In the run up to WEMBO at Fort William this year I’d planned in a couple a longish endurance events to get me in the groove. First up was the Brecon Beast charity event promising epic scenery starting out from the rugby club in Brecon. 700 riders lined up to take on the 70km course. I somewhat underestimated this one as an easy charity event, turns out there are some rather big hills round those parts and we seemed to go up a few! I was feeling decent and mixed it up in the lead group that formed until we hit a monstrous 20-min climb and the snakes pulled out ahead. The route took in some great scenery and even took in some rocky carnage in parts that put you on your bike handling skills limit. I was somewhere in the top 10 so pushed on harder than I intended towards the end and started cramping.

Just as I thought for once I had avoided any dramas a wasp got in my helmet going down the road doing 30mph, lovely. I had intended to do another lap but time was a bit tighter, that plus a banging headache and my Garmin having a meltdown (again) and losing the route meant I went for a warm down bimble on some lovely backroads instead.

The next weekend we combined a family visit in north Cambridgeshire with a 6-hour race in Norfolk hosted by Kings Lynn MTB Club at Shouldham Forest. This compact little venue was surprisingly packed with nice trials and a couple of short but punchy climbs. The now obligatory 2018 dramas continued the night before with a master cylinder failure on my rear brake, even by that point I had had to bodge a lockout system to put my forks to open after receiving them back from a warranty repair without all the bits needed to set them up, and I didn’t fancy going rigid!

A quick call to one of East England’s fast men and Andy Cockburn came up with the goods to provide a spare rear brake, which was good news. This just about fitted in the morning at race HQ but meant a bit of brake rub that couldn’t be fettled out, I would just have to pedal harder and burn off those burgers. I was just glad to just about get to the start line in time with a mostly functioning bike!

From the off I could still feel the fatigue from recent miles and knew I wouldn’t be ‘on it’ that day. Every time I pushed a bit harder even early on I could feel the cramp building. As the front guys pulled away I just settled in to a more comfortable pace. A mid-race appearance from Sarah, Rory and Gran (in law) was a nice little boost although I must admit to have sat up for a lap whilst I pondered what I was doing with myself, thoughts drifting forward to bigger challenges in a few weeks time at WEMBO and quite frankly could I be arsed. I guess everyone has those moments which I’ve learned to recognise why they come and understand that it’s normal to have ‘wobbles’. Still I think I ended up around 7th overall I think. I probably had time for another lap but wasn’t keen to induce a crampathon so with plans to drive down to the Midlands for the night with the Day family it was time to pack up quick and get on the road.

Overall a good couple of hard training weekends back to back.