Myself and my MTB buddies, 5 Team JMC members in our number, are mainly what you would call “sociable” riders, riding most weeks with plenty of spills and laughs along the way. We do enjoy outdoing each other with our versions of KOMs….like who can make it up The Rake and then Holcombe Tower in Ramsbottom without puking, but really it’s all about time out from work and daily life, in the MTB playground that is on our doorsteps.

However, just occasionally we dare to rub shoulders with the more serious cycling fraternity and enter organised events, such as the Manchester 100 last year on roadies, raising about a grand for the Christie, as well as the recent Evans MTB Ride It Day in Rochdale, which turned out “interesting”….

A couple of days on I’m still a bit stiff after what what can only be described as a “memorable” ride, due to truly inclement weather, and to be fair, lack of preparation – but let’s not talk about that! Suffice to say that out of the 7 of us that set off with the intention of completing the “Long” route, approx 30 miles and 3,500 feet of climbing, only 2 of us finished it. That is no slight on the sensible riders who bailed and took the intelligent option of switching to the slightly shorter “Medium” route, more an indication of the sheer lunacy of myself and my brother-in-law, Simon Bates. However, next time I’m dying with cramp and sodden to the bone, I may just decline Simon’s offer to do “just a few more miles”, and politely tell him to Foxtrot Oscar.

The event was well organised with helpful stewards, although not many along the route to be fair. The two feed stations were stocked with copious amounts of peanuts, flapjacks, brownies etc., so plenty of solid energy food on offer, which really did keep us going. The icing on the cake would have been a hot brew… maybe next time, eh Evans? Just a hint 😉

A set of determined, friendly riders battled the extreme elements on a mix of hard tails, full sus, plus bikes and fat bikes. Ploughing through boggy moorland in rain, hail and even snow, my respect for the Strathpuffer warriors grew by the mile. Guys, how DO you cycle for 24 hours in those conditions?! Respect, is all. The road sections were very welcome respite but throw in some gnarly descents and (to us novices at least) unrideable elevations and you had a truly varied, challenging route. Probably best enjoyed on a dry spring day!

Evans, thanks for a great event, and for sure, “We’ll be back!”

Photo courtesy of those lovely people at SportSunday Event Photography!