I really needed a quite weekend. So did my team mate Simon! Instead we're up very early and heading down towards Plymouth into the eye of a 'red' level weather warning from the Met-Office for 24 hours of mountain biking.........
We arrive at Newnham Park for the event. Despite almost having to evacuate the event campsite and base area due to flooding risks during the night the event was still on - this is Britain after all!
|Watching the rain|
We start to get sorted and set up a big 'gazebo' thing as base. We're soon joined by Matt and his partner for the event Martin, plus Matts lovely better half, Sue, who was coming to act as support.
Midday arrives and its go...... well its more a muddy slurp...... We go for a couple of laps each. Initially we guessed at 45mins a lap for the 7-8 mile loop but in reality this soon turned to being over the hour mark as the course soon gunged itself up and the bikes became coated in deep glop.
Simon does the first two laps. I wait at transition for a mud splattered figure to appear. Duly it does - we change over and its my turn to face the gloop......... The first hill is only a few minutes into the course and is a decent enough grind, initially on tarmac but soon a track that becomes a mud fest.
However I feel really sh1te... and I haven't even properly started. I grind it out. Its only misery after all. The first half of the course turns out to be very ridable and I start to enjoy the experience though feel I'm riding pretty poorly.
Some where within the first half of the course I opt for whats looks a fun short cut only to encounter a short drop off. This goes wrong and I crash, falling onto the back wheel. Its quickly back up and ride off, but the gears aren't happy.
Some good descents are had but blindness sets in as the mud coats the glasses and hits the eyes. I can't see as I swoop and slide. Attempts to clear the lenses on the move serves to smear the mud... Fun all the way! The final section is a bike push, though the top boys and girls can somehow ride it!
|Shoes in the mud somewhere|
Just over a couple of hours later and its Simons turn again. I head off to try and reclaim the bike and get some food, The free bike wash is out of water! A flooded river is thus put to use.
Back at our base gazebo and Sue provided the magic words 'tea' as I set to work try to fix the rear mech and hanger that I'd mashed in the crash, before overdosing the chain and bike in teflon lube and wet lube (Whayhey!).
Back at changeover and a beautifully mud coated and additionally trashed Simon appears. Its my turn again. The rain has stopped and the course is changing texture. The earlier mud becomes stickier and my tyres protest at keeping a decent track!
The drive train is soon protesting again. The chainsuck becomes more and more horrendous, and the gearing is jumping everywhere. I somehow nurse the bike round another two laps and its Simons turn again as the course starts to turn dark.
Back to base and back to the river to attempt to clean the bike, and indeed me! Again the magic words from Sue - 'tea'! The drive train is cleaned and lubed, and the gearing fettled so its seems to work again. Some food is stuffed and I briefly catnap.
Back to changeover - Simon appears to be taking more time than expected. This is soon nicely explained as he appears with a lack of seat attached to seat post! Fortunately he avoided impaling his back side on the projecting post......
|One ex-easton seat post rammed into frame!|
Its now fully dark and my new Hope light brought into play. The night laps are great and incredibly quite, but my drive train is shot again. I really should have spent some money on the bike before this event! Back at transition its close to 1.00am. I see Simon but he's lacking bike kit.....
We've got problems - the seat post wont come out. We had a spare singlespeed bike but the freewheel broke on a test ride before the start. We have another go at getting the post out but no joy, so Simons heads out on a lap with Matts spare bike, another aged singlespeed conversion....
Its close to 4am and Simon returns. Some 10% of the course had been readable but the mud clagged the old V brakes over much of the course and the bike was effectively unridable.
Here we kind of grind to a halt. My bike is struggling, Simons is knackered and the spare is no fun! We've lost the psych of the changeover grind. After a bit of a doze I decide to go for another lap in the early morning light.
The morning is light and sunny and despite the bikes chainset still struggling, its an enjoyable ride. Agin the trail is very quite but after one lap the bike needs cleaning to work again. I settle for a relaxed morning from this point onwards!
|Matt applying the style on the last lap|
Matt and Martin play a blinder though. They keep it steady, the bikes keep going and they churn out the laps. This sees them win the pairs outright, whilst somehow myself and Simon got the 4th place.
|Matt and well earned beer!|
So in summary a great event - very friendly and a good course. The weather really upped the misery quotient but thats the UK summer for you! For us though we were 'winging' it too much and our bikes needed far more pre-event love than we gave them (especially me). Definately one to do again though, and an excuse to change my knackered mtb!