Moles live in muddy holes, I was living up to our name for two and a half hours last Sunday morning. Now, it might sound perverted to get up early on a sodden Sunday morn and roll about in mud. Well, you’re probably right…
A cold, dreary, damp, dismal morning saw myself, Clive and Brian in the Rushmore Arena in Aldershot, for the brand new MTB racing series Brass Monkeys Enduro. Brought to us by Gorrick and hosted by the army, this was the inaugural meeting in the series of three, sponsored by Merida.
I met the guys in the car park, it was not raining (yet), spirits were high and the atmosphere around I sensed was good. Racing, or an enduro event as this was are new to me. Having only ever entered two events previously I have started to know the precedure. First, find a loo. I don’t know why, but you will need one. Yes there was a queue! Thats where vans come in useful, all you need is a bucket, a light and some paper! Blue Peter taught me how.
Registration completed, numbers on the bikes. Nearly 500 riders were on the start line. Initially the start was to be staggered into two categories, those riding 4 hours or those riding 2 hours. Due to a technical hitch which was due to the slightly horizontal drizzle, which was due to it nearly being December, there was a delay of 30 minutes.
The first challenge of the day – try to keep the front wheel going forward not sideways. The start – finish area would have normaly been hard packed grass, but not today! Today it was going to be three inch deep boggy mud. This was an effort, being in a peleton of nearly 500 Mountain bikers as the horn sounded. The organizers decided to let everyone off together due to the delay.
As expected the pace was slow for probably three miles or so following the rear tyre of some other crazy fool. Eventually the field spread I was able to get into a comfortable rhythm and trudge through the slime. The trail conditions were horrific, probably the worst mud I have ever ridden in. Think of chicken lentil curry with occasional pond’s the chicken being the flinty stones in the mud.
Rain!! there was plenty and then some, adding to the already treacherous conditions. The second lap appeared fairly quickly having plenty to occupy the senses, mud, rain, mountain bikers, chain suck, balance, poor vision, cold, more mud, muddy female bikers in lycra. I continued to pass a fair number of riders on the fire track sections, only being passed a few times by the wippet’s.
Lap Three – Oh! now the little legs started to complain, not another lap! I had a stern chat with them and convinced them to keep going. AHHHH CRAMP!! We told you there was a problem and needed to rest but no, not a chance push us to the limit why don’t you. The option was to slow down and stick with granny ring and spin slowly rather than stop. It was the only option, although my mind was focused and enjoying the slightly sadistic pleasure obviously my leg’s did not agree.
Remember Quick Nick? who now work’s in Cyclework’s, I had seen him at the start and had a chat, later I passed him on the course somewhere near a tree! tending to his steed with a malfuntion. A quick, everything alright? He seemed to be OK but by the tone of his voice I sensed he was somewhat deflated.
I was spent, another lap would not have been an option in these conditions. The wippet’s on the four hour enduro continued to breeze pass me as I seemed almost stationery to them. The finish line came into view, one last push for a couple of hundred metres and finshed! I was relieved to be over the line, but dissapionted it was over. Although the conditions were dire, I really enjoyed myself.
Back to the van to freshen up, find some warm clothing and dispose of the bike. Then down to the finish area to find out my position and to check up on Clive and Brian’s progress. Not one to drop name’s, whilst grabing a coffee the P.A system announced – crossing the line in 6th place is Rebecca Romero. Is that the Rebecca Romero the Olympic champion? A glance over to the finish and yes it was, she was being interviewed by Joolze Diamond. A mechanical issue had forced her to stop after four laps..
The lap time’s scrolled down on the monitor, then into view came 2hr male’s 40+. I managed to gain 13th place (unlucky for some but not for me today) from 67 in my class, I was very surprised to say the least but over the moon with the result. I even managed to have an average lap time faster than an Olympic champion. OK, she did more laps than me and I was WASTED and could not have considered going round again. But for those of you that think I’m being smug, yes, I bloomin well am. I’m old enough to be her dad you know!!
Brian caught up with me whilst we waited for Clive to finish. He had to stop after three lap’s due to extreme cramp and being frozen. I think he had not eaten enough prior and during the event. Plenty of rider’s were now completing the grueling mudfest, Clive came into view finishing an impressive 11th from 69 competitors in the 4hr male 40+. One hell of an achievement on his single speed and his first ever event. Well done mate!
All in all a good day at the office. There is something very satisfying competing in these race’s. The atmosphere is exciting and out on the trail camaraderie ooze’s. If you have never entertained trying an enduro or a race, have a go I think you will enjoy yourself. Full details and results can be viewed at Timelaps.