Wow! I’d forgotten how good that felt. Today was my first Mountain Bike event since… erm.. about 1994. I seem to have got so caught up in other things that use up my time (a lot of which is cycling of one sort or another) that I haven’t got a mountain bike any more.
My team mates Lewis and Stuart told me that the Grizedale Mountain bike challenge had to become an essential part of my Three Peaks training, so, always keen to learn from those better than me, I listened. Stuart’s extensive contacts kindly meant that I had loan of a Kona Kula 2-9 – Ã‚Â£1,500’s worth of hard tail mountain bike with extra big wheels for extra gangly people. It was just beautiful. Having never been paired with this bike, I was naturally a bit worried about tackling the 31 mile loop in drizzly on-and-off rain with what turned out to be 6053 feet of climb and descent (see graph).
The course of the challenge ride itself varies from year to year. The Lake District National Park Authority banned Mountian Bike Racing many years ago, so this is strictly a ‘challenge’ ride, albeit with a timing system and a mass start.
My 37 year old engine takes a while to get going on what turned out to be about 20 minutes of solid climbing, and I wasn’t really into my stride until about half an hour in. I gradually picked off a few people and eventually finished 16th in 2hrs 57. Lewis finished first, waiting a full nine minutes until Barrie Clarke came in behind him. Bodes very well for the three peaks.
I can’t emphasise enough what a great feeling it was to twist and turn on the diving singletrack descents on such a great feeling bike. My legs were missing a few beats from time to time on the steep climbs, but I didn’t panic and kept the bit between my teeth. Almost three hours to complete the course at an average heart rate of 165bpm was great preparation for the three peaks, and I think I’ve left enough time to fine tune the hammering into a bit of form.