Today was Hit The North, dubbed a Mancunian MTB/Cyclocross 8 Hour Endurance Event. (Not allowed to call it a race as it used public land/bridleways in parts)
I arrived at around 9.30 and signed on, got my shiny number 41 to attach to my ‘non carrying’ arm. One arm to carry my bike, yeah right! and my timing chip which had to be swiped at the end of each lap.
Unfortunately, the weather was exactly as the BBC Weather predicted- Light Rain, followed by heavy rail, followed by more heavy rain followed by sunshine. The sunshine did arrive a couple of hours earlier than planned which did help to dry the course out as it was slippery as hell in places.
After the briefing and more rain it transpired that we had to run for a couple of hundred yards to where the bikes had been stacked up against the barriers and an overseer from British Cycling would keep an eye out to make sure that no-one got on their bikes until the end of the barriers. This was to reduce any risk of ensuing chaos with people all trying to get on bikes at the same time.
Anyway, I don’t do running and neither did a few other riders, so we had a nice leisurely walk to where the bikes were stacked and got on and started riding.
The Course –
The course was a mixture of grassy tracks, some roads and quite a bit of recently made bermy type sections made from compacted gravel, oh and a couple of nice rocky bits to ride over too.
Right from the start the grassy bits had become very slippery muddy bits and my tyres didn’t like it at all – If my tyres didn’t like it then neither did I! I took it very easy on the first lap as I didn’t want to crash/die. The muddy sections then turned into a nice tarmac section (I think), but then there was a really horrible bit where you had to carry/push your bike up a really steep embankment approx 50m long followed by an equally steep descent back on to the track that we’d been cycling along.
After that there was some compacted gravel followed by a climb up some slippy cobbles that led onto a really swoopy/bermy switch back section that headed out towards a crossing over the M60. By this point my right knee was giving me serious gip and my front mech had decided not to play ball thanks to copious amounts of mud that had manked up its workings.
At this point we were riding near Phillips Park on the land near the Pilkingtons factory and using the newly installed rock beds and sweeping bermed sections. Another crossing took us back over the M60 to another really slippy climb, again on cobbles, that then brought us eventually out onto a short road section before turning off and dropping down a gravel track, along a flat concrete road and then a long section of sweeping gravel track. A steep drop brought the course down onto what looked like a disused railway line and the final part of the lap; a quick drop with a climb over some exposed tree roots and then a choice of a steep descent down to a stream or a chicken run that was less steep. I opted for the chicken run, then carried the bike over the brook and pushed/carried/dragged my bike up the other side to complete the lap.
Lap two didn’t start too well. I should have changed over to my narrower tyres before the start but didn’t so I’ve only got myself to blame. The first descent was really cut up and muddy, but it was really fast too. So I tried a little too hard and the front wheel jack-knifed on the mud and pitched me in to the ferns that lined the route. That I have to say was the only off of the whole day and I carried on for an uneventful lap, being passed on a regular basis by the quick guys. Lap 3 I managed to find a perfect spot to be lapped – A bed of nettles, so managed to sting my legs and arms, but at least I did get a thanks as I was passed.
Start of Lap 4 I decided to stop and get some lunch as I was starting to tire. Stupidly, I’d not brought enough money with me, so I had to drive to the ASDA in Radcliffe to get something to eat. Got back to the campsite at Ringley and quickly wolfed down a pasta salad and two packets of hula hoops. I swapped my tyres over to slightly narrower ones and managed to pinch flat my front tube. Fortunately I had brought some leeches with me and they fixed the leak without any further drama.
Lap 4 was fine, but the pasta salad repeated all the way round the lap and my legs were really really starting to hurt.
On lap 5 my front mech decided that it would work fully and I could select the bottom ring, but by this point it was too late and i’d used up all the strength my legs had to offer. What I did do though on the final lap was I made sure that I rode the rock section down to the river and also rode the final steep drop (which wasn’t that steep after all) and finished the race.
Times – If you’re interested –
Lap 1 1hr 12min 56 secs
Lap 2 1hr 04min 39 secs
Lap 3 1hr 20min 36 secs
Lap 4 2hr 39 min 48 secs (including lunch/trip to Radcliffe/tyre swap/puncture fix/bike wash)
Lap 5 1hr 14 min 56 secs
Total time 7hrs 32mins 55 secs
BLOODY HARD WORK, but so so fantastic!
Results at SportIdent
I think i’d have only improved 2 places if I’d spent an hour less lunching!