Dalby 100 MTB marathon

I’d been looking forward to a full weekend of cycling up at Dalby for a while – the Dalby 100K Mountain Marathon and cyclosportive were supposed to have been held on consecutive days, the plan was to do the 100K road event on Saturday, camp out that night then ride the 100K MTB Marathon on Sunday. Nice.

That was until the sportive was cancelled due to a small number of entries.

After a much better night’s sleep in my own bed rather than a tent, I drove up to Dalby Forest at a very early hour (but not so early that it could be called ‘daft’ – how times change), met up with Budge and Dave and waited for the start. Eventually, once the huge signing-on queue had been dealt with, we were off, immediately hurtling down a short stretch of twisty singletrack. Joining a fireroad, I expected that it wouldn’t be too long before the next section of swoopy singletrack was reached.

Mile after mile of fireroad was ridden at speed. The exciting singletrack never arrived. Taking turns at the front of a group of around 10 riders, me and Dave we got our heads down and hammered along. Occasionally glancing back to see how many other riders were managing to hang on, things eventually settled down  as we left the forest behind and reached the rough moorland climbs, our group now down to four or five riders.

The ‘theme’ of the route was taking shape and basically it went like this: Gain altitude on rough bridleway and/or fireroad. Descend down tarmac road. I was riding my Ragley TD:1 – a lightweight, fully-rigid 29er – and even I was feeling a bit ‘over-biked’. A cyclocross bike would have been ace.

Dave’s chain snapped. We stopped and fixed it as a few riders left behind earlier went past. We got going again and caught them up. We were hammering again, until we reached what appeared to be the edge of a cliff. This wasn’t right. We turned around and rode back across the rock-strewn path across Fylingdales Moor, meeting riders who were riding in the opposite direction.

Now in a large group again, we ventually arrived back at a junction and noted the fact that there were no signs at all, We rode down this alternative trail. It turned out to be the way we should have gone earlier L

We’d lost loads of time, so a big effort was needed now to keep things respectable.

That wasn’t to be either. My carbon crank had other ideas and decided that today was going to be the day that it was going to DIE. A large crack had appeared in the carbon fibre and my pedal was working loose. I didn’t want it to fall off completely as that would have meant walking so the only option was to put all the effort in with my left leg only – any effort with the right leg would have only made the crank arm fall apart faster.

….which started to hurt quite a bit as my 90/10 pedalling action screwed around with my biomechanics (or something) and also meant that our pace dropped dramatically.

So we had a nice leisurely ride to the finish, but we were still looking forward to the fabled ‘final flourish’, no doubt using some of the red-grade trails back at Dalby Forest.

That didn’t happen. The final 30 miles or so of the route was almost exclusively on roads and that’s exactly how it finished. The course designer had seemingly made a concerted effort to avoid anything remotely interesting and directed the route along A and B roads instead, which was a bit weird.

By now my pedal was almost falling off so perhaps the lame ending was a good thing anyway…


At least there was an ice cream van and the finish.