Trans-Wales Mountain Bike Race are in the bank, including 3 "special
stages" (think a 'cross race in the middle of a 4 – 6 hour slog
through grass, dirt, tarmac). For me this means I'm up to 5 long days
in the saddle, totaling about 375 km. I'm sitting somewhere around the
top 10, but that could get better or worse after tonight's results
If you had asked me yesterday after the stage if I'd ever come back to
race this thing, I probably would have said no. We woke up to rain,
wind, and soggy ground that had been saturated all night. To top it
off, the stage took us through proper Welsh moors: boggy, soggy,
energy sapping grass covered in sheep shit that had been turned into a
pasty consistency that just sticks to everything. There wasn't even a
special (timed) stage to keep it honest, so it was really all about
survival, and for some, making the time cutoff (for every minute you
come in late, they add a second to your overall time). Many of the
grassy climbs were walked with the wind lashing away.
On top of the draining soggy grass, many of the trails on the course
were sheep paths, really just narrow, peanut butter filled ruts that
catch your wheel and toss you sideways. It was a miserable day.
But, a couple of the limey bastards here joined me at the local pub
and we had a few pints of Carlington (shite beer) and told tasteless
jokes. Plus, I learned that I'm not the only one to finish an
endurance race naked.
And today I awoke to a new day. Good weather, very little grass, lots
of tarmac and fire road to pass the day quickly, and then some amazing
singletrack to end the day. The special stage was a terrifically
technical rocky descent. Not sure I had it pegged, but I felt smooth,
if not a little conservative.
The only real crap bit of the day is that the technological marvel
known as my Specialized Epic Expert 29er has developed a horrible
crunching, groaning creak when I pedal. We've pulled the cranks,
checked the bottom bracket. Maybe it's the rear hub, maybe it's one of
the bearings in the suspension linkages, either way it's not easily
resolved and it sounds like broken carbon every time I pedal.
I'm going back to singlespeeding.