The autumn is starting to make an appearance and we have been working hard since the last round of the 2011 series to tie down locations and dates for the 2012 Chain Reaction Cycles Mountain Bike Marathon Series powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport.
So here the dates and locations for the 2012 series 7-8th April 2012 Builth Wells (Central Wales)
Saturday: Night Marathon – Sunday: MTB Marathon
4-5th August 2012 Abergavenny (South Wales -TBC)
Saturday: MTB Marathon – Sunday: Road Sportive
15-16th September 2012 Ruthin (North Wales)
Saturday: Night Marathon or Road Sportive (TBC) – Sunday: MTB Marathon
All the events will be double events again in 2012 with either a night marathon or a road sportive being run on the Saturday followed by the MTB marathon on Sunday. The road sportives will have two distances to choose from and the MTB Marathon four.
The only exception to this rule and a try out for 2012 is the Abergavenny (location TBC) round in August which will have the MTB Marathon on Saturday followed by the road sportive on Sunday. The Saturday evening will see a live band, bar on site and a BBQ for the riders and spectators. So we will hopefully have pretty much everybody staying over and enjoy the weekend.
We will update the website with all the new features and the ever so important entry facilities by the end of December at the latest. Please keep you eyes on the website www.mtb-marathon.co.uk and hopefully see you all in 2012.
All done for 2011! The Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport have come to an end with a challenging yet superb round in Ruthin, Wales. Nearly 1000 riders made their way to the Ruthin Rugby Club located just a few hundred yards from the busy center of the beautiful market town in North Wales. After a season of ups and downs on the weather front the final round was no exception, challenging the riders with wet and muddy conditions but still an all round great atmosphere.
Exposure Lights Big Night Out Night Marathon – no2
The 2nd ELBNO night marathon 2011 was introduced to the series in 2010 and following in last year’s footsteps the 2011 event invited riders once again to embrace the re-introduction to night riding at the end of the summer. More than 140 riders took on the challenging course, which was specifically put together for the night marathon. At 7.30pm with darkness setting in quickly the riders left the event village to tackle the 42km long course – armed with handle-bar and helmet lighting that turned the pitch black night almost into day.
From the start the riders followed the usual return route of the marathon, gently climbing through Bathafarn Farm and continuing to climb off road till it crosses the A494 by The Clwyd Gate Motel. The route continues off road to the forestry on Moel Famau, here the track alternates between forest track and single-track right through the woods, finally exiting the forestry and descending Frith Mountain.
After a spot of tarmac through the Village of Cilcain, the route climbs back onto Moel Famau, on single and dual tracks across the moorland. Here the route crosses the Offa’s Dyke Path then descends rapidly all the way to Gellifor, from here its tarmac and bridleways back to Ruthin. The first rider over the line managed to finish the course in 1 hour and 53 minutes while the last one finishing the course in 4 hours and 17 minutes.
Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon
After a well deserved rest from the night event a huge crowd got ready for the start of the last MTB Marathon of the 2011 series. The weather was still unstable with parts of the course being fairly muddy. Proper mountain biking…but luckily not of the same proportions of muddyness as in 2010. As always we had 4 courses on offer with the half marathon and the full distance being the most popular. The fastest rider on the 30km long mini marathon was back in an incredible time of 1 hour and 31 minutes while the last full distance rider made his way over the finish line at the Ruthin Rugby Club 7 hours and 33 minutes after the start. The challenging course conditions and weather out on course had no impact on the fun people had during the day. Going by the endless row of smiling faces the last event of the series was another great success. The finishing times are now on our results page.
Photos and website updates
Our event photographer Jon Brooke and his colleagues were again on site as well as on course taking pictures of pretty much everybody. So just go onto Jon’s website - www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk to find your photos there to view or buy.
Thanks to everyone
With the 2011 season now being over and done with we are going to take a break to work on next years events. As it looks we will have once more 5 events starting in April going all the way through to September. We will hopefully finalize everything in the next few weeks and will let everybody know via our website, the newsletters and announcements in the press. We would like to thank once more our great sponsors in 2011 in particular Chain Reaction Cycles and Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport for their ongoing support. Further we would like to thank Saris, High5, Schwalbe, MBUK, Exposure Lights, Birzman, Buff, Fibrax, Polaris, Squirt, FFWD, Stan’s Notubes, Phase 9, USE, PPG, Ernest Press and last but not least the great skills coaches from Cycle Active. Above all we would like to thank all the riders who came to the 2011 events and who made them once more a big success. We hope that we can welcome you all again in 2012.
Other events still coming up in 2011
With the marathons going into well deserved hibernation for the next few months the event season has not come to a standstill. There are still a couple more events on the calendar which you might be interested in. Both of them are perfect to bring your season to a well rounded end. First there is the Bristol Belter road sportive on the 25th September in and around Bristol. There are still some places available but you have to be quick. For info and to enter please go to: www.bristolbelter.com. If mountain biking is more your thing (which it most likely is) then have a look at the Oktoberfest (16th October) which will also take part in Bristol. The event is an 8 and 4 hour relay event on the fantastic trails in Ashton Court. Make sure you get your entry and your camping reservation in quickly. For more info and to enter go to: www.bike-fest.com.
We had a great night on Saturday at the 2nd Exposure Lights Big Night Out of 2011. Almost perfect conditions out on course paired with a crisp and clear night made it a night to remember. We had lots of smiling faces come over the line who were greeted with their ELBNO T-shirt as well as with a big helping of home made cake, tea and coffee.
A big thanks to everybody who came along as well as to our long standing lighting partner EXPOSURE LIGHTS! See you in 2012 for more night riding action.
On Sunday we had a huge crowd leaving the Rugby club in Ruthin to tackle one of the four courses on offer. The weather wasn’t perfect but nothing like 2010. We had again lots of happy yet muddy faces coming over the line. The feedback on the courses and the event in general has been very positive.
It’s only a few days now before the final round of the Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport gets going at the Ruthin Rugby Club (17-18th September 2011). This is the last event of the 2011 season and we will once again finish it with a double event bang!
On Saturday night we will have the Exposure Lights Big Night Out Night Marathon – a 42km long marathon which will be entire ridden at night. And on Sunday we will have the traditional 4 course CRC marathon featuring a 29km long mini marathon, a 55km long half marathon, a 70km long middle marathon and an 80km long full marathon.
Course and weather:
As always John has moved the whole event from Builth Wells to the Rugby Club in Ruthin and has been busy working on the course. After last years rather challenging conditions this year is looking really promising. The courses are in great condition, surprisingly dry and running super fast. There is a little bit of rain forecasted but it should not affected the good condition too much.
Entries for both events:
First of all there are still entries for both events and for all distances available. The online entry is still open and is rather busy. You can enter via the online facilities for the ELBNO and the MTB Marathon and it will stay open till Friday midnight. If you don’t know if you can make it or not there is also the chance to enter at the event but please be aware of the surcharge for that. Don’t forget though that there is a special weekend ticket which includes the night marathon and the marathon for a reduced price of £ 47.
Events starting times / timetable:
As mentioned before we will have two main events on over the weekend starting with the ELBNO at approx. 7.30pm on Saturday evening. The registration will be open on Saturday lunch time (noon) and will stay open till 8.00pm.
Sunday morning will see the ‘traditional’ start of the off road marathon at 10.00am. Riders can register for the event throughout Saturday or on Sunday morning from 8.00 – 9.30am.
Directions / event location:
The event village, the camping and the start/finish of the sportive as well as the MTB marathon is based at the Rugby Club in Ruthin. (click here for a map of the location). The event will be signposted from Friday lunchtime onwards. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from as you will easily find your way to the event village. The event will be open from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. For the GPS users out there the postcode is LL15 2AA. If you are still looking for a B+B or a Hotel please find the details for the local Tourist Information on our Local Info page.
CycleActive Skills Clinics and Coaching Rides – Saturday Programme:
Free skills clinics and coaching rides set off from the CycleActive stand at 2pm and 4pm.
At each time there will be two levels:
• Advanced skills clinic/ride for experienced riders.
• Easier warm up and coaching ride for novices and intermediates.
The advanced sessions are strictly for confident, competent riders who want to gain speed, control and improved flow through all parts of their marathon ride.
Spaces are limited so advanced booking is recommended, by email, to email@example.com. The sessions are completely free, making this a unique chance to get video feedback and personal skills advice, from basics up to advanced moves, from some of the top skills coaches in the UK. All sessions are supported by Buff, the original headwear company.
Junior Skills Activities – Sunday:
To support the younger riders who are not yet old enough to complete a marathon, the CycleActive team will run a morning and afternoon skills session for juniors (ages 4 to 14). The first of these will run half an hour after the marathon start, the second will run at 12:30pm, and youngsters are encouraged to attend both sessions as they will cover different skills. Sessions are free and there is no need to sign up in advance.
Fancy a fun video?
Our friends from Vito Sport have sent us a fun video of their latest activities. Get yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a few minutes of this well put together video.
After the last 2011 marathon
After the last round of the 2011 there are still a few events you might be interested in. First up is the Bristol Belter (25th September) – the Bristol based roads sportive which incorporates some of the best roads the area has to offer. For info please go to www.bristolbelter.com. After that there is the Oktoberfest (15th October) – also based in Bristol. This event is an 8 hour relay MTB race on the superb new course in Ashton Court. Check it out on www.bike-fest.com. And if running and cycling, if possible combined, is your thing, make sure you check out the Run Rider Off Road Duathlon (16th October) – www.runrider.co.uk.
If you’ve made it this far through the packed summer season then it means that the end is near. But it’s not here yet – which means that there’s still the rigours and rewards of Ruthin to be enjoyed. In a new-for-2011 twist, the final MTB Marathon round of the series will see a double-header of an extra Exposure Lights Big Night Out (ELBNO) on the Saturday evening, chased closely by the final MTB Marathon on the Sunday – and you can be sure that both will make maximum use of the mighty Clwydian hills.
So let’s start with the bad news: whatever ride you do you can be sure that there’s a rather large climb in between you and getting onto the tops of the Clwydians. So pace yourself, click into a low gear, take it steady and winch your way upwards. But once there, you’ll be free to enjoy the myriad delights of the rather significant chunk of hill that each of Ruthin’s courses will take in – whether you tackle the ELBNO, the 29km mini marathon, 55km half marathon, the 70km mid marathon or the full 80km marathon distance. So, given that fore-warning, you’ll probably want to know more about your enemy. So here goes…
The Clwydians are a 35km long chain of hills running from Prestatyn to Llandegla, rising to 554 metres above sea level at their highest point. Comprised of a surprisingly varied landscape, they boast open heather moorland on their higher ridges, contrasting markedly to the patchwork of small hedged fields and coppices of the lower slopes. In places, limestone rock split through the turf into the daylight framed in attractive wooded escarpments and river valleys, making the flavour of the Clwydians truly diverse and a fitting venue for the final round of the year. With oodles of curvaceously gorgeous singletrack lacing the length and breadth of the hills – and a fair collection of steep, fast and pumpy descents to get genuine ‘devil may care’ speed thrills – the Clwydian’s are benevolent hosts to literally hundreds of kilometres of trails.
Having an ELBNO range across the hills will put a luminescent sheen on the Clwydian’s trails that the MTB Marathon series has yet to have the pleasure of. But don’t worry if you find your lights are only half-charged before the start as Exposure Lights will be in attendance with their charging station. But if you haven’t any lights and are tempted to give it a bash then Chain Reaction Cycles will be offering Exposure Lights for sale, too.
ELBNO Night Marathon Distance: approx. 42km Total ascent: approx. 1350m Feeding station at approx. 24km (details might change nearer the event)
The Sunday courses will use some of the ELBNO course, but – given that the experience of riding and night is so vastly different to that at night – it will feel very different. But note the ‘some’ and not ‘all’ back there. The MTB Marathon Series’ experts on the ground – the Llanferres Playing Field & Recreation Association (LPFRA) – will ensure that the overall riding experience is nothing short of incredible, and will blend in both old and new sections of trail, fine-polishing some in the process, and will ensure that the course is top-notch. Expect big climbs of course, but also expect some enormous downhills, epic hill-top views across North Wales, challenging and technical singletracks, and adrenaline aplenty. And last but not least, expect pinging rotors as your discs cool following the final fast and furious descent off the top to claim your hard-earned climbing credits in full.
FULL MARATHON Distance: approx. 80km Total ascent: approx. 2900m Feeding stations at approx. 23, 50 and 68km (details might changer)
MIDDLE MARATHON Distance: approx. 70km Total ascent: approx. 2350m Feeding stations at approx. 23, 38 and 59km (details might change)
HALF MARATHON Distance: approx. 55km Total ascent: approx. 1900m Feeding stations at approx. 23 and 38km (details might change)
MINI MARATHON Distance: approx. 29km Total ascent: approx. 900m Feeding station at approx. 16km (details might change)
To find out more about the upcoming round in Ruthin round (17-18th September 2011) please go to the event Ruthin pages on our website or if you haven’t entered yet go directly to the entry page to secure your entry.
Enter now and save yourself some money
Entries have been coming in thick and fast over the last few weeks but don’t worry, there are still places left. If you haven’t entered yet make sure that you either download an entry form from our website or go directly to the Chain Reaction Cycles hosted online entry. If you enter online via the CRC website you will be given a 5% discount on your next product purchase. For all the details please go to our entry page on the MTB-Marathon website. Here you can choose between or the good old paper download entry.
We will have day entries available but there is a £ 5 surcharge if you enter on site on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday of the event weekend. So better enter now and save yourself some money. If are interested in riding both events than you can save even more by booking the ‘weekend pass’ which gives you the ELBNO night marathon and the day marathon for a reduced price of £ 47.
Less than four weeks to go before we pack our lorries and head north for the last round of the Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport 2011 in Ruthin (17-18th September 2011) featuring the Exposure Lights Big Night Out Night Marathon. But before we get onto further marathon business some other news.
GORE BIKE WEAR® TransWales 2011 powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport
We have just returned from the GORE BIKE WEAR® TransWales 2010 powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport which attracted almost 200 riders from 16 different countries and was blessed with some great trails, mainly great weather and with the TransUK typical friendly atmosphere. The event covered over 500km in the 7 days and showed the riders the best trails and tracks central Wales has to offer. The unique combination of marathon type linking stages and timed special stages result in a very sociable race where semi professionals and weekend warriors tackle the challenging trails John Lloyd put together shoulder to shoulder. The reports and results have been published on www.bikemagic.com, www.sleepmonsters.co.uk, www.cyclistno1.co.uk, www.singletrackworld.com and on the GORE BIKE WEAR® TransWales 2011 event website www.mtbtransuk.co.uk throughout the week and are still on the sites in case you missed them. The vast picture gallery from our marathon photographer Jon Brook can be found on his usual site: www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk.
And to top it all of the Vito Cam crew have put a great little video of the event together again.
The TransWales in its current format is coming to an end but we are already working on the follow up in 2012 and should be able to put some more details up on the website in the next few weeks. So keep your eyes on www.mtbtransuk.co.uk.
The final round of the CRC Marathon Series in 2011 2nd EXPOSURE LIGHTS BIG NIGHT OUT in 2011
Now going into its 2nd year we have partnered up again with long standing light sponsor EXPOSURE LIGHTS to bring you the 2nd ELBNO in 2011. The great success of the 1st round in Builth Wells which took place in April the September round should be the perfect event to get riders back into the night riding spirit. An approx. 43km long exciting course is waiting for the riders which will be ridden more or less entirely in darkness. The course will offer the perfect mix of country lanes, natural single and double track, beautiful bridleways and some thrilling purpose build single-track. Not to mention the 2km long fast descending bridleway returning to Ruthin and to tea and cake.
The Sunday Marathon
The last round of the Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series will take place on the Sunday of the event weekend and will once more be located at the Ruthin Rugby Club just a few hundred
meters from the centre of Ruthin. John has again secured some of the best trails in the area and put together 4 challenging yet beautiful courses. To find out more about the upcoming round in Ruthin round (17-18th September 2011) please go to the event Ruthin pages on our website or if you haven’t entered yet go directly to the entry page to secure your entry.
Entries for Ruthin, day entry and weekend pass
There are still places left for the Ruthin day and night marathon in case you haven’t entered yet. So if you are looking for a marathon that offers something for all riding levels in the breathtaking countryside of the Clwydian Range or a challenging Night Marathon then make sure you get your entry in quickly. To enter go directly to the entry page to secure your entry for these great events.
There will be a weekend pass available for the Ruthin round which entails entry into the ELBNO Night marathon and the CRC day marathon for a reduced price of £ 47. Besides that you will be able to enter on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at the event but there is a £ 5 surcharge for that. So better enter now to save yourself some money!
…there is another event left in the 2011 calendar which is worth pointing out. Last year saw the launch of the Bristol Oktoberfest – an 8hour fun packed relay MTB race on the new Ashton Court Course near the centre of Bristol. The event can be run in teams of 4, pairs and as solo riders for an entry fee of £27-33 per person. Ride/race your bike in the Bristol Bikefest typical relaxed atmosphere and chill out at the season end party after. Make sure you don’t miss out on this perfect chance to bring the 2011 season to a fantastic end. To find out more please go to the Oktoberfest page or go straight to the entry page. And if you fancy an extra challenge why not have a go at the Run Rider Off Road Duathlon which will also take place in Ashton Court but on the Sunday of the event weekend. Info here: www.runrider.co.uk
The MTB-Marathon on the 13th August in Builth Wells will have on the line entries available and there is no surcharge for getting your entry in at the event.
Just make sure that you either bring cash or a cheque book (no card facilities) and be on site in plenty of time to sign on/register by 10.30am at the latest.
The start to the MTB-Marathon is at 11am on Saturday morning at Penmaenau Farm in Builth Wells (directions here). Registration is open on Friday evening from 6-9pm and again from 8am on Saturday morning.
Don’t forget that camping is included in the entry fee. So just come up on Friday night and enjoy the atmosphere as well as stay Saturday night and see the GORE BIKE WEAR® TransWales leave on Sunday morning.
You can find further details on the MTB-Marathon in Builth Wells (13th August) here.
To pre-enter the event and get included in the our prize draw (worth more than £ 600 – details here) please click on the button below.
Time for a little marathon break…or maybe not?
With the 4th round of the Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport 2011 securely behind us we will start focusing on the upcoming TransWales which will open its doors this weekend…more about that in a minute.
Before we go and leave the MTB-Marathon office for a week and a bit here some more news and updates from the world of MTB-Marathon riding.
The 5th and final round of the Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport 2011 is only a little more than a month away which means that you should be getting into shape by now but also make sure that you get your entry in.
The final round of the Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series will take place on the 17-18th September and will once more be located at the Ruthin Rugby Club just a few hundred meters from the centre of Ruthin. The Ruthin round has been traditionally the final round of the series and after a move to the earlier May date a couple of years ago the event has now solidly moved back to its September date. John has again secured some of the best trails in the area and put together 4 challenging yet beautiful courses.
Ruthin will host the 2nd MTB only event of the series which will not just have the 4 marathon courses to enjoy on Sunday but will also feature the 2nd Exposure Lights Big Night Out Night Marathon on the Saturday of the event weekend. An approx. 45km long exciting course is waiting for the riders which will be ridden more or less entirely in darkness. The course will offer the perfect mix of country lanes, natural single and double track, beautiful bridleways and some thrilling purpose build single-track. Not to mention the 2km long fast descending bridleway returning to Ruthin and to tea and cake.
Info and entry facilities
To find out more about the final round of the series please go to the Ruthin event page or go straight to the entry page to secure your entry to the final MTB-Marathon of the year.
But if you can’t wait till September …
…and are keen to ride your bike in one of the best locations the UK has to offer why not come to the MTB Marathon which will take place this weekend in Builth Wells, Wales. The event will take place on Saturday the 13th August (start 11am) at start/finish will be at Penmaenau Farm, Builth Wells.
Expect 40km of fun packed marathon style riding with a great mixture of fast flowing single and double tracks, open moorland trails and swoopy forest trails. And if you have some juice left in the tank than you can take sample a timed special stage back in the start and finish venue.
And the best bit is that you can win lots of GOREW BIKE WEAR® stuff if you pre-enter the event by Friday 12th August 5pm.
Up for grabs are: 1st prize: Fusion GORE TEX® Active Shell® Jacket (Be one of the first in the UK to get this amazing jacket!) RRP £220 2nd prize: Fusion AS Cross WINDSTOPPER® Jacket (IF Design Award winning jacket) RRP £160 3rd prize: Alp X Thermo Jersey RRP £84.99 (Award winning technical winter jersey)
And the next 5 riders will get a free entry to the final round of the Chain Reaction Cycles Marathon Series in Ruthin on the 17-18th September. So get entering!!
Details can be found on the Prologue page of the MTB Marathon website.
To enter the MTB Marathon 13th August in Builth Wells please click the button below: Fancy following the whole event – daily updates from the GORE BIKE WEAR® TransWales 2011
We are once again equipped with a couple of 3G modems and will be able to send ‘almost’ live reports from the GORE BIKE WEAR® TransWales 2011. We are aiming at giving you a daily report of the previous day’s events with results and standings and with as many photos as we can send through. Simply go onto the event website www.mtbtransuk.co.uk and click on the daily reports. Alternatively you can check the reports on www.cyclistno1.co.uk, www.bikemagic.com and on www.singletrackworld.co.uk.
My first ever MTB marathon was at Builth Wells in 2003 – the “Kona 100” as it was then known – at the tender age of 41 years old. I’d taken up cycling just a few months before after sustaining a heel injury that prevented me running (100m sprinting) and playing rugby, so the thought of riding 100km off-road was somewhat daunting to say the least. A phone call to John Lloyd convinced me otherwise. I’d probably ridden 40-50km on local rides around Abergavenny and the Black Mountains and John was confident (even though I wasn’t!) that I’d make it around the 100km course. After some negotiation we settled on the 75km route, but John planted an idea in my head: “Ride the 75km at Builth, then go for the 100km at Ruthin”.
A “fat lad” riding his first marathon at Builth Wells
After 75km at Builth I was exhausted but bursting with pride at my achievement and determined to ride the full distance at the next Kona 100. For added incentive, I decided to seek sponsorship for Ruthin in support of the Meningitis Trust – my 10 year old son, Matthew, died as a result of septicaemia in 1996. During the toughest sections of the 75km ride at Builth I’d found myself in conversation with Matthew and it helped me turn the cranks. One of the most eerie things about the big marathon races is that while you might start out amongst 1,000 plus riders you can still find yourself alone out on the trails, seemingly lost in the wilderness.
The ride at Ruthin was much tougher than the shorter route at Builth, but I’d raised over £5,000 for the Meningitis Trust and I was now hooked on marathon riding. The following year I determined to ride every round in the series. I soon made friends with local riders in South Wales and a group of “weekend warriors” from the Midlands. When a new 100km round in Selkirk was added to the mtb-marathon diary, now sponsored by Merida, I headed north of the border with the “weekend warriors” and we were simply blown away by the course. One of our group was interviewed as he breathlessly crossed line: – “It’s like Wales”, he panted, “but much bigger!”
A breathless “weekend warrior” (James) crosses the finish line at Selkirk
There are some things you very quickly need to learn if you want to ride a marathon. How to ride uphill is the first thing to master – after the “roll out” from the event village at a marathon race there’s always a big climb, with more to follow. Losing weight is not a bad place to start (I’ve lost nearly 10kg since my days of playing rugby), learning to spin the gears and distribute your weight on the bike is equally important. When I asked riders at Abergavenny RC how I could improve my riding, the first response was “buy a road bike and learn how to pedal”. I resisted buying a road bike for a long time, but was persuaded to join the vets session at the Newport velodrome every Friday afternoon in order to improve my pedalling technique.
Making the transition from just “riding” to “training” is an obvious way to improve your marathon riding. Following the advice on the www.mtb-marathon.co.uk website is not a bad place to start – this is certainly where I started. After I’d succumbed to buying a road bike I was persuaded to buy a heart rate monitor so that I could “train in zones”. To establish my training zones I went along to Newport University for a “kingcycle test” – a ride to exhaustion to determine max heart rate – and I asked George Rose (a former GB road rider and lecturer at the University) to coach me. George had successfully coached several road riders but never any mountain bikers. Fortunately for me he was “willing to give it a go”. Two years later in 2007 I won the National Vets Marathon Championship at Coed-y-Brenin.
From “fat lad” to national vets marathon champion in 4 years, courtsy of www.cyclecoachingwales.com
There’s no point puffing and panting to the top of a climb if you can’t ride fast and smooth down the other side. Following more experienced riders down your local trails can be a real eye opener. Riding with mountain bikers from Risca and Blaenavon around Cwm Carn and Afan Argoed certainly opened my eyes to how far you can “lean” a mountain bike and just how fast a bike will go downhill. Every round of the CRC100s has some fantastic descents and these sections are always the most enjoyable (read “adrenalin inducing”) parts of the course. Over the years I’ve developed something of a reputation as a “crash test dummy”, taking too many risks on the downhill sections and crashing rather more often than I should (I once featured in the “old guys who should know better” section of MBR). One of my most costly crashes was at Ruthin in 2007 – I broke two front teeth, snapped my bar, destroyed my front wheel, and wrecked the head tube on my Cannondale Scalpel 3000. My helmet was cracked from front to back. I’m living proof of why nobody is allowed to ride a CRC100 without a helmet.
Training and technique can quickly unravel on a marathon ride without proper hydration and sufficient fuel in the tank. A simple trick to ensure regular food and drink is to set an alarm on your wristwatch to repeat every 15 minutes. I’ve lost count of the number of times other riders have asked if my mobile is ringing, only to explain that it’s simply a reminder to eat and drink. But what to eat and drink? I’ve had some rather unpleasant experiences with food and drink that doesn’t go down well or provide me with the energy and electrolytes I need to survive the course. High 5’s “4-in-1” and Mule Bar (energy bars and gels) have got me through countless marathon races and much longer stage races, including the Cape Epic, Trans-Alps and Trans-Rockies in 2009. There’s just 2 weeks between the Alps and the Rockies, with the Selkirk 100 on the weekend in between. No matter what else is going on at the time, I always try to make the trip to Scotland. I was more determined than ever to ride the Selkirk CRC100 in 2011 after failing to make it to Scotland in 2010.
Despite winning the national vets title in 2007, it took me a couple more seasons of racing before I made it into the top 10 at one of the mtb-marathon races (at Ruthin in 2009). At the spring marathon in Builth Wells in 2011 I rode with George Rose and we finished around 6th/7th, then it was on to Marshbrook for a fantastic day’s riding and my best ever finish (4th place). The weekend in Scotland got off to a fantastic start on the Saturday with a day’s sailing on the Forth with an old friend in South Queensferry. Then it was down to business on the Sunday and what is still the best ride in the mtb-marathon series.
Big climbs are always a joy in the sunshine!
When I signed on at registration at Selkirk I noticed that a few “familiar faces” were missing from the start list, most notably Nick Craig and Jonathan Pugh. Shortly before the start of the race I bumped into John Lloyd, who 8 years after our first conversation planted another idea in my head: “You could win this one today”. Less than 4 hours later I crossed the line in first place with a wry smile on my face after yet another day of fantastic riding.
First rider home at Selkirk
It’s been an eventful journey, with many highs and lows along the way (physically and metaphorically), but always tremendous fun. Many thanks to John Lloyd MBE and all those involved in the Kona/Merida/CRC100s over the years for organising such fantastic races. Long may the journey continue.