As part of my plan to build up my fitness in advance of this year’s Yorkshire 3 peaks CX, I entered the inaugural Aggregate 100K as a test for both my injury recovery, general fitness and my 3 Peaks CX bike. Billed as the first Gravel Enduro on UK soil, the route and distance seemed ideal for my purposes. And at 100K it would be the longest I had ridden in a long while.
As it turned out the event proved to be not only great fun, with a bit of every sort of terrain and some amazing scenery, but also the ideal test I was looking for.
The terrain was a mix of great off-road trails linked together with some quiet picturesque North Yorkshire country lanes. The clever bit was how the race element was going to work. Four timed off-road sections with the winner being the one with the fastest aggregate (geddit!) time – so no point racing between the sections and taking risks with traffic, better to ride along having a chat and admiring the views before turning yourself inside out once you crossed a timing mat.
A wide variety of bikes had entered including mountain bikes, CX bikes and gravel specific bikes with chubbier tyres. With the 3 Peaks CX in mind I rode my On-One Dirty Disco with 35mm Smart Sam tyres with an extra bit of psi to avoid pinch flatting. The bike worked well although I would have sold my soul for a mountain bike on a couple of the rockier descents. No flats and no mechanicals but I did flirt my water bottle into the scenery a couple of times and managed to lose a multi-tool that bounced out of the tri-bag on my top tube. Not everyone was so lucky though and I handed a spare tube to a bloke pushing his bike who had suffered his third puncture and stopped to see if I could help another that had ripped his rear mech off on what was a virtually unrideable section through a forest.
The first two timed sections went OK. I passed some people and got passed by others –I really went for the third section but as we got to the end timing mat there was no reassuring bleep. After a minute of waving my timing chip at it I gave up and rode on. We subsequently found out that some
tosser joyless soul had turned it off. The planned fourth section wasn’t used in the end so the race element came down to two sections. And I finished in my usual mid-table mediocrity position with a total elapsed time for the whole event of just over 5 hours for 100K and 6000 odd feet of climbing.
I would certainly recommend the event. Well organised, great easy-going vibe, a fabulous feed station manned by a really cheery bunch that you got to visit twice and some great riding with stunning views. And you’ve got to love any event that has such high quality food and coffee options at the end and a bottle of beer for every competitor.
As for my fitness and injury recovery, it was a mixed bag. I felt good for most of the event and really strong on the climbs but after 40 odd miles I really started to struggle – kept going by Clif highly caffeinated gels and a bloody minded determination to finish. Post event my nerve injury waited a couple of days before giving me a big hint that I’m far from fully recovered. But I expected some reaction and as disappointing as it is to get the reminder, it was great to get a big ride under my belt.
Onwards and upwards!