It’s been a hectic few weeks that I hadn’t gotten round to sharing a couple of words about returning north to Kielder for the Deadwater 100. Also some thoughts on this weekends UK Champs…..
A return to the calendar of the Kielder 100 now in a slightly different format by Cold Brew Events was a good excuse to return to where mountain bike racing began for me. Some great memories from this part of the world as we stayed a couple of miles away from where we got married back in 2014.
I’ve been gradually getting back to fitness working towards the UK 24 champs. 100 miles on a hilly route was another stepping stone towards that goal.
I rode in a group of six including a couple of JMCers for the first 25 miles or so before feeling like it was a bit too hot pace for where my fitness was at so I backed off and settled in to my own pace for the rest of the race. The mix of groomed trail centre stuff to essentially hacking through unbuilt and dense muddy jungle was somewhat interesting, I’m glad it wasn’t raining as I had a couple of silly tumbles in the murk even in relative dry. Rolling through the 50 mile mark at the start finish was a head screw having to set off for the same again (but slower). On the second lap I managed to add on a fair chunk of time with my head down missing a junction but this meant that I was probably the only one to ride 100 miles as my Garmin said 100.4 whilst 98.6 seemed to be the non bonus route. The man in front towards the back end managed to keep there as I didn’t really have the desire to bury myself to catch him even if I could. The new bike worked well and good body and kit test for bigger goals to come.
Speaking of which this weekend is the Exposure Lights UK 24 Champs. Unbelievably looking back I’ve had a 1,2,3 finish at the last three UK Champs. Pretty lucky to have been able to attend those ones and we’re back at Fort Bill again where I won in 2016 in a memorable battle royale race. It marks a return for many of us to last year where the World’s saw some epically bad conditions. For me it was a really weird race with my head entirely elsewhere for the first 18 hours. The fog lifted and I managed to smash out a few laps towards the end and get in the top 10 overall. This year has been a bit of a funny one with some sick noting meaning I haven’t done as much as usual. This should keep the legs and enthusiasm fresh though and aboard a full susser I’m looking forward to the added comfort and enhanced fun/reduced pain on the descents. The forecast is ‘mixed’ and I’ve got a bit of a history of enjoying the shite conditions, I don’t seek them out but once in them I sort of just laugh to myself how ridiculous the whole thing is really. The adversity spurs me on I think somehow.
A strong JMC contingent are getting involved this year so expect a mass assault on a few of the podiums! It really does make for a great atmosphere when you have a great gang of people all together like that.
It looks like the start list contains a few familiar faces but also some newer ones with recent good results in endurance stuff so I predict a bit of a shake up from the usual suspects. I’m looking forward to what Brett Bellchambers labelled the ‘best 24 course he’s done’ as I seem to go well up there even when I’m not going so well like last year. I’ve got a bit of an incentive with a next day last minute holiday booked, shipping off to Croatia where I hear beer, ice cream and pizza are aplenty, watch out!