Rider: Ed Wolstenholme
I like long races. It’s about pacing rather than pushing, restraint not rocket power. An early start to register resulted in thirty minutes of shivering on the start line, too cold to feel pre-race nerves. A low-key start and we were into the long gravel climbs I remembered from the Kielder 101. Picking off the hundreds in front was a dangerous game, luring the rider towards unsustainable effort. By mile twenty, most were behind and the scenery became boss. Forest vistas and distant moors allowed thoughts to wander beyond the realities of the present. All well and good until over enthusiastic descending crashed the present back into focus.
The last ten riders passed came rolling past and the catch up game was on. The long gravel grind out of Newcastleton finished off that game, and it became appending that there weren’t many riders left in front. A long descent back into Kielder was a welcome chance to grab dried mango and figs before the long forest drive climb back out to the eastern most point of the route. Snow flurries might have dampened spirits, but the back of the route was broken and it was time to push on without concern for heart rate or effort, just keep pushing. The final feed stop was a welcome chance to work out how many were in front, fuel up on Soreen and then get stuck back in.
My Cannondale Slate was delivering a welcome dose of New Bike Mojo on the climbs, the Lefty fork smoothing the vibes on the fast descents. Arrival back at Kielder reservoir was bittersweet – 0ne mile right to the castle, but we were turning left to circumnavigate the reservoir on greasy pine needle strewn paths. Slick tyres were now limiting corner speed as I peered miles in front hoping to catch a glimpse of another rider. No such luck. Tick tick tick and the miles were slowly put behind until Kielder Castle finally edged into view. A solo sprint up the hill to celebrate and done. A class event, well-organised with impeccable signage and great vibe; I’ll be back for more.
Rider: Pete Gowland
It seemed like a great idea when the DR200 was announced. I’ve never ridden that anywhere near that distance before, but how hard could it be? There were a couple of early short sections that had me questioning my bike choice, but the majority of the loop was really well surfaced, and the initial easy progress had me lured into a false sense of security. I reached the 130km check point feeling tired, but confident I could finish. The following climb to Kielderhead and the descent to the 150km feed station broke me. I was running on fumes. I got what food I could down my neck and got my head down trying not to look at the climb ahead. Having looked at the profile beforehand I thought the last 25km around the lake would be relatively flat. Not so. Lots of short sharp climbs, which robbed me of all my remaining energy. I ended up eating my last energy bar less than 2km from the finish just to make it home. I felt utterly ruined, my shoulders and legs ached and I swore that I’d never ride that bike again. I’m already planning for next year’s Reiver.
Rider: Ed Wolstenholme