Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fifeing Eejit 10 - The Isle of Man

My plan was simple, leave work at 4, drive down the road at a steady pace to get to Heysham about 11, sleep for a bit, get on the boat, sleep some more, drive off and see the island before pitching up and going for an easy road spin...

So there's me driving over the Tay Road Bridge in the motor home at 6pm, having left work an hour later than planned, lost half an hour after putting one of the bikes on the rack wrongly. Mistakes 1 and 2.

I still got to Heysham just after 11 though, great still time for a snooze... When are we loading? Did I bother to ask? Nope. Sleep? Better not risk it... Mistake 3.

Once on the boat I like to stand on deck as we pull away before settling somewhere to sit and hopefully sleep, unfortunately unless you've paid a lot of money for a cabin or loads for a seat in the bow lounge then you're lucks out if you can't sleep just anywhere. In the lounge next to the funnel (yes it's noisy) lucky people were sleeping sitting up, lying on the floor etc. In the café and bar there was others dotted around, and me dotting around all over the place trying to find somewhere I could get comfortable, the best I found was an Andy Capp position wrapped round the seat arm rests and balanced precariously on the edge... It didn't work. Mistake 4.

As I drove off at Douglas I decided I had to find somewhere to snooze for a bit and eventually found a parking area on Marine Drive where I managed enough sleep to feel sort of alive so went for an 8Km walk (Mistake 5) before taking a lap of the mountain circuit on the motorhome (involving Mistakes 6 and 7 (navigation)) and then pitching up at my campsite.

Then just to make it 8, I looked at the map and decided on a loop of the South of the island, heading into Douglas, along Marine Drive, down to Port Erin and then back up Via Round Table and Foxdale, doesn't sound bad at all does it? And it wasn't until I started the climb to Round Table... the vast majority of this 72Km route's 1000m of climb being there.

So anyway...
I get up early and spin down to the sea terminal, the marshall tells me I'm first there as we wait for the lorries arrive to take the bikes to the point of ayre (the buses are already there), the first bus turns out to have a bit of a problem with 2nd gear as we clunk regularly on the way up the mountain, at the point of ayre I retrieve my bike and go and take some photos of the lighthouse (Mistake 9), by the time I get round to the start area there's about half the field in front of me. Eventually we start moving forwards, at first slowly and then speeding up as the funnel effect runs out, as I cross the line I know there's 24Km of road section before we hit the off road, I've got my tyres pumped right up for this and I'm off like it is a road ride, drafting some unsuspecting riders, being drafted by others who very much knew what they were doing. I spent a long while sharing the wind with a local before I lost him on a hill I thought I'd run out of steam on and expected him to fly past.  The locals were out in force cheering us on as well, some guy called Steve even had banners out for him.  At Ballaugh (home of the famous bridge) a sharp left took us onto a dusty gravel track, some riders stopped early to drop pressure, others hadn't bothered with that roadie nonsense, the air was thick with dust on this flat section and it was getting tricky to see too far ahead, but as the road ramped up it was clear more and more riders were walking, eventually my hard tyres became a liability and I span out on a rock, coming to an abrupt halt I took air out the back and started walking, it's not that I wanted to walk, it's just there was no time to get back on the bike between other hike-a-bikers, there weren't many cyclists here.

My calves were aching from the push up, and then my inner thighs started screaming as I got back on the bike near the top, the trail reduced from a rough dusty road to a single track snake running along the hillside towards the Brandywell descent, keeping going with the cramp wasn't a problem, but whenever I had to move on the bike it got tricky, on the Brandywell descent there's a series of "speedbumps" taken at some speed, on the first a photographer was waiting to catch jumpers, on the 2nd I rolled it, on the third I got my weight balance wrong and thankfully caught my forwards weightshift in time, continuing to roll these bumps at some speed was painful but then we hit the road thankfully, another big crowd out in support, Steve's supporters there again, and then after only a few meters we were onto another dirt road, this time rough flinty, slatey double track with a clear line showing from previous run throughs,

This continued for a while before descending through plantations, to St Johns where I stupidly didn't take on extra water before being ramped straight back up to another Plantation and then along the hill side to descend through Arassey Plantation which met the hype I'd heard and read about it.  More climbing followed though to a road summit where we quickly returned to a track, my lack of water really showed now, and I stopped for a rest and liquid at the water stop before the start of the descent on "An Sloc"

On such a clear day the end at Cregneash could be seen from the hill side, hurtling down a narrow twisty flinty track; it was fantastic, a couple of riders had falls ahead of me and I had to slow to get past, the path disgorges you onto tarmac and a final road blast over the St Mary's railway crossing and onto Cregneash where a brutal final hill stopped me in my tracks, only a 70 Km ride but the climbing had taken it out of me.

Despite a time of 4hrs 31mins making me 400th overall I missed a Bronze award by 6 mins, probably the time lost at that recovery stop having not taken enough water when it was available.  The winner only took 2hrs 44mins...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fifeing Eejit 9 - On the Road... or "The Bealach Beag Sportive"

Normally road cycling in Scotland doesn't really come under the banner of Mountain sports, we don't have that many epic mountain passes, the Lecht, Cairnwell and Cairn o' mounth being the obvious 3 to us Easties, but up on the west coast there is the "Pass of the Cattle" or to give it its Gaelic name, "Na Bealach nam Ba".
On a scale of 1 to 10, the road going from Tornapress to Applecross is graded by the "100 greatest British climbs" guide book as 11, going the other way is a rather timid 10...
A pass so treacherous that a friend of a friend once threw up in fear as it was crossed in a car...

Anyhow; having sent Simon Li over the pass one scorching summer day from Ling hut I though it might be a good idea that I cross it, along with 400 others in the Bealach Beag sportive, a 72km "not a" race held to give riders either not up for the 140km Bealach Mor version or just training for it a chance to take on the pass.
The route for this starts at Shieldaig and runs straight to the Tornapress junction, before crossing the pass to Applecross and returning to Shieldaig by the "New" road via Kenmore.

Due to failing to check the comfort rating on my sleeping bag and lack of darkness I spent a rather uncomfortable night at the Shieldaig campsite (strong pegs necessary, lots of stones), I set off near the front of the ride and dropped on and off of a couple of fast groups and riders and made it to Tornapress with the head car still in sight, the climb starts of "hard" and a handful of riders were both passed and overtaken, usually with some word of encouragement sometimes with discussion of the route, and a reminder that the coast road is not flat...

As the hill went from "hard" to "bastard" I passed someone I was sure had passed me, this was surprisingly common on the way up. When a hill is "hard" it's important not to think of it, memories of other hills, at 'puffer with Kraftwerk on someone's stereo, of Pantani and Virenque on Eurosport and going over "An Clisham" on Harris were helpful, sort of. When a hill is "Bastard" anything other than hills will do, I switched my Garmin to heart rate and decided that I would go back to seeing how slow I was going.
At one point a corner was pointed out to me as being the last one before the hairpins, this is where it turns to "oh just fuck off", at this point you're just thinking of turning the pedals, so having someone spin past with ease really wasn't welcome, nor was the kid who having stopped before I passed him restarted behind me, flying past only to stop again and say "sod this", thankfully the sound of his cleats clicking on tar got further away so I knew I was going faster in the granny gear then the alternative.

At the hairpins people had gathered, the climb actually returned to "hard" here and the cheering and encouragement was welcome but the false summits most certainly were not!
Finally at the summit the dibbing station arrived along with the offer of liquid and advice on the descent "take care".
I'm not a great cornerer and this descent has plenty corners to wuss away brake blocks on, I did make the mistake of checking to see how fast I was going into one, having been on the brakes for at least 2 seconds prior, 55kmh was not what I was expecting to see, the other rider flying past wasn't unexpected...
Switching between grins of joy and of terror regularly I made my way down until nearer the bottom someone passed without too big a speed difference and I followed his lines until the corner before the campsite, returning to open roads and a feed station with a plentiful supply of flapjack.

As I climbed the first "undulation" the headwind hit hard, 42km of these unshielded, undulating shores, 42km of jelly legged climbing, the profile only showed 2 of interest, more spectators dotted the route cheering, the driver of a Triumph TR6 gave a thumbs up, was that for riding or for smiling at the classic motor? He got one back regardless.
The collective of Lotus Talbot Sunbeams I encountered during the Grizedale Grizzly sprung to mind. I wondered also if I could beat 3 hours, a tough target, but...

The undulations continued, steeps ups destroying what was left in my legs, the downs providing a welcome burst of speed only to be sapped by the next up.
Shieldaig appeared in view across the bay, 10km to go, another gel packet up the shorts leg, another sip of diminishing water, another rider passed and another passing, as the junction came into view a rider passed me, he clearly had the same idea. Empty the tank, he was at least 10 seconds ahead as he hit the junction, and I hammered it from there, bike squirming over the village cattle grid as I put down what power I had left, I went into the dibbing station a bit quick, foot out the clips as I came to a halt and let out a sigh of relief as I slumped onto the bars.

72km long
1545m of cumulative ascent
3hrs 4min 9 seconds for loop
43min 50sec for the main climb
23,32kmh average
62.04kmh top speed

the 3 Bean Risotto and flapjack provided by the hotel in the village was devoured by the waterside, now what eejit parked his tent at the top of a hill???


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fifeing Eejit - Eight - Whinlatter Challenge 2014

This report has been published on Trail Scotland

As I approached Keswick on the A66 I could see that overnight snow had painted the slopes of Blencathra and Grassmoor white almost to the roadside, a sad lack of parking areas consigning this sight I have never before seen to memory.
A consideration of cycling from lodgings to the race HQ was investigated and ruled out, my cars engine revving heavily up the Whinlatter Pass from Brainthwaite making this decision easy.

I’ve never before ridden in Whinlatter, I asked some mates about it and they wern’t very forthcoming on the technical levels, or the climbing, but I asked some more people and got this piece of gen from perpetual 10 Under the Ben winner Radoggair:
“Basically its, climb for a really long time, descend for a long time, climb for an indecent amount of time, descend for a long time and repeat 3 more times. It really is a hard season opener.”

So it’s going to hurt then...

I watched the Elite race set off at a frightening pace and then shuffled forwards with "400" others to take the start.
I set off at a decent pace, passing many other riders on the climb, the words “indecent climb, don’t go too hard” resonated in my mind as my nose blocked up almost as quickly as my legs,  3Km with an average gradient of 6% later and I ran out of grip on a rock, blocks of lead now being asked to run up a steep slope of loose slate rock pushing a bike, I look back as I remount pleased to see I’m not the only one.  A muddy descent shortly followed, bike surfing on a wave of mud, I wuss out of the steeper line here only to discover a mud drop off mid corner, nice...

A fast rocky fire road led onto a muddy fire road, two thin mud ruts in grass, slowly getting muddier, before returning to a mud surf and then a steep slatey climb, another rider pulls alongside “Oh Fuck Sake, oh you’re fucking joking”, I presume he saw the climb...  Again my back wheel spins out on a rock, the riders behind also brought to a sudden halt, some more walking, at least this time it’s only my calves that feel like lead.

Eventually a sharp descent on the fire road was followed to a section of slatey single track snaking down the hill side, nothing too technical, the main problem for me being lack of rear end grip again... (why did I put the rear tyre at 40psi?), as I smiled for the camera on a corner a metallic burgundy full sus cuts the corner, next lap I check the corner for a line, there wasn’t one; further down the single track the rider of the same bike directly in front of me sounds frustrated at the “fat bastard ahead” as we bottleneck through a rooty section cut into the side of a banking, a 40cm wide trail, with a 3m plunge on one side and slippy roots to get over.

He obviously made up some time, somewhere ahead as I reached the floor of the race track there he is f’ing and blinding at his bike, I restrict myself to chuckling as I pass and as the track snaked back up again I see him below, 20 bikes back, but he never passed me...
I bypass the feed station on this lap, the 16000 Jelly Babies should last I think...

I slog on, up another hill, eventually I reach the last hill, another indecently steep section, more traction problems. Some banter with the marshall at the top, apparently “it’s easier 2nd time”, “What about the 3rd?”, another mud surf takes me to the end of the lap.

More advice from Radoggair: “for the quick guys on a dryish course, 2.15 mins of pain and torture. For most fast guys 2 3/4 hrs of pain of torture, for good paced guys, 3 1/4 hrs of pain and torture, for trail centre heroes on too much bike, 4 hrs of pain and torture.“

1hr 20mins of pain and torture, I’m looking at 4 hours if I keep this pace, I can’t.

I take it slightly easier this time, I know how long it is, as my back wheel spins out on a rock again, 2 riders stand resting, one in tears of pain, presumably cramp, my mind flashes back to 10 Under the Ben in 2012, riders dotted around the course hunched on their bars praying to the god of cramp, begging for forgiveness. Back to the mud surf, at least this time I know of the mud drop off... It’s bigger this time...
The field is looking sparser or just plain more spread out, the descents seem shorter, the climbs longer, I get a chance to relish the views of Bassenthwaite Lake and snowtoped Skiddaw, a photographer exclaims that I’m smilling, it’s a grimace!
The jelly baby table presents itself, I’ve been picking my way through some of the field in the lower forest winding up on dry single track trail, normally the bermy jumpy section of trail would be a welcome bit of fun in an event like this, but it’s rough as hell, so rough that there’s even a drop off right on line in one of the bigger faster berms, I reach the jelly baby table and this time I stop, 3 jelly babies and a cup of coke it’s not much but it’ll do I don’t feel like biscuits, I can get more on the last lap.

A short hail storm adds to the misery on one of the last climbs, I have a short laugh with another rider before he disappears into the distance.
Another 1hr and 24 mins of pain and torture completed, It’s 2hrs 45mins in and the winner had completed their 3 laps 10 minutes ago, I’m asked if I’m done, but no I’m not, there’s more to take before I’m done.

More climb, more views, I carry on, as I reach the bottom I can feel my back complaining about the climbing, note to self you need to do core exercises...
I catch another rider on a Rocky Mountain, I chat to him for a bit, he’s really an enduro rider, his thunderbolt a week old and set for the Trans-Provence a week long Enduro in (strangely enough) Provence that sells out in less than a second every year before I carry on.
My backs aching now, I get a short rest at the water and crisps table, all 16000 Jelly Babies are gone, eventually I reach that last climb, I don’t even bother to try and ride it. As I surf through the mud a faster rider passes me and beats me to the line, like I care.

1hr and 31 mins of pain and torture, no more pain and torture, a total time of 4hrs 16mins 52 sec, and according to my print out I’m not last! 166/167 finishers so far.
I ride my block of mud to the car and start trying to extricate a bike from it with some success using my pressurised plant watering bottle.
Others; less grippit feed a pound to the bike wash machine and wheel gleaming bikes back to their vans.

A Cumberland sausage baguette and cake sort me out and I head back to the timing screen, in the time it’s taken me to wash bike, self and eat there are now 200 finishers of the full enduro, the entry list showed 400 and I’m listed as 184th.
Snow falls as I wander back to the car and head to my lodgings for a shower and recovery.

A look at the published results shows a different situation, 165th out of 234 finishers of the 3 lap race, with 53 abandoning at the end of lap 2 (or somewhere in lap 3).

Quote... Radoggair... “I'll do it again but it really is tough going”
Quote... NoBeerInTheFridge... “Anyone who hits the M6 to go to the lakes, and rides a trail centre should be lined up in front of the firing squad and shot “

As I crossed that line it felt different to the end of other events, at the end of 10 Under the Ben and Strathpuffer it’s felt great, this time, I just felt knackered.
I think I agree with NoBeer...



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fifeing Eejit 7 (Seven) - Catch up

It's a while since I posted, in fact it was the 2013 'puffer.

Since then I've ridden:
The Highland Perthshire Enduro
Selkirk MTB Marathon
10 Under the Ben
Enduro Enduro
Relentless 24
and Strathpuffer 24

Since Strathpuffer 24 I've been going over my new bike (well it was new...) looking at what needs repaired, the thin film of mud collected during my first winter rides on it and the 'puffer itself has destroyed:
1 set of gear cables
2 sets of brake pads
1 tyre (ok that was a big thorn)
2 inner tubes (the thorn and a 1st lap pinch flat)
and my will to ride bikes.

The forks are also now past their 1st oil and seal change (waiting for the bits to arrive) and the headset bearings look and feel a bit done for.

I submitted a report on the puffer to both Dundee Mountain Club and Trail Scotland, so you can read it here

There isn't really anything I can add to that here.

Relentless 24 was my physical/mental recce for the 'puffer, to check that I could do it (so I knew if I should enlist someone else to do it as a pair) and to check that I could work with a mechanic/psychologist/feeder.

I asked Bill from DMC if he was interested and didn't need much convincing, it's great having someone to sort the bottles out for you and to speak to you at the end of each lap, and I reckoned Bill would be perfect for the job, a former Helicopter Engineer, who's now shifted into the Art world and is brilliant at the mental side of things too.  He really made a difference, as do other people on course.

I found this at both Relentless and Strathpuffer:
During Relentless Wayne from Aboyne and  Dezzy and John McLaggan from the Trail Scotland forums were also riding, Dezzy to an excellent 4th in class (IIRC) and John in a Quad who I think were 2nd in Class or possibly won it, I really can't remember now.

Dezzy and Wayne are both miles head of me in speed, so couldn't chat for long although there was a couple of time I would be on the edge of hopping off to walk when Dezzy arrived for a brief chat.  But the non-walk that I remember most was on my last lap, I was just setting out on the first big climb to the middle of Lazy-K when behind me I heard "Niall!, Hi I'm John, thanks for the info on the brake pads..."  I had walked this climb since the early hours of the morning, and having John to speak to at this point in time gave me a hint that I hadn't been walking for fitness or energy reasons.

Again at the 'puffer, I've been trying to get out more with a bike club in Glenrothes, their heavily aimed at XC riding and have a good bunch of guys racing in SXC, SCX and in the "Events", and one of their riders caught me on the fire road climb, again I rode past various points where I had walked during the night, I don't think I once walked on that lap just because of the psychological boost it gives.

This makes me wonder, is Endurance MTB riding really about fitness, how fit do you actually have to be to complete these (as in ride for 24hrs or at least as close as possible while not finishing after the cut off point, which I didn't at Relentless as I told myself I was on the last lap due to messed up tired maths)

To win, or at least be quick through the night there is no doubt that good training and fitness are necessary.
Jason Miles (32 laps, 320km) and Guy Martin (30 laps, 300Km) were well within my 1st lap time all through the night.

But I was rather happy with 29th and 180Km (18 laps)
Think about that for a minute, 180Km off road, in 23 hours 50 minutes, last time I did an Imperial on the road it was around 6 hours and it wasn't exactly flat.

Are the "off road Kms count as miles" or "off road Kms count double" rules valid, really?
What makes the off road tougher? The Strathpuffer course isn't all that technical but some bits are still pretty slow, and why can't I do the slab any more (Between laps 13 and 16 I walked the slab before Old Bill), it's all a mind game.

Forget Pain Caves, I currently can't push that hard even for 30 mins, but I can keep those cranks turning for a long time.

I don't get bored, some do.
But I give in, I walk, I rest (On the last lap I took a pause at the top of the last climb, I wanted to be as close to 24hrs as I could, but within 5 mins of stopping I was cold, that stop could have cost me 29th place as 30th place was 15 mins behind me at the end)

It's all a mind game this,
Don't go too fast, it's 24hrs no 2.4hrs
Keep climbing on the bike, it may be slower than walking, but...
Speak to people, they'll get you up that hill
It'll be worth it in the end, maybe, once you've got over the pain of the repair bill.

Roll on Puffer 2015... maybe...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fifeing Eejit 7 (Seven) - Strathpuffer 2014; The Report

This report has been published on Trail Scotland

I was originally entered into the 12hr race that was due to take place in the Summer of 2013 as a Solo with a plan of entering as a pair in the Winter with whoever I could find mental enough. Unfortunately there isn’t so many people interested in the 12hr even though it could offer better conditions and it was canceled with the offer of Money back or a transfer (at a discount of £10) to the 24hrs.  So that was that sorted.

Conditions had been changeable in the week leading up to the event, and I was dreading the forecast turning Wet and Cold, thankfully it was neither wet nor cold, but the more classic moist and chilly which led to some icy patches on the Fire road climb and lots of mud out on course.

Dad and Bill from Dundee Mountain Club were on hand to provide support, cleaning the bike’s drive train and suspension each lap being the most important task in these conditions, as well as changing brake pads as needed (I didn’t go through as many as I expected to), they also made sure there was plenty of food available for scoffing.

The race starts off with a “short” run (This is not the easiest thing to do wearing XC Race shoes) from the forest entrance to the start line, this spreads the field out a bit as it’s not far from there to the first bit of single track just past where the motorhome was parked, this first fire road climb is also where a lot of people camp so (at this point) I was flying through a campsite cutting through gaps between riders with cheers, cowbells and air horns from the sidelines, if you can’t imagine what that’s like find some motorbike footage from a Tour De France alpine stage on You Tube, just replace the “Allez Allez Allez” with some choice Scottish Vocabulary...

Somewhere on the first lap I punctured, probably on one of the water bars on the descent, but I honestly don’t know, I only found out when I started climbing from the start line, I probably made the wrong decision here to fix it myself as I took a short break at the motorhome anyway while Dad and Bill checked the bike over and reinflated the tyre to the pressure I wanted (Note to self, 16g CO2 cartridges do not fill 29er tyres) and running it would probably have saved some time.

On the 2nd Lap I managed to do the Slab for the first time ever (so that’s my 14th lap of the puffer circuit, having done a recce one weekend in 2012, 6 Puffer lite 2012 laps and 5 Puffer 2013 laps), this is a narrow short steep rock pavement that is the quickest way through a section, although there are 2 bypass options, one is a high line onto some high board walk and the other is to scramble down and I crossed the “Bridge of Thighs” which is a narrow bowstring bridge with sides you really need to watch for hitting (the name comes from the height of the bowstring) so takes some focus to keep on line and something I find tricky under pressure of a busy track.

As the night wore on the climbs got tougher, the seemingly flat main camping straight at the start turned into the Ventoux, the rocks got more difficult to keep momentum up over, and more of the course became a walk. Doubts creep into the mind, slow down, maybe that’s it etc.  But there’s the final descent, the ever cheerful dibber holders who tell you, “you’re doing great” even at one point “you’ve done loads of laps now, what’s that 5?” (It was actually 4, but they’re dibbing for 200 teams), there’s the Mukyz pit one wee dig to go to the van, then Dad and Bill, food, rest, off I go again, “Haribo Hill” marshal point, handing out Jelly Babies, Jaffa Cakes and Satsumas, with heavy electronic beats blasting out of the horse box, into the darkness, I hear music behind me, it’s not from Haribo Hill (it’s electronic but not heavy enough), it’s not from the start/finish (too far away) and Loch Kinellan Marshalls don’t have music (they have Air Horns), “Galibier et Tourmalet,  En danseuse jusqu'au sommet”, an otherwise silent rider drifts past on a steel framed klunker with Kraftwerk blasting out of speakers on his backpack.

Mental mistakes start to creep in from early on:
The Mukyz Directeur Sportif asks How many laps have I done? I don’t know! (Eight I think), but of course that's a good sign!
Is it 10pm or midnight? (10pm).
What’s round this corner, I’ve forgotten. (It’s a water bar, I’ve missed the avoiding line between the trees)
At one point I found myself in the ditch beside the path going at a fair rate of knots as I failed to turn left after dodging a bit of the drainage line. In the daylight I saw the length of my tyre marks in there...

Some drizzle/light rain falls as forecast, but it makes no difference, sweat and puddle splash having made their mark, wool gear bought during the sales helping keeping the chill off and warmth from body heat in.
The half-way mark arrives and I dive in to the motorhome for the half way change, muddy gear dumped into a box and an extended rest break, Bill chatting away to reduce the risk of dozing off, but having already ridden for 12 hours the metabolism is running fast and with the assistance of caffeine there is little chance of sleep.

Setting off from the warmth of the Motorhome is a small shock, and while in the early laps I could get enough power out fast enough to warm up quickly, each lap the chill lasted longer, eventually in the early hours of the morning I put on a lightweight hardshell outer just to take the edge off.

The sky is getting lighter, must be what? 8am? I get to the motorhome and dump my night time helmet (I was running an old XC lid with a head torch strapped on as I was saving my other lights for bar use) for my XC Race lid, the weight reduction is as welcome as the light, I start the lap with the bar lights on as I go through the wooded section to get to the main fireroad climb, a sharp dig links the 2, more tunes blasting from a van, this time it’s a team that always park here, same goes for the next climb landmark as the Chipping Sodbury Scout group’s camp is passed, one last wee climb before a fast descent gives a break, the van with GT Zaskars (mine is sitting unused at the back of the Motorhome) at the Summit and then fly past the No Fuss team to the foot of the climb to the Haribo Hill marshal point, I’m only riding this climb because I’m speaking to another rider from the Mukyz.

Daylight proper now and I’m looking for any psychological lift I can find, speaking to Stephen was the first, then I make it over the boardwalk onto the rocks for the first time in 4 laps, someone in front screws up the rocks, but I clean it again, bridge of thighs cleared again, can I make the hill? Someone stalls infront, and they dive out the way as I crawl past, I grind to a halt at the hairpin though, habitually checking my gears before restart I discover I hadn’t dropped the front into the granny ring, see still got strength left.

Last lap, it doesn’t matter if I have time for another, I’m telling myself it is, a fairly uneventful lap, I get to the top of the last climb, I stop, the clock says there’s 20 minutes left (I’m not aware of a difference between the GPS clock and the official clock) I wander up onto the rocks to have a look at some of the other trails here, I’m not wasting enough time, oh well (That rest nearly put me 30th as the next person on 18 laps was 24:02). I fly down the descent for the last time, bike making all sorts of noises, body not doing much better, through the quary corner people cheering things like “come on, time for another!”, more cowbell, more air horns, down the steps (someone’s there with a camera), bypass the 2nd set of steps, into the marquee. “Going for another?” erm no...

Race stats:
Position: 29 out of 74 solos
Laps: 18
Total Time: 23:49:58
Fastest Lap: 00:47:18 (1st Lap)

Niall Wallace - Fifeing Eejit
1 00:47:18 00:47:18
2 01:01:26 01:48:44
3 00:50:48 02:39:32
4 00:53:44 03:33:16
5 00:59:59 04:33:15
6 01:03:13 05:36:28
7 01:20:55 06:57:23
8 01:14:50 08:12:13
9 01:18:28 09:30:41
10 01:20:16 10:50:57
11 01:21:15 12:12:12
12 01:45:29 13:57:41
13 01:30:10 15:27:51
14 01:42:30 17:10:21
15 01:44:39 18:55:00
16 01:37:18 20:32:18
17 01:43:19 22:15:37
18 01:34:21 23:49:58