(Sorry, this post is a bit crap….)
I have a history of issues when doing events in the heat.
Suffice to say, it tends not to end well so when I woke up in my tent on the morning of the Selkirk MTB Marathon, I found myself quoting one of my favourite movies…..
“Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”
No, thats not it.
“I have a bad feeling about this”
Team Doig camped, had a shandy in the bar and had a better night’s sleep than normal thanks to the recent purchase of some camp beds. Waking up in a sweltering tent, my heart sank….but I thought that it might not be as bad as it felt in the tent/sauna.
By 11am though, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a fun one so I concentrated on warming up on the bike and staying cool to distract myself. Bottle policy was changed – swapping from 1 x 500ml to 2 x 750ml – and food adjusted a little too. I still had a bad feeling.
Up to Selkirk town centre and I positioned myself in the uncharacteristic position of ‘the front’. I think this was partly because I didn’t want to have to spend the first 15 minutes picking off riders again, to avoid getting caught in bottlenecks and partly because I subconsciously just wanted it to be over. The heat continued to build and some idiot behind me kept hitting my wheel with his.
It was then time to go and we flew through Selkirk and past the rugby club. I kept the car in sight and before I knew it, we were ascending the first climb. I kept my pace steady, there weren’t too many riders to pick off this time out thanks to positioning myself at the start and I kept a sensible pace up as I climbed.
First descent was a bit of a downer though. Loose, rocky, random holes, a ditch and loads of lost water bottles from the Champs race just ahead of us – not fun. On the bright side, I hadn’t punctured like the multiple riders I passed on the way down. From there it was through one of my favourite sections – woodsy singletrack just like home – and the first feed station, positioned just around the corner from its usual spot in order to scare people.
After finally getting some food and drink at the station (those manning it seemed almost reluctant to do the job at hand) I pushed on to the next climb. This is where it all started to get wrong. Apologies for the spoiler.
Big exposed climb, clear blue skies, rising temperatures. Not a good combination for me. By the time I finally got to the top of the second climb, I was in a bad way. Well on the way to ‘Newcastleton – 2010′ for those familiar with that tale and possibly already beyond ’10 Under the Ben 2007′.
I decided to get down off the hill, try and cool down and make a decision at the next feed station. The next sections flew past in a blur, I felt myself cooling down but it wasn’t enough. I was making stupid mistakes on the bike and still sweating far too much. I had drank 2 bottles between the start and the first feed station then another 2 between the first and second. I also got distracted by the lack of dibber at the bottom of the ‘timed’ descent. I stocked back up at the second station, but got stuck with some iffy energy drink, not water. Partly my own fault.
I pushed off again but still hadn’t made a decision. I got to the 50/75 split and spoke to the marshall. He said three words that basically made the decision for me: “You’re halfway now”.
That was it. I turned to the 50km route and rode off. Continuing on the 75km was stupid with the way things were going. I ended up slowly grinding up the last climb then walking and chatting with a female rider. Suffering in the same way I was, had done GT7 the previous week (2nd vet female IIRC), had dropped down to the 50km too. It meant I wasn’t in this mess by myself. I also reported in to Team Doig and let them know I was on my way back.
I left her at one of the junctions (her husband was waiting for her) and ambled on to the top of the last climb. I just wanted to get home now. I descended, didn’t really enjoy it and just to cap things off, got my way blocked by people all over the path around where the champs finished and had to stop to let traffic past at the rugby club. Thats never happened before, the marshalls even commented on it – the odds of traffic coming from all three directions at the same time being slim.
I rolled into the rugby club, got my time and got rid of my timing chip. The time didn’t matter. It wasn’t a reflection of me. Ironically, Similar time to last year over the same route (official timing has me faster this year) but I wasn’t bothered. Not bothered about any ‘what-if’ scenario’s either because at the end of the day, even if it hadn’t been too hot, I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it anyway as it felt like a different event at times. The race HQ was different, there weren’t any activities there for the people waiting on us returning (no kids skills training for Jess – she was disappointed….) and the catering was rubbish. There wasn’t a dibber at the end of the timed section (a few riders commented on this at feed station #2) and course changes compared to previous years were minimal (and thanks to how my day went, I never got to ride the few ‘new’ bits anyway. It also looks like the official photographer only published pics of the champs race. I was photographed a few times but the site looks like it only has champs rider pics on it. Happy to be corrected on that point though.
So, all in all it was a bit roobash and probably my last Selkirk MTB Marathon for a while. We all have bad days sometimes, but this was more than that.
Time to move on, do other things and specifically think about what’s next.