19th June 2015
Three of us (Niall and newcomer Andy and support Bill) headed off to Fort William for the annual 10-hour mountain bike endurance event known as Ten under the Ben where participants attempt to complete as many circuits of 10 miles in 10 hours*.
There were no hiccups on the journey and we stopped at Laggan Wolftrax for a ‘healthy’ (90% meat!) lunch.
On arrival at the Nevis Mart car park early in the afternoon, we quickly set up the Operations Centre (better known as the camper van), grabbed a coffee and cake at the (convenient) café before heading to the main site to register.
We settled back in camper van for an evening meal around 8:30pm and then early bed. I fell asleep by about 10:30pm while the bikers continued to ramble on….
The biker contingent was up and bouncing around from 6:45am. I gave up trying to catch a few more winks and grudgingly got up soon after, making the beds disappear and re-configuring the cabin for team operations.
After breakfasts consisting of instant porridges, toast, honey and tea the full-on prep commenced; energy drinks mixed, trackside boxes stocked and Bill briefed.
It was off for pre-start briefing around 9am then a few minutes mingling among the huge crowd of competitors and spectators. Once the race starts, just after 9:30am, I head for a breakfast bacon roll then wander around the trade tents acquiring a freebie cowbell** before strolling back to the camper van – oops, I mean Team Operations Centre.
Early on the sky was overcast with, at times, some light drizzle and low cloud. Later this cleared up with even the odd sunny patch making an appearance.
While waiting to rendezvous I was enthusiastic in cheering on the other competitors with the shiny new cowbell.
Andy turned up first, grabbing fresh supplies, while Niall came by just seconds later but didn’t stop.
Andy grabs another bottle and more energy gel; Niall is a minute behind and replaces his drinks and requests short-sleeved top for next stop.
Andy is in first but mechanical problems had slowed him down. Bottle swap, half an energy bar. Niall just behind him, swaps glasses, decides no clothing change needed, a quick minutes rest then onwards into the trails.
Andy grabs fresh bottles and takes a quick break for couple of mins then off. Niall comes in about 10 mins later, suffering some back pain from the downhill sections (too tense when going downhill). Fresh drinks.
The divergence of arrival times between Niall and Andy widens slightly but both are going strong. No problems and just the usual stuff; grabbing a quick energy snack or replacing bottles of fluid.
The gap between the two of them is over 20 mins. Niall elects the next to be his last lap with not enough time to do otherwise but Andy considers going for one more.
A quick stop with Andy as he heads off for his last circuit.
After that last pit stop I spend a few minutes washing bottles and clearing up the van before heading to the finish, camera in hand to catch Niall and Andy coming in. Sod’s Law kicked in. I had roughly calculated when each would get in and picked a great spot. I managed to get a couple of fuzzy photos of Andy but had to wait for the camera to catch up. While greeting Andy I got a phone call from Niall who was looking for us. He had finished just before I arrived at the site but we had completely missed each other. We found each other and quickly got a few photos.
What a great performance from both: Andy on his first 10-hour endurance event and Niall for taking part only 3 weeks after cycling the length of Britain.
We didn’t hang around and headed back to the van. After Niall freshened up we all head to the prize giving. While Niall queued for the last steak baguette, Andy gratefully spent a couple of quid for a hot shower. A cleansed Andy grabbed whatever scran was left then the three of us kindly fed the local midges as we watched the interminable list of categories receive awards.
The next day we got up a little later, quickly break camp and head for the Pinemarten Café where we are joined by other DMC members who had spent the weekend camping and hillwalking.
As the others take to bike and foot for a few more hours in the hills we head off back to Dundee.
- Bill, DMC Direteur Sportif