DNFs are rubbish and as such Kielder100 was again on my radar this season. I wanted a decent ride and trained as such. Pretty structured sessions (for me, anyway), mixing it up, a lot more intense stuff than usual trying to push up my p p power and I managed to drop a few pounds too. Bring it.
Everything seemed shipshape come race day, it was dry, forecast looked good (if windy) and I was good to go. Got to the start line a little later than planned but I was a lot closer than last year as I could actually see the starting arch. Not before the local wildlife had had its fill we were off. I made quick work of getting near the front of the pack in the neutralized section and getting to about the top50ish I was content.
Once the race was under was the usual array of darting lycra ensued up the first forest road climb amongst the already swaying pine trees and I’m not going to lie, I was one of them too. Starting conservatively is how I used to race but nuts to that, I’ve trained differently, I’m going to start differently, so I pushed on. This was until I was out in the open and on my todd. A small group caught me and I worked with them for a bit. One guy did an amazing somersault into some soft grass but aside from that it was pretty uneventful.
2nd in wheel I could feel the lead guy trying to push on. I followed and we left the rest of the group in pieces on the climb such was our raw, amazing power but then sadly on the first granny ring climb we encountered, down shifted, instant chain suck. Bollocks! Although on the whole the course was dry, there were a few wet muddy forest sections, which weren’t to my grannies taste. Ah well, middle ring it was. Up until the same thing happened to that. Oh dear. Less than 40miles and no little or middle ring? ‘Well at least I’ve passed where I got to last year’. Every cloud and tha’.
Luckily I think the singlespeed sessions I’ve done recently helped me manage riding most things in the big ring but it defiantly wasn’t manageable for another 50+ miles! Next water stop I dumped the energy drink from one of my bottles, filled it with water, doused my transmission down, refilled and go on my way. Idea was that I could spray my chain every time it looked a bit claggy until I got to the tech zone in Newastleton. I lost some energy drink but me and my knees were happy it worked and we’d got use of the middle ring again.
Heading over the moors to Newcastleton wasn’t the most fun experience I’ve encountered. I was on my own again, riding/crawling into a block headwind on some of the roughest trails known to man! Dalby’s got nothing on this place. Can’t quite work out how Kielder managed to make sections this rough when Newcastleton, a mere few miles away consists of a lovely flowing and most importantly smooth network of trails. I was just glad I knew this was where I was heading.
After climbing another relentless hill I approached the Newcaslton food/tech stop with almost excitement. Much needed pit stop for both me and bike but alas only my bike left this stop satisfied. I had a nicely lubed chain but my guts were not happy! This knocked my motivation for the next few miles until a rider went by and wanting to get to the end as soon as possible I did what ever racer should and reacted.
The next 20miles followed a continuous theme. On almost exclusively lonely (boring?), fairly quick fireroad I’d gap him, settle in, he’d then appear, go past and gap me and so on until about mile 90. Noticed he was a bit slower on a small section of single track while on his wheel. ‘Only 10mile to go, right, next singletrack section, I’m having him’.
I followed this plan, got in front, got a gap but hell, my body was hurting. Ticked down the miles, only a few to go, keep pushing, almost there, he won’t catch you OoO what’s that? Another rider up ahead looking like his legs are about to fall off. ‘Shut up legs’ I thought as I’d tried to carry momentum past him but it seemed to work. Got into the last bit of singletrack to a marshals announcement ‘all downhill from here!’ (lies). Crossed the line. Finished.
9Hrs 11min 14seconds. 22nd overall. Pretty pleased with that I guess.
MTB season; done.
Right, time to start saving for a new bike.
*From start to finish I needed to evacuate my bowels, badly. I’m used to stomach issues but over 9hrs of holding it in almost broke me! Nice, ey? 😉