finish line I thought ‘this can’t be it’ finishing in a time of 3 hours 34 minutes, 3rd finisher in the 100k. I had to check the map to make sure I had gone the right way!  I know I pushed hard as it’s 2 days after the event and my hip flexors are still sore.

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