I’ll keep this short as it may seem a bit self indulgent, but perhaps someone can relate to it?
I stood on the start line at the 2019 Glentress 7 as confident and as fit as I’ve felt for years. I had a new, carbon hardtail and a positive attitude. I felt great and full of confidence. So much so that I was hoping to get a personal target of 7 laps around the savage Glentress forest route. Andy was standing next to me. Presumably in the same state of mind and raring to go. He was also hoping to match his best performance of 7 laps.
By 5pm, I was in the bath at home after having time to wash my bike, have a snack and put my gear in the wash. Around this time, Andy was celebrating the completion of 8 laps. Putting both my target and his PB to the sword. Utterly amazing!!
I won’t speak for any secrets Andy may have unlocked to manage this amazing result, but I’m sure he’ll not mind me publishing the text message he sent me at 17:51pm —“I did 8 laps and I’m in bits”— fair play I’d say and no-one would blame him if he was crying whilst he typed it!?
So I’ve identified a few things that went wrong for me on the day. Can you relate?
1: I’m now absolutely sure I’m not a “lap” racer.
I kinda convince myself I could be now and again, which is why I entered GT7. My build up is always confident and I know how to do all the right things. I can ride, I have the fitness and I can make a plan. When it comes to it though, I’m just too easily distracted on the day. I get bored, I want to talk to folk and stop all the time. I just want to take it easy and have fun. I can ride 100km end to end with no problem, and I have. Put me in a situation where I have to ride in circles and it’s all out the window. I already knew this, but I gave it a go!
2: I rode a new bike.
So recently I treated myself to a training / XC bike. A shiny new Cube Reaction C:62 SLT. It only weighs just over 9 kilos and its fast. REALLY fast. No problem, right? Wrong! My other MTB’s are a Cube Stereo C:68 150 TM and a Long Pipedream Moxie. Two bikes that are so far away from the Reaction that they can barely be classified together as actual bikes!
I’d ridden it for one day for a very short coaching session and it felt great. However, meandering around Glentress for 2-3 hours doesn’t quite prepare you for the uncomfortable scenario of sitting on it for 7-8 hours. More on this in my conclusion.
3: I was prepared / but kinda not prepared.
Up to race day, I’d worked 12 days out of the previous 14. Out riding and in the forest doing everything from private tuition to educational stuff. It’s hard work and you can’t really be distracted from what you’re doing. I didn’t really take nutrition and hydration seriously and though my legs and lungs both felt good. I know that I could have given them a little bit more in the longevity stakes by paying a bit more attention during the week. Quick lunches and stiff coffees are not the answer to any questions asked of yourself over such a short, intense experience as GT7.
4: I knew I was carrying “injuries”
I’ve had a sore wrist for a wee while and some issues with my right shoulder. Nothing really serious, but it’s an asymmetric issue that sometimes has me having to correct my position on the bike over long periods. Again, it doesn’t bother me day to day but on longer rides it can get quite sore. I’d intended to get a deep massage the week before to ease it off but couldn’t find the time. See above for “preperation” Another opportunity for a simple gain lost! All of these things are now coming together to conspire against me!
When I was riding early in the race, I felt amazing. On all sections the bike felt great and I felt great. I was actually really surprised how good the bike felt underneath me and for a 100mm, super stiff hardtail it descended very well. I also think that it may have been my undoing? Having never ridden it before, the tight geometry, longer stem-punishing, stiffness and shorter fork travel conspired to bring out the worst in my shoulder issue, but chiefly my right wrist.
By the end of the 4th lap, I was really struggling to hold onto the front brake on the last descent. The braking bumps on this section were not utterly blown out and a feature in their own right. I couldn’t effectively stand up and control the bike properly either. It was all going just a bit wrong!
I had a long rest and decided to go back out for number 5 in the hope it would pass. A completely daft notion I know, but I was determined to enjoy myself! I didn’t… It seemed to take ages. I got back in and felt absolutely wrung out! Aching all over and with a mindset of self preservation rather than determination!
At this point I was simply out of the game! I had plenty of time to at least reach my goal and be a lot happier with my performance. Perhaps I could have squeezed another one in, but I’d kind of made the decision to quit already. I was just having a bad day! It was at that time that I decided that I wasn’t going to tackle this race in the Solo category again. As I said, I’m simply not the racing type. Perhaps it’s just not for me?
Still, never say never right? – Allan
Congratulations to Andy for his achievement and thanks to everyone for cheering us both as individuals and the company! It was amazing to hear how many people identified us on the day. Thanks also to Tweedlove and all the amazing volunteers for their hard work in making all this stuff happen!