Team JMC’s Mike Sudder took part in the Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) 2012 Mountain Bike Challenge at the weekend on his new bike – here’s what he had to say afterwards…

At 8.30am on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, 120+ riders set out to cover the 51KM of the KAL Mountain Bike Challenge covering many of the hills and trails around Slaithwaite, Marsden and Holmfirth, otherwise known as  “Last of the Summer Wine” and “Where the Heart is” country.

The Start line was split into holding pens, with the elite riders at the front, the quick lads and lasses in the middle and those just wishing to complete the course before sunset at the rear. I settled myself in close to the back of the pack.

The initial 2.5KM climb sorted the men from the boys and I found myself steadily working my way through the field. This was my first outing on my new “29er” and found on the long steady climbs I could catch a rider or group ahead of me, which was nice because my aim was to try and finish in the top half.

The countryside in this area of Yorkshire is breath-taking, but with no time to stop and admire the views I pedalled on. At about the half-way point the weather changed and some dark clouds overhead settled in and it started to rain, “that fine stuff that wets you through”.

Not to be beaten by the weather or even the terrain, which for the second half of the ride seemed to becoming increasingly difficult, I slowed a little, but continued to catch riders ahead of me. With about 6KM to go and after a short climb,  I jumped off to open a gate and cramp hit me at the top of both legs which made getting back on the bike extremely difficult. With 2 fellow riders sat at the side of the trail both suffering the same, I thought “if I stop now I won’t get back on”. So I didn’t stop and finished the race in 4hours 18 minutes, in a respectable 57th , just inside the top half, and picking up a bronze medal.