With the weekend prior to the Black Mountains 3 Day mainly consisting of dragging my bike through a field of mud at ‘Mountain Mayhem’, it’s safe to say I was certainly looking forward to actually riding my bike for a change.
Arriving at the campsite Friday evening for the time trial, I was keen to see how my legs would feel after having been on a solid fuel training course for 4 days and not getting to ride my bike.
Day 1- Time Trial
I have to be honest, this went well. The course was a little chewed up by the time I got to ride it, but I was pleased with my efforts and rather chuffed to find out I had the quickest time in the Singlespeed category.
Day 2- 75km Enduro
I set my alarm nice and early to prepare my brand new Singlespeed an On-One Inbread that I’m privileged to be riding for On-One themselves. As I’d made the bike up myself I hadn’t managed to put brakes on as of yet. When I started this simple task I only then noticed that the rigid forks I’d planned on using need a different brake mount to what I had. Nooo!
Being rather eager to ride my new bike I decided on stripping the forks off my other Inbred and using those instead. Which took a few minutes longer than I thought it would and thus making me a tad late. As I raced over the start area I could see all the riders setting off down the hill. Nooo!
I raced to fill my water bottle and pedalled like an idiot not to miss the police escort out to the mountains. Being massively under-geared to make any ground on flat tarmac I knew I had my work cut out if I was going to come even close to those who started at the front.
It was a good day’s riding, enjoyable singletrack and some pretty tough climbs. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Rob Holbeche (Niner/Stannes/Ergon) and Aidan Harding (Singular Cycles) towards the top of a climb with around 20km to go. We were together for a little bit but saw an opportunity and went for it. I managed to be the first singlespeed home and gained another minute over Rob. Happy days!
Day 3 – 85km Enduro
I was at the start before the off this morning so it was already an improvement on yesterday. Before I know it were on our way. Not long after our first ‘hike-a-bike’ section I noticed my seat had come a little loose. While we all stopped at a gate I decided to correct it as we were only about 10 mins in.
Rob was in the front bunch while myself and Aidan were in the second group. Rob had managed to gain enough of a lead so I couldn’t see him and I’d gained enough of a lead so Aidan couldn’t see me.
After a while of riding hard I was glad to see Rob in the distance! He did a fantastic job of keeping me out of talking distance but we were within waving distance. After a quite a few full-on overhead joking waves back and forth, I finally managed to get close the gap enough to say hello.
We rode together for a little while, alternating the lead. Rob was stronger on the climbs and I seemed to have the advantage on the decents.
Halfway up ‘The Gap’ as it’s known I hear a loud crack, find myself almost over the bars and my right pedal attached to my foot but not my bike. What this all about? By the time I get the multi-tool out Rob is almost out of sight. Nooo!
I managed to get the pedal back on, I rode as fast could to the top of The Gap and faster than I should have down the rocky decent the other side. Only to be greeted by the rear ends of 100+ sheep. You may all think that’s a Welshman’s dream come true but it was far from ideal in this instance! After making it around two large flocks of sheep on a steep mountain side being driven by farmers and sheep dogs alike I see Rob Stuck behind a third flock. We make our way through and it’s off the brakes until the gate at the bottom. I gained a fair margin by the time we reached the road section and did a cracking job of reeling me back in on the canal.
With the remaining 16km being flat and I knew Rob had a bigger gear than I did. I had to do everything I could to stay within around a minute and half of him. I seemed to be doing ok until another loud crack and yet another rapid trip towards the handlebars. Now my left pedal is attached to me and not the bike. It’s safe to say I wasn’t shouting No by this point!
Multi-tool out, pedal in and away I go. I tried as hard as I could to minimise the time loss but I wasn’t enough. I missed it by 34 seconds.
It would have been nice to come up trumps at the first event on my new bike but hey, I have no complaints about the weekend. It was run fantastically and we were all extremely well looked after.
A brilliant event that I would definitely do again!