Well that was an experience. Wasn't feeling good friday so was quite cross, tried having a lie in but it just wasn't happening. Lay in bed wondering whether to bother, fully expected to drive up feel rough as toast saturday do a few miles then crash out and drive home, this could be an expensive drive. Got up bad temperdly packed the car, begrudgingly had my brekkie killed a bit of time, went to morrisons got my mrs some lunch then took it up to her work. Just didn't wanna leave. Finally thought sod it and set off. Got there and pitched tent upto sign in and met Samuri, sat and chatted with him, Mike and a guy I met on the lee quarry STW ride. Midges EVERYWHERE, really annoying. I'd brightened up with the atmosphere but still not optimistic, was expecting to not be able to breathe going up the first hill then blow up spectacularly at 30mile mark - not a bad prediction.
Race day came round woke up it was bloody freezing, trying to put on suncream when it's dark and cold is not fun. Cold home made rice pud for brekkie mmm. I was one of the early birds so was at the front, it was chilly waiting at the start line but we were soon off. The ride out I was taking steady felt OK, very misty, people just streaming passed me, waved at Trio as she passed. At the first climb I stood up, chest felt awful and I got a bit dizzy so I sat back down again but otherwise I was going along OK. Skipped 1st station so caught up with trio chatted for a while I kept pulling away on the downs, she needs more ballast to keep up - more cake! :-) but she caught up quickly on the flat/ups. We were spinning along managing an 11.5 average for the first 20miles next feed I stopped and I didn't see her again. 20-30 was hard work, lots of climbing in the first half of the course, 30-40 was really hard, was getting saddle sore (!) had bitten my cheek a few time so that was constantly bleeding but I thought I might make the 50 or 65mile cut off.40-50 was horrible just wanted to be at home, in my own bed and my mrs bring me tea and cake til I felt better, figured I'd definitley get cut off at 65 even if I had to hang around for half an hour until time was up! 50-65 wasn't too bad, awful climb up rubble-y zig zags but then the giant boardwalk to the top was weirdly cool and the trip over to scottish land was grassy and draggy but OK.
The lentil soup and tuna butties at newcastleton were heaven! I was feeling better and was quite a bit ahead of cut off, set off again. The trails here were lovely, proper twisty turny forest stuff then a long flat (thankfullly) drag back into englandshire and the 80mile mark. Saddle sore was chronic now and I realised why, I'd put an extra 20psi in my rear shock for less bob more efficency, unfortunatley my arse was paying the price. I'd beaten the last cut off and only 20miles to go, thats a tuesday nightride I can knock those out in my sleep. The longest hardest 20miles I have ever done, was chatting to Christen an ex-american for most of it, we were riding for ages til we got to a marshal point he said 6.5 miles to go, you are joking no way have we only done 13.5. Grrr. keep going, singletrack, big climb on double track, about 20mins and a few miles later we see "5miles to go" Arrrgh. I kind of lost it a bit then head went, these were proper country miles. Pushed on swearing and cursing. Finally got to the last checkpoint just 2miles of singletrack descent to go and a big gap infront of me cos I'd slowed right down. Hit the downhill at full tilt, Innappropriate speed considering time in the saddle and fatigue but I was loving it, eventually caught some riders and then slowed to sensible speed and followed them in.
12:40 8mph average, 107 miles apparently a shedload of climbing. Feeling pretty ravaged now, legs are gone, backs aching can't decide whether my knees or arse hurt more but very happy with the result - I won't be back next year tho :-)