it was hot. damned hot.
Photo by Walkers Cycling Club
Photo by Walkers Cycling Club
the morning of my first race in velo club moulin colours dawned bright and sunny with no breeze to speak of. the ben was looking especially fine with some sizeable snow patches clinging on into summer. pre-race briefing listened to and the trug of love stocked with the good stuff and dumped in position. time enough for a bit of a futter about, another cup of joe and a last chance to tighten various bolts (to 11).
as we gathered on the start line, it became clear that 10UTB had become A BIG EVENT since the first one back in 2005. there were hunners of riders on the start line. i snake my way in about half way into the bunch (see if you can spot the VCM jersey in the photo up top). the piper plays and we're off on the start loop - a 15 minute mini lap to string out the bunch. lots of crunching of gears, fiddling with lockouts and a couple early punctures. and a big queue at the top of the loose, mildy rocky decent under the the gondola. onto the lap proper and it's more queues at the first river crossing and the first rocky drop. ach weel, stopped me getting into my usual first lap race with someone who'd committed an unspeakable act, like overtaking me without asking, riding in knee pads or tucking their race top into their shorts (shudder). i hand out a spare tube to a poor guy who has punctured about a mile into the first lap. an early deposit into the karma bank.
the lap itself was about 10 miles long - lots of forest road, but a fair bit of built singletrack allowing the chance to boost off rocky features to keep the mind sharp / show off to the rider behind (thanks for that AC) and one cracking hand cut section with shiny roots aplenty. fine on 2:1, with only one singletrack climb that was a longer and longer push as the event wore on.
the initial plan was 3/3/whatever, with the goal of putting in 8 laps. with the loooong start loop/first lap and slightly longer lap times, the first 3 laps took me over four hours to complete. time for a beer and some solid food. this was a mistake. the pasta sat extremely heavily on my stomach (whilst the beer was braw) and the badheadchat started - "what's the point" "stop and you can have burger" "you're a neverbeen Steele". sob!
John ripped past just at the point at which i was starting to listen. i'd been VCMlapped and fairly early too. about ¾ of the way round lap 4 i realise that the thumping headache probably meant that i’d gotten myself a bit dehydrated/overheated, so decided to have a wee sit down in the shade and cool down. peely wally Scotsmen aren’t cut out for such extreme temperatures (c. 22C).
out again for lap 5 and i bump into John, Rob from work and another athlete having a wee sit down in the shade around 2/3rds of the way up the main climb. John’s back had given up and he was heading back to knock it on the head for the day. a gentle ribbing of the coffee morning ladies and i get on with it again. rest of the lap goes nicely, with ample opportunity to do wee jumps when i’m caught in the monster tailback on the fun singletrack descent.
quick stop, cold water over head and a bit of moral support for Rob (although i think it was the fear of being beaten by a singlespeeder that got him going again) and we’re both back out. an uneventful lap, although i noticed two squashed rodents on the singletrack with the timber bridges. oh the ratmanity!
more cooling down and a chat with John and it’s looking like 7 laps for me. i head off and just as i’m passing the rural complex i notice a strange sight in the sky. a shower – and it’s heading straight for us! it chucks it down for the next 10 minutes. instantly go from being dry > soaked. the sweat washes out of my helmet pads and into my eyes. but the eye discomfort is nothing compared to the pain caused by sweat dribbling out of my gloves straight into the weird blisters on my inner wrist. ‘king ouch! knock off the rest of the lap, thanking marshals and first aiders on the way back into sunshine.
feel fairly chipper at the end, so maybe there was another lap in there but not unhappy with performance. 77 miles in 10 hours 5 minutes brings me 29th in senior men, which wasn’t a bad return. bring on kirroughtree!
8 litres of water (drunk)
1 litre of water (poured over head)
9 energy gels
1 energy bar
1/2 a tub of pasta
1 bag of jelly babies
1/2 pack of beef jerky
1 bottle beer
100g protein-on-the-go (swallowed midges)
cuts and bruises