2013 has been pretty good. Ok, it’s been better than that. It’s been bloody brilliant.
I kicked off by winning the Strathpuffer solo and singlespeed categories in January, organised another great Hit the North in February, won a mug in a duathlon in March, utterly wrecked my legs at the 3 Peaks Fell race and went bivvying in April, became the European 12 hour solo fatbike champion (and claimed the most obscure title in the world ever), popped up on the front cover and inside Privateer magazine AND went training in Tenerife in May, led the race but had a big crash and skulked off into the caravan at Mountain Mayhem in June, won the vets’ solo race at 10 Under the Ben, came second in a fatbike race, won £15 at a local XC race (the sum total of my 2013 prize money) and won the Bontrager 24/12 24 hour solo race in July, rode a bloody long way on a fatbike in August, crashed my brains out at the 3 Peaks Cyclocross in September, won the 24 hour solo at Relentless 24 and the vets’ 8 hour race at Bristol Oktoberfest and my highest-ever finish in a cyclocross race in October, got bored/rested and then crashed badly in November and did ‘ok’ in a night time trail race in December.
Like I said, it’s been bloody brilliant. Thanks to everyone who helped out with favours, loans of kit and bikes and a huge hug to those who tolerated me for the past 12 months. The next 12 months are going to be brilliant too 🙂
It’s years since I’ve been to Delamere Forest and for some reason my memories of how hilly and lumpy it is faded over time. Somehow I thought it was quite flat. I suppose compared to most places I’ve ridden a bike it is quite flat, however there appears to be plenty of scope for going up and down hills in a 10 kilometre run…
The 10 kilometre run in question was the Delamere round of the Petzl Night Runner series – the other rounds were all too close to big bike races so this was the only one I could do without really killing myself. There were around 400 people on the start line, some in festive fancy dress and all sporting headtorches to light their way around the dark forest. Mike and I lined up reasonably close to the front to avoid being poked in the eye with a fairy light, tripped up by some tinsel or elbowed by a bloke dressed as a Christmas present.
After being elbowed by a bloke dressed as a Chrismas present I got into a fairly pacy group – a bit faster than I’d normally run but I’d see how I got on. Gradually the size of our group reduced in size as we overtook runners in front of us and the pace stayed quite brisk as the mile markers started to roll by. It was going quite well by halfway and that’s when the hills started to appear. My lack of running in the past few weeks (I’ve not done any) was starting to play on my mind as I had to really put in the effort to stay in touch with the big tall lad who’d been setting our pace since the start.
car keys, not a knuckle duster.
(photo – Epic Events)
Then he dropped off and I was on my own, just in time for The Big Hill. Like I’d said earlier I didn’t know Delamere had any hills but this one went on for aaaaaages. It was easily a mile long and went up and up to a transmission mast thing and then descended steeply to the finish. Still huffing and puffing and in keeping with tradition, I lost a place on the descent (which is progress because a couple of years ago I’d have lost several places on the final descent) but crossed the finish line in 45 or so minutes, in 19th place, which wasn’t bad for me (10k offroad, in the dark, some hills and a festive night out in the pub the night before 😉 )
Mike crossed the line a few minutes later – his first-ever 10K run, his first-ever trail race and his first-ever run in the dark. Not bad!
It was ‘Global Fat Bike Day’ at the weekend. I’m not entirely sure what I should have been doing with a fat bike on Global Fat Bike Day but it was a good excuse to borrow one from Rich and Shona at Keep Pedalling, Manchester’s foremost purveyors of unusual, cool and epic machinery 🙂
As luck would have it Rich has just finished building a custom Salsa Mukluk. Hope Fat Hubs, lightweight (yes, LIGHTWEIGHT) Surly Marge Lite rims, some XTR bits and bobs. For a bike with 4 inch-wide tyres it’s surprisingly light and nimble and I had no worries about taking it out for an extended ride. I even did some ‘proper training’ on it.
A lack of time on the actual Fat Bike Day meant that I nipped out for just a couple of hours on local trails – the bike attracted the usual, almost disbelieving stares from other riders and people out walking. The only downside was that the recent rain had left the trails quite wet and while the tyres (Surly Knard 3.8 at the front and a 4.0 Endomorph at the back) didn’t struggle for traction and grip, rubber as wide as that can produce a shower of water quite unlike any other bicycle. It really is like sitting on a muck spreader sometimes. At least it keeps you cool 😉
I had a bigger ride planned for Sunday so I decided I’d have a Global Fat Bike Weekend and drag it out a bit. I headed for the hills for a few hours and while I stopped a couple of times to fix punctures after an encounter with a sea of hawthorns, the bike was brilliant for a big ride. You really don’t need a beach or a snowy climate for these bikes to make sense.
The level of comfort and amount of traction on loose surfaces is remarkable and I’m always surprised at how well every fatbike I’ve ever ridden accelerates and maintains momentum. Of course, inflating a tyre after you’ve replaced a tube can take a while longer than with ‘normal’ bikes but it’s not too bad if you’ve got a decent pump and I’ve not even bothered experimenting with tubeless (although I’m sure that’s a development that can’t be too far away) but these are small problems when you consider the actual amount of fun and enjoyment you can get from a ride bike like this.
I need to find some races and think of some really long rides so that I can borrow this bike again….