So the new year rolls in and buoyed by my ride home for xmas I spent the first 2 minutes of this year entering my first ever ‘endurance’ race the Wildcat Two Ton O’ Gravel. Now, I will freely admit that I’m not the best off road rider but there’s nothing like jumping in the deep end to focus the mind. I still have a lingering feeling I may have bitten off more than I can chew which isn’t helped by a quick scan of the other entrants which include the aforementioned Mike Hall and Jason Miles. Not that I’m competitive or anything, but I’d like to finish in under 36 hours with a brief sleep at some point during the event. I think that should be achievable.
The whole concept of ‘Independent Time Trials’ is one that appeals to me as frankly, if I’m honest, I’m a bit of a loner when it comes to riding my bike. I like to be off on my own with my own thoughts pushing myself and doing my own thing. With this in mind I’d quite like to have a crack at the Trans Cambrian in both directions this year too. Probably more as an off road bivy trip than necessarily a serious attempt to beat the current time. I know my limitations!
If I have the time and funds I’d also love to ride the Highland trail 550. The ‘grand depart’ is full but a solo attempt or with a different group of people would make a great week away. Realistically though due to restrictions from weather, deer stalking and midges that might have to wait until next year. The logical conclusion for riding ITT routes is of course the Tour Divide but I think the fact flights are prohibitively expensive will probably keep that as a pipe dream for many years to come.
With all this in the back of my mind I attempted my first ‘training’ ride yesterday but sadly it didn’t really go as planned. The positive is that I held a 9mph average off road which leaves room for improvement but isn’t terrible. The negative is that my planned 80 mile route ended dismally in 22 miles of mud slogging. I rode for 2.5 hours and today spent almost the same amount of time cleaning my bike! I’d forgotten about the energy sapping powers of winter mud and that there was so much of it on the initial part of my planned route.
I also wasn’t helped by starting late, having a slight cold and my way being blocked by the out of action bridleway bridge. I was happy with how I was riding in terms of handling skills and felt confident pretty much all of the time. Nothing was particularly technical though so I still wonder if I should perhaps book myself onto a mtb skills course. That also might be of benefit as the 3 peaks cyclocross is on this years ‘to ride’ list.