So the world turns and the seasons roll in and with a blink of the eye it’s come around again. The 10@Kirroughtree. A 10 hour endurance MTB race in Dumfries and Galloway. With it being local to me (under 2hrs travelling one way) and in my opinion one of the harder more technical course out there. I always relish the challenge to brush up on my off-piste, root sucking, mud hugging descending skills set.

Last year the weather god’s prayers were answered and the trails were dry, fast and softly technical. But fun. This year the woods were entertaining a different beast. A dark layer of the assault against the 2 wheeled innocent rider’s variety. The intent was to hurt and dent the pride. Was this the case for some self-defence? Hong Kong Phooey style!

This year I was joined on the starting line with Team JMC‘s Jason and Neil. Manchester’s finest.

So with an early start on a dreich, grey and surprisingly tepid morning we all set off for a 10-hour cycling jolly into the Kirroughtree woods. As with every race I do once the gates have been opened and the cavalcade of riders flow through them I immerse myself in my own race. Placing, who’s racing? Fast off the blocks riders, course condition all become irrelevant as I start to focus on myself and how I am going to perform. How hard can I push myself and what skill level have I brought with me today is my only concern. If I finish strong and float up the ranks then great but every race is a mini adventure. Things and stuff will go wrong. I will go wrong. My mind will go wrong but it’s how I confront and break down these challenges is why I tinker on the edges of endurance riding.

So as I had thought the off-piste wooded trails which link up this course were muddy, rooty, off camber and on the descents crazy mental grip less mud streaks of goodness and evil. Some were fun. Dodging the hidden tree stumps and trees with the ever present root posse to mug you of your pride and skillz. But as time eroded the day some of the cut out trails became a lottery. Get it right at the top and you were fine to a point. You just had to be on your toes if you had to bank left or right. Get it wrong and there was a whole dictionary of words that expressed how bad it can get.

I got it wrong on a few occasions. Landing into a tree, mud puddle, stump and a rock. All superficial detours off the trail but pride denting all the same. My choices of tyres were bang on but on my 8th lap I had an odd puncture. Running tubeless my rear tyre suddenly decided to exhale some air into the wide open world and leave me with the faffing art of pumping up, ride a bit, pump up again, try and sort tyre, ride a bit, pump up. This and a lap with chain suck (thought I would get away with a worn chain and rings) annoyed me down to my inner sanctum of biking tolerance. That rear wheel could have easily ended up in some dark, swampy area of the forest as some parts of that lap I was quicker walking.

All in all it went OK. My first 3 laps were set at a leisurely pace as I was just concentrating on the downhill sections with the view in sharpen up my skills on descending. But I was happy at my input to the whole race. I finished 8th overall and 5th in my category (vets).

Big thanks as always to Lisa for the pit love and moral boosting smiles and Jon for the support and structure. One day I will get there. Thanks also go out to the Galloway Hillbillies who do put on a fantastic and challenging race. Just goes to show that you don’t need 600 riders to justifying organising an event.