Its been a couple of years since i attended a singlespeed UK race. One of the best things about them is you can chose your desired pace and have an excellent time before, during and after no matter what.
I've had precious little short/fast race experience this year. In fact, err, none!. So i decided to use SSUK to see where i stood fitness wise and to try out a different feeding strategy but to only go as hard as felt comfortable whilst enjoying the good bits.
Knowing some of the crew who put it on, i was pretty sure the course would be tough but fun and i wasnt wrong!.
First though, i had to get there...initially my plan was to drive down overnight to Cily Cwm (where the camping area was) and ride some of the famous trails in the area on friday, before racing on saturday and heading back up the road on sunday. Sandwiching some good riding with 7 and a half hours drive on either side sounded grand. Unfortunately i was too pooped on leaving work on friday to even contemplate heading down overnight. In the end i set off around 10am friday.
Having competed in too many Merida/kona mtb marathons to count i knew the way to Builth Wells like the back of my hand. Of course, clever boy here didnt have a map, or even a road atlas in the car and as soon as i passed Builth it became apparent i had no idea where i was going. Hmm. fortunately i had some internet access on my phone, so i was able to look up the website and find that the race was based at Cily Cwm. Great! now all i needed to do was find that and id find the race. Except as i got near, the phone signal went down....to cut a long story short i headed for high ground, couldnt see anything but on the way down spotted a sign for Cily Cwm and took some back roads into the race venue.
With no time for riding and too many good friends to greet i popped open a beer and set up the tent. Eating, drinking and merriment followed, and as exhaustion overtook me at around 11.30 i was looking forward to race day.
The site of hundreds of singlespeeders riding to Cwm Rhaeadr, where the actual race was to be, must have been a sight to behold for the locals. Fancy dress, colourful race kit and lots of whoopin' and hollerin'. Ace!.
The steep uphill Le Mans style run to the bikes sorted those who were keen from those who were less so and for me, the Jones pile (has that ever happened before?) meant i spotted my bike and took off in 6th position. I'd had a lot of sleep due to the civilised 2pm race start and relatively little booze so i was feeling pretty good, though it was a bit of a blow when Steve Webb, Gareth Jones, Phil the Horse and a few others shot past me like i was standing still. Time to up the tempo!. Lots of recent rain meant the course was slow in places, but never anything but fun. Until we hit a wall of a hike a bike that is! Kudos for the team to have such a tough hike a bike in a race course. After all it was a singlespeed race!. up and up it went, but once at the top, the choice of a beer stop or hitting the fast singletrack 4km downhill was pretty nice.
We settled pretty quickly into our own pace and i never got close to the leaders. In saying that i did over take 2 or 3 guys before spending 2 laps conserving energy before the final blast to the finish.
Conserving energy? well, yes! see i was using a bar mounted bag that allows quick access to food while riding. On the first lap it took only a few minutes to realise that i needed to do the cinch cord at the top up a little to stop the rough ground ejecting all said calories. I definitely had hit the red line on the last lap!
Aceness. In true singlespeed form, the places were not really noted except for the top few riders. I think i came in 15th or so and was happy with that. Fitness is lurking there somewhere and if i get a chance to do a few miles prior to the Kielder 100 i reckon that might go ok.
Well done SSUK Cymru! another in the long line of excellent events!