Matt Wild reports from the recent Colne Valley Mountain Bike Challenge:
What are your options if you want to do a challenging timed ride against your mates, but you perhaps have family commitments that mean you can’t give up every Sunday to do a series, or give up a weekend to do an endurance event or perhaps just want ride local?
Well every year we take part in the Colne Valley Challenge. It’s a 30 mile ride around the Colne valley in West Yorkshire which takes in a number of the areas very steep hills. The organisers stress that it isn’t a race, but you do get told your time when you finish, and there is a results page on their site so you can see what times your friends did it in (remember it isn’t a race). You come away with a certificate that shows your time, a t shirt to show your friends and family, and the opportunity to buy a fancy photograph of yourself from Simon Morley the event photographer. As this is a charity event all the money raised goes to the 39th Parkwood Scout Group and Leymoor Cricket Club in Golcar. So we also find it a good way to give back to our local community.
Last year there were 300 competitors entrants, this year numbers had swelled to 320. Which was a fantastic turnout seeing as the day before we were all sheltering indoors due to the torrential rain (or riding at the 12/24 hours of exposure or the gravity enduro).
I am sure the organisers would wish the ride to be described like this…
The ride starts quite rudely with a cobbled climb, once past the cobbles there is a gentle 3 mile climb up towards scout hill where there are far reaching views. You then meander through bridleways, country lanes, and across private land only opened for the event. Finishing with a leisurely ascent of Wessenden Head. Then a thrilling descent past spring lambs and highland cattle finishing with a gentle climb.
My slightly more realistic view was, 1255m of climbing and a heart rate that barely dropped below 183bpm, lactic acid and
fighting off cramp while riding into a brutal headwind. A 50 mph road decent (really!) All combined with a selection of evil climbs.
Oh it finishes at a pub, did I not mention that, a pub that sells lovely cold beer. So within no time the pain of the hills can be forgotten.
What about the race ride?
Well both Jack Clarkson and Jack Rae really needed to be home in time for lunch so they rode round really quickly, Jack Clarkson rode round faster than Jack Rae, and managed to get round in 2:07:10 which is mighty impressive by all accounts, but chances are they had seen nothing of the local countryside, which is a shame.
Kate Whittaker was also in a hurry and was the first lady round at 2:52:18, she sailed past me on the climb up Wessenden head, making it look effortless.
The last riders came in at 5:42:30, thankfully they had managed to truly appreciate the fine views that the Colne Valley had to offer. And I would imagine that they were also overjoyed to see the finish pub.
How did I do? Well I was faster than last time, even after a puncture so I beat the most important person, me.