Being an optimist (ha!) I’ll begin with the good points from yesterdays race:
- My main aim was to finish in a decent time without feeling at all tired, as part of my preperation for SITS solo
This I did, with a finishing time of 4hrs 50summat minutes being fast enough (not super fast, but I’ll explain why that was in a minute). At the end of it I didn’t feel like i’d done anything! I didn’t need to stop at any of the feed stations and hardly ate anything while riding, I just cruised round the course without ever having to dig deep…or dig at all on the climbs or flat sections.
- The course just plain rocked
Yes, it did rock! I knew that the bit of the Traqblahblahblah trail at Innerleithen was good and that the merida route took some of it in, but the rest of the route also rocked, with fast moorland singletrack, woodsy stuff, big (for this country) climbs…that i just span up easily, top notch scenery, crazy steep “off piste” descents through the trees and lots of technical fun!
There were lots of other good points too, like the friendly people racing, the laidback atmosphere, the cracking weather (with no midgies, oddly), the marshalling and general organisation and the idea of giving spot prizes to random finishers as they crossed the line, rather than just giving money to the scrawny whippets (I didn’t get anything, but ho hum)
Right, lets do the bad stuff and explain my fairly lowly position:
- I snapped my bars 10 miles in
My first crash of the day, on some fast singletrack while being cocky and trying to overtake someone to catch back up to steve, saw me hurtle over the bars at such pace, and hit the ground head first with such force that the bloke behind me stopped and offered to carry me to the marshall at the end of the track so I could be whisked away in an ambulance (a big thankyou to you, sorry i didn’t get your name). After a short time suffering dejavu (i’m presuming this was just my brain going a bit fuzzy) i picked up the bike only to discover that the right bar end was dangling limpy off the end of the bars. “Oh crap” i thought, “carbon bars don’t take kindly to being snapped like that”. I had a sit down and eventually decided to carry on, gingerly, trying to not put any weght on remainder of the bars in case they failed. After a few miles i’d come to the conclusion that they had snapped on the reinforced end section (designed to enable the bars to be cut down) and that they’d be OK for the rest of the race, provided i didn’t hammer them over rough stuff.
Yes i know this was, in fact, a stupid and dangerous thing to do (i realised it even more last night when i squeezed the broken end of the bars between my fingers and the fibres collapsed!) but i survived.
- I nearly broke my leg and bent my brake lever
I’d lost my bottle after the big bar snapping crash earlier, and had little faith in the bars lasting the Caddon Bank descent at Innerleithen if I flew off all the drops, so I intended to just roll down the chicken runs and ride calmly, rather than ride “all out”. Unfortunately at the first drop I was so busy remembering riding down the track last year on a big full susser that i hit the “fly off the drop” line by mistake, realised what i was doing as i left the lip of the drop, panicked and tried to throw my weight right back so no pressure would go through the bars on landing. This, of course, is basically what you do to do a “no hander” jump…and if you managed to also land no handed you have pulled off what is know by jumpy types as a “suicide”. What an apt name. I hit the ground completely out of control and broadsided the bike at full pelt, slamming my right leg into a rock so hard I had to sit at the side of the track for a few minutes clutching it with tears pouring out of my eyes.
I came within about an inch of dropping out, but my desire to not quit any more races if it was at all possible to continue (and my tightwad-iness at paying Â£30 to ride!) saw me hobble over to where the bike had ended up and get back on, albeit looking rather pitiful.
My leg hurt so much that i couldn’t stand up or put any real presure through it, making lots of the technical trails a nightmare of poor balance and sharp pain whenever a bit of power had to be put down to get over an obstical or move the bike around underneath me.
Oh, my computer died less than 3 miles into the race as well, which sucked.
Despite all this i finished, like i said at the top, in just under 5hrs and the bits of me that weren’t bruised to f-k (or swollen to “Mr Stay Puft” style proportions as my leg has now become) didn’t feel like i’d put a hard ride through them. I fact, i would go as far as to say that i didn’t feel like i’d done anything at all! Seriously!
Now I’m off to buy some new bars and lots of Ibuprofen gel for my leg…