Michael returned from 2 weeks in the sun with his mum last week so we were keen to do something with our weekend. Off we went to Anglesey with the dog and the kite, looking forward to a sunny day on the beach. Unfortunately fortune pissed on our duvet again and it rained the whole time. The kite got soaked and full of wet sand so that wouldn’t fly and we spent most of the day sat in the caravan admiring the view that was obscured by thick mist.
I had to get to Selkirk that evening as I was in the 100K MTB marathon (88k in reality) on Sunday. I arrived in Selkirk after dropping Deb and the kids off at home at midnight. Again, it was raining so I slept in the car, which was even more uncomfortable than it sounds. Car seats are designed to KEEP YOU AWAKE, for obvious reasons. It was still raining in the morning so after a monumental struggle to open the car door and crawl out I got my arse in gear. Phil arrived later and it stopped raining.
Once the ride started, someone who was not that good at riding in a large group (which is most mountain bikers it seems) whacked my rear wheel with their front. I was on the singlespeed and the rear wheel slipped to one side in the horizontal dropout, despite the chaintug. I then had to stop to loosen the bolts, straighten the wheel then tighten it up again (more about this later). I’d lost a minute or two and Phil was way up in front maintaining his position with the faster riders. I was in contrast now way back with the slower riders who I concluded had only just learned to ride a bike. Left right and centre there were muppety incidents. Riders just going off to the side and into the heather for no reason. Weaving from side to side constantly. Suddenly stopping because there’s a puddle. On the climbs, I’m having to shoulder some people out of the way as I can’t possibly go any slower without my knee exploding or ending up falling off the bike. On the downhills there are folk JUST STOPPING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRAIL AND STANDING THERE, PETRIFIED. These events are for beginners as much as anyone else I suppose and I chose to ride a bike with only one gear, but at the time it’s bloody frustrating, especially when the trail becomes so narrow you can’t easily get past. My fault for having a shonky bike though…
Having said all that, there were a couple of bits of this ride that I wasn’t up for riding either. Last time I had a go at all of it and ended up having a long chat to a St John’s Ambulance bloke at the end after my comedy over-the-bars face/granite slab interface crash. Parts of the man made trails at Innerleithen actually live up to the “black run” billing and I’m guessing that you need to get your front wheel up to go down some of the nasty spiky rocky obstacles.
From a point approximately 20 feet from the start line, my “trusty” singlespeed reached new levels of shonkiness…
My entire day consisted of ride for a couple of miles, overtaking the slower riders in front. Notice that rear wheel has slipped and chain has gone dangerously slack. Stop. Fanny around with rear wheel for a bit, get passed by slower riders you’ve just passed. Set off and pass slower riders again. Catch up with Phil. Say hello, then notice rear wheel has slipped and chain has gone dangerously slack….ad nauseum. This was starting to get really boring until the front brake stopped working just at the start of the Caddon Bank downhill (which is where you need 2 brakes and a bucketload of skill/suspension travel ideally) so things suddenly got really exciting again…
On one trailside repair session I met up with Rich and we had a natter about stuff.
The mud was pretty bad. Some were saying that it’s the worst mud they’d ever experienced. I’m not too sure about that. I reckon they must be from the south of France or something. In my infinite wisdom drawn from years of cycling experience I decided it would be a good idea to swap my mud tyres for some larger-volume dry conditions tyres last week. Expecting a dry, sunny weekend in Scotland I was, like a pillock. To recap. I had no grip and little traction. No front brake. A rapidly deteriorating rear wheel situation. I was falling further and further back with each stop – further and further into muppetland, the home of frustration and murderous tendencies. Certainly not the home of speed, momentum and bike handling skills.
I finished just behind Phil (that’s the last time I wait for him at the final feed station, the opportunist splitter!) in just under 7 hours, almost an hour slower than the last time I rode at this event 2 years ago. Pants. Still, I wasn’t after a quick time, just a day out with Phil really. I crossed the line muttering profanities to myself about a “f***ing waste of time” or “shit bastard bike”, then dropped my free t-shirt in the mud and ran over it. I enjoyed it really though 😉 2900 metres of vertical climb on a singlespeed is always worth doing.
That’s the Cristalp training done now. Good job really, cos I’ll be spending loads of time and money on a broken bike again this week L