Last weekend saw the first round of the Scott MTB Marathon double header at Builth Wells. Early in the week the weather forecast was looking grim, but come Friday the forecast was looking dry, but with a bit of wind on Sunday... Regardless I was looking forward to a good couple of rides up and down some real hills, unlike the stuff around home.
Saturday night was the Exposure Lights Big Night Out & was down for the 40km ride. An 8pm start meant that it didn’t really get dark until we were up on top of the hills. The first climb to get there was a monster – 4 1/2 miles of climbing and 1000ft... certainly warmed the legs & lungs up. I managed to stay with the lead group until the kick at the end of the climb as we hit dirt track, but was well placed in the first dozen or so riders...
Photos courtesy of http://www.robbarkerimages.com/
The next few miles over the top of the hills was undulating singletrack, with nearly all the course being dry other than the odd wet ditch. Over the next few miles I managed to pass some of the guys that left me at the top of the climb. The long descent back in to Builth was a super fast mix of wet farm track and road... thankfully I had clear glasses on so didn’t end up with eyes full of muck and could stay off the brakes for longer. The last little kick back up the quarry climb saw one of the KTM team riders come back past me, but also saw us catch the 3 riders in front of us, meaning that I finished 8th, but only 10-seconds behind 4th! The finish beer was very welcome... thank you Exposure.
Sunday morning was WINDY... very windy with 40mph gusts predicted. Riding gear choice was difficult due to the conditions... too little and getting cold could be a problem up on the hills in the wind, too much would mean problems on the climbs mashing a singlespeed up them, so 1 compression top, 2 base layers and a Mule Bar jersey was the final choice... no flappy wind proof tops to slow me down further. It turned about right for the full Enduro.
Up to the first feed station I was in a group of 8 or so riders including Matt Page, which was a relief to fend off some of the wind. however when we hit a stretch of road at the first feed station I simply couldn’t spin to keep up with them and therefore saw the gradually disappear from sight. However, I kept my head down and tried to maintain my pace so as not to drop too far off them. It was helpful having other riders from the 25 & 50km routes to keep aiming for as they joined & left the full course. A quick stop at the 2nd water station and a face full of Eastern Express and Salted Caramel rejuvenated the legs for the last leg of the ride back to Builth which saw me catch back some of the lads that left me earlier on, giving me a mental boost for the last few miles. Just before the last off-road descent I caught back Matt Page, something I was not expecting! A bit of dicing down the last descent passing some slower riders made things interesting, and the short climb back out of the river gave me a bit of a gap on the run back to town. A finishing time of 3hrs 43mins saw me place 19th on the 38.5mile full enduro (including 6600ft of climbing), only 23minutes behind Nick Craig.
All-in-all a great weekends riding left me feeling really positive about the help I have had from Jon Fearne & Extreme Element Coaching and the next few months training before my trip to california. A big thanks to MuleBar for keeping me fuelled for my training & racing with their wonderful flavours. Thanks also to Fibrax for helping me with their awesome brake pads, Singular for a wicked frame & forks, and finally a thanks to Goldtec & Hope for their help this year too.0