In spite of the tougher-than-expected ride on Monday, I’d recovered well. I was feeling good the day before and during the race – the usual frantic pace of the start (after the somewhat silly fast-slow-fast-slow pace of the quad bike during the neutral lead-out) saw a lead pack immediately appear. initially I was in the chasing pack but somewhat surprisingly, I was able to close the gap and join the front group. It was going well. My glasses steamed up so I backed off a bit in the first singletrack section but I wasn’t losing sight of the riders in front.
The rain had started the night before the race and didn’t stop. I knew the gritty surface and the water wouldn’t be doing any part of the bike any good but figured that it would be the same for everyone and my brake pads were ok. My chain was soon stripped of all lube though and following some annoying chainsuck, I stopped to apply some more. All that lost me a bit of time and a few riders, including Phil, caught me up. It didn’t matter though, I was feeling ACE and I was seemingly riding faster than I had done for a long time.
Cutting a long tedious story short, 30 miles into the race I approached a marshal point down a hill. The marshal was directing me to a right turn but instead of turning right, I pulled on the brakes and nothing happened. At all. Accelerating, I shouted ‘NO BRAKES!!’ and carried straight on, off the trail and into the ferns. This sounds funny now but at the time I had no idea if the ferns were hiding something flat or the edge of a cliff. Luckily it was the former and I came to a halt, slowed by the 5-feet-high vegetation, around 12 feet from the forest road I’d just left.
The pads in both brakes had vaporised – all the pads already down to bare metal – within 30 miles of grit and filth. I’m annoyed at myself because I only had one spare pair of pads with me, so enough for one brake. Game over.
Phil came past and I shouted to him that I was out of the race. I trundled back to the campsite and spent a few hours cleaning my stuff and packing up. After that I wandered around Kielder village like some kind of weird hobo, went to the cafe for my dinner, hanged around with Lee and Rachael (Lee dropped out due to brake problems and a knackered knee) and waited for the rest of the lads to finish their race.
It’s frustrating because I was doing well. Really well.
Dave, at one point just in front of me, finished 7th. Phil was 21st. Budge also survived to cross the line in 62nd. Less than 15% of the starting number actually finished, most retiring from the race apparently due to brake problems and/or ‘can’t be arsed any more’ issues.
Kielder100 2 – 0 me