The weather for my first long distance MTB ride of the year @ScottMTB, in the stunning country side of Builth Wells, was fantastic. Glorious sunshine. There was a record turn out, approx 800 riders as I understand. Phil, Iona and Ciara were riding the Mini 15 miles and I the full marathon, about 47 miles.
I do want to make reference that as this was the first Scott marathon since the terrible loss of 15yr old Charlie Craig a very fitting and moving dedication was made once we had all gathered at the start. Heartbreaking but the message being have fun and make sure you keep your humour in his honour.
We all set off. About 30mins before the start we made the discovery that my bottom bracket was super stiff… a bit of oil was chucked on to make the best of it..but not much more to be done really. The first miles of road section were torture. It was like riding through treacle. Hitting the first section of steep farm track climbing even worse, and I feared I’d not be able to complete the course, as 47 miles of this was not going to be possible without serious steroid injections. With my legs yelling at me I did push to the top section which takes you up onto the moors themselves. The transition onto mossy grass was not necessarily any better however it slowed down everyone else so the flood of folk passing me started to abate, making me slightly less grumpy.
You’d have thought the fantastic sun would have helped distract but not so. The main bulk of this course is rolling up and down the tops of the moors either of the hard packed single track or grass trails, which I don’t find it very interesting at the best of times but do understand that to get the distance in, and keep the riders safe, you need to add in these loops. The views were stunning. Preventing me from getting too involved in my negative grumblings were, of course, all the other riders and that message at the start. It’s the reason I do these, a chance to ride reasonable distances while still feeling as if you are on a ride with your mates, to laugh at what you are all doing.
Over time my bottom bracket loosened off and by the time I got to the first feed stop where the Cycle Tech mechanic was on hand there was no need to do anything, so I rumbled on. Another good climb I did regress into my whining mode so I struck up conversations with my fellow grovelers, and they too seemed to be suffering as I was, putting it into better perspective. I also chucked down as much food and Torq energy drink as I could and plowed on. The last feed stop at the bottom of a super fast fun downhill threw us onto the last road section. After this was just road, quarry loop and about half a mile of super muddy stony downhill track. I was the most cheery I’d been all ride and sailed through all this to the finish, to be met by my smiling daughters and husband. A welcome sight. They’d easily tackled their own 15 miles. Nod to fellow Team JMC rider Carl Salisbury who I kept bumping into as he waited for mates, and Tom @use_exposure as neither of them let me take myself too seriously. Scott organisation was excellent as always. Not my best ride, in terms of attitude, but as always in the end I remembered I am fortunate to be here, with my family, in glorious settings surrounded by great folk, doing something I love.
The following weekend I was riding the West Highland Way. As a footnote to this blog entry I wanted to say thanks to the staff at Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, especially Nic. What was meant to be an easy ride 20 odd miles to Aberfoyle from Milngavie over the Easter weekend became a bit more fraught. I arrived at the centre soaking wet and frozen to the bone far earlier than planned. Phil and the family (with my bag of warm clothing) were not due for another 45mins. I desperately tried to get warm tea and food into me but I had started shaking too violently so was spilling/dropping it everywhere expect into my mouth. I called Phil who set about leaving for the park immediately. As I started to deteriorate a visitor also alerted the staff and they came to my rescue, taking me aside, plying me with dry clothing and holding the cups of tea to my mouth so I could drink them. Within about 15 mins I was in a much better place but it was a real insight into how quickly I had become unable to look after myself. Big thanks to the chap Paul and Nic and the team! I recovered significantly enough to then spend 3 hours hanging off ropes in Go Ape.