Tour de Ben Nevis

'taking mountain biking back to the mountains'

82km, round Ben Nevis, almost entirely off-road, with special timed sections involving crazy descents, hill climbs and an evil soul-destroying push up the biggest, longest hill in the world.I absolutely loved the sound of the race format and also the idea of getting out into the wild, remote country at the other side of the Ben. And I couldn't let the year go by without doing at least one 'no fuss' event.

Eyeing up the full suspension bikes at the start line I was under no illusions as to where my strengths were going to lie. I heard some chat about drainage ditches you could lose your wheel in and waist deep river crossings. It was already sounding epic. My bag was stuffed full of mandatory kit like survival blankets, whistle, tools and extra clothes. And a lot of sweets. I was banking on a six hour ride but sometimes these things can last a lot longer than you expect.

I love how friendly the 'no fuss' events are. It seems like every knows everyone else and as soon as you get talking, you'll quickly find friends in common. I had a great day making new friends and admiring the amazing views, I've been really missing long days of biking adventures like we had in Wales. However, I have to say, this was a whole lot harder than any Welsh day out. The sheer roughness of the terrain meant I felt like I'd been put through the blender several times. Not just me but my poor wee bike were shoogled to death by some of the longer descents - I can't believe how loose my headset was at the finish. I definitely had a few moments of wishing I'd a bouncier bike - my hands are still hurting even now.

The descent into Kinlochleven was most people's favourite bit. Crazily rocky and twisty, with humungous ditches. Possibly a bit out of my league to begin with but by the time I got there it was looking like some sort of war zone. People fixing punctures lined either side of the path. I was 244th out of 315 riders for the descent - I reckon at least 40 of those behind me had punctures. Superstar Zoe rode the entire thing. I have to admit to walking rather a lot but maybe if I go back another time without loads of people falling off or battering down around me, I might be able to ride some more. I think a few people were taken to hospital on that section.As expected, I loved the next special stage and managed to pass a lot of people on the hill climb. More than 200 places faster on the ascents than the descents - I definitely know where my strengths are!! I'm hoping to go back next year with a few more skills. (And why not a lovely new bike, says the wee bike-buying voice inside).

All in all a great day out. After Zoe's awesome performance on the downhill she had some unfortunate tyre splitting issues and possibly a bit of a sugar crash on the long hill of despair. Despite the epic, she somehow survived her first enduro without even saying 'never again' so it's all good.


kate said…
.....*lovely new bike*..... go on, you NEED it ;)

Popular Posts