Superb event... even though I've fresh flesh wounds in knee and elbow...
I did the 90mile road sportive on the saturday. Which, despite the shocking rain and headwind for the first half, was a lovely route with lots of friendly folk.
I'd gone down with my buddy phil who wanted me to ride the 70km Merida route on the Sunday. He had a lovely rack of lamb prepared in the camper van ready for my return on the road bike (I love camping with a chef). My legs felt pretty tired, but all in all a good day... though I was getting a little worried about how my legs would cope on the Sunday.
Having never done one of these events before, I didn't quite know what to expect. It's a pretty long route and it's for a wide audience, it's bound to be fairly tech free and the climbs shouldn't be too bad. Boy was I wrong.
All that said, by the time we hit the first climb, after about 4km of road to start, my legs were nicely warmed up again and I was feeling pretty good. I settled into a nice stead pace in the granny and wound my way up and up and up.
Skip to the end, past some fantastic trails, another relentless climb up to the southern upland way, then a nice bit of descending heading toward the second feed station.... yes the end to my ride, not the route.
I hit a nasty loose gravely bit on a particularly fast bit of fire road (just before a massive patch of deep mud on the fire road... remember?) and the bike went sideways and I went straight on, tumbled down the track a wee bit and stopped in a bit of a heap with some nasty gravel rash to my side, knee and elbow. I was patched up by some super helpful riders who stopped to help - Huge thanks to them, didn't get their names, then I tried my best to make it to the second feed stop in another 7 or 8 km.
I couldn't pedal so had to walk the ups and flats and freewheel the downs as best I could. This meant lots of wincing and cries of OUCH Ya ***** along the particularly bumpy, rooty and tech steep bits of lovely looking singletrack to follow before the second feed stop. All the time thinking how much I'd enjoy this section if I wasn't hurting so much.
Got some more first aid from a very kind blonde girl (Annwin?) at the feed stop. A medical student apparently, and clearly going to be good at it. I waited for Phil who'd then decided to cut it short and head back on the 45km route as he'd (also) completely underestimated the severity of the climbing involved, then I got a lift back in the organisers van with their son, Thomas, but not their daughter who'd have to wait a bit longer for a lift coz I'd stolen her seat.... sorry about that.
Still got my free T shirt, was super impressed with the whole event, was very pleased with the new light marathon setup on my MSC zion, am pretty impressed how well my legs coped, enjoyed camping stove rack of lamb, had an all together lovely weekend and will definitely be back next year.
Any one of those climbs was a brutal climb on it's own and should be commended. Well done to all who finished... whatever distance.