MTBMonkey On September - 27 - 2011

Kielder 100, 2011 report by Mark

It was no secret that this year I had one goal, and that was to beat Phil’s time of 9:59:35. [Phil: Its no secret I dont want Mark to beat my time]

Friday
We’ve arrived, and everything is very wet. The campsite is more like a swamp, as usual I’ve managed to pitch my tent in what appears to be a drainage channel to the river that runs down the side of the campsite [Phil: It was a bit damp underfoot then]. It’s tempting to have a couple of beers tonight, although that probably not the best idea considering the ride I’m facing tomorrow. I managed to fight off the beer monster until race briefing at 9pm, when I’ve convinced myself one beer won’t hurt, so I head over to the briefing with my pal Budweiser. The briefing doesn’t have any surprises, but is a reminder that we’ve got to get up at around 5:00am ready for the start. We head back over to the camp, its dark and rainy and after 30mins or so of sitting in the club gazebo we call it a day and head to bed.
I’ve been asleep for a while, but the rain has woken me up. Not sure what time it is, but it’s still pitch black outside and raining heavily. A quick check on the phone, and it’s 1am. Surly this is rain will have cleared by the race start…….

Saturday
5am, and my alarm goes off, and it’s still raining. Joy.
I decide to head over to the race start late, Phil recommend getting there early, but I don’t want to stand around in the rain for an hour not moving. I’m about ¾ of the way back, not too bothered though as there’s meant to be a few mile ride out on forest roads where I’ll move forward. Looking round, there are a lot of big bikes here and people wearing baggy shorts. Do they realise what they have let themselves into?
Those who know me will know that I don’t put much though into strategy, I’ve read Phil’s Kielder tips and decided to not follow most of them [Phil: I thought you would have at least taken a pork pie]. I’m wearing a small camelback rather than using a bottle, and am going to use the free energy drink and food en-route rather than carry my own. I’m not wearing a watch or hear rate monitor and am planning to just ride at a pace that feels right for my legs. I’ve opted to have my MP3 player on for the race, with Trance/Hard dance to keep me going.
It’s still raining a lot of folks have opted for a water proof jacket, I’ve just gone for a thin shower proof and a gillet in my back pocket in case it get cold out on the moors. I’m going to get wet, but as long as I’m moving I’ll keep warm and I’m not planning to stop for long. I’ve opted to ride my hardtail race bike rather than my full suspension as it’s so much lighter and better for climbing. Just concerned that my back won’t be able to last out as the hard tail has such a still rear end it has a habit of killing my back even on the flats.

6:30, Race start. It’s a bit like the start of the London marathon, must have taken me 3 or 4 mins to actually cross the start line and all I can see informant of me is a road full of riders. Everyone seems to be riding very slow, so I move over right onto the edge of the forest road skimming along the under growth and start making my way forward. I’ve probably upset a few folks by riding through the undergrowth to get past them, but I don’t really care it’s a race after all. By the time the lead out car pulls off, I’m about 50 back from the front and carry on making my way forward up the first climbs.
30 miles down and everything is feeling great, in fact I feel like I’m flying. Nobody has passed me yet, based on the number of riders I’ve passed I think I’m around 30th. The first feed station arrives, I have a quick stop to fill up with energy drink and have a few jelly beans then its off again.
40 miles, still feel like I’m flying. The conditions are awful though, lots of the fire roads are like streams and when you’re flying down them at what much be close to 30mph you can’t see a thing, which is quite scary at times. I’ve been riding on my own now for a couple of hours, which makes me feel quite good as it means I’m holding a good pace.
50 miles, dark times…..I’ve started crossing over to Newcastleon, and what the hell is the trail I’m riding on. Feels like its been made out of house bricks, my hardtail it really punishing me. In or out of the saddle it feels like I’m being punched in the kidneys by a heavy weight boxer. When does it end? After what feels like miles, I see the piper in the distance that’s got to be the end surly. This trail has cost me time though, and I’ve been passed for the first time. It’s one of the KCNC/clee cycles boys, it’s like 24/12 all over again! We pass the piper and the trail gets better, I’m hurting though, my back has gone.
At 62 miles I’ve reached the main food stop at Newcastleton, I decide to stop for a few mins to have some cake and a sit down and do some lower back stretches. The bike is suffering too, the front pads have gone and I’m down to the backing plates. I’m not going to change them though, as this will take time that I don’t want to loose. The backing plate are alloy so they should see me though. I leave the feed area feeling better and go through the check point where they tell me I’m the 18th rider through! Wow, didn’t think I was doing that well but there’s still a long way to go.
It the route back to Kelider now, and what a relief it’s a smooth forest road for what must be 10 miles. I’m flying along in top gear for ages, this is great the miles are flying past, but my left knee has stated to hurt. This is worrying. Although I’m shifting, I’ve got somebody on my tail and I get passed again. It’s one of the Lumicycle boys this time, now it’s Sleepless all over again!
72 miles, 80 miles, quickly fly by I’m feeling good. The finish is getting closer, but my knee is really starting to hurt now. I’ve got no front brake left, and the back brake is down to the backing plates too. I’m not stopping though I’ll make do with a partially working back brake.
90 miles, NO NO NO NO , my knee has given in. I can’t climb anymore on the bike even in 1st gear. I’ve tried stretching but it’s having no effect. I’m reduced to pushing up the climbs. I’ve crossed the final cut off point though, so I’m going to finish.
Due to the conditions I’ve already accepted that I won’t be beating Phils time this year. I’ve reached the final checkpoint, 2.5 miles to go, and just in passing I ask the marshall what the time is “Just gone 4pm” is the reply. Hang on that’s only 9.5 hours so far, surly I can mange 2.5 miles in 30 miles to beat Phil……. [Phil: Bugger]
Everything is uphill, this isn’t good. I try to ride them but it feels like I’ve got a knife sticking through my knee joint. I give up and keep on pushing, I try a bit of a jog but even that is too much for my knee. So I’m resigned to a walk / hobble. I must be a the top now, nothing seems to be higher, surly this is the last bit of single track. This track is tricky, it’s steep and slipply and I have virtually no rear brake left. Wait, there’s the finish line in the distance. I put everything I’ve got left into crossing the line and fly straight past the marshal with the timing dibber as my rear brake has gone too. Quick time back and that’s I’m done.
I take a very slow ride back to the arena to hand my timing chip back and find out how I’ve done. The guy at the timing tent is far too enthusiastic, I’m not in the mood for jokes just tell me how I’ve done. 9:55:59, I’ve done it. Phils time has been beaten, mission accomplished even though it was raining the whole race. [Phil: Its a widely known fact that although it was a bit damp, the course was easier this year, had less hills and was shorter, its the only logical reason]
I’m provisionally 21st, this turns out 24th in the final results.
I head back to the campsite thinking I’ll be able to get straight in the shower as not many riders have finished in front of me. Hang on, what are all these people doing here and why are all the other DVATC riders except Steff doing here already?

Sunday
I’m hurting, hurting a lot. That bike has nearly killed me. I’m going to need a bit of time off the get over that ride. Really pleased I’m not driving back, I’m not in a fit state
900 started, 177 finished, I’m happy with 24th. Will I do it again, probably, but not next year.
On reflection, what would I do differently? No a lot really, the only thing I would do is ride a different bike. A stiff carbon hardtail is not the right bike for this event unless you have a steel spine, a short travel full susser or possibly 29er hardtail would be a better choice. Changing my brake pads at the 62 mile make may have also been benefical, as the amount of time I lost later on the single track/downhills may have been more than the time it took to change the pads.
It’s back over to Phil now…… [Phil: I’m quite happy never to do this race again, maybe though, now there’s a point!]

Mark

[Phil: In all fairness well done and good result, but I really dont know if I can face it again !!

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