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.
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!
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: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CharityCrossing