… my commute started at an decidedly un-spring-line 2.3 degrees under cloudy skies. Less than half a month later, someone has sneakily relocated the entire UK to the Equator.
This seemed an ideal time to go ride a bike up very big Welsh hills which offered no shade, but almost unrelenting climbing.Â The temperature now was 28.5 degrees.Â At one point, I am fairly sure I was on fire. For reasons best understood if you’re nose down in a decent bottle of chilled white, I was press-ganged into attending the CRC MTB Marathon Series at Bullith Wells.
Yes, after saying I’d never do another one, and forgoing what I know would have been a properly fantastic FoD ride, I found myself amongst the weekend tribe of proper race bikes and no body fat. I fitted right in as you can well imagine.
It wasn’t as bad as the HONC, only being half as long. It did manage to pack in the thick end of 5000 feet of climbing in a mere 52ks which hurt especially since you were being basically charbroiled on endless moorland climbs. My preparation for such a tough day out was essentially zero. Since it was 9pm the night before and I was a bit squiffy, the best I could hope for was to load a working bike into the truck and lob in a few MTB accessories.
Water I remembered, sun tan lotion I didn’t. Good job I have this full thatch to protect me from badger stripes eh? Because they’d look STUPID. Even my knees are sunburnt.Â Of the 1000 riders – some of whom were doing the proper race distances to whomI tip my virtual hat – most were very friendly, many were terrifyingly quick uphill, a decent handful showed capability the other way round and the rest were, well, a bit shit really.
I’m fairly sure the swathe of people I managed to overtake uphill were out for the long haul, although downhill I’m not sure what their excuses were. One lad, on a Â£3,500 six inch full suspension bike, was clearly carrying out a practical experiment of exactly how slow it is possible to ride if you are presented with a difficult technical challenge such as a small tree root.Â I think I might have used a naughty word (or three) when I finally passed him.
The ST4 was great. A bit broken though with my middle ring becoming unavailable for use some 30ks in,* and a horrible click-per-pedal-revolution torture that had me pining for Elvis Costello or some other stuck soundtrack in my head. My investigation is postponed because the frame is too hot to touch, and I’m in post-ride hydration therapy. Just waiting for the fridge to cool me down my next pint of sports-tested fluid.
In other news, the dog has gone into hiding what with being big, black and furry. Not an ideal combination when the sun is cracking the patio stones. All the garden, so carefully planted last year, has either died in the frosts or been crisped during this hot spell. A few remaining sad looking specimens clearly are expecting something like an asteroid strike to finish them off. Verbal appears to be on the mend if the reduced volume of painkillers is any guide, and little Random is, as ever, away with the fairies.
Apparently it’s going to cool down 10 degrees and rain come Wednesday. I’ll expect snow then should I?
* I blame a lack of assos cream.