06 September 2009
the challenge was to pedal 100 off road miles. the start was early o'clock, just in time for the midges. i lined up with amy and ali, for some reason we were near the front. this would be the last time i saw either of them until the finish. we rolled out and were soon climbing. a gray drizzle didn't dampen the buzz of excitement and it was obvious that there were a lot of riders who were actually going to properly race this thing. i drifted to the back and hoped to hang on!
my hope was to survive, just riding from cut off to cut off. i knew, if left to my own devices i could make the distance but doing it in the time allotted is a different matter. no 2 hour pub stops and riding into the night. cunningly the organisers were being coy about the cut offs, just stating that there were 4 and were based on an 8mph average.
the trail fell into a familiar pattern of steady fire road climbs with screaming singletrack descents. dipping in and out of the forest as we weaved our way around. colours changing from charcoal skies to lush forests, where luminous green plankton floated on pools of dark water-every so often invading the trail.
there were large sections where i was riding alone. savoring the wilderness but also trapped in a cycle of mental torture- "you're not going fast enough", "you're out of your depth", "i wish i put more chamois cream on". at times i rode with others, their happy chatting keeping my personal niggles at bay.
40 miles in and i began to really enjoy myself. the body had realised it was going to be a long day and the voices in my head had got bored and shut up. it just felt right, every berm hit hard and fast, every climb disappearing beneath my wheels. i even began to catch some riders.
this period of perfection couldn't last and it came to a slow and painful end. i reached the final check point with 45 minutes to spare and 28ish miles to go. something changed in my brain, i knew i'd made it and suddenly to ability to push had gone. the three women i'd been yo-yoing with rode into the distance and i just settled into slow pootle.
BUT i bloody did it! i beat the broom wagon. it wasn't a pretty 13 hour journey. there was no style or finesse, just pure stubbornness and need for clean pants! the race that did exactly what it said on the tin; 1 lap, 1 rider, 1 adventure, 100 miles.
special mention to amy who came 3rd lady (and 1st singlespeed!), ali who entered on a whim 2 days ago, having never ridden more than 40 miles-she just missed the first cut off but still pedaled 60 miles. and of course the all of the front riders who actually raced, i am in awe! and rosemary, if you ever get to read this-thanks for great company on what felt like the longest 10km of my life, keep in touch. oh, and all of the marshals were fantastic-the most friendly and supportive of any event i've ever been to. and finally to sara, the evil genius who came up with the idea-thank you for a great ride.