Selkirk MTB Marathon (Jun 2013)

Sunday 2nd June 2013

Niall completed the 80km route in an official time of 8hrs and 10 minutes, of which an hour and 11 minutes were spent stopped at the cake stalls.
“Marathon” rides are the Mountain Bike equivalent of an imperial century Sportive and the organizers like to fit in a good variety of terrain.

This ride set off from the High Street in Selkirk for a fast road ride down to bowhill estate where the road round Fastheugh hill was climbed, before a fast rough grassy descent into Black Andrew Wood and a climb to the first Cake stop at Broadmeadows.

The ride switched to hike-a-bike for a section up the steepest section on the climb to the Three Brethren. Things got more technical here as the plunge through Yair forest is in deeply rutted paths and through gnarly woods where not rutted landing back on the road at yet another cake stop for a sizeable road section to another part of Yair Forest where a fantastic switchback descent was climbed, by now I was feeling the distance in my legs and I started alternating between pedalling and walking before plunging all the way back down to the road again on a mix of fast smooth fire road and mud slides.

Another road linking section led to Walkerburn and a fire road that would be gentle if it wasn’t for being 60km into the day climbed to a mid-point of one of the legendary Innerleithen Downhill tracks, at this point running hard tyre pressures and being on what is essentially an XC Race Bike was taking its toll on my wrists, I also couldn’t be bothered dropping my saddle, this was by far the most technical section being right on the edge of difficult XC and easy Downhill riding, this then took us onto the final section of the Inners descent the (in)famous Cadon Bank, where there’s no time to take in the view over the town as you dodge round obstacles and in some cases struggle to get up the other side of bombholes.

Landing at the Inners carpark for the 3rd Cake Stop I rested for ages before setting off up the Minch Muir climb, this utilised some of the Push up Paths for downhillers, seeing signs saying “Push Up Path” aren’t really conductive to pedalling all the way up when your speedo is now showing 65km, I cracked open a pack of Jelly babies on the last section of the climb, and suddenly rediscovered my legs (Note to self, contact Bassets about this, they work much better than Gels) and summited the Minch Muir surprisingly comfortable, the plunge off this took in the first sections of the trail centre descent and I nearly overshot the turn off down a steep grassy bank which eventually turned into a sticky mudslide (Note to self, get here earlier next time) which I had no choice but to walk as there was no grip and everything was bunged up with mud.

The final cake stop was packing up as I got there, but it signified the start of the final push to the 2nd summiting of the Three Brethern, where a fantastic descent drops rapidly back into Selkirk and the all important finish line burger van.

Not much chance to get photos, but the Muc Off GT team riders seemed to like my Zaskar, so here’s a picture of my bike (the blue one) next to theirs.

Official time was: 8:12:12