Fifeing Eejit Racing - Round 1
Having signed up to do the Selkirk Sportive and MTB Marathon and then Ten Under the Ben, discovering the inaugural Muckmedden race gave me a good chance to get an idea of the format for these sorts of events.
Muckmedden is the offspring of Aaron Gray of Abernethey, a regular in the forests above the village known as "Pitmedden", despite being only just along the road I had never been to Pitmedden before, I had no idea what i was letting myself in for.
Well ok I did, in years gone by it was used for Special Stage rallying and a former co-driver once said the name is very apt, (think Pit, Midden) (I paraphrase).
And various people I know described it as 10 Miles, you'll feel like you've done double that if it's dry, who knows if it's wet.
With an unprecedented (even for the East Coast of Scotland) trail conditions leading up to the event were dry to very dry, or so I read. Then the week before the event we got solid rain.
The trails were wet again, appropriately mucky and well...
I knew about there being no real climbs or descents, but plenty of undulations but I did not know about the rootiness, oh there are roots, roots and more roots. In that one day I probably crossed more roots than I have ever before on an MTB. Add to that my decision to go for a 1.8 on the back due to the muckyness and I was struggling for rear end grip, but to be honest I doubt I would have been faster in the dry.
I practices the "Blue" and "White" routes (which has nothing to do with the grading) and sat at the start line.
The 2 lap Mental Muckers and Tag Teams set off 10 minutes before the Mad Muckers, 30km sounds like nothing, just as well I did decide only to do the single lap.
I sat back a bit at the start line not sure how I would compare to those around me, I got held up on the firetrail into the "Red" loop and on the early stages as we battered along slightly down hill smooth trail, and then a few wee kicks, I was off the bike a couple of times on these, but so were some in front and some behind, others battered on past. A steep climb saw everyone off theri bikes, not because we couldn't all do the climb but becasue it was narrow enough that there was no chance of getting past, this brought us up to a firetrail where I put my road speed to some use and passed everyone that had passed me on the climb.
Then this first trail turned rooty, at one point there was a steep wee climb, at the top a young marshall bribing riders with a plate of jelly beans, perfectly placed. If you're reading thanks.
Although unfortuantely jelly beans eaten while cycling and breathing rapidly get stuck to teeth and it was to remain for the whole of the first lap before I got a chance while approaching the timing mats to rest enough to shift it.
Shortly after the mats the White loop started with a sharp right, a marshal standing in the road asking you which way you were going and pointing you the right way, this climbed breifly onto a rooty traill and then to a steep drop to the fire road, no grip, inexperienced on SPDs, total wuss, all 3? I walked it, but I've seen pictures of others doing the same, so I'm not the only one in the wuss category.
Across the fire road and a route descended in the trees to the forest boundary, this was set up for going fast, but I just didn't have the momentum with the soft ground and the roots and the lack of bottle, at the bottom fence the route turned onto a soft path and then hard right back onto where we had been, I got confused here in practice and had tuend back because the routes ran side by side, it seemed there was still plenty of people behind me and I hadn't yet been passed by the leader of the Mental so they must have been on the same lap as me...
This dropped me back onto the fire road and back up over the mats for the "Blue" loop, this was a left turn at the marshall, in practice I had gone up a steep climb but had spotted someone else take a longer route round, I took this and found it much better going. This comprised more battering through the forest on mucky trails, and a very mucky steep descent before a flatish "blast" to fire road, a short steep climb and another marshall pointing down to the singel track to the road, this was by far the rootiest section of all I'm sure, there's also bombholes and my lack of grip was telling again (and I'm a wuss...) somewhere in here Huw the winner of the Mental race passed me, I heard him coming a long way off I'm sure he was doing 20Ks more than me! (Ok so I did stop breifly as he passed, but it was fast)
Eventually this rooty hell was over, just a climb up the fire track to the finish, steep fire track climb... Woo hoo, saddle up (a few seconds wern't going to hurt) and I was "flying" all the knackeredness disguised with the feeling that the end is nearly there, I pushed as hard as I could up the hill before encountering some cars and other riders on the way down, they were clearly finished and going home already.
I dropped into the granny ring but kept pushing as the hill stiffened, I caught up with someone who still had a blue loop to go, I passed someone else and just before the mats nearly passed someone else but decided not to pass them on the mats.
Looknig at my results no one was near me time wise, 5 minutes ahead and 3 behind in the Mad Muckers category, so those I passed on the hill must have been doing 2 laps or way behind.
The results show I was 48th Mad Mucker and last Under 35 male, oh dear.
The format, terrain and general structure were new to me, I know kind of what to expect from 10 Under the ben, although tha'ts about lasting the distance and have an idea of my pace on easy surfaces for Selkirk, so hopefully carry that on.
If Aaron runs it again, I'm going, and I will practice anyway now I've seen the forest, Drop Dead Fred I must learn to do... And maybe I shall purchase a fatter rear tyre with muck dispersing ability, that forest is no place for Panaracer FireXCs.