A Day at the Races
The only experience i have of the word ‘race’ would be primary school sports days (those held at secondary school would be spent at home skiving under the façade of ill health). So i mean it when i say i didn’t know what to expect from Tour de Ben Nevis, the newest ‘race’ event to No Fuss Events’ repertoire.
It turned out to be bloody brilliant.
Great route, even by my standards the adventure level was high; waist deep river crossings and prolonged hike-a-bike. But, best of all was the great company; so many like minded people to share in the agony. I am positively looking forward to the next season of No Fuss Events – hopefully to contend for the Britain’s Best Mountain Biker (unofficial) title!
Dave ‘Jaws’ Waugh, #28
Pos. 42nd (05:47:13, 27 points)
Wet sleeping bag, memories of being groped in the night; “worst night ever – oh great it’s still raining. Go back to sleep. Armour or no armour?”
Riding to the event ‘start line’ in torrential rain spirits now high; “haha – at least it cant get wetter than this”
Suss out everyone else’s bikes/gear; “Sweet, i’ve got the longest travel bike here. Wait, there’s someone else with knee pads!”
Race starts; “Holy shit, i cant do this, i’ve not trained at all, catch up to Dave, catch up to Dave, this is mayhem. Its on! Sprint! Dude this is easy, i’m taking everyone. Right, best slow down a bit, use these guys as a marker. Use momentum from the downs to speed it up the climbs. Fuck, didn’t down shift in time, i’ve let Dave and Cal through, shit. Push hard don’t let them out your sight. Awesome, Dave’s had to stop to take his raincoat off, i knew it was a good move to start without. Run out of gears! This isn’t so steep, should be sprinting! Damn, why cant i go faster, these guys are over taking me! Right, thats it: i’ve lost the stage competition bye bye 30pts here. Difficult to keep speed up on this stuff, its so loose and wet. BACK HURTS LIKE HELL! Must ride these technical climbs, its way too slow to push. Yes man! There’s some other people here good at technical climbs! -sense of comradeship- Lets take these pushing pansies. BACK HURTS LIKE HELL – dig deep, pain is temporary, glory is for ever! Must catch Dave and Cal before Special Stage 2! Trail is heading downhill, everyone is taking it easy, i’m going to go sick! Shit only just squeezed past those guys on that corner. I’m zoooooooming! Drop Saddle. Dib. FUCKING RACE! GET OUT MY FUCKING WAY! WOAH, DRAINAGE DITCH – he wasn’t kidding. I CANT SEE SHIT PAST THIS DOUCHE. GET OUT MY FUCKING WAY. LET ME THROUGH. Shut up walkers i know there’s rocks on the corner. Woah, so many people with punctures?!?! These tires are sick. COULD HAVE DONE THAT FASTER, GO FOR IT! SHIT, GET THE FUCK OUT MY WAY! Marshal, what did he say? Oh god did i miss the dib? No? GOD DAMMIT I KNOW THERE’S A CORNER THERE MAN! OSHH, I’M TAKING IT TOO CAUTIOUS! Niiiice line. Road. Where’s the dib, where’s the dib. WHERE’S THE FUCKING DIB! FUCKKKK. BACK THERE. SMASH! DAMNNNNN, wasted so much time. Hey, good idea Powergel time! This guy is cool, has done loads of riding in the area. Ah there’s the guy i over took on the DH better ask him how it went. This climb is easy, though i’m taking it pretty steady. BACK HURTS LIKE HELL. Great, first rest point. What the clock is still running?! SCREW THIS. My breathing has slowed right down, im not even out of breath i must be slowing up. How long is this damn climb! Ah, i’m pushing this – waste of energy wheel spinning in the loose stuff. Its a bit cold up here. Keep looking behind for sight of Dave. Excellent. Just hold on to this lead! Must be another downhill soon to make up time? End of stage! My god that was a terrible effort. Too many people over taking me, why cant i keep my speed up. Stop for power gel, i felt the twinge of cramp. My bearings – too many water spashes – some of these are really deep! Weather is balls. Damn, there’s Dave! TO THE FORD, FLEE TO THE FORD! Oh my, it’s an actual river crossing, should i take my pads off? Well this is it. DONT FALL IN! DONT FALL IN! If i look at the opposite bank i should be able to balance better. SORTED! Too much bog, this is so stop start, screw it i’m just going to push. Power gel before stage 4. Legend of a guy, thanks for the malt loaf offer. Need to urinate so badly. Damn, how are the Martins so quick at pushing. Everyone is overtaking me here. Cant wait for the descent off this – it should go on for ages! I’ll make up loads of time! (how wrong i was). Damn, i’m really loosing it here. Sweet piece of singletrack, this is really beautiful terrain. THE TOP! Saddle down, RACE! ITS OVER SO SOON! Have to push up this. I’m loosing this – dig deeper, why am i going so slowwwwww! Rage. More downhill! OUT MY WAY LOSER! There’s Dave, there’s the bothy, there’s CAL! I’m feeling really good! Should have left the bothy ahead of Dave and Cal, why did i stop for so long. Sweet downhill! Balls, its just a fireroad, i’m out of gears! There’s Cal, puncture! Damn, that must feel so bad. This will make him feel better -rude gesture- YES, JUST DAVE TO TAKE! Woah, back end out, opposite lock, rad! i’m cornering sideways! SWEET. OH NO! It’s a puncture. FUCK! Oh well, just have to do this faster than Cal. Meh, that’s enough pumping. GO! Will never catch Dave now, great i’m overtaking loads of people here! Just stay ahead of Cal. Water has gone! How long left?! Special Stage 5! Ah i’m never in the points i wont go crazy. Woah, saddle is WAY TOO HIGH, darn looked like a douche in those photos. 20mins left, RACE HARD! Out of gears. Want my big ring back! I SEE THE FINISH. People over taking me – i cant peddle any faster! FINISHED! That was easy. Why did i go so slow? Ah, i want another go at that.
30th (05:39:56, 9 points)
Pre Race: No idea how this is going to play out. 75kms? I’d be happy with sub 7 hours. Cramped car ride less than ideal preperation
Race Day: Wake up to the distinctive sound of rain on the tent. Crap. Arrive at start line sodden through after only 2kms from the campsite. Could be worse, could be swimming (the super hard Ben Nevis Triathlon was on at the same time). Some nice start line banter, a tad nervous.
Race Starts: Tarmac climb, not bad, Dave shoots off, he wont hold that, pace good. Content. Hit Gravel on the West Highland Way. Rough and Loose. Fast pace, racing everyone, back kills, legs OK, pass Dave and Cal. Feel good, leaving those fools. Stop to stretch back, Dave and Cal straight back past. Screw them, ‘go your own pace’
Arrive at start of SS2, the ‘DH trail’: Goggles on, saddle down, drop in. Feel fast, feel tucked, past two on the opening straight. Class. This is like lakeland, staircases and drainage ditches. ‘Coming through mate’ Up the inside, excellent. Gnarly bit, walkers watching, they’ll expect what with the goggles and all. Aced it, hopping the back wheel. Loads of people with pinch flats, pass a few more. Hit some steep rutted loam. Must be the ‘Pro Lines’ they mentioned. Goes well, past a few more. Another pro line? Yes sir. Deep rut, off balance. Over the bars, roll through bracken. You allright mate? Yeah fine. Crap, must have lost 30 secs there. Thats racing. Onto the road, stop for cake. Here’s Cal, when did I pass him? Leave him to the midges, head up hill.
SS3; heading to nowhere: Climb, bastard, off and pushing, but so are most. Alongside a loch, brutal track, mist, cold rain, massive puddles. This was a low point. Meet someone, we chat, feel better, soon alone again. Reach the river, stop for pie and chat about the Alps. See Dave up to his tits in the river, class. Cal passes me. Seeing these guys makes me feel a whole lot better. Time for a paddle. River up to the waste, allready soaked through, it makes no difference. Slippy and fast flowing, kinda scary. Over soon. Of to the next stage.
SS4: Catch Cal, dib in, push. Catch Dave, push some more. Hit the summit, saddle down to intermediate for the singletrack. Take a few guys, take the steeper lines. Trail is indecisive, sharp climbs and descents. Catch the guy ahead on the descents, fall back on the climbs. Finally get him. This is ace. Short climb, push. Everyone else is doing it. Glance back, see Dave on the singletrack, he is fast. Keep going, no one has passed me, I have passed loads, if I push I could get some points. Rough down, not steep enough, no momentum, got to pedal, short climb, out the saddle. Sprint, Cramp, Pain. Of the bike, sit on the floor, east pie. There goes Cal, there goes Dave, i’ll follow him. Dave gaps me on the remaining descent but stops for cake after the stage, I just had my rest, carry on.
Homeward: Landrover track, headwind, climb. Grim. See Cal on a distant crest. Alone. Fireroad turns downhill, the guy from Orange passes me, stick behind one. Repack action down the fireroad, Awesome fun. Christ, I can see civilisation. Someone stopped ahead. It’s Cal, it’s a puncture. ”You OK?” ”Yeah” I’m allready gone. Into the woods. Smooth fireroads. Thank god it is smooth. My insides feel shaken to shit. Should have bought suspension really. Through the woods. No idea how far to go, stop for cake, loose a place or two. Don’t care. Need cake. SS5, singletrack, man with video camera. I know, i’ll groan then bounce my way down this gnarl. If that appears on t’interweb. Oh God. Finish the stage, felt good. 3 seconds faster and I could have had more points. ”How far?” ”20 minutes”. I give the marshall my ”you had better be serious” look. ”It is 20 minutes, good effort” Class, spin home, tired. Finsh, it is over. Stop. ”Under 6 hours, nice mate” They finished in under 6 hours? They finished with me? I finished in under 6 hours? Chuffed. Ride back in to town a happy man. 37th. Better than I could have hoped. Awesome. Awesome day, Awesome race.
In all seriousness though, once all the swearing and pain was done, this was the most enjoyable mtb race I have ever done. Thanks to all at no fuss for making it happen. And I would have been top ten on the DH without that crash. Sore looser? Me? Well there is allways next year.
(DQ (forgot to dib entering special stage 3)
( 5 hours 50 mins)
”I was robbed”