Strava tells me that I’ve been to Builth Wells to thrash around the hills quite a few times over the years. The lure of maximising some hard riding time early in the year and a chance to catch up and compare race weights with mates make for a worthy trip in to Wales. Doubling up the 40k Exposure Lights Big Night out with the full 60k MTB marathon the next day is a great way to earn some suffer points and builds some fatigue on day two that’s quite handy to test your metal to ride through. A decent contingent of Team JMC folk were out as well so it was great to see them all.
I travelled with Ollie of Pedal Progression fame and his son Ed who was taking on a 25k for the first time. I really think we should all try and car share more to these sorts of things as there was a lot of people soloing in a T5 that could have surely shared at least part way? Speaking of T5’s I noticed on arrival how the campsites at these types of events look a bit different these days, tents were vastly outnumbered by the fleet of campervans and motorhomes, essentially a field full of Porsche equivalents. I guess that reflects those kids on cheap mountain bikes grew up got more money and realised the pitfalls of pre-event camping! Despite being a shameful caravan owner myself I opted for the 10-second erection of a single skin popup tent (error). Windy conditions obviously then made it half bend over in the night of course and not much sleep. I think that’s the end of my camping days.
The night time Exposure Lights fuelled blast was up first. The prospect of a cold windy night in the hills put a few off from stepping up to the line but nevertheless a good handful of hard pedallers emerged as darkness fell and we headed up in to the hills. I wasn’t convinced this weekend would do me much good after catching a cold during the week but thankfully despite feeling a bit snotty, the windy moors blew away the slime at a sufficient rate to not stifle progress too much. I didn’t quite have enough beans to keep up with the front two guys but yo yo’d for a bit until finally dropping the people behind on some pretty terrifyingly fast moorlands descents. It was a new night time loop and riding in the dark is always fun as your senses alight and your concentration hones to pick out the hidden ditches in the moors whilst trying not to get blown away! Seeing snakes of lights across the hillside behind you is always pretty special.
After a bad nights sleep I arose a bit snottier but not feeling as bad as I thought I might. Nevertheless the full marathon meant for a harder day after full gassing the night before. I ended up way back but pleased my heart rate had still gone up and it was good to give the legs a double day shake out ahead of an upcoming adventure taking on Bristol-Liverpool on the MTB over two days through Wales, which will be over 24-hours of riding with the guys from MTB Epics where I’ll be joined by a couple of buddies to test the route and get some miles in.