I guess the title says it all really – once again I failed to complete the 75km course at the CRC Builth Wells Enduro.
Now I’m no endurance training guru, but I’m pretty sure that spending the night before a race getting 3 hours sleep and throwing up isn’t the ideal preparation. Nevertheless, that’s that tactic I decided to adopt ahead of Sunday’s race. Up until then, things had looked good…Mark and I did a quick spin on Saturday to check the bikes out, had a couple of “recovery drinks” (ahem) in the sun, but as the evening wore on, I felt worse and worse. At 3am on Sunday morning, I’d pretty much decided that I wouldn’t be doing the race the next day, but when I woke at 6:30 I felt much better – with hindsight, it was all relative…. “much better” than death warmed up is still not great. By the time we set off, Mark was starting to exhibit the same symptoms as me, having already had a pretty restless night.
You know things are bad when people greet you with “Have you lost weight? You look awful!!” – this was Andy and Gary’s reaction (TR09) when they met us at Builth Wells. Oh well, having driven all the way there, we thought we might as well start the flipping thing…even if we do end up doing the 32k route.
So, we shuffled up to the start – just pushing our bikes up the hill was hard work (spot the clue that this probably wasn’t a good idea)!
The first 5 or 6km is a any easy spin along the road, and both Mark and I started to feel OK. At the top of the first proper climb you have to decide if you’re doing the 32k route or something longer – and we opted for something longer …oops. The fun singletrack descent from there distracted us (those uppy-downy seatposts are just great!), but we knew what was coming…a hard steep climb up a road followed by a slog across the moors with lots more climbing thrown in. Bright sunshine, no wind – it was tough. I couldn’t take on any food and only minimal water…each time I tried, I felt awful and my stomach felt like a herd of ferrets were running round in it.
From then on, it was all a bit of a blur…we got to the first feed station, and despite the 20C and relentless sunshine, Mark and I were cold…another little clue that all wasn’t well. Mark managed to eat a few jelly beans, and I had a bite of a cheese roll – why?! what on earth made me think that would be good for me?! After another 300 miles or so, we got to another feed station…..I was so out of it, I just stood there leaning against my bike. I didn’t try food, I didn’t get any water…..how dumb!! Still, “only” 20km to go.
At least there was a nice long descent after that, but I was a passenger…I just let the bike go, not choosing the best line, not attempting to avoid obstacles, no “feet”, no “looking” – Tony at UK Bike Skills would have been cringing! It was only thanks to the kindly marshall catching me that I didn’t fall over when I stopped to let her mark my number..I stopped, but didn’t think to unclip either foot.
It was a huge relief to get to the road into Builth Wells, ‘cos we knew we only had a few km to go…up to the roundabout, turn left, almost there. But no!! The organisers had changed the route….sharp right up a quarry road, then a seemingly endless mix of bridleway and singletrack going all the way around Builth Wells, to bring us out, finally, round the back from where we started. Oh well, we finished…a painful and very slow 4 hours 15 mins.
I’m really struggling to take any positives from yesterday’s experience – it’s difficult to not let it get me down and think that my training has been crap. But I know it’s not really true – to even complete 54km the way we felt (and on 2 energy gels and half a bottle of energy drink) shows that there must be some underlying fitness. And I rode the singletrack stuff well, (the uppy downy seatpost was great), and I rode down stuff much faster than I have in the past, so that’s good, I think?
Some great riding by some of my readers out there…doing the full 75k in the time it took us to do 54…good work guys!!