Almost turned back…

I was all for turning right and taking the road back to Selkirk. I was tired and my back ached from carrying a laden backpack full of bike patrol kit around for the past 43km. Then I saw the dedicated Mountain Rescue Team, who I am raising money for, standing at the bottom of the descent and had a quiet word with myself.

Yesterday I rode the 75km Durty Events Selkirk MTB Marathon, covering the course as a sweeper/roving marshal/first aider for the Tweed Valley Bike Patrol. It would also be a good indication for me as to how my training is going ahead of the 200km #RatRaceCrossing in 59 days time. I openly admit that was the toughest day I have ever had on a bike! I have never ridden for 7.5hrs and, unsurprisingly, it hurt.

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A hard, hard course. For me anyway.

With five big climbs, descents that were seemingly as hard work as the climbs sometimes and soft, peaty, energy sapping moorland, this was a big course. Added with the 20kg odd backpack full of group survival shelters, first aid kit, radios, spare clothing, mechanical kit, pump, shock pump and a very blustery 30mph wind, it took every ounce of energy out of me. A few big positives – I did not cramp, I rode the lot, and helped some folk. This hopefully bodes well in that my nutrition, both prior and during, is working and that I am getting stronger. Just add another 30km and 700m of ascent and that equals day one (of three!) of The Crossing.

What was surprising to me was the mental battle I had to face. I did not expect it, I’m not a quitter, but I do know when pushing things too far leads to trouble. I was making careless errors on the descents on trails that I know I can ride easily. I was finding my decision making and reactions were slowing and, riding tired, is often the biggest cause of accidents at events. So, coming down the descent at Elibank, I had made up my mind that I was meant to be looking after others, not becoming a liability myself! So, I would see folk were safely down that descent and then head back to Selkirk by the road. Then I chatted to the MRT; they were out early and undoubtably be one of the last off the hill. If I have an accident I want them to be able to respond and help me out. Meanwhile competitors were still trickling past. I had a job to do – for the Bike Patrol, for Paul at Durty, for the MRT, for the competitors, for me and for those who have already donated to my challenge. A ‘bit sore and tired’ is not an excuse; I will be far more tired and sore on day three of The Crossing I am sure! So, I carried on. And I am glad I did.

There were some major lessons from this ride:
– The bike worked a dream. I need a bike that will be reliable and just keep going. Yes I care for it but I am loving the ride of the Santa Cruz 5010C. I will do a full bike check leading up to The Crossing discussing why I chose to run various parts.
– My training is doing some good. Today I actually felt as if I could ride again, how far I don’t know, but I felt ok.
– My nutrition plan is seemingly working.
– The mental game is going to play a major part in completing The Crossing and hitting my £1500 sponsorship target.
– Good kit makes my life so much more comfortable; thank you Gareth @ Odlo and Gregor @ Sweet Protection.
– I am not ready yet!

70km in, on the last climb to the Three Brethren.

Some people, I know by remarks/comments on social media that basically equates to online bullying (that I ignore), think I am dramatising what I am doing and think that this blog and the help I am getting is a big game and attention seeking. All I will say is that I was pretty broken today, all I am trying to do is raise some money for two amazing charities that help save lives, daily. This blog is one way in which I can try and tell a story of a normal bloke with a passion to do some good.

Here’s my donation page:

Great event – get it in your 2017 diary!

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